Who are You? (From the View in your Head)

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Your perception of the Universe is warped because of where your consciousness is housed.
You experience the universe from the space right behind your eyes. It almost feels like your head is the cockpit of the meatbody spaceship that you control.

But you only control the movement of the limbs and muscles. You only perceive what the exterior senses access – experiencing (some) light waves as color and (some) vibrations as sounds.

But you are blind and deaf to the majority of what is happening in the Universe and inside your body.

Everything that happens within the body functions outside your control and without your input. Your limbic system, respiratory system, heart rate, EVERYTHING that keeps your body alive is outside the control of your conscious mind. Who is controlling those systems and keeping everything in balance? Is that “You”?

How about the bacteria in your gut that keeps your digestive system working? Are those tiny organisms part of “You”?

At what point does a molecule in your sandwich become a molecule that is You?

Are “You” what you consciously control? Or are you the broader system that houses that consciousness?

Because if you are the whole system, why does that system end at the border of your skin?
The system cannot survive more than a few minutes without fresh oxygen, so what makes You separate from the air around your body? The air cannot exist without photosynthesis, so what makes the air separate from the plants?

The Earth is all interconnected. The Universe is one massive, perfect system.
Drawing the line around “You” at the border of your skin is pretty arbitrary – and the root of all of human’s unhealthy patterns.

The false belief of your body being separate from the rest of the planet is what allows a conscious mind to make a decision that negatively affects another part of the system it is a part of. I.e. Allowing toxic materials to pollute a river. It is the equivalent of stabbing yourself in the leg. It is self-harm. And it should be seen as a form of mental illness.

Imagine if your consciousness was housed someplace else, besides your head?

What if you had the perspective of a white blood cell inside your body.
You would travel through the bloodstream, seeking out invaders, destroying bacteria and other foreign cells.
Your consciousness would observe your surroundings, and probably fall into the same types of thinking patterns you do now. You would be worried about there being too many invaders for you to handle. You would be stressed that the marrow isn’t producing enough new white blood cells. You might even feel like you are being overworked and your workload is unfair. On tough days, you may doubt your abilities as a white blood cell and wonder what the point of it all was.
You might wonder if there is a higher power that controls all of us – Some cosmic wisdom (brain) that maintains order over the enter Universe (body).

Or take this thought experiment to a larger scale. What if your consciousness was housed in the Earth as a whole. You would have a bloodstream of rivers and countless interconnected biospheres of plant & animal systems outside your conscious control. You might observe your skin getting dryer during some time periods, colder at times. Would you be panicked about the breakout of human cities pockmarking your skin? Would you be concerned that your floral & fauna system was sick with the “Human Progress Parasite”?

This may sound silly. But how can we know for certain that these micro and macro worlds do not have some form of consciousness?
All we can know is that your cells are connected to your body. Your body is connected to the planet. The planet is connected to the Universe. And the consciousness you are experiencing now is somewhere in the middle of it all, reading this sentence and, perhaps, slowly understanding that this grand system is all one interconnected things – regardless of where your consciousness is experiencing it.

Bowie Gave Us Permission

“I don’t know where I’m going, but I promise it won’t be boring.”
-David Bowie
Photo of David BOWIE
David Bowie live at Hammersmith Odeon on Ziggy Stardust tour.
I am not a Bowie scholar or hardcore music fan, but it would be hard to overstate Bowie’s impact on me.
In some ways, every artistic expression I’ve had the courage to express has been on his shoulders, in his shadow, recycling his paint, borrowing pages from his playbook.
***
My introduction to Bowie was during his middle new wave and pop acts. When Music Videos were becoming as much a part of rock as the music.
Honestly, his Let’s Dance, China Girl, & Jazzin’ for Blue Jean were not my cup of tea. But he was ever present as I grew up with a 80’s MTV soundtrack for my youth.
My love for David Bowie has always been for him as an artist, more than as a musician.
Because as I got into college, I discovered Ziggy Stardust and Aladdin Sane and a body of work that was so much more than music.
LONG before I knew what Burning Man was, David Bowie taught me what “Radical Self Expression” was.
He was gay. He was bi. He was married to Iman. He dressed like a man, like a woman, like an alien. He was whatever the fuck he wanted to be. “Fuck you, labels, I’ve got a creative vision to listen to!”
And when a creative well ran dry, he abandoned it and followed his muse. I can’t imagine the massive shitstorm he had to deal with every time he reinvented himself. What a powerful commitment to his truth.
***
When I discovered the internet, I was transformed by the realization that we could all broadcast our stories to the world. What Bowie showed me, and the world, was that you could create a fantastical, mythical story and share THAT.
Even more revolutionary — he showed that you could create a new story & vision if you tired of the old one.
I had studied Picasso and was so inspired by how he followed his inspiration into different visual phases. Through realism, cubism, his blue phase, etc.
But Bowie did this with life, itself.
What a powerful demonstration of non-linear living. I had always been taught to pursue a ladder-climbing process of building upon the past. But rather than build a cohesive sound and brand over the years, Bowie listened to his truth. He followed a path of INTEGRITY to his true expression.
Sometimes that lead him into places that were not as commercially loved.
But, damn, what a rare and beautiful role model for life that is.
I remember seeing him on TV playing with NiN when he was almost 50. My dad’s age. And I was floored. This was no respectful collaboration with an aging rocker, this was a raging, peel-the-paint, thunderfest of guitars and anger.
Holy shit. That obliterated even the most optimistic rock star story arch I’ve ever seen. He was already a massive star, nothing to prove. But he added fuel to his other-worldly fire, going supernova and scorching the earth, yet again.
Every artist faces the voice at one time or another that says, “Your best is behind you. Your well is dry.” Bowie’s life is a slap in the face and a reminder that you may just need to dig elsewhere, Idiot.
My personal life of transformations online…
From cockybastard.com to lifestudent.com
From pornographer to preacher
From narcissist to philanthropist
From artist to executive and back…
It has all been under the dream of being a “Lifestyle Artist.”
And it was a job description I learned from David Bowie.
I’ve made some courageous choices in my life, but none would be possible without the example of Bowie.
I often explain one of the gifts of Burning Man is that when surrounded by people with such extreme examples of human expression that you will NEVER be the weirdest guy around. And that awareness is FAR more liberating than you can imagine.
Our culture tends to destroy the flowers that grow too high or too colorful,
So when you have examples like Bowie to raise the bar — to push the high water mark of the tide — it eases the burden on millions of other weirdos.
David Bowie, by shining his differentness so brightly, gave a North Star that helped many of us navigate out of the pressures of the status quo.
***
And to release his final album just days before his death is the perfect final verse to his life’s sonnet. Not so much a mic drop, but a perfectly choreographed last note to echo through us as the curtain drops and our eyes adjust to a world without his shining light.
David Bowie has always been a constellation for me to look toward and orient to.
Now his body has joined his spirit.
“The stars look very different today.”
-John Halcyon Styn 01.11.16

Truth on Stage

Medium Post: “Truth On Stage”

Feeling so grateful for all my teachers.
From the grade school ones who made me write cursive on the blackboard .
To the ones long-dead who live on through published words.
To the inspiring role models I’m lucky to call friends.
I have been reflecting on the powerful role that we all play for one another in our healing. And feeling grateful for everyone who teaches me.
After experiencing Destin Gerek’s seminar I was blown open and wrote about my my mental hangups on being taught and shared some gushing words about a couple of my greatest teachers, Jacob Glass and Grandpa Caleb.

“Supportive Knights & Warrior Princesses”

I have spoke in the past about seeing your partner as their highest.

I told the story of how I have fallen into a relationship role where I try to protect my partner from harm, pain and suffering.

This doesn’t sound like a bad thing.

But it does not allow the other to grow.

Sure, you don’t want a seedling to get trampled,
But if you keep it inside it will never get the wind, and direct sunlight it needs.
It will grow weak and never become the flower it is meant to.

One of the hardest things about loving someone is seeing them struggle.
We anticipate their struggles and try to protect them.
Nobody likes to see someone they love stress or suffer.

My instinct is always to fix or change the situation.

But I have learned that true love isn’t about being a knight on a white horse that comes and saves the princess. Real love is about holding space for that princess to be a warrior – and seeing her strong and powerful – even when she can’t see it herself.

Support her? yes.
Save her? no.

During the early chapters of our relationship, I put lots of effort into being this new kind of modern night. A support knight. I reminded her of her potential and refused to accept her declarations during times of frustration.

And she grew.
Into a powerful warrior princess.

She was an intern when I met her. She became an entrepreneur. Over the next 2 years she grew a company, a brand, and a reputation. She won awards and got press. She blossomed into a such a dramatic vision of success that she became a source of inspiration for others.

And she caught the bug. With her success, her vision grew.

She devoured trainings, seminars and books. She worked with coaches and studied mentors.

Somewhere along the line, I got scared again.

I started to focus more on her struggles. I worried more about the obstacles.

Now to be fair, she fell into this trap, too. I think the path of an entrepreneur is a challenging one. How do you focus on constantly making your business better – while not becoming obsessed about what is wrong? How do you enjoy the cone while being constantly vigilant about removing crap?

I see this in all the entrepreneurs I know. The good ones are the ones who can enjoy the process of crap-removal. Instead of constantly being in a state of Oh-No! More problems!

I also think it is critical to take time, and make an effort to focus on the good whenever possible. To take a moment every day or every week to remember what is going right, what has gone right, and what wonderful potential lies ahead.

At FreshRealm, we do this with an organization-wide gratitude circle. And it makes MASSIVE difference. There are literally hundreds of things that need to be done. And we would suffocate under the weight – if we didn’t take time to appreciate the path – and our fellow teammates.


Empath
I’ve always been slightly annoyed when people say, “I’m an empath.” Is that really a special power? Like, “I’m a compassionate person.” But as I look at the struggles I have with my partner’s stress, maybe this what they mean. And maybe some people do feel others experiences deeper than normal. When I mentioned this to friend this week he said, absolutely – it is your greatest strength – and weakness.

It is this empathy – this experience of anothers pain – that makes me want to fix, to save… and sometimes to run away.
It contributes in huge ways to my fear of commitment. The idea of tying myself to pain and suffering outside of my control is terrifying.


But this is my classroom. This is the advance course I must take right now.

A recent status report showed that I got a little off track. I forgot the importance of faith. Forgot how love means believing in someone’s potential.

I forgot that Love is ACTIVE. It is much more than accepting them and loving them AS IS (although that is part of it.) It is the conscious mental thoughts of seeing a person as the highest version of themselves. Of seeing through their ego doubts, of refusing to believe the small voices in their heads (that they may share with you) and refusing to listen to the small voices in your head that you may project on them.
This is the Love Warriors duty. This is the heart-centered path of honor. This is the way of the Supportive Knight.

I lost my way, m’lady, and I will work to rejoin you on your glorious path.

-John
march 3, 2014

The Teacosy Era

A lifetime ago, I explored the frontier of webcam technology and “digital intimacy”.

I dealt with my adolescent insecurity by cultivating a beefcake following.

teacosy_beefcake

There was even a website dedicated to posting images captured from my webcam. Teacosy.net. (I often wore my long hair bunched up under a hat – that some said looked like a teacosy.)
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The “Teacosy” community was full of pretty amazing people and lead to CitizenX.com.

But sometimes it was ridiculous.
(actual transcript, names changed):

[NewbieOne] DON’T YOU ALL THINK HE IS HOT?!
[NewbieTwo] is that him for real
[NewbieTwo] i thought the pic was sooooooooooo sexy
[NewbieOne] YEAH, I GUESS
[NewbieTwo] damn
[NewbieThree] i don’t see anything happening
[NewbieOne] HE IS SO SEXY
[NewbieTwo] can i get some
[NewbieTwo] lol
[NewbieOne] ME TOO!
[NewbieTwo] me first
[NewbieTwo] lol
[NewbieOne] WE’LL TAG TEAM HIM
[NewbieOne] :)
[NewbieTwo] alright
[NewbieOne] I BET HE WOULD LIKE THAT
[NewbieTwo] i don’t see anything right now
[NewbieTwo] he would love it
[NewbieOne] HE’S JUST SITTING THERE
[NewbieOne] LOOKIN ALL GOOD :)
[NewbieThree] he sees what we say, right?
[NewbieTwo] looking sexy
[NewbieTwo] not sure
[NewbieOne] HEY HALCYON! CAN YOU SEE WHAT WE ARE WRITING?
[NewbieTwo] lol
[NewbieTwo] your soooooooooo crazy
[NewbieOne] :)
[NewbieOne] I LOVE IT!
[NewbieOne] I GUESS HE CAN…I DON’T KNOW
[NewbieTwo] me either
[NewbieTwo] i would rape him….*(grins)*
[NewbieOne] NOW, HOW MANY GUYS DO YOU KNOW THAT COULD LOOK GOOD IN A PINK HAT!?
[NewbieOne] HE’S HOT!
[NewbieThree] hehehe
[NewbieOne] YUMMY YUM YUM
[NewbieTwo] you betta believe it
[NewbieTwo] so where is this sexy man’s lady….if he don’t have one i will be that for him….*(grins)*
[NewbieTwo] alright
[NewbieThree] he looks like he’s in class or something!
[NewbieTwo] it don’t even matter i would sex him up in class lol

It is so strange to look back at those moments. Those first digital connections. Reaching out through the brand new world wide web for affirmation and connection.

Tonight I am thinking of Jan. Jan created teacost.net, was a longtime supporter (and sometimes critic), and a beautiful person. I used to wonder if we would ever meet, but she died. I hope that those digital connections brought some love and smiles to her when she was alive. As long as there is archive.org, I will forever be dancing late at night, in a towel, for Jan.

2013 In Review

Every year I write up a year in review. I.e. Here is the 2011 year

2014

Designed and Performed Opening Ceremony at Leyenda (with Krista Richards)
Keynote Speaker at TVIA (Teen Volunteers In Action) Senior Send Off

Participated in UCSB “Personal Branding” Career Event
Keynote Speaker at Congregation Dor Hadash Temple MLK Jr. Day
Keynote Speaker at Planned Parenthood Staff Event
Gave talk & Lovers Nest Opening Ceremony at Lucidity
MC’d Lucidity”s “Rising Vibes” Event in Santa Barbara
Spoke at LA Decom & SD Decom (Youtopia)
Moved (sorta) to a new town (Ventura) for the first time since college.
Got a paycheck for the first time in years – as a legitimate Executive.
Started doing Weekly “Gratitude Songs” and leading Gratitude Circles as part of Goodness Fridays at work. (Many more professional-related things that I’ll save for a different conversation.)
Celebrated another year of 1stSaturdays.org – with events in SD, LA & SF. And volunteer numbers breaking 90 smiling people at times.

New Job. New City. New Flow.

Six months ago I was living off savings, while launching a Joy Coaching practice and working on an outline for a book. (Read: LOTS of hours on Facebook)
Everything was going according to the leisurely plan I had worked out with my Coach, Karpo.

But the direction of my Flow changed overnight.

I was recruited to come work for FreshRealm – an ambitious startup in Ventura backed by a NASDAQ publicly traded fresh food company.
Caption
(This logo is one of the first things I was responsible for.)

By “recruited” I mean that the CEO, who went to Burning Man for the first time in 2012, sought me out after seeing my “Playa Tips & Tricks,” 1st Saturdays & TEDx videos. When he learned that I went to high school with one of the co-founders, it seemed meant-to-be.
I wasn’t looking for a job. But when I met Mike, I felt a connection. There was a series of synchronicities that made me feel called to work with the team. The co-founders all had genuine, heart-centered agendas -and impressive backgrounds, too.

Mike & Me

I originally agreed to a 6 week contract job. It has now been 6 months and I have the title, “Co-founder.” How serious is it? I just gave 30 days notice to my San Diego landlord. (Although I am still spending most weekends in San Diego with Brandi.)

In the last 6 months I have worked harder than I ever have before. I have pushed myself past my limits. I have learned a ton. I love my work.

I am in charge of Branding & Company Culture. They value my Burning Man roots, honor my Hug Nation commitment, and I get to use the word “Love” in the office. A lot.

Wait…”Love?” What does FreshRealm do?
A: We have invented a Shipping System & Vessel that allows fresh food to be distributed nationally.
But the better question is the one that made me feel called to work with this team in the first place.
Q: WHY do they do it?
A: To demonstrate that the world works better with Love: Love of self, Love of the planet, and Love for one another.

Love is not a finite resource. It doesn’t have to be preserved or rationed out. We believe that, even in business, more efficiency can be achieved with more Love.

Everyone at FreshRealm is on a path to be more loving, connected, & authentic people in the world. My job is to make sure that is reflected in our culture and communicated through our brand. Hopefully it will resonate with you.
Because, if you’re reading this, YOU are one of those people opening you heart and striving to be more loving, connected, & authentic. Thank you. It matters. You matter.

Whether or not you ever order from a company that uses the FreshRealm Vessel, I would still love to have you connected to what I’m doing with the team there. (Like the gratitude circle during Goodness Fridays!)
I feel like I am channeling my book writing & coaching energies into a corporate adventure. Super challenging – but I am considering it research for the final chapters of that future book. I am learning SO much. And I think significant change can come through the transformation of corporate consciousness.

This hectic schedule has meant being online much less. But I still do Hug Nation every week (Now on Mondays.) Once FreshRealm launches, I plan to spend more time in Social Media again via the Goodness Friday & FreshRealm pages.
I’d love it if you rode along with me and “Liked” either or both of those pages. (Of course, feel comfortable hitting “Unlike” at any time if I post things that don’t interest you.)

So grateful for this adventure. So grateful for YOU.
Love,
John
Wearing my Big Boy pants

8 Ways to Find Meaning In Life

8 Ways to Find Meaning In Life (A Download on my 42nd Birthday)

As I approached my 42nd birthday, I hoped I had something profound to share. Afterall, Douglas Adams brilliant “Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy” clearly stated that “42” was the Meaning of Life.
Oddly, I barely slept last night as the following thoughts on Life’s Purpose came through. (To be honest, my inner voice had vague european accent while we hashed this out. Weird, huh?)

Finding Meaning in life is accomplished by doing 8 things.


Moving.
Solving.
Helping.
Creating.
Listening.
Appreciating.
Reading.
Laughing

Moving.

You are an organism. Don’t forget it. We have miracle machines that fly us through the sky and build us cars that then propel is through the world. But don’t forget that you are a wild beast. You are full of muscle and nerves and sensation. Technology and tools can help us expand our experience of being a human. But we have come so far, that it now takes discipline & diligence to keep balance. Walk. Stretch. Play. And fuel your body with real food.

Solving.

Look, life is going to give you problems. Instead of thinking, “Oh No!” every time something happens, try to think, “This is my new thing!”
Your life is probably filled with countless obstacles that are getting in your way. There is always some work, school, relationship, health or responsibility to deal with. That is kinda the definition of “life.” So try to change the way you look at those challenges.
Whatever you are doing? THAT is the task at hand. Be present & do it well. It will neither go faster nor easier if you complain.

If you are ever bored, try to find something that you could improve. It could be a weed in your yard, a moment in someone else’s day, an open-source framework that needs a better GUI. There are ALWAYS things that can be improved. Be a part of the solution. Life is a do-ocracy. If you can spend your time engaged in interesting challenges working towards things you believe in….you win.

Finding interesting challenges is what the Ride of Life is all about.

3) Helping

I have to admit, I kinda got tricked into learning this one. “Helping others is the best way to feel better about yourself!” Seemed just way too Lame to me. I always thought you needed to help others because it would reduce the guilt of having so much while others had less.
But learning about Gifting – and about how others’ joy could bring me joy – transformed my life.

Creating

We all think that we are bad at art. But that stems from a fundamental misunderdtandinhg of art. Art is expression. Art is beauty. So whatever you express and whatever you think is beautiful…is art.
And that goes WAY beyond a canvas or a slab of marble. Art is the way you throw a party, dress yourself, or respond to wrong numbers. Art is when you CHOOSE to do something because it feels right to you, not because of what you think you should do.
Where to place the paint stroke. When to fly a kite. Who to give a compliment to.

Listening.

Learning to be a good listener will make you instantly become twice as interesting and charismatic. People often have trouble feeling heard…so if you can be the kind of person who listens, you give a great gift.

Grandpa Caleb used to spend a few hours a week at a “Listening Post” at his retirement community. He would just sit. and then anyone who wanted to, could come by and talk.

I would add a caveat that this does not mean you need always be available for people to rehash their limiting stories. If someone needs to tell you a sad story once, Listen. If they keep telling it, it better be in the context of how to make a change.

And to listening, I would include listening to yourself, as well. Taking time to be quiet is important. Try to pause from doing & fixing and instead “Sit in the question.” It is tempting to believe that we can think & act our way out of any jam. But often it requires some stillness before clarity can be restored.

Learn to be present for others and for yourself – and life will blossom.

Appreciating

The world is amazing. But with so much brilliance, it can be easy to take things for granted. “NEWS” is a collection of everything that has gone wrong and our cultural dialogue is obsessed with problems. It is good to take time to re-set your baseline each day and marvel at the experience of life. It is easy to eat food without tasting it, shower without feeling it, and drive by a meadow without seeing it. When we can practice to notice those things, life is amazing.

Reading

The written word has taken the concept of time and annihilated it. You can go anywhere. Not reading books is like not using your “Time Travel” Sense.

You are going to want to watch TV instead.
And, theoretically, that would be the same thing. Except it’s not.
Books are written by artists.
Movies are made by “Show Business.”

Our marketing culture has created a whole system that provides us a constant stream of brainstem-tickling base-level crap.
That is true for Food, Sex *and* Entertainment.

Slow down… you deserve the best of all three.

Laughing.

If you don’t think alllll of this is all incredibly funny… you should spend more time in front of a mirror in your birthday suit. Life is either hilarious…or incredibly cruel. I prefer to think of it as amazing and try to smile and laugh every chance I can. Pick quirky over cool. Pick silly over serious. Pick weird over reserved.

We are hurtling through space on a piece of rock that is the perfect distance from a star to maintain a temperature hospitable to life. (Except Florida in the summertime.)

among the lush and sprawling ecosystems of that living planet are creatures so crazy it makes CGI look silly. (I’m kidding. But after people were gushing about the Planet in the Avatar movie I felt like I had to respond to every one of them “well, have you looked around EARTH!?”)

And at the end of one of the branches on this Planet’s tree of life resulted in a conscious, hairless monkey.

That monkey body is – at all times- fighting off bacterial and viral attempts to overtake it’s cells.

That monkey body is able to perceive and experience a TEENY slice of the visual and auditory spectrum…but my goodness it is amazing. Add on top of that all the other monkeys who have been creating and recording MUSIC for us to enjoy!? MUSIC! Don’t get me started.

And then atop this monkey body is a monkey brain that has the awesome gift of receiving the input from this incredible world.

And if all that wasn’t enough… from someplace science has yet to understand, we have a consciousness that allows us to ponder and think ABOUT those sensations and experiences of the world.

WOW!!!!

Now, if you aren’t careful, this can all get away from you. And all you will be able to see is the next obstacle in your path. Life will not be the fullness I just described but instead be simply, “Everything that is wrong with this day and this person and this situation. FML.”

So we need to PRACTICE those 8 things.

Moving.
Solving.
Helping.
Creating.
Listening.
Appreciating.
Reading.
Laughing

Wait, why isn’t “Loving” on the list. you might ask? Because Loving is the way in which you do all those things. LOVE is what you are. You express love in the ways you move, solve, help, create, listen, appreciate, laugh & even read.

And when you start walking that path, you realize that we are all in this together. And love is all there is. And then you can enjoy the obstacles when they come up, make art when you have time, and sit & listen when you don’t.

And always bring a towel.

Love,
-John

The Unofficial Blog of John Halcyon Styn