A jab at social media

You don’t have to share everything. It doesn’t make you a lesser human being if you don’t share every grain of salt. Instead, mindfully curate content that speaks to your highest truth and excitement. Shock value and debasing an opposing side bare little to enrich content, or inspire an eventful life.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

When does it become timeless?

And then you wake up and realize that everyone has their own distinct relationship with time. And time flies when trust is present.

Trust emerges with wisdom: knowing yourself and the nature of our sensations, emotions, and thoughts. It’s a process and while discomfort may arise, courage is the cure.

And naturally trust flourishes in our selves and relationships through the alignment of mind, body, and soul.

Adding meaning and self-awareness

What’s your life goal? What’s your favorite daily routine? Does it match up?

Regardless if you’re clear about the answers, I’ve found the following exercise to be fun and effective.

Marshall Goldsmith, a renown author and thought leader on executive coaching, offers a simple advice: track your behaviors.

In an excel sheet list essential habits that add meaning to the day. Things like “did I exercise?” “Did I read?” “Did I say thank you?” “how happy was I today?” “day’s highlight?” “day’s lesson?”

For 30 days spend 1 minute each day to mark ‘yes’ or ‘no’, a number, or a short comment for each item. Every 10 days you can include a column to summarize your scores. After 30 days graph the data and take a look. The mirror does not lie. Adjust your behavior as needed, and the mirror always smiles back.

Hone a signature routine that most represents the person you want to be. Dial it consistently, without expectations and enrich the day with meaning.

After 30 days, if you’re noticing any kind of positive change you can say “thank you” to a friend or mentor who you consider an influence in the process. Build relationships while building momentum.

This is an exercise that takes less than a minute a day and provides honest insight into where you are and who you want to become. And yes, it may require a dash of courage.

Creating flow and connection

When you regularly apply your passion without expectations, good things happen. It’s that simple.

Here are four ways to focus, adapt, and drive positive change.

1. Make it an adventure
Living an adventure means accepting life in its fullness. It means going with the flow, constantly learning and unlearning to make way for new. Seeking novelty is a psychological state that fevers the adventurous spirit. Whether though travel, hobby, honing a new skill, a career or lifestyle transition. Whatever your goal is at the moment, be eager to re-discover your potential, without clingy expectations. Find yourself constantly transforming by letting go of stories that no longer serve growth. Choose the story you want tell yourself. Make it epic.

2. be present
There’s the old proverb: necessity is the mother of invention. Similarly: presence is the mother of confidence. Your talent, strength, passion, ‘ahh’ and ‘aha’ moments live in this moment, not in some arbitrary fantasy in your head. Having a clear purpose begins with self-awareness, of the body and mind. Contemplative practices like mindfulness and meditation are effective ways to quiet the hindbrain (aka lizard brain), which is on survival alert and when hyperactive can cause over-production of the stress hormone cortisol, shown to shrink parts of the brain. A good book that dives into the physiology of mindfulness is Buddha’s Brain.

Regular calming routines help ease stress and balance the immune system. Studies even show that a mundane task like washing the dishes, when done with a mindful presence, reduces stress and anxiety. Check in with what the body is picking up and bear witness to thoughts and sensations rather than trying to control them. By quieting the mind, the body naturally follows and calms itself. Take a minute to simply breath throughout the day and observe what it feels like to have a body that breathes. The psychological term for this process is interoception, which means perceiving within.

3. Build empathy
Empathy is the foundation of emotional intelligence, which is the ability to read feeling states and adapt, in yourself and others. Now there are numerous definitions out there but the important thing is the capacity to connect. And like a muscle it can be strengthened by quieting the mind and being curious.

If you’re ordering food at a restaurant, you can tell if the employee is just going through the motions, or just following the script. You can also tell if she is tapped into the moment and having fun with real time conversations. When I notice people riding the script, I look for moments of pause, or surprise spaces that draw my attention, and it’s amazing how a gentle silence can dissolve the script for a smile or interesting conversation to emerge.

4. Tell your own story
Be true to your own story. Let experience speak for itself. When I was in China, my brain was racing to figure out what it means to live there. So much is different, from the language and history to the rules of the road. Chinese culture is fascinating, especially in areas that have preserved some historic roots like in Chengdu where I was staying.

I would hear friends share their own intellectual narratives about China. Out of desperation to find meaning in the new environment, I would fish for other people’s opinions to adopt as my own, which didn’t feel quite real. Everyone offered a piece of truth but the whole I had to discover on my own. I remember one night I was walking home when I realized to just sit with the experience without forcing a meaning and let the impressions land in their own terms. This way it becomes my story and not somebody else’s. And the experience unfolded beautifully, meeting some amazing people and seeing some incredible places.

Dropping expectations is the key. Not always easy but a worthy practice.

Joy of discomfort

Traveled through 14 countries and now 10 months into China, I’ve gained a deepened appreciation and immediacy for identity. I’m an Iranian, California-raised storyteller and my root curiosity is consistency. Using comfort as a prime currency, I’m in the business of remembrance and value creation.

So right around new year I considered the following question: “If you had an endless supply of money, what would you be doing?” I realized not much would change. I would keep teaching, writing, and doing events.

The following month a group of us did a show titled Looking at Itself, centered around improv, music, and poetry. Part of the aim was to grey the divide between performer and audience. This would be my first performance in China and far from what I had planned, the show developed into musical madness on piano and guitar, a few on spoken word, and one painter at the center of the crowd. We allowed a wide play range and I made one promise to myself:

Just show up.

With gracious support from June, the venue coordinator, it was a success: full crowd. surprise performers, moments of luminous synchronicity. A sagely Chinese elder did his first public performance that night. The pianist got signed as a regular performer. And we got invited to a literature festival in March.

Were there moments of panic leading up to the show? Yes.
Was it uncomfortable? Yes.
Did I trust the process? Yes.
Did I feel supported? Yes.
Did I ruthlessly say “no” to packs of ideas toward the final essential piece? Yes.
Was it euphoric in the end? Yes

More cross-modal, cross-cultural events to come.

Simple choice, no arrival

One of the best decisions I have made is to be simple and direct with myself and not depend on impressing others. I live for curiosity and self-expression. I live to create destiny. You can create yours’. If I’m in your way, you have permission to confront me or kindly shove me aside, which people often do and I graciously accept. Creativity is a birthright, one thing to not forget.

Spiritual inquiry

“We are here to awaken from the illusion of separation.”
Thich Nhat Hanh

Spirituality is the process of becoming whole, the underlying why to what we do. It is purpose, it is culture, it is now. In the depths of spiritual inquiry, one might ask, “what if you are everyone you’ve ever known?” Your friends, parents, monsters, colleagues, customers – all reflections that you get to co-create. This is what I call a worthy inquiry.

And on your final breath you might ask yourself a simple question, “how deeply did I love?”

Why I don’t bother with humility

What if each waking breath you had a whole new brain, a new perspective, and all that remained was a wonder, “Here I am.” What if we dropped our personhood, no matter clever or simple, humble or self-absorbed, into the thick fragrance of now. Those ribbons of analysis wrapped around the mind, how we decorate our walls with untold stories. If we remove the outside world from the equation of “me,” what are we left with?

The self-image is hallow. there is no person behind the mask. There is nothing to chase or avoid, you are the light soaking on your forehead. How light wrinkles and shifts in her eyes, starring at the world behind the world with the spear of destiny in hand.

Easy under the skin, liquify your spine, melt like gravity washing over the stars. The galaxy watching over you, “This one doesn’t reek of comparison.”

Breathe deep as the trees reassemble with the wind, casting electric shadows onto the branches, lazy synapses laid over your gaze, a voice without words only you can hear, and the surrender that glows in this body that knows.

A waterfall has no plan to fall yet look at it go, with no beginning or end, it just falls with no aim to be understood. And the stage it owns. The sound and the tiny ripples. I forget why I bothered with personhood.