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Inspire me!

Inspire me!

Well, helloooooooo!

I have been blogging for over a year now, and have found it exceedingly fun. I actually got inspired by watching Julie and Julia (thank you to the late and great Nora Ephron). I do plan on reading the book eventually… lol220px-Julie_and_julia

I related a lot to Julie’s steps and missteps in life, trying to find a place where she felt loved, appreciated, and passionate. She found herself slipping in life, falling between the cracks of her peers, and struggling to find an identity. She found herself. It was not through meditation, rehab, or even a relationship, it was through cooking. Cooking Julia Child specifically. She decided to take on the task of cooking all the recipes in Child’s Mastering The Art of French Cooking. How she dealt with the ups and downs of cooking reflected how she handled her problems in her life. (check out the clip below – from the movie) Do you simply give up after a failure? Do you constantly have a need for approval? Can you simply try and love yourself for trying? I found the message to be truly heartwarming. The Julie character¬†was human. She was imperfect, and beautiful. She tried at life. She went in not knowing what to expect. She had many setbacks, but eventually succeeded, not just by accomplishing what she set out to do, but every single time she picked herself up and kept at it, she was a success. I can relate.

All my life I have felt less than. I feel like everyone else is in competition, and that I will ultimately be the loser. I gain strength from the messages in this film. I found that I can be me, aIMG_6896nd that I am glorious already. It is time to shine. I am simply putting my thoughts into this blog. I am obviously not an expert, well, in anything really. But I like to think that I can love myself simply because I deserve love. Everyone does.

So enough with the heavy… I am still waiting to see what life this blog will take. I am trying to let it go in its own direction. I look to you now to inspire that direction. Please fill out the poll below and let me know what (if any) of the following would interest you. I really want to know! ūüôā If it’s not on the list, just let me know in the comment section.

Thank you for reading… And although I may not know all of you, I love you just the same.

XOXO

-Jon

 

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A Letter From My Future Self

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Despite the unlikelihood that my iphone will last 22 years, the calendar does indeed allow me to “look” that far in the future. lol

I liked the Daily Prompt topic suggestions, but as I began writing I realized that I wanted to take a different angle on the assignment. So… I decided to write a letter to myself, but not to myself at 14, or to myself 20 years from now, but rather from the vantage point of my future self twenty years from now – more specifically, from November 4th, 2032.

November 4th, 2032

Dear Jon Breen Sr.,

So I bet you never thought you’d live past your early 30’s. Well you did! I’m looking at the pictures of myself back then and I can still see the utter confusion in that beautiful face of yours. For you at 30, I can definitely say you have only seen a little of what the world has to offer. Frankly, I envy you. You may not know it, but you are in for the ride of your life. From all our “star trek” watching, you must know that I cannot divulge too many details of the future, for that would alter my own timeline. It would be a dangerous thing to disturb the delicate thread of our existence. For I like who you have become. Not to sound narcissistic, but your future self is pretty great (humble too, most of the time! *laugh*) You have no idea of the wonders you will embark on – but I do. I do not wish to tell you what is to come, for had I known of the challenges which would come before me, I probably wouldn’t have left the house from the years 2022 to 2024. Don’t ask me why, but you will soon find out. I can’t tell you everything you would want to know, but I will tell you what I can.

You will find love. You will also realize that you have already found it. You will propose to someone who you truly love. They will say yes, and you will be very happy. Unfortunately, the happiness will be short-lived due to a crisis. And despite the pain and anguish you will suffer, you will come out of the experience happy to have done it. It may sound crazy, but I truly hope you won’t stop yourself now, having known what I have told you of your love-to-be.

You will have many good friends, but only have five truly great friends. Protect them. Tell them that you love them. Yes. Love. Not care for, not kinda like. LOVE. And you must be there for them. You absolutely must not waver on this. I beg you don’t EVER take your friends for granted. You will lose one to illness, but that will be completely out of your hands. You will experience great sorrow and loss, but again, don’t lose sight of the fact that they are a part of you, and with you and through you, they will live on. And you live on through you impact in their lives. You will have mentors who will continue to inspire you throughout adulthood. Paul has finished his 18th book from his home in Montevideo, Uruguay. This one is another fiction novel (although it seems to have some basis in reality). It is always a blast to visit him down there.

Photo from New York Times – all rights reserved

You will have a rather tumultuous career path. Don’t get me wrong, you will find great successes in you career, but it will not be anything like you might have thought. I’m going to leave out the details, as you really do need to follow your own path. I will say this. You will be glad you went back to school, although it will be a challenge for you and test your serenity. You will practice medicine but not in the United States, at least not for quite some time. Learning languages will fill you with more joy than you will ever realize. I must say, your Spanish will get better, and, oddly enough, you will develop an accent. You learn a third language – which will give you a unique opportunity to travel and help those in another country. (sorry if I’m laughing while I write this part, but you will see later on why I am…). That experience will test you more than any other experience before. But you will survive and will have your family to thank for that.

As for family, your father and mother are still happily married and are enjoying their lives in Montreal. You father is still composing music for the conservatory and will be teaching a couple advanced Kodaly classes at Harvard in the Spring. You mother’s clinic is still thriving, and has recently been recognized for their achievements over the years. Your brothers are well and are all still teaching. Max has accepted the position of Principal at his old high school, and his tattoos have been recently featured in INK magazine online and Erik is planning his fifth trip to Mount Everest. He is now teaching a climbing course to first-timers. You have to see the pictures from his last trip! Patrick has been offered a position with the Oxford University Department of Philosophy. A post he didn’t expect to receive. He does however want to consider his options prior to accepting the position. Most likely he will. Your nephew Francis just graduated college, so Patrick and Bethany might now consider moving again when Bethany can find someone to overlook her Art Gallery.

Your travels will be amazing. You will meet a Prince (you will not marry him, sorry,) you will find a muse for your writing in many different places, you will sing and dance in the wildest places. You will live in a palace for a year (had to tell you that one), but you will be there on a mission, hard at work, and will create something wonderful while there. You will find great despair living in a run down apartment in Europe. But this time your friends will be your salvation, and will help you recover.

Your stories will bring joy to lots of people, but mostly to your children. You will write songs for just for them, and one day you will lose the desire for any fame. Your only cares will soon become the children in your life. Jon Jr. and Sara will bring you great joy. I am still waiting for our grandchildren, but I think they will come soon.

As for your love, your partner, you must find this path yourself for you will know when you have found the one.

But remember to love yourself. And never give up. I believe in you! Which, by extension means you believe in you! So you really do have good self-esteem. Remember that!

Time moves fast, but never make it go faster by forgetting to take the time to show those in your life how much you care for them.

I hope you enjoyed the letter.

Love,

Jon

 
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Posted by on November 4, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Giving It Up! or “How liberating my money liberated me”

Giving It Up! or “How liberating my money liberated me”

The idea of giving is not a completely new concept for me. Despite this, I have only recently discovered the utter joy of giving. By giving I mean money, cash, dinero, moolah, ducats, and scrilla. I’ve often felt joy in volunteering, but sometimes people don’t want my help, they want some dough. So why debate the seemingly unspiritual nature of money, and offer people exactly what they are asking for?

MK Gandhi

In the past, when people asked me for money, either a homeless person, or for a charity, I would often think “wait, I’m young, and barely making a living, I have tons of bills, and I can’t even afford a decent pair of pants!? Grumble, grumble.” And my head goes to a place that is utterly shameful. I began to think “why don’t they¬†simply (insert unreasonable expectation here)” or those people always “yadda yadda yadda.” Looking back on this, I really feel like I was not doing my Berkeley education justice. Yes, if I give someone five bucks, I will not have that five bucks. But if I am someone who gives five bucks regularly, and still manages to have a happy life, I am more effective and connected than before. I would have learned how to be happy with less. And despite the fact that I have no clue what people will actually use the money for, I enjoy giving, I enjoy seeing someone hold their head up a little bit more than they did before they met me. I want that to be my life. I want to be that change that I want to see in the world. (Thank you Mahatma Gandhi!)¬†

Animated by positive thoughts

Well, at first I experienced a lot of hesitation. I was scared. After all, what will happen if I give my money away? Will I go hungry? No. Will I become homeless myself? Probably not. Will I become utterly miserable and regret my decision for years and years to come, pining at all that I could have afforded had I not helped my fellow man (or woman)? NOPE! In fact, I feel more secure in my happiness. I feel free from the bonds of money. I would hold onto my money with such a tight grip when it comes to others, but when it came to my own spending, I was often quite reckless. Now, don’t get me wrong, giving away money will not help you necessarily save up for that hawaiian vacation, but maybe, just maybe, I will find so much joy in life that when that Hawaiian vacation does come around, I will have already experienced joy before I had even left the mainland.

Nowadays, I find that giving makes me feel more involved. I feel like I can actually make a difference. I can

The awesome Humpback Whale.

volunteer and help with my physical presence, and expertise. Or I can help by feeding some of the benefits I’ve been afforded to those to whom they haven’t been afforded. I had to struggle to get where I am today, but I see how I can pay it forward. I am not going to clear my checking account to save the whales any time soon, but I won’t say never. ūüôā By being a part of possibility for others, I AM possibility. I AM giving. I AM love. These are gifts I have given myself. The money may not always be there, but I have granted myself something much greater in return. The satisfaction that I can BE who I set out to be. If I create that world around me, then I am, in essence, creating the world I want to exist in. So I choose to live in a world full of possibility, generosity, kindness, understanding, and empathy. And let me tell you, it sure ain’t bad. In fact, maybe I will help them Whales!

Thanks for reading, please feel free to comment.

-Jon

 

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Meditation is, like, hard and stuff…

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Okay, so it need not actually be hard to meditate. It is a practice which I often forget, forego, or simply disregard (after all, I still haven’t watched all the “charmed” reruns on Netflix)… I have heard of the various positive effects of meditation on physical wellbeing, emotional wellbeing, mental wellbeing, as well as increased focus, energy and clarity of thought. So why don’t I do it all the time? Well, focus is not easy. I sit in a quiet space, breath deeply, close my eyes (you know, do all the meditate-like stuff) and begin to relax. But shortly after I begin, random thoughts begin to plague my focus.

Psychologist and author Daniel Goleman said meditation is “the need for the meditator to retrain his attention, whether through concentration or mindfulness, is the single invariant ingredient in… every meditation system” (1988)

So my current practice of meditation (if you can call it a practice) involves being aware of the world around me, focusing on the sounds, smells and sensations. Sometimes I will simply acknowledge things, and tell myself as I am viewing them. It sounds simple, but I tend to get lost in this meditative mindfulness. I find it help slow down my day, and for a minute I get to experience timelessness. It is a real joy and I am trying to do this several times a day. There really is no excuse for me not to, as it can take as much or as little time as I want. It really depends on how much I’d like to enjoy the moment. Sometimes I would rather get things done, but it is my mindful state that affords me the joy and appreciation for all that I have. I have the here and now, so might as well enjoy it while it lasts.

Thanks for reading,

Please feel free to comment,

-Jon

 

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Clouds (Something wicked this way comes)

Clouds (Something wicked this way comes)

“Shyness is nice, and shyness can stop you from doing all the things in life you’d like to.” – The Smiths

Although many of my fears are based in the external world, things that frighten and scare, like verbal threats, physical violence, financial troubles, overdue bills, breakups, being laid off, getting sick, or simply bad weather. Inclement weather doesn’t¬†have to necessarily¬†involve an actual storm. Sometimes the storm can exist within, a metaphorical storm, that involves not lightning or torrential downpour, but one’s deepest fears and insecurities. It is a cloud that follows me and reminds me of all that I lack (or fear that I lack). For me this¬†cloud has grown twisted and expansive¬†from shyness, insecurity and¬†self-doubt. Every day my unconscious seeks out that which makes me wince. It is a persistent bee that seeks to sting and follows me down every path I take. No, this cloud is here to stay, so I better understand it, before I let it get the best of me.

Happy but evil cloud...

What does it look like? It appears to be somewhat light and fluffy, like an insignificant ball of fluff. It doesn’t appear scary at first, but over time has proven itself quite deadly.

What does it communicate to me? It tells me that when I am happy, the “other shoe” is always about to drop and that I can’t sit still and enjoy my happiness. It prods me, and lets me know of potential dangers to come, all the while it envelopes me and does not allow¬†me to see clearly. Quite simply, it clouds my vision. (pun intended, albeit a pretty poor one).

What messages do I want to send to it? I would like to communicate my frustration with it and thank it for it’s protective nature. But I truly need it to let me be, and allow me to opportunity to have an outlook that can things as they are, and enjoy things as they are, and to walk through things with eyes wide open.

The evil cloud shows its true self...

Does it really have any power? I can let it have power so much as I ignore it. Although it will never dissipate, it will back down with confrontation. This cloud, much like myself, will listen to a loud voice, and respond to aggression. The more I allow myself to be controlled by that which seeks to undermine my resolve, the more I am held back from that which allows me joy. If I am always looking for things that might attack me, and make me feel bad, I will ALWAYS find them, and I would never allow myself the opportunity to live in the present. I would always be worried about the past or the future.

I am here in my room, and writing this blog entry, I am not doing anything else. I am paying close attention to the sounds in my environment and the tapping of the keyboard. I will enjoy the calm before the storm, and I shall not fear it, for I know that this shelter, this quiet is always available to me, should I choose to exist in it. My problems are truly of my own making, but they are still a part of me. I accept that, as a homeowner accepts a bad mortgage; I may not be able to get out of it, but I can always re-fi.

Thanks for reading,

Please feel free to comment.

-Jon

 

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Finding A Spiritual Connection

Finding A Spiritual Connection

(c) www.richard-seaman.comI often imagine myself going on a spiritual journey. Someplace that resembles Southern Mexico, with Aztec ruins and brushland, warm air blowing in the wind, and nothing but my levi’s and a prayer to protect me. Well, as great as that may seem, it is far from practical. I can’t get away as often as I’d like to embark on these pseudo-spiritual endeavors, which seem more like excuses to¬†runaway than anything else. No, for now, I will have to settle for sunny, pleasant Silicon Valley. Not exactly what I’d consider the bastion of enlightenment and transcendental experience. It’s just the area I happen to live in. Oh well. Big whoop. So what’s so frickin’ spiritual about that? It doesn’t have a giant buddha, or an ancient temple, or even one single acropolis (well, maybe there’s one in Saratoga somewhere)… All I see are Chipotle’s and the Egyptian Museum… Hmm…

It is at this point that I begin to see the flaw in my own self-defeating logic. I am trying to find something that is in front of me, and all around me. Talk about not seeing the forest for the trees! I am beginning to see that this spiritual adventure I am seeking is actually playing out right before my eyes. All the challenges and growing/learning experiences are chances to change my existence. I can transform if I allow myself to transform. From this point on, I will make more of an effort to see the opportunities for growth right in front of me, and focus less on how old the surrounding buildings are. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good old edifice. But I can build my own metaphorical ruins, by transformative action. Hollowing out a place for my spirit to grow and expand. It can happen. It will happen. It IS happening. Right now.

Thanks for reading. Please feel free to comment.

-Jon

 
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Posted by on August 31, 2011 in Uncategorized, Wellbeing

 

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