Mindful Musings: 1/2

“A Short Message to Creative Souls Everywhere”

By: Forrest Rivers

mixed paints in a plate

The pull between one’s false and true sense of self is a defining feature of the human experience. This existential conflict is particularly magnified in the creative arts, where one’s expression can reach a wide audience. The artists, musicians, writers, and teachers must be ever watchful for the subtle but seductive trappings of the ego. Attracting followers can quickly produce the illusion that it is “you” who people are coming to view, listen to, read, or learn from. The truth is that it is the message of awakening that people are drawn to. As such, one must relate to their chosen forms of expression as conduits of God’s eternal message. However, it does require humility to arrive at this perspective. To practice it means to sacrifice your ego.

Learning to be mindful of one’s narcissistic impulses is just the beginning.  The creative soul should also make every effort to practice what they preach. For what could be more insincere than a self-righteous expressionist?  Every thought, intention, and action should reflect the divinity of the Infinite. Each swipe of the paint brush, musical note played, word written, and lesson conveyed; should reflect the same message of universal love that one finds in their own connection to creation and through all interactions with earthly beings.

Mindful Musings: Dec 31

“Eight Soulful New Year’s Resolutions Everyone can Achieve”

By: Forrest Rivers

monks beside green trees
  1. Start a daily meditation practice-Besides reducing anxiety and stress, meditation helps us deeply connect to our inner most spirit. It also helps break down the walls of separation that keeps us mired in illusion. There is no “correct” way to meditate but the best times to do so are either in the morning when you wake up or sometime in the evening after your day’s work is done.
  2. Volunteer in your community-Mystics of every faith have long celebrated the spirit of service as one of the surest paths to awakening. There are numerous opportunities to serve in this period of pandemic-related suffering. Volunteer at your local food bank, deliver groceries to the elderly, or enlist as a mentor.
  3. Set the intention to engage in at least one act of kindness each day-the benefit of this one is obvious. The world simply needs more kind people!
  4. Keep a daily gratitude journal-Each night before you go to bed write at least two to three things that you were grateful for in that day. You will immediately notice how this practice helps you adopt a more positive mindset
  5. Get out into nature at least 3-4 times per week—nature is the light that fills all darkness. In nature we can’t help but feel connected to the supreme source of living truth and wisdom. Go take a walk in your local city park, go hiking in the woods (if you have woods near to you) go swimming or paddling in the river or ocean.
  6. Find a creative outlet-Creative expression is the soul’s natural expression of joy and spiritual release. Learn an instrument, pick up a paintbrush or write some poetry while on a walk-in nature!
  7. Plant a Garden-Nothing says soulful like growing your own food and vegetables. Plus, gardening gets you outside and fosters a state of communion with the Earth like no other.
  8. Join a community(sangha or satsang) of spiritual seekers-The benefits of joining a spiritual community (even virtually) are many. The great and late spiritual teacher, Baba Ram Dass, said it best in his delightful book Be Love Now, when describing the beauty of his own sangha centered around the great Indian saint Neem Karoli Baba(also known as Mararajii:) “It’s as if Maharajji has been my father or mother forever, and the satsang, the circle of devotees, is a family of the heart that keeps coming and going, having reunions and going away. Over many lifetimes, we all have different guises and costumes and appear on stage in different scenes playing different characters. We’re all parts of the jigsaw puzzle of each other’s karma.”