As we progress through the process of ascension, several stages occur. Among them is a shake-up which inspires an initial awakening, then the full realization of truth, followed by the development of discernment to ascertain a correct course of action. We wouldn’t try to ride a bicycle before building one, nor would we attempt to sail an ocean without a boat. When things get challenging in life, we can check to see if we are practicing Wu Wei in order to refine our actions. This is the art of effortless action as described in Taoist teachings.

1. No Action Doesn’t Mean ‘Nothing’ Happens

The Tao does nothing and yet nothing is left undone.” – Lao Tzu

Wu Wei or 無為, translates from Chinese pinyin to mean “no-action” or “actionless action.” This is considered the ‘natural’ way to do things, as opposed to striving, opposing, and forcing, as well as lollygagging, or succumbing to complete inertia. When we are in alignment with the Source, or as Taoists call it, simply, the Tao, then we don’t have to ‘work’ at anything. This is not to be confused with doing nothing. The state of Wu Wei doesn’t give us an excuse to sit on the sidelines, observing life and critiquing others’ actions. Instead, it describes the inspired action of a person who is brimming with life energy, and that has dedicated their actions to a purpose which supports Oneness. This person does not waste energy, though, and moves only when the time is right, and then, with magnificent acumen, and seemingly magical support behind them.

The ancient ideograms and symbols used in the Chinese language and culture offer the most simplistic way to describe Wu Wei. We can observe this is the simple Yin Yang symbol. One side is active, or masculine, representing the energy of extending oneself into the world, and the other side of the symbol is passive, or more accurately, receiving, or feminine energy that causes an inward journey.

All Chinese medicine, martial, and internal arts from Tai Chi to acupuncture to meditation aim to help balance the masculine and feminine energies, the doing and ‘not-doing’ you might say, as a way to achieve Wu Wei.

2. The Cosmos is Not Working Against You

We aren’t sandwiched between heaven and earth, we ARE heaven and earth. To practice Wu Wei, we must first realize that we are connected to the Oneness of all things. Though we should have clear boundaries, like children given free rein to run and play within the confines of a beautiful park, we also should remain open to vulnerability and the lessons this may teach. Once we are open and protected we can begin to observe nature and embrace universal energy as it ebbs and flows. From there, we learn when to move with that energy – ebbing and flowing with our own actions in accordance with the Oneness of all things. An immense sense of freedom comes from knowing we don’t have to fight against the Cosmos, and understanding that it is never working against us – only we can choose to work against it’s flow.

3. Physical Action Isn’t the Only Action

Another principle of Wu Wei involves quieting the ever-busy mind. Even if we aren’t ‘doing’ anything physically, often our minds are busier than ever. Wu wei means that we not only quiet the body and its actions, but that we aim to quiet the mind. Otherwise, we will have no idea if we are in Universal flow, or simply acting ‘busy’ out of the needs of the ‘ego,’ we so obsessively align ourselves with.

Even with our meditation practice, we are encouraged not to ‘try too hard.’ Perhaps you’ve seen a mind game that has been installed at several museums around the U.S.. Two people sit across from one another, and attach headbands equipped with electrodes to themselves. Between the players are a group of balls that can only be moved with the brain’s waves, measured as electromagnetic currents through the headband. If a player maintains a state of relaxed calm, essentially a combination of alpha and theta waves produced by the brain when it’s relaxed, then a ball moves up a tube and is placed in a bin. The player with the most ‘balls,’ wins after a certain period of time commences. Those who try too hard, fail, as do those who don’t try hard enough. The combination of alpha and theta waves created by a Wu wei mind is what wins the game every time.

Lao Tzu advises that we must be quiet and watchful, learning to listen to both our own inner voices and to the voices of our environment in a non-interfering, receptive manner. This requires a calm, but astute mind.

4. Being at One with the Tao Means Accepting Change

A key principal in Taoism, and the practice of Wu Wei involves the realization that there is an unceasing flow of change in nature. This change is governed by laws which are unalterable, and rarely perceived except by the most consciously evolved individuals. Fighting these laws of change would be a sisyphean task. Would you try to to stop the changing of the season or the rise and fall of the sun to the horizon? Once you observe this flow of change in nature, you can apply principles of Wu wei to your own transformation. Since you are a part and parcel of nature, you will change accordingly. Why not move with that change instead of fight against it – perhaps you can even welcome change the next time it arrives at your doorstep.

5. True Wu Wei Involves Purposeless Wandering

Zhuangzi refers to a type of being in the world that many of us have never considered. He calls it flowing, or more poetically “purposeless wandering.” Most of our cultural values frown upon this type of being. If we have ‘no purpose’ we are often deemed pathological in the context of modern day living. Yet, it would be difficult to maintain that our current values have promoted harmony and balance, either environmentally or for each individual.

In Zhuangzi’s Basic Writings, he states, “ you can use the analogy of an artist or craftsman. The skilled woodcarver, the skilled swimmer… does not ponder or ratiocinate on the course of action he should take; his skill has become so much a part of him that he merely acts instinctively and spontaneously, without knowing why, and achieves success.” He further describes an enlightened person as being one who wanders through creation enjoying its delights without ever becoming attached to any one part of it.

This article was originally appeared at The Mind Unleashed.

About the author

Christina Sarich is a musician, yogi, humanitarian and freelance writer who channels many hours of studying Lao Tzu, Paramahansa Yogananda, Rob Brezny, Miles Davis, and Tom Robbins into interesting tidbits to help you Wake up Your Sleepy Little Head, and *See the Big Picture*. Her blog is Yoga for the New World . Her latest book is Pharma Sutra: Healing The Body And Mind Through The Art Of Yoga.

In this modern society, we are all programmed with fixed mental patterns, from birth onwards.

Your nationality, your race, your religion, your environment, your expectations, your family’s economic status. All of these of things are mental patterns, programmed (recorded) into your subconscious mind as you are growing up.

Now these things are here for a reason. Back in the cave man days, these subconscious programs were relied upon to keep you alive. To allow you to gain an unshakeable understanding of, not only the environment you were living in but also the societal structure and any social norms which you had to adhere to, lest you be cast out from the social group!

They may have served a purpose back then but these days they are simply keeping you trapped in the same circumstances while the world moves forward without you!

Analyze how your mind works

Everyone’s mental patterns will, of course, be unique to them as an individual. Therefore, if you ever hope to break free and start creating the life you’ve always wanted, you MUST analyze your own mind and take stock of who you THINK you are versus who you REALLY are and who you WANT to become. Once you’ve done this, you can begin using the reality of these subconscious programs to your benefit.

Begin by looking at the following areas of your life and ask yourself “Is this what I want or Is this what my SUBCONSCIOUS wants?”;

  • Your Relationship(s)
  • Your Friends
  • Your Job/Career
  • Your Mental State
  • Your Feeling Of Deservingness
  • Your Idea Of Whether You Can Succeed In Life

Take a good, hard look at yourself and meditate on the above points, trying to find the root of where they came from and how they got there. Obviously, this will take some time and a lot of self-introspection, which can be uncomfortable for some people. Sometimes facing yourself is the most terrifying thing you can do, because once you know these mental patterns can be changed, you will be forced to take full responsibility for your life’s circumstances. The good and the bad. Everything is the way it is, because of you and what you have manifested or not manifested into your life.

So, take stock of yourself and your thoughts one by one. Begin to build a conscious idea of who your subconscious mind believes you are. Make a list if it helps. It is often quite startling at how different the subconscious mind’s idea of its self-image really is. You may be capable of having a good job, yet it believes you are poor so it manifests either no job, a bad interview or gets you fired soon after you have found one.

The good news is that once you have begun to notice these little mental patterns (programs) and how and why they are created, you will notice (and overcome) more and more of them every day. You have trained your mind to see the lies within it and you will have given your mind the tools to change it.

So don’t be a victim to your thoughts. Don’t be a victim of circumstances. Don’t be a victim of the beliefs of other people! Change your life today!

Are you on the right path? Are you walking the path that is going to lead you to realizing your highest purpose?

There are a few things to understand about the journey of life before you can answer this question.

Firstly, there is no such thing as the wrong path. All roads are ultimately going to lead you to where you need to be, but like all great navigators will tell you, there are easier roads than others.

Some roads are smoother, some roads are bumpy, some roads are well lit and others are dark. Whatever road you ultimately end up choosing is the best road for you and for where you are at your current level of consciousness.

So ultimately in a bigger picture sense, you are always on the right path. But if you are curious if you are walking your highest path, that is the path that is going to help you reach the fullest expression of your being, here is how to tell:

1. You Just Know

If you are questioning if you are walking your highest path or not, you are probably not quite there just yet.

When you walk the right path you can feel it. There is a certain feeling that comes when you start walking this path that allows you to feel purposeful and fulfilled.

A lot of people think that their highest path is going to be some big grand pathway, but it can be subtle and gentle as well.

Walking your highest path is an unmistakable feeling, so get out of your head and into your heart and listen for the answer.

2. You Are Not Compromising Yourself

When you are walking your highest path you give up doing things to please others and instead start doing things that feel good to you. This doesn’t mean that you don’t compromise to get along with others, but these compromises come from a more conscious place and are met with equal respect.

When you walk your highest path you are completely aligned with your soul and what your soul has come here to achieve and so there is no way you can compromise this and still be on your highest path.

3. You are Equipped to Handle Life’s Curveballs

Just because you are on your highest path doesn’t mean you are not immune from challenges and hurdles.

When you are on your highest path however, there is an underlying feeling of understanding and acceptance. Even if things are difficult, when you are on your highest path it allows you the awareness to see the bigger picture and to view things from a more purposeful place.

When challenges do come, there is also an underlying faith that everything is working out perfectly.

4. You Are Not Afraid to Be You

When you are on your highest path there is a general feeling of confidence and acceptance of who you are and the gifts that you need to bring into the world.

You may also feel passionate about what it is that you are doing and fulfilled by the decisions you are making in your life.

When you can fully appreciate and acknowledge yourself, it allows you to make decisions from a higher level of consciousness which then allows you to walk the path of your highest self.

5. You Believe in Something Bigger Than Yourself

Those walking their highest path often feel a connection to something bigger than just themselves.

When you walk your highest path you are in sync with your soul and the vibrations of the Universe. This also allows you to access other Divine realms and be in constant contact with your intuition.

When you believe in something bigger than yourself it also allows you to feel supported on your journey and that your journey has a bigger vision than you can fathom for yourself.

6. You are Always Learning

When you are on your highest path there is a curiosity for life and to continually learn, grow and expand. Often those who are on their highest path are always learning and desire to develop new skills.

When you are on your highest path, you may also feel the desire to travel, volunteer or dedicate your time to learning about other people or cultures.

7. You Feel Grateful and Connected

When you are on your highest path, there is an overwhelming sense of gratitude for the experiences and people that cross your path.

When you are on your highest path you are also able to see that we are all connected and that your energy is part of a bigger tapestry that all living creatures are working on over several lifetimes and incarnations.

8. You are a Witness to Miracles

When you start walking your highest path, miracles start unfolding around you. Your intentions and thoughts manifest very quickly and your life may be full of synchronicities or “coincidences” that are just too mysterious to fathom.

Your intuitive senses may also be very strong and your body may be able to heal a lot faster than normal.

When you are on your highest path you are also more aware of miracles occurring in everyday life, from the simple blossoming of a flower to seeing your wildest dreams manifesting before you.

9. You Meet Soulmates and Twin Flames

When you are walking your highest path, you are more likely to meet soulmates and twin flames that are there to support you on your journey.

These special souls may come in the way of teachers, lovers or even friends. No matter how they manifest in your life, when you are walking your highest path the people around you start to also reflect that.

Old friends may shift away and new people may come into your life that are more aligned with where you are at vibrationally.

10. You Keep Growing in Consciousness

Just like you are changing, so too is your highest path. If you don’t keep up with the changes of your highest path, it can knock you off course. This is why some people may feel that they used to be on their highest path but got lost somewhere along the way.

This is very normal, and it will take time and a new level of consciousness and growth to find your highest path again.

Your highest path is a feeling and not so much an external destination. No matter what is happening in your life on an external level, walking your highest path is a feeling that we can all achieve when we start to realize our own potential.

This post was originally published at Forever Conscious and used here with permission.

Often we hear the term self-esteem. But, what does it mean?

Self-esteem is the acceptance of oneself in its wholeness, both of our strengths and positive characteristics and our negative traits and weaknesses. It is essentially the degree to which we value, respect and accept ourselves.

How Low Self-Esteem Develops?

Low self-esteem is a very common phenomenon and one of the main reasons one needs psychotherapy in order to strengthen it. It is largely determined by the experiences one had with familiar persons (parents, grandparents, siblings, etc.) from the beginning of his life.

When a baby begins to perceive that is no longer one with his mother, but a different entity, then begins to shape its self-image. This happens at about the first 12-18 months of his life and completed at the end of puberty.

If someone grows up in an environment where relationships with familiar persons are positive and empowering, the more likely it is to develop a positive self-image. Conversely, if indifference, lack of attention, affection, care, recognition and reward, comparisons, excessive expectations, disrespect, coldness, criticism, neglect, and condemnation dominate, the more likely it is that he will have a low self-esteem.

The lower self-esteem a child has, the easier it becomes an adolescent and then an adult with a negative image of himself. This happens because once this image has taken shape, the person tends to express it through his behavior into adulthood, thus accompanying in all aspects of his life, making his interpersonal relationships difficult.

Low self-esteem leads to a feeling of dissatisfaction with ourselves, a sense that we’re not entitled and not deserve to have a lot in life and in our relationships, feelings of disadvantage and inferiority, intense internal conflicts, sadness, unfulfilled needs and desires.

The self-image can be changed and it’s possible one to learn to love and respect himself and begin to see himself from another, more positive perspective.

Let’s see below in what ways one can improve his self-esteem:

1. Stop Comparisons

Do not enter the process of comparing yourself with others. Do not forget that every person is unique. The ideal is to compare yourself only with you and your accomplishments.

2. Be Realistic

Make sure you put realistic goals. Putting too high standards and unrealistic goals is the perfect way to experience frustration and disappointment. Divide each target to smaller ones. Once you conquer one, move on to the next.

3. Let Go of Perfectionism

Stop looking for and chasing perfection. Perfectionism can paralyze you from taking action because you become so afraid of not living up to some standard. And so, you procrastinate, you don’t get the results you expect, and your self-esteem lowers. Remember, the perfect does not exist and it is the enemy of confidence.

Watch: Stop Procrastination

4. Think About What You Are Proud Of

Devote every day 5-10 minutes to think about what you did in the day, and for which you feel proud of yourself. It may be something that seems very simple, however, it is significant (eg. you helped an elderly to cross the road, you collaborated very well with your colleagues etc.).

5. Learn from Your Mistakes

Do not feel bad if you do something wrong or fail on something. Mistakes are always instructive and valuable, and learning opportunities for growth and development. Learn from them and don’t give up!

6. Do the Things You Enjoy and You Are Good on Them

Sure you have talent on specific hobbies. Identify the things you enjoy doing and usually score well on them. This will give you an inner appreciation.

7. Avoid Negative People

Try to avoid people that through continuous sterile and negative criticism, devaluation and caustic comments cultivate doubts about yourself. Spend more time with supportive people that will make you feel comfortable, positive, and help you grow.

8. Do Something Positive for You

Reward and do often something positive for yourself. This may be a trip, a gift for yourself, doing an activity of your choice, such as going to a dance school or a gym.

After reading all these, you might think your own ways to improve your self-esteem. After all, you are the one who chooses which path you will follow in the course of your life. Psychotherapy also helps a lot to improve your self-esteem.

Also, through the journey of self-awareness, you have the opportunity to understand the obstacles that alienated you from yourself, the whys of your low self-esteem. Mostly, it depends on you!

H/T: marpscyhology.gr

Do you want to exit the matrix and don’t know how? This article will give you some significant guidelines.

The eyes are not the windows to the soul. They are simply devices that pick up light waves and send them to your brain for decoding. The same with our sense of hearing, taste and touch. Our mind creates everything we see, hear and feel, but also every word we speak, every thought we have and emotion we experience. We are living inside the matrix of our own minds.

But how do we exit the matrix of our minds?

Here’re six ways you can move beyond your mind and experience something other than the everyday illusion of reality it has created.

1. Let go of the illusion that the material world means something

We came into this physical form at birth with nothing and we will leave with nothing. To exit the matrix, we must understand that there is no point in striving for and getting stressed about physical things.

Life is not a broken clock that needs to be fixed. Life is an experience. There is little point in dwelling on the past with regret or nostalgia for things lost. Change is part of the experience. There is even less point in worrying about things that have not even happened. It is better, perhaps to focus on this one moment, which is all we can change, otherwise, we risk wasting our lives living in the past or the future and missing the great adventure that only ever happens in the Now.

Watch: Live in the Here and Now

2. Let go of the idea that you are you

We have been here since the beginning, as stardust, and we will take many forms. Einstein explained that energy never dies, it simply changes form, and we are energy. When we die, we simply change form. Everything is made of waves of energy and we are just a pattern among the waves.

So to exit the matrix, we must let go of the idea that we are separate from everything else. Like a wave is not separate from the ocean, we are not separate from the whole of creation. We are like a mountaintop, which appears detached from the next mountaintop, but in reality is all part of the same earth.

3. Let go of the idea that you can exit the matrix through the mind

We think that if we gather enough information, we can exit the matrix, but we never do. So, we move on to the next book, lecture or teacher always thinking that escape is outside in the world instead of inside where it already exists and always has.

People have tried to find enlightenment by following religious rules or emulating gurus. But the escape from the matrix involves accessing information directly, not through the experiences of others. Only you know how you must exit the matrix and it won’t be by thinking about it.

Over eons, man has tried to exit the matrix by processes such as prayer, meditation, or even taking hallucinogenic drugs. We have tried to experience a direct understanding of how the world is. This understanding comes without words and without mind. It involves letting go of all that the mind thinks it knows and expanding to allow other forms of knowing.

So let go of spiritual seeking. Let go of the ideas that anyone knows any more than you. How can they? They are not separate from you. The understanding is within you, it always has been, but you have to stop listening to the mind in order to find it.

4. Understand that only by journeying inward will you escape the matrix

You are the watcher, the observer. You watch a bird alight on a tree; you touch the tree and feel the roughness of the bark. These things happen outside of you, they are not you. But actually, your thoughts and feelings are also objects of consciousness, so they are not you either.

Try this exercise. Close your eyes and say to yourself: “I wonder what my next thought will be?”

Did you notice a space between the thoughts? This stillness is existence beyond the egoic mind. You can’t get there by thinking, but only by going beyond the thinking mind. This is why meditation helps. It teaches you to place less importance on what the mind says. Only in that space of silence can we experience consciousness without form.

5. Freedom from the matrix

Finally, by understanding that we are greater than our thoughts and greater than our human form, we realize that the ego we have always identified does not really exist. In the spaciousness of existence without the chatter of the ego, we find inner peace and tranquility. We can let go of all concepts of good and bad and all judgments. We begin to understand that we are everything and everything is us.

6. Returning to the world changed by the journey

After awakening from the matrix, we must continue to live in the same world we always did. The world is the same as when we left, only we are different.

Because we have changed, the world has changed for us. We can now release our desire for grasping and wanting things. We can let go of everything that no longer serves us. We do not suffer because we understand the fleeting nature of this adventure we call life. We do not need to go away and live the life of a hermit, we can be fully involved in the world while understanding that stress, striving and clinging are pointless and that actually this life is an experience we are blessed to have.

This post was originally published at learning-mind.com and used here with permission.

About the author

Kirstie Pursey is a freelance writer and blogger with a Diploma in Creative Writing from the Open University. She lives on the outskirts of London with her family of people, dogs and cats. Kirstie is a lover of reading, writing, being in nature, fairy lights, candles, firesides and afternoon tea. She loves to explore new ideas, particularly those related to psychology, spirituality and storytelling.