2011 Year In Review

I like to take a moment each year to look back. (Here is my review from 2010 )

My 2011 Year In Review:
1. Turned 40 years old
2. Attended my 14th Burn & helped lead Pink Heart.

3. Gave a sermon at my childhood church.
4. Spoke at the Burning Man film fest, Soul Base dance event, & several Flow Temple events on Venice Beach.

5. Reached 1 million plays on YouTube.
6. Produced and performed in my first ever dance performance.
7. Produced a 30 minute film & submitted it to a festival.
8. Was subject of a 15 minute documentary.
9. Helped launch Anybeat.com.
10. Video blogged for BurningMan.com
11. Broadcast 100 Hug Nation shows.
12. Helped lead Help The Homeless each 1st Saturday.
13. Participated in an Occupy march.

14. Lots of great times with my nephews.

15. Supported and was inspired by my Mom’s breast cancer battle & recovery.
16. Feel deeper in love with Brandi.

17. Built a deeper relationship with Dmitry, plus many old & new friends.
18. Was on the news for National Hugging Day (& our sleeping bag drive.)

19. Profiled in CityBeat Magazine.
20. Got a Wikipedia entry.
21. Continued to develop peace & joy for myself, my community, and the planet.

Life just gets better and better.
The Now feels more and more miraculous.
My sense of Awe deepens.
My gratitude soars.
My heart continues to expand.
Thank you for being a part of the journey.
Love,
-john halcyon styn

“9 Tips to Creating Healthy, Happy New Year’s Goals ” Hugnation 12.25.11

1) Avoid goals that make you feel stressed or guilty.
2) Go towards things you want, not away from things you don’t.
3) Express it in present tense.
4) Make sure you believe it can happen.
5) Include things you are already doing.
6) Make sure it feels good!
7) Allow for magic outside your control.
8 ) Align it with your higher self.
9) Let go of attachments.

Happy New Year!
New Year’s Eve is pretty uneventful from space. There is no cosmic “click” when our calendars expire. The passing of Time is an allusion. Time simply is. We humans experience Time as a present moment streaming along an imaginary timeline, preceded by a past and with a future ahead of us. All we ever experience is the present moment, but our big ol’ brains allow us to remember and create elaborate stories of how we got here and where we are going.
That being said, it can still be helpful to use arbitrary times on the calendar as plotting points of a journey. Like longitude and latitude coordinates that – when a line is drawn between them – gives us a sense of space.
This space between calendar points is time.
So when the calendar notifies us of a milestone, it is fun to check in and see where you stand on your journey.
Are you on track? In alignment?
Are you uncovering the script inside you? Or following a script given to you?
Are you being pulled from your heart? Or pushed by your mind?
Are you making choices from Love? Or Fear?
As we analyze where we are come the end of December and where we want to be in the New Year, it can be tempting to make a list of Resolutions.
This instinct can be good… but it is critical that you craft your statements and sentiments with care.
And before we even get started, lets use be use the term resolutions lightly. Resolutions sound way too aggressive. NATO and the UN make resolutions. They are like barbed wire fences in idea form.

Here are 9 Tips to Creating Healthy, Happy New Year’s Goals

1) Avoid goals that make you feel stressed or guilty.
Resolutions are not your opportunity to chastise yourself for things you meant to do but didn’t.
People often list the things they wish they were doing better at. There is an element of guilt to things like “Hit the Gym at least 3 times a week.” If the idea makes you stressed, try reframing the idea with a similar intention like, “Honor my body’s ability to thrive and be active.”

2) Go towards things you want, not away from things you don’t.
That which you resist, persists. Mother Teresa said she would never attend an Anti-War rally, but would consider a peace rally. Going to war with something means all you attention is on that thing!
The key is to create a future that is warm and inviting and creates an emotional gravitational pull towards it.
Rather than marching away from your fat thighs, walk towards your strong legs.
Instead of
“Stop eating crap. “ Try, “Be conscious of how I fuel my body.”

“Find good-feeling thoughts and good-feeling manifestations must follow”
Abraham (Esther & Jerry Hicks)

3) Make it present tense.
Rather than set a list of rules that you need to follow, try to visualize a future that makes you happy.
See yourself in 6 months.
Jacob Glass teaches something he calls “The Lunch Game.” You agree with your lunch partner, in advance, to speak in the present tense as if it was 6 months from now. Don’t get caught up in the “how,” just speak as if obstacles have been resolved and decisions have been made.
What are you doing? Who are you spending time with? What is your job like?
Allow yourself to feel this future as if it was happening now.
This same technique is a great way to articulate goals.
Write your “resolutions” as joyful statements about your life.
“I am doing yoga most mornings and then going for a short walk. I make a point to appreciate the plants & flowers along my path.”
“I finished the 1st draft of my novel and am thrilled with the ideas that have emerged.”
“I am spending wonderful time with my family and enjoy the growing bond with my parents.”

4) Make sure it is something you believe could happen.
You don’t have to have any idea *how* it will happen. But you need to believe it is possible. Could you be living in a new amazing apartment in 6 months? Then visualize it! Could you be living on a space station in 6 months? Save that dream for another list.

5) Include things you are already doing.
Give yourself some credit! While it is nice to look at the year ahead, don’t be so quick to discard the year that just past. You have done a million wonderful things; take credit for a few and use the momentum of your path.
People like to use the phrase “Turn over a new leaf.” But you have a massive root network that deserves your respect.
Some examples:
“Continue habit of reading each night before bed.”
“Deepen my relationship with my parents.”

6) Make sure it feels good!

If a goal makes you feel bad, it will not create good results. More importantly, in terms of time spent, the path is 99.9%. Arrival at the destination is a fleeting moment. The way you feel while you are on the path is EVERYTHING.

As Abraham (Esther & Jerry Hicks) said, “The main event has never been the manifestation, the main event has always been the way you feel, moment by moment, because that’s what life is.”

If “Get fit for swimsuit season” makes you feel bad, try, “Feel good about my body at a pool party.” Or “Feel my body getting stronger.”

7) Allow the goals to contain magic beyond your control.
Some of the biggest accomplishments in the next year could be the result of serendipitous events beyond your will. Feel free to include things that you can’t actually make happen. Like, “Discover new hobby I become passionate about.”
This is helpful if there is a goal you find daunting.
For example if, “I have submitted my manuscript to 5 publishers” gives you a panic attack, try, “I have met several people who love my ideas and are helping me submit my manuscript.”

8 ) Align it with your higher self.
If your goals are in alignment with divine ideals, then you have the momentum of the Universe on your side.
“Get thin,” is ego driven. But “Increase my body’s health” is in service to the larger forces of thriving, nature & the cosmos.
If you can’t find a way to make the goal in alignment with higher ideals, drop it. And make room for goals that define you as a vessel of love and compassion.

9) Let go of attachments.

Set goals, then let go of your attachment to them.
Goals are just an excuse to get into motion. We use our best judgment and the above ideas to craft good goals, but we need to recognize that our perception is imperfect.
If you have an intention to get a job teaching, but once you start taking classes, discover that there is a more exciting opportunity, don’t be afraid to change direction to get in more direct alignment with your Flow.
Maybe you were confused about the intention of a goal, or maybe you were inspired towards a goal simply to get you to start down an unexpected path.
It could be a way for your higher self to trick you into going down a path you lacked clarity on before.
Remember when the Oracle told Neo he was not the One? He stopped trying to be the One, and so was able to act in intergirty and step into his role from heart, not mind.

Bottom line: Goals are enhancements, not fixes. Everything is perfect as is.
Resist the temptation to beat yourself up.
You are always mid-way on the path. The key is to celebrate the direction you are in and take tiny steps towards re-alignment with your truth.
Let the vision of your goals be an enticing treat with a gravitational pull that lures you towards it.
Make sure it feels good.
A joyful Now is the best map to a Joyful tomorrow.
As Abraham says, “You cannot have a happy ending to an unhappy journey.”

May you continue to spread your light and recognize the gift you are to the world. Thank you for being YOU.
Happy New Year!

Namaste.
-John
Dec. 27. 2011

This topic was discussed during the Hug Nation brodacats on Dec. 27. 2011.

Thoughts & Motivation 12.20.11

Understanding the motivations of external forces can help you understand where the influence in your own thoughts come from.

(Also avail as audio on iTunes.)

Continue reading Thoughts & Motivation 12.20.11

Hug Dec 13 – Self Love vs Narcisism

The story of Narcissus is told as a cautionary tale.
A man, so entranced by his own beauty that he becomes trapped in his own gaze.
But as I grow in wisdom and calm in ambition, I am increasing my gaze into the pond as well.
The universe is amazing. And I have no more elaborate or intimate experience of the universe than of my own mind, in my own body.
I witness food become energy. I witness healing. I witness breath and heartbeat. I witness thoughts and emotions.
The entire Universe exists – to me – inside my head.
Everything I can perceive is done so inside my brain.
Every image, every touch, every smell.
EVERYTHING IN THE UNIVERSE is a sensation sent along my nervous system to my brain to be interpreted.
There is a lot to see in that pool!
***
School teaches us a little bit of history. We get simplified lessons of empires and tyrants. Of inventors and liberators.
We learn about the birth of our country and the modern world. We learn about the progress at the hands of industry.
We are taught that we are a tiny droplet born into a massive wave. We are lucky to be a part of this amazing wave of industry and progress.
We are taught that – if we apply ourselves – we can work for one of forces that is steering the wave.
But a wave is a poor metaphor. A wave is connected to the whole and is a harmonic part of the natural cycles.
What we are experiencing is more like the rush of water after a damn breaks. The rush of this wave is not limited by cycles or nature. It violently cuts its own path towards progress.
That this is a good thing is seldom questioned.
And so we are prepared in school to build a raft. We learn about the direction of this flood as if it is inevitable and wonderful. “We are bringing moisture to the desert!” We scream, as 1000 desert cacti are exterminated forever.
And where, really, is the flood heading? To the ocean? To more water? Do we need that!?
The cultural mythology is that we are heading in a positive direction. The growth and achievement and acquisition are the direction of happiness. And so we jump in the raging flood and paddle towards the sea.
And while I don’t mean to say progress is bad – I am saying that it is not good in and of itself.
Perhaps Narcicis had it right. Maybe all the joy we need is in a tiny puddle.
***
Self Love may be the key out of the madness.
The first step is to understand that we are as great as any person who has ever walked the earth.
We have the same biology and brain. We have the same capacity to feel and learn.
So if we feel that the rush of the flood no longer serves us, we can crawl out of the water and re-evaluate.
Steve Jobs said,

“When you grow up you, tend to get told that the world is the way it is and your life is just to live your life inside the world, try not to bash into the walls too much, try to have a nice family, have fun, save a little money. That’s a very limited life. Life can be much broader, once you discover one simple fact, and that is that everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you. “

We are taught that the world exists and culture is in motion. The evolution of progress is wonderful and beyond our control. But Jobs is right, everything in the system was created by people no smarter than you. And most probably , by people with less spiritual connection than you. Possibly by people with incredibly distorted ideas of what is important. Definitely by people who valued victory over compassion and had an unhealthy drive for achievement.

Don’t get me wrong, there are millions…billions of people to learn from on the earth now and in history. And we should absolutely value the wisdom of those before us. We can see so much farther when we stand on the shoulders of giant.
But who is to say what direction to look?
Learn from history, books, and others, but be critical of anything you don’t experience. Have faith in other’s teachings, but never let it trump your own knowledge.
This is a complicated modern world. And leveraging the lessons of others is mandatory. Michelangelo may have been a renaissance man, but he’d have to narrow his specialization today.
But make no mistake, neither Michelangelo, nor Socrates nor Ghandi nor Jobs is greater than you.
In fact, they are far more like you than those paddling in the rushing tide.
All great people gazed into the pool of self. Each one listened to their own authority. What makes a person great is this very ability: to listen to the song in their hearts – and act on it.
We have the tendency to measure greatness by the same measuring sticks given to us by those that steer the flood. We value buildings with golden names across them. We value packed auditoriums and screaming fans.
But the list of greatness is not written across mountains or in marble. It is quietly spoken in thank you’s from joyful lips.
The tide’s roar is massive and loud. It can be hard to hear our own voice. It can feel arrogant to deny the pervasive path of the status quo.
But we must embrace our inner narcissist. And we must understand that the flood needs you to join it. It is highly motivated to get you on board.
And so the subtle lessons of school and culture chip away at our confidence. We worship flawless skin and ignore flawless character. We applaud influence but do not demand integrity. We paint dominance as victory and compassion as weakness.
Worst of all, we are trained to think that something is wrong with us.
But we are perfect. Every piece of the universe is important and perfect as it is.

We are all connected. We are all part of the fabric of the Universe.
The vast majority of “us” runs automatically and is fully integrated. Our breath, blood and digestion flow like the tides and seasons.
But there is a tiny part of us that we control: Our mind.
We perceive of the Universe – that we are part of – through a finite vantage point of Us.
We are witness to visuals and sensations. We also create thoughts and shape our world.
This little sliver of control defines us: What we think and how we impact the world.
Our relationship with that control is what makes us great.
And there is no greater way to become aware of that sliver than to study it… to gaze into the pool and admire.
What a gorgeous creature you are!
What a fantastic perspective you have!
What infinite miracles you can focus your attention on!
What endless opportunities you have for giving yourself pleasure and pursuing joy.
How amazing that these opportunities multiply exponentially when you become aware that every creature on the planet – and the biosphere of mother Earth herself – are opportunities for you to give pleasure and enhance joy.
YOU are the vehicle for this.
You are the magic point in the universe between natural flow and conscious creation.
(We all are… but your perspective in within you. Any car can make a journey… but the one you are driving is infinitely more important.)
You may have a list of things you’d like to change about yourself: your height your weight, your skin, or maybe the choices you’ve made.
But all of these things have lead you to this moment right here. With the awareness you have right now.
Can you feel the power you have? Do you feel inspired by the existence of YOU? You don’t actually need to DO anything. You can gaze into the pool a while and soak in your majesty.
If you feel called to return to the floodwaters, fine! But do so with awareness of who you are. Of how special and amazing you are.
You are amazing not because of any physical trait or skill . Not because of any task or achievement– that is floodwater thinking!
You are amazing because you have consciousness & free will. You have the ability to choose integrity. You have the ability to choose love. You have the ability to follow your heart & be great.
You are a miracle. Go have a look in the mirror.

-John 12.13.11

NOW & Imagination

It is hard to know where to focus our attention in this attention deficit world of pop-up ads, video billboards, and sign flippers on every corner.
It can be maddening. If we view life as something that we take a seat for and passively receive – then we are in for a frenzied ride that we have no control over.
But once you start to understand how your brain works, things are much simpler.
There are only 2 things you can put your attention on:
1) This NOW moment.
2) Your imagination.
The Now is the real visceral experience you are always having. The sensations. The visuals. The infinite richness of the universe right now.
If you are not experiencing the Now, then you are in your imagination. Whether an fantastic imagined future or potential outcome to the workday – or a memory of transgressions of yesterday – they are all generated by the imagination.
This understanding is critical.
It is critical because it helps us to understand that the imagination is a tool – and we control where it takes us.
Until we learn to discipline our thoughts, it is easy to believe that we are at the whims of our thoughts. But what we think and whether we believe those thoughts is absolutely in our control.
Without discipline, our imagination tends to pull to the dark. Our mind likes to wander to negative places of doubt, fear, & anxiety.
Fear is imagination used negatively. The future is just a story – so what is the benefit of telling yourself a story that is stressful?
People will argue that it is important to face reality. Many people who seem pessimistic actually self-identify as realists.
And as simple as this is, I don’t want to sound simplistic. There is a value to considering negative futures. The squirel who doesn’t consider a cold winter will fail to store enough food to survive til spring.
But the key here is subtle: The squirrel can imagine a pleasant future where he has plenty of food to last all winter. Then he can take action in the Now to ensure that he is headed in that direction.
Or he can imagine that he will not collect enough, or that his stores will rot or be stolen. The action taken in response to the second scenario is identical to the first. Both require collecting nuts today.
But the first squirrel does so with cheer, the second does it with anxiety.
Now this is an unfair metaphor because the squirrel doesn’t have the same cognitive abilities of a human. A human has an imagination. It is our great evolutionary gift – and curse.
We can look at tracks and imagine where an animal has been and where it is going. We can look at a field and imagine what the of rainfall it gets and what it would look like with rows of wheat. We can even imagine a combination of tastes we’ve never tried and have an idea of if it would taste good or bad.
Let’s try this: Imagine biting into a crisp dill pickle. Can you taste the briny saltiness? Now imagine biting into a candy cane. Do you think the two tastes would compliment each other well? I’m pretty sure they would not. But have you ever tried that combination?
Now imagine the sound of a loved one’s voice who has passed on. Can you hear it in your head? Can you feel a trace of emotion as you experience them in your imagination? Do you feel warm inside?
Now lets take a second and consider the difference between a memory of your cat, and seeing your cat walk by.
I heard Sadguru Vasudev, an Indian mystic, instructing his followers. He said where do you see me right now?
Many pointed at him. He said again, “where do you see me?”
He was trying to demonstrate that nothing is seen except for within the processes of the brain. Light is reflected to the eye, which processes an image upside down, the brain then flips it and sends it to other parts of the brain to be experienced.
The imagination can – essentially – send an image a sensation from one part of the brain to another to be “experienced.”
So we return to this awareness that there is just Now & imagination.
On the drive to work, we spend some of the time in the Now – focused on traffic and weather and other cars. And we spend some of our time in imagination – focused on the day ahead, the night before, and memories brought up by the song on the radio.
While imagining, An untrained mind may step out of the now and cycle through thoughts of their boss, angry about a tardiness that has yet to occur.
A trained mind can summon pleasant thoughts of a child’s morning smile, an upcoming vacation, or a boss thrilled with our recent performance.
In both cases, the drive to the work is the same distance. It takes the same time. Functionally the commute was identical. But one is stressful, the other is joyful.
Okay, but lets make it more interesting. Lets say there was an accident, you are late, and people keep cutting you off and driving on the shoulder to get ahead.
My tendency is to go straight to “YOU ASSHOLE! DO YOU THNK THE REST OF US AREN’T IN A HURRY, TOO!? DAMNIT. I SHOULD HAVE LEFT EALIER & TAKEN THE BYPASS. NOW I’LL HAVE TO DISRUPT THE MORNING MEETING, EVERYONE WILL STARE AS I FIND A SEAT…”
As my imagination conjures up this potential future, I actually feel the awkwardness of entering in the meeting in progress. My muscles contract and my stomach churns. I can feel my face heat up as I imagine the guy on the shoulder thinking, “So long sucker!” as he speeds 4 car lengths ahead.
But none if it is real. I am not late, yet. The meeting has not started, yet. The guy on the shoulder may be rushing to the hospital to donate bone marrow and save a life.
And yet, I used my imagination to create a painful Now.
Shakespear’s Julias Ceasar has the quote: A Coward Dies 1000 deaths, A hero dies but once.
Meaning that if we allow Fear to drive our imagination, we will experience the pain of imagined futures every time we think of them. On that drive to work we could die a dozen deaths as we continually imagine walking into the meeting in progress.
But the hero holds the reins of his fear. It is possible that entering the meeting will be horrible. But the hero experiences it just once – in the Now.
And life will teach us over and over – that the deaths we imagine are generally far worse than the ones we eventually endure. The embarrassment is less, the anger is less, the disaster is less.
Over time we can practice noticing where our thoughts are. Are we in the Now? Or in our imagination? If we are unhappy, we are most surely in our imagination. And if we control our imagination, can we steer our thoughts to something more pleasant? Or at least a more pleasant perspective of the same situation? Maybe imagine a better outcome or reaction?
I rmember seeing an interview with “Sulley” the captain the landed a plane on the Hudson River. As lights blinked and the system fell apart, he spoke of giving zero thought to possible disaster. He spent every second available thinking about a successful landing. Was disaster possible? Yes! Were there things that could go wrong? Absolutely! But the outcome is not helped in any way by worrying about those possibilities.
He kept a level head, landed the plane, and saved many lives.
We may not have a wing on fire and lives at stake, but every time we allow imagined thoughts to make us suffer – we die a death of a different sort.

If we are not experiencing the Now, we are in our imagination. And if we are not enjoying our imagined thoughts, we need to be critical of them and steer them to a better place.
Practice having the courage to be optimistic. Practice having the mental discipline to live as a Hero.

-John Halcyon
Dec 6, 2011