Every Writer Needs A Healthy Heart

For those of us who spend a great deal of time writing while seated at a desk, it is important to keep our bodies fit if we expect to keep our minds sharp and generating fresh ideas. In this article it is my intention to share a handful of useful tips that have helped me to keep my production capability strong and sustainable.

Some of my best thinking happens while walking outside. With fresh air the heart pushes more oxygen to the brain allowing thinking to become a breeze. Use this time to break down barriers, overcome obstacles and locate solutions to problems. Break up the ice to dive deep into the subconscious and bring back a net of ideas to keep the writing process going.

Green tea may not taste good initially but add some fresh lemon, ginseng and/or ginger for a super healthy brain potion to get the creative juices flowing. The time it takes to prepare a cup of tea is a great way to begin and maintain an essential habit. While waiting for the water to boil do several push-ups and/or sit-ups and/or squats. Keep a set of dumbbells nearby and work your biceps, triceps and/or shoulders. The objective is to get both a cardio and strength workout in before the water boils. Then use the time it takes for the tea to steep for some light stretches. Now you can return to your writing area feeling refreshed and eager for another power hour of writing.

Last but not least, remember to snack on veggies throughout the day such as broccoli, bell-peppers, carrots and spinach. The goal is to eat light food, high in energy and good for the heart. There is no better way to diminish junk food than to simply add more healthy food in its stead. For the love of clarity avoid heavy food while writing.

So that pretty well wraps things up. Implementing these changes into your lifestyle can be challenging in the beginning. It may be best to gradually ease them into your practise. Overtime the benefits of these healthy heart habits may bring about immense progress for you as they have for me. In the meantime click here for a more elaborate list of items to help improve oneself as a writer.

Love & Light,

JY

 

 

 

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Solace – When All Lights Go Out

Few of us thoroughly consider the possibility of getting into a serious accident and how we might cope with such misfortune. Can you imagine yourself in a hospital bed for weeks on end without the full use of your body and senses? What would you do to pass your time if you were unable to move around, read a book or speak with visitors? It may be difficult to imagine this initially but with a little creative thinking we can mentally prepare ourselves in part for similar situations. Allow me to address this scenario through the wisdom of ancient philosophy:

“For nowhere either with more quiet or more freedom from trouble does a man retire than into his own soul, particularly when he has within him such thoughts that by looking into them he is immediately in perfect tranquility; and I affirm that tranquility is nothing else than the good ordering of the mind.” – The Meditations by Marcus Aurelius

The good ordering of the mind can be rendered as planning, evaluation, prevention and prioritizing first things first. By taking initiative to create a life built upon principles and values conducive to the common good, we can free up our minds from unnecessary doubt and uncertainty, thus enter into a peace of mind (tranquility) that grants one a wider capacity to decide and act appropriately within various circumstances.

What thoughts do you have close to your heart that will bring you solace in your day of hardship? Are these ideas transient and subject to change? Or are they solid as a house built upon a rock? Are these experiences begotten through self-discipline, service, contribution and sacrifice or are they fleeting as a one night stand? Do you have a storehouse of wisdom from which you can draw upon again and again in order to obtain consolation?

Here is a rough idea of the items being gathered into my treasure: Stories, quotes, passages and poems that belong to a number of people who lived throughout history. It’s a lot of information to draw upon, so here is one means to modify:

“Withdraw within yourself, and examine yourself. If you do not yet therein discover beauty, do as the artist, who cuts off, polishes, purifies until he has adorned his statue with all the marks of beauty…”

It is essential to deeply explore the content of our mind -which includes beliefs and opinions- for what is transparent, true and aligned with reality. Because we have come to understand the world about us through a dialectical process that has taken place over thousands of years, it would stand to make sense that some of those revolutionary shifts along the way would appear axiomatic. Such as the idea of loving your neighbour as yourself or attaining higher states of consciousness in view to alleviating suffering for all living creatures. Once you have retrieved beautiful gems from the dross, then you may freely remove…

“…from your soul, therefore, all that is superfluous, straighten out all that is crooked, purify and illuminate what is obscure, and do not cease from perfecting your statue until the divine resplendence of virtue shines forth upon your sight.” – Plotinus, Enneads (I,6,9)

As a creative artist we can proactively design our lives in accordance to principles that allow for clarity and tranquility, despite our rendezvous with suffering and deprivation. By purging ourselves of superficial and narcissistic tendencies we can enter into a domain of mind where neither moth nor rust destroy. We don’t have to wait for the worse to happen before we take measures.

Why not begin with the end in mind and gather together your own special collection of passages by which you can attain serenity in your darkest hour. Come to know it by heart rather than memorizing the words. Most things we memorize slip away in time but that which we keep close to our heart –whatever is true, good, right, pure, lovely, excellent and commendable– becomes life sustaining and echoes with the heartbeat of eternity.

Love & light,

JY

“You will find rest from vain fancies if you perform every act in life as though it were your last.” – Marcus Aurelius

 

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Six pillars to a good night’s rest.

We all love to wake up fully restored from a solid night of rest. Unfortunately this is not a reality for many of us. Here are a few tips that I’ve picked up along the way to help improve my sleep:

1) Avoid laptops, cell phones and all other brightly lit displays at least an hour or two before bedtime. Consider using your time before bed as a relaxing time to journal, colour, read a paper book or listen to an audiobook and/or calming music.

2) It is very helpful to wake up & go to bed the same time every day. If you are like me then you need 8 hours of sleep a night so stay awake for the other 16 hours before attempting sleep. Thus you may want to cut out napping or at least keep it very brief.

3) Get plenty of exercise throughout the day and keep well hydrated. As an alternative to dozing off consider breathing exercises or going for a walk. Stretching is also an effective way to overcome afternoon fatigue and restore energy.

4) Avoid caffeine, carbonated drinks and chocolate at least 5 hours before sleep. Overall it is best to maintain a healthy diet.

5) Eating before bedtime keeps me awake. For some people a light snack before sleep can be helpful.

6) What you do in your bed tends to become habitual so only use it for sleep and sex.

There you have my six pillars to a good night’s rest. Now keep in mind there are unforeseen circumstances and/or obstacles that may surface in time. For instance, waking up again and again during the night can be a real annoyance. However waking up frequently throughout the night is not a big deal generally speaking, so avoid getting all bent out of shape over it. It is natural for the brain to enter into various states of sleep throughout the night so avoid worry and stay relaxed as you wait to go back to sleep. In the event that you cannot get back to sleep within 20 minutes then get up and do something relaxing, such as the items listed in the first category above. If you tried everything above and are still having ongoing issues with sleep then you might want to consult with a health professional.

Feel free to share your ideas of getting a better night of rest in the comment section below.

Love & light,

JY

 

 

 

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Cut the Chord to Annoyance

How useful is it to dislike others? Are the benefits worth the cost? Probably not, so let’s face the music. There are people on this planet that annoy us. Many of them probably live within our own communities. They may be in our work environment, at school or within our home. We may not be able to control their behaviour but we can change the way we think & feel about them. But why would we want to do that you may say. There are several good reasons to let go of ill feelings towards another human-being. For starters:

A. The annoyance experienced while in the presence or when thinking about such individuals can rob us of our serenity or peace of mind. Vexation can gradually deplete our sense of well-being over time.

B. Another good reason to reduce irritation is for the sake of getting along with that person, which can open the door to some kind of resolution. In general it is better to keep our minds lucid and open, rather than narrow and inflexible.

C. Our third reason could be entirely pragmatic. By respecting and treating the other with dignity we can soften their hearts, thus lessen their animosity and need for revenge.

So that was just a few takes as to why we may be better off omitting or reducing our strong dislike of others. There are plenty of more reasons that can be added to this position but let’s cut to the chase. How can we override or lessen the annoyance that others provoke within us? Here are three exercises that may prove to be helpful:

1) Imagine placing your hand gently upon the head of the person who arouses anger within you and recite the following words times: May you be filled with love and wisdom… May you be happy and at peace… May you be healthy and brimming with vitality…

2) Perceive the individual as a mirror. Look within yourself to determine how it is that you possess the very same traits you find so detestable in the other.

3) Take a few deep breaths as you scan your body to locate where the irritation resides. Be fully present to the emotion -even if it moves you to tears- then slowly breathe the feeling away into the sea of forgetfulness.

Feel free to adapt these methods to suit your own situation and disposition. You may have to practice them for a while before you see results. Let me know if it works for you. There are also other approaches on my site to help purge ingrained negative feelings should you wish to pick up a few more tools for your psychological kit.

Love & light,

JY

 

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Treat Worry As Your Ally

Worry is nothing but excess energy being put to poor use. So how can we rechannel it for constructive ends? Here is my approach in a nutshell:

1. State what you are worried or overly concerned about.
2. State the cause or reasons for your concern.
3. State all the possible outcomes beginning with the worst case scenario.
4. State all the different ways to deal with the issue.
5. Select the best option and act on it.

This five step process engages the brain -especially the frontal cortex- to help access good judgement and make effective decisions. Let’s check this method out with a potential scenario:

1. Alex is worried that she may not get a full-time contract at University next semester.
2. Her department is in the process of making financial cuts and so they might reduce her hours.
3. Alex may not be able to pay her rent with a part-time salary. She may have to move and find additional ways to cut spending.
4. Perhaps the first course of action is to determine how likely her suspicion is to manifest by speaking with her union representative and/or manager. If it is certain that her hours are to be reduced then it may be a matter of finding extra work and/or taking her vehicle off the road to use public transportation instead. Maybe she could rent a room to a student for the semester.
5. The most practical option may not be an enjoyable one initially, and depending on Alex’s values & supports, her decision may be very different from ours.

What matters is that we make an informed decision to appropriately deal with the situation. Ideally this frees the mind from spinning around in the dirt going nowhere. With a plan in place our psychic energy can be channelled into the task on hand rather than dispersed into aimless moments of distraction that lead to additional procrastination and needless worry.

Love & light,

JY

 

 

 

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The Integrity of Words

Conscience…
Is it real or an invention;
A cultural machination to keep everyone in line.

Imagination…
A playground for thinking;
Or a break from reality into an evolutionary decline.

Free will…
A rope around the neck;
Loose enough to turn back to face ones accusers.

Self-awareness…
The devil’s own prize;
A storehouse of weapons & evasive manoeuvres.

Wisdom…
A crack in the wall;
Sound no longer contained but passes on through.

Justice…
The Canaanites extinguished;
To make more room for Abraham’s slew.

Honour…
A trophy, ribbon or accolade;
A distinction to keep the ranks in place & fortified.

Respect…
A room for us and them;
And a God fearing way to keep the men dignified.

By Jason Youngman
May 2018

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Are we bounded by moral principles or are we free to step away and observe them from various perspectives… Is honesty the best policy when we must lie to protect the downtrodden … Can wisdom be attained without walking down that long and arduous lane of failures … Do we not learn from our mistakes and our successes … Sometimes the extreme is necessary to attain long-term equilibrium. What may work in one relationship and/or situation may not for another.

Our lives are filled with contingencies, if this then that, if that then this. A greater good or the popular opinion or a rational analysis may not be the best way to orient ourselves in all circumstances. So how do we remain adaptable and flexible in a changing world; perhaps it is wise to question our assumptions and the principles we take for granted to determine its truth, usefulness and validity.

The associated poem was an attempt to stretch each virtue into its corresponding vice. The literary piece also serves the function of revealing the tenacity of each power or virtue. If we extend the meaning of each word too much one way or the other then its definition is lost. For instance honour is no longer honour if it is used for that which is dishonourable or justice is no longer justice if it is used for what is unjust. Analyze & criticize, synthesize & literalize the principles you know, and watch them transform to allow your life to flourish and grow.

Love & light,

JY

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The Trial & Death of Socrates

I am in the process of taking massive action to refine my play script on the trial & death of Socrates, especially in view to applying appropriate theatre technique. Spring is often a time of renewed energy and focus for me. So my sails are fully open to the winds of destiny. May the integrity of my ship bring me closer to that golden day, to feel the vibrant lights of the theatre warm my countenance and to watch the veiled stage curtain divide so as to open our hearts & minds to the magic of dialectical interplay. The video above provides a brief intro to the play.

Love & light,

JY

 

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An Ode to Orpheus

The life of Orpheus is one that we all must muse upon from time to time. Such magical stories grant us a reprieve from the world of mediocrity and enable our imaginations to soar on high. His music can be heard while in deep reflection; a sweet and gentle melody that lingers the day long. Metre and rhyme creating chords of harmony that resonate with our souls so as to play along.

Though civilizations come and go, stars fall away and implode, the archetypal Orpheus is born again and again with renewed vitality. He is the master of poetry and song; that secret chord by which we can congregate and get along. A wind that blows, which no one knows, where it comes or where it goes. Above our heads perched upon a branch of a tree, a beautiful white swan sings the tune of eternity.

His seven string lyre is attuned with our chakras, as well as the planets that orbit the sun. Each can be heard if you listen in silence, for the many resound through the invisible one. The beating heart of Apollo and the offspring of Calliope, he is the bestower of wisdom and the means for sobriety. Now that his story has been told once more, let us depart with the courage to explore.

Love & light,

JY

 

 

 

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Commentary on Ennead I.4 – Well-Being

Plotinus makes perfect sense if you take the time to think about what he is saying. To attain ultimate well-being is an out of this world experience. It’s about being in eternity opposed to existing in time. Rather than getting caught up into a stream of sensual pleasure – which can be a form of good – the Good itself is lodged within Spirit and neither are with corporality. From the sensual perspective there is no Spirit whatsoever. There is nothing within bodily receptors to pick up on Spirit, just as there are no antennas growing out of our heads to pick up on radio waves. It is through mind (psyche/soul) that we encounter Spirit. Just as we deem certain events in life to be happy moments – it is through mind that we apply such judgement; i.e. we come to interpret what is good or evil through our minds. Regardless of the fact that our bodies can influence the quality of our thoughts and vice versa, our minds have an immense array of powers. Is it true that all human beings presently living in the 21st century possess the exact same ability to think rationally, concentrate or recall past events; of course not. Some of us are with extremely high intelligence while most of us are with average IQ, relatively speaking. There are people out there with very keen intuitions and folks who lack common sense. Needless to say the human population has a wide range of mental capacities and aptitudes. Now is it possible for some of us to have extraordinary capacities of the mind not shared by most other homo sapiens; of course. To think we know everything about the evolution of our species is nothing shy of naivety on our part. Now then, even from this limited and singular perspective one can see how it is likely that some of us are with the disposition for recognizing the Good, that which is beyond all form and comprehension. In fact there is nothing that can be added to the Good but that doesn’t stop people from superimposing their personal bias upon it. Many are inclined to remove the o from Good so as to end up with the word God but that too would be a mistake, for nothing can be added or taken away from the Good itself. Even the spelling of the word Good is a cognitive error, but for the purpose of explaining our relationship to it, one must avail of language and symbols by which the receiver is conditioned to use in order to make sense of things. In some respect it may be best to say nothing at all about it but to encourage the inquirer to sit quietly and empty their mind of all content. To experience this state of no-thing-ness is absolutely beautiful to behold. It renders all our experiences of earthly life as frivolous and useless in comparison. But as soon as our thinking mind tries to compare our worldly experiences with the bliss of no-thing-ness, the transcendent state is gone, we are back in duality playing a losing game of chess with the fates. Now hold on a moment you might say, spirituality conflicts with our human project? To pick up this question is to swing us back into an endless dance. No wonder well-being is so rarely found, we are too dizzy/busy going around in circles looking for it!

Love & light,

JY

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In my Secret Garden

Recently recorded a very simple yet pleasant melody on my 6 string acoustic guitar and sent it off to my friend Richard Downs; a Nicaraguan-American Violinist and Composer. In turn he spiced it up with a snazzy little tune with his violin! Afterwards I listened to this fusion again and again until words flowed up into the light of consciousness and danced along the edge of my imagination. Then as quick as Mercury I wrote the letters down on paper. Here it remains as prose. Perhaps sometime in the near future a wind of inspiration shall blow and rearrange this prose into a lyrical poem to be sung and mused upon by those who possess an ear for such things. In the meantime be free to sample the blending of these sounds in the video above. Thank you Richard for imparting such wondrous love.

JY

 

 

 

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