Friday, May 29, 2015

The Reflection of Shadows: I Saw You at Cafe Henrichi

The Reflection of Shadows
A collection of moments
Flower Bomb
Society6

I Saw You at Cafe Henrichi

When I saw you
Blood went rushing,
Pulse was racing, thoughts were flooding.

Thought I knew you
For a second,
Something in my spirit felt it.

Something deeper, 
Something wiser,
Set my weary heart on fire.

I felt a memory,
Deeper knowing,
Of a love story unfolding.

The way you looked,
You smiled, questioned,
Glanced at me for just a second.

I watched your walk,
Your stance, your body.
Stared into those brown eyes hotly.

My body aching,
Needing, wanting,
Your arms wrapped around me, taunting.

Now I wonder,
Curiously…
Was it me or just the city?

Did you feel it?
Did you lust for
Stolen kisses, silent touches?

I held my breath,
And with each moment
You walked passed me

I unfolded.


Tuesday, May 26, 2015

All Around the World: Moorea and Tahiti

Wanderlust: A very strong and irresistible impulse or desire to travel the world.
Photo Credit: Fun4Blog
Hi Friends -  I have a busy week ahead of me and I'm already a day behind with this, so I'm bringing back I post I did about two years ago, before I started the "Around the World" series. This is from my trip to French Polynesia, one of the most beautiful places I've ever been, and one of the best experiences I ever had. I hope you too will one day experience your own adventures in this magical place.

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Belvedere Lookout
Moorea, French Polynesia
Society 6
Close your eyes and think of the place you've always longed to go to.  Is is windy, warm, sunny? Is there sand under your toes or snow? Do you smell the flowers blossoming, feel the rain on your skin, hear the birds calling?

Where are you?

My place had always been French Polynesia. I had wanted to go ever since I saw a little bungalow over some beautiful blue water in a travel pamphlet years back. That was all it took, that was all I needed. Back in April I made my dream come true. Back in April I went to the island of Moorea, the closest place to paradise that you can possibly get. 

I went alone and in doing so, made friends I might not have made had I traveled with company. I say this because going alone made me do things I wouldn't have done normally and actually wasn't planning on doing. I ate dinner with a cute older couple on vacation, hung out with a bunch of honeymooners and anniversary celebrators, hugged a complete stranger in shark infested waters, got hugged by a complete stranger at an outdoor market after he sang me a song about why I should date him, and became known across the island as the Eat, Pray, Love Girl. It's amazing how many things can happen when you say yes to the unknown adventures that lie ahead. 

French Polynesia is typically a place for couples. This is why I got my nickname, being on my own in the land of honeymooners. While I may have seemed awkward and out of place at times, people were kind, understanding, and actually quite complimentary of me and my solo travels. Each person I met made me feel more and more welcome and by the end, I was certainly not alone.

My first day there I met Brian, the tour guide. Over the course of the week I would see Brian almost daily. I'd pass him on a walk and he'd offer me a ride or he'd offer to grab some food for me from the market. Within my first few minutes on the island, I knew I had someone I could count on for anything I needed.

My first day there it also rained. Not a soul was out swimming, but I couldn't stand it. I had come all this way, waited all these years, and couldn't handle being locked up in my bungalow. I went out into the rain and I swam, and swam, and swam. Then (in traditional custom of me being me) I beat myself up on accident. What the travel pamphlets don't tell you is that there are crabs all over the island, sometimes on the steps to your bungalow. If you don't want to touch them - and I surely did not - then you have to somehow hoist yourself up the step and avoid them. I am not a good hoister, but I am an excellent slip-off-the-step-and-bang-yourself-up-er.

That night I had dinner at the French restaurant, Le Martinez, down the street. There I met Gabby, the waitress who was sweet and would come talk to me on and off throughout the night. She offered to spend a whole day with me, driving me around the island and showing me the sites. If I'd had more time I would've taken her up on it because I could tell she really wanted a friend and I would've loved a day with someone as nice as her.

The next day I went on an off-roading adventure with a bunch of the honeymooners and a nice, elderly Italian gentleman who I believe was celebrating his anniversary with his wife. Neither one of us knew what the other was saying, but he would smile everywhere we went, point at the scenery in front of us and say, "Bella." I would nod and we would each share a quite moment looking at the view in front of us.

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That evening I went to the Polynesian dance show and for the dinner afterwards I ended up sitting with Joanne and Dick, an older couple who had traveled the world and were willing to share their stories with me. That night in particular I was feeling a little out of place. Sitting there with the two of them though, I felt like I was right where I was supposed to be. They made me feel welcome and at home at their table. At the end of the night, when we hugged and went to part our ways, Joanne looked at me and said, "You'll be successful because you're not afraid." I didn't know I needed to hear that, but I did. I went back to my bungalow and sat under the stars, silently thanking her for her kind, reassuring words.

Day three of my trip was unexpected. It rained morning to night, to the point where everything was cancelled and everyone stayed indoors. At first, I had not the slightest clue what to do with myself. I'm not good at not doing things. I have to be doing something, anything.

So, I danced.

In the giant bungalow that I called home, I put my iPod on and danced until I was completely exhausted, collapsing into one of the best naps I've ever had. That is until Georgina, the cleaning lady, came to check on me. Georgina and I had talked for an hour earlier that day, and I had learned all about her life. Being in paradise you don't imagine that the people who live there are struggling. You don't see the roughness they face, the challenges. In India everything was front and center, the good and the bad. Here, everything that surrounds you is beauty beyond compare, but the people behind the scenes still struggle. Georgina told me of growing up poor, eating nothing but breadfruit for weeks, and how she missed her family in Tahiti because she couldn't afford to go visit them in the 17 years since she'd left. This was hard to hear because I was going to Tahiti the next day for a tour and it was so easy for me to make it happen. So easy for me, so hard for her. I hadn't see this side until that day and it brought be back to reality.

When I woke up to sunny skies the next morning, I headed out to Tahiti for my tour, keeping Georgina in the back of my mind. I ended up being the only person to go that day, so I had a customized tour with Vai Nui, my guide. She took me to see the great waterfalls, the surf spots, an old lighthouse, and everything I could possibly hope for. Tahiti is gorgeous, but I could see the poverty finally and I understood. It was not paradise for everyone.

Vai Nui dropped me off at the ferry dock, where I had several hours to kill. I strolled about until I found myself inside the large open air market with every souvenir you could imagine, and then some. I was on the hunt for some art to take home and in my hunt was discovered by a gentleman who had decided I should be his girlfriend. Here I am, minding my business, staring intently at some art, when the next thing I know I'm being sung a song that went something along the lines of, "If you were my girlfriend, I'd get you some fish. Be my girlfriend, be my girlfriend, be my girlfriend." It was a chart topper, I tell you, which finished with him hugging me and kissing both cheeks, as is the fashion there. I was so shocked that all I could do was laugh. I guess the lady that ran the store next door felt the same way because she stood there laughing so hard I thought she might implode. I felt well accomplished that day in doing my part to make the citizens of Tahiti happy.

That night, when I got back to my home away from home, I ran into Lynn, one of the other guests on the resort who I'd seen now and then over the week. She is the one that officially gave me my nickname and also the one who told all of her 23 fellow travelers about me. This was cute and confusing, because I'd be out for my daily stroll when all of a sudden I'd hear someone call my name and ask how my excursion went, compliment me on my travels, or just stop and chat like they knew who I was. Which they did, of course, but I had no idea who they were. Once I figured out they were all with Lynn, life got a little less complicated and a lot more fun. It was nice to know I had all these friends on the island, so interested in my little adventures.

On one of my last days in Moorea, I decided to risk my life like an idiot. I decided it would be a lot of fun to swim with stingrays and sharks for reasons I'm not even aware of yet. The stingrays weren't so bad. They call them the puppies of the water because they really are like giant, fishy pups that want you to pet them. The sharks, however, were surrounding us by the dozens, which didn't freak out as many people as I thought it would have. This is where I met my fellow hug-a-stranger-and-scream friend, Fawn. She was on her honeymoon with her new hubby when a stingray decided to try and kiss her...yes, this happens. At that moment she turned to me, hugged me for dear life, and screamed. Then I screamed. Then we screamed together. We didn't know each other at all until then, but we decided the hugging and screaming was equivalent to shaking hands when you meet someone new.

That night when I returned, Lynn's group of friends were hanging out in the lounge and I filled them in on my life threatening day, as I now had come accustomed to doing after each adventure. I invited some of them to join me for my nightly walk and a gentleman named Brock took me up on my offer. Brock was retired and had joined the group on the trip, as he was an avid traveler. He had sailed around the world and had been to places I still dream of going. Talking to Brock was like having an adventure all in itself. I learned about different cultures, different points of view, and that anyone who doesn't like cats is not to be trusted. Take heed my friends and check your contact list, because this is the secret to life- or so I'm told by a very wise, well traveled gentleman.

My very last day there was, of course, the sunniest and prettiest day of all. I rented a car and drove all over the island to take in what last little bit of awesomeness I could. The whole trip had been great, but it had also been hard and I needed some me-and-myself time. Part of the reason was because the islands are known for their black pearls. Everywhere you go you can't help but see them, which meant everywhere I went I couldn't help but think of my grandmother. As happy as I am for her to be in a better place, sometimes it still gets me that I no longer have her to bring a gift home to from my trip, and the pearls would've been the perfect gift.
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As I drove around the tiny island, I would stop and see unbelievably beautiful bays with the clearest water and the prettiest coconut trees. I saw wild horses running around, people fishing, and views I've only dreamed about. One of those views is from Belvedere Lookout, one of the most popular lookout points in the world. Earlier in the week, Lynn had told me there was a trail over near that area that led to a waterfall and some beautiful scenery. While I was there I spotted a clearing in the woods and decided this had to be the place she had described. I went for a small walk, which turned into a long hike, which I was unprepared for in my skirt and flip flops. I was hell bent on seeing this waterfall, so I kept going and going and going. That is until I decided that I could have a 127 Hours moment at any minute, as no one knew where I was, not even Lynn. I say this because I later learned that this was not the trail she had in mind. I did get to see a lot of beautiful things, though. Trees with roots that grew as tall and wide as walls, giant flowers, paths left behind and forgotten by time. But I was also happy I hadn't been mauled by wild pigs.

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On my journey home, I came upon something I had only seen in postcards, something that I wasn't sure was real: A sideways growing palm tree. I had hoped to find it, but didn't know if it was possible. Seeing it confirmed that I was right where I needed to be all along.

On my way back, I stopped at the market and picked up a handful of the local chocolate bars. I went back and passed them out to all of my new friends, Brian and Georgina, Brock and some folks out of Lynn's group. I said my goodbyes, thanked them for their kind words and welcoming ways, and headed home.

The thing about this trip is that I thought I was going there to find quiet time, to unwind, to figure things out. What I found instead were friends I never imagined I'd have. From the gentleman at the airport who lived in El Paso and shared stories with me about his dearly departed wife, to Donna, the trainer from Australia, who kept me entertained the whole flight home. I had gone away to find something and that something was these people. These people who gave me more than good memories. These people who reminded me that anything is possible as long as you try and that no journey is one you take alone. 

If you've been wanting to go, here is some advice for you, based on my recent experience:
  • Stay somewhere that gives you a view unlike anything you've ever gotten anywhere else, like Club Bali Hai, where I stayed, which is situated in Cook's Bay. The views are unbeatable. By day two the entire staff will know you and greet you. You are in the center of most everything on the island, the car rental place is in your hotel, and the excursion spot is across the street. Plus, they host a traditional Polynesian dance show each week. 
  • Learn a little French. It's what everyone speaks and knowing how to ask where the bathroom is, is always important. Ou sont les toilette? Key phrase, my friends. Key phrase.
  • Walk to the local markets to get your food. It's way cheaper and the grapes and bananas are to die for. So is this coconut pineapple drink I got, confusingly named Ananas when there are actually no bananas in it at all.
  • Rent a car. You'll only need it for a day, because the island is incredibly small, but this way you can circle the whole thing and see absolutely everything. It's worth it. It's so, so worth it. 
  • Take a day trip to Tahiti. Personally, having spent some time in Tahiti on this trip and seeing how much of a city it is, I'm incredibly glad I stayed on Moorea instead. A day trip to Tahiti to visit the market, eat from the roulottes, see the surf areas, and check out the main sites is really all you need. 
  • Walk. Everywhere. As much as you can. You will see things you can't see in a car or on a tour. 
  • Swim in the water, even if it's raining. Even if you're the only one- do it. You may never be back here again. 
  • Take a chance. Eat dinner with some strangers. Don't be afraid to make new friends, whether or not they speak your language. 
  • If you go to Tahiti, eat at Le Restaurant-Bar du Musee Gauguin. There you will find authentic Polynesian food so good you'll never want to leave.
  • Take a day for yourself to do nothing. Dance. Nap. But do nothing else. Just be.
One view of many from Cook's Bay

Friday, May 22, 2015

The Reflection of Shadows: Take Me By The Hand, We'll Walk

The Reflection of Shadows
A collection of moments
Lead the Way
Society6

Take Me By The Hand, We'll Walk...

Take me by the hand, we’ll walk
Down the tattered path of love,
Lead me into darkened woods,
Teach we with your sweet, sweet words,
Tell me all is right and true,
Never doubt my love for you.
Lie and tell me I’m okay,
Tell me what you’d never say.
I cant’ be the one you want-
I am real and you are not.
Leave me in this state of mind
Where I’ll convince myself I’m fine.
Lead me on and cast me off,
Leave me on this tattered path.
I will stand here all alone,
Glued to every stick and stone,
Admitting now in such a game
I want a man that has no name.
Gentle hands with loving touch,
Words that shatter every crutch,
A romance filled with zest and spice
To free me from this hollow life.


Monday, May 18, 2015

Monday Mantra: The Scariest Thing in the World is You

mantra is a sound, syllable, word, or group of words that is considered capable of "creating transformation".

Every Monday I will post a new thought, idea, or focus for the week. When you need a breather from life, when you need a little inspiration, or when you're about to jump over the conference table and strangle your co-worker, remember the mantra.


Monday Mantra: To free yourself you must face yourself
We all have stories. Things that have happened to our friends, our families. Things that have happened to us. Things our friends and families have done. Things we've done.

Perfectly sane people who have gone completely insane for what? Love, power, money. Because of anger, jealousy, pain, pride, lust.

We all know about Enron and Countrywide and other companies alike, run by delusional, corrupt, insane leaders who ran their companies into the ground - stealing the livelihood from their employees - all while making millions for themselves. We know stories of our friends and loved ones who have done unspeakable, horrible, delusional things all on their own. Things that seem so bizarre you can't believe they're real, but they are. Things that seem wrong beyond all definitions of wrong.

Of course, there are people in this world who are not sane. People who, from the day of their inception, were born without a conscious to guide them. Those are the bad and those are not who I'm talking about today. I'm talking about people like you. People like me. Normal, everyday, good people who get caught up in their darkness- a darkness we all have. A darkness that, if left ignored and unwatched, can take over turning us into Good People Gone Bad.

There's a study called the Milgram Experiment, in which participants are told by an authoritative figure to conduct acts of torture on other innocent individuals all in the name of science. The acts go against their own good judgement, yet they do them. Good people who do bad things because they're told to, resulting in them being bad people themselves.

The study demonstrated two things: 1) That people are unaware of their own human nature and what they are capable of and 2) That people will write off, in their minds, the bad things they do as long as they can convince themselves that they're doing it because someone of authority told them to, thus taking the responsibility off of themselves for their actions.

This is important, friends, because this explains a lot about history, why things have happened, and what we can do to avoid becoming these Good People Gone Bad.

This is why I tell you, with all sincerity and kindness in my heart, that the scariest thing in the world is you.

You, me, each and every one of us. Why? Because of the things we're capable of - what we've done, what we can do, what we will do.

Pushed just far enough by just the right means, or given the right authoritative figure as the Milgram experiment (and Hitler) demonstrate, many of us could become someone we no longer recognize.

Why do I mention this? Not so that we feel powerless or horrible, rather so that we have a fighting chance. So that we can raise our awareness level, thus avoiding becoming Good People Gone Bad. We can avoid it by realizing why we do the things we do. Why we feel the way we feel. We can avoid it by not sitting back and letting life unravel, but by taking a stand in our lives - against ourselves - so that we can get help, talk through things, and not let the darkest parts of us remain hidden and waiting until the day they can be unleashed. To bring light to the dark- that's how we prevent ourselves from ending up on the nightly news. Once we are aware of our human nature - our weaknesses - only then are we able to avoid the pitfalls of our own deceptive minds.

It's easier to understand this if you compare it to having an illness, let's say cancer. If you shows signs of illness but refuse to see a doctor, refuse to take better care of yourself, refuse to even acknowledge that something is wrong with you (because of fear, denial, pride, etc.) you will lose and cancer will win. The same applies to your thoughts, to your soul, to your emotions. Let's tie this back to those things, for example, if you're in a bad or unhappy marriage and you want to cheat on your significant other instead of facing the reality of your situation and seeking therapy or leaving the marriage all together, you have chosen denial. You have chosen the darker path that will lead to nothing but destruction. Alternatively, if you are willing to acknowledge how you feel and face it head on, you have then given yourself the gift of light. You have avoided becoming a Good Person Gone Bad.

This is why you must be willing to take a cold, hard look in the mirror and face each and every one of your demons. You can only bring darkness to light by opening the blinds you have shut so tightly. We become these Good People Gone Bad when we refuse to accept reality, when we give in to emotion, when we let our minds take us to dark places that don't actually exist. What I mean by that is this: Our minds, if we let them, will run a muck of our lives. They are just as capable of telling us the world is falling apart, that we're not worthy, that we are unloved as they are of telling us everything is fine, we have value, we are important. It's up to us to put them in their place when we need to.

Be strong, be brave, and above all else be aware. Awareness is always the key. This is how we build a better us, a better life, a better world. 

To free yourself you must face yourself.

This is how we become the most beautiful things in the world. 


Friday, May 15, 2015

The Reflection of Shadows: Have a Little Faith

The Reflection of Shadows
A collection of moments
Up
Society6

Have a Little Faith

Hey there,
Hey there,
Look at me.
I’m what you’re missing,
What you need.
Look out,
Look in,
Look at your soul.
I’m all around-
I make you whole.
I’m in your heart,
I’m in your mind,
I’m in the places that you hide.
Relax,
Relax,
And let me in.
Don’t be afraid-
Give in,
Give in.
I’m what you want-
And what you need
Is simply,
Simply,
To believe.


Monday, May 11, 2015

A Very Beanie Birthday

Mom and Me - Dog Selfies
In place of today's normal-ish activities, I wanted to share something a little different. Yesterday was not only the celebration of mom's everywhere, it was the birthday of my baby bean, Samson. Well, kind of. We don't know his real birthday exactly, but this was the day I found this tiny little adorable bundle and took him home to be my baby.

It's hard to believe twelve years have come and gone.

When I first moved to Phoenix, I lived alone, except for a couple of fish that weren't the best company. I grew up always having animals with me, so when I got lonely I'd go to the mall near my house, where I would visit the pet store and all of the little critters. One of them, a golden doxie pup, soon became my favorite, and I would spend countless hours watching him roll around and play.

I lived in an apartment at the time, which I knew was no home for a puppy. This desire all by itself is what drove me to find and buy a house when I was 19, a thought that hadn't even crossed my mind until one day at the pet store when I couldn't stand to live another second without a dog. Motivation comes in all forms - mine just happened to be furry and four legged.

Growing up, we'd always adopted rescues or strays, which I still think is the way to go. Once I had my house, I went out on a mission to find my furry kid. I looked everywhere, but couldn't find a single dachshund until I came across an ad in the paper on Mother's Day for "a good home to chocolate doxie pups", which is where I found my Samson.

He was the runt of the pack, weighing a pound at the most, and had a couple of bug bites on his little head. He was all belly with four teeny, tiny legs jutting out. He was sweet and awkward and a little clumsy. He was curious and silly and wanted nothing more than to be loved.

His owner was worried no one would take him because he was obviously so much smaller and weaker than the other puppies. His owner didn't need to worry; I knew the moment I saw him he was my baby.

At first, he slept in my shoe box next to me in the bed. He was so tiny that the box was a mansion compared to him. He was a hilarious little ball of puppy, running and playing so hard he'd crash mid-run and fall asleep right where he landed.

Twelve years...

It seems like hardly any time has passed.

My little bean, my little man. Mommy loves you so, so much.

My Little Man

You chewed my carpet,
You pulled it to shreds,
You pooped on it, peed on it,
Did it again.
You chewed on the table,
You chewed on the desk,
I’d come home from work
To another new mess.
Nose prints on my windows,
Trash pulled on the floor,
My new remote chewed up,
All this and much more.
But it’s all been worth it,
For each little bark
And each little kiss
After work has been hard.
With all of your cuddling
And all of your love,
There’s nothing as wonderful
As your puppy love.


If you want to see more pictures of my silly little bean, and his big brother (that he's less in denial of lately), Rocco, you can follow me on Instagram.


Friday, May 8, 2015

The Reflection of Shadows: If You're Not Willing To Let Go

The Reflection of Shadows
A collection of moments
The Palace
Society6


If You're Not Willing To Let Go

Lessons learned- to share, to give:
You can’t move on if you don’t live.
You cannot change - you cannot grow,
If you’re not willing to let go.

Hate grows hate- and fear, and greed,
It cares not what you want or need,
It does not mind, it does not judge-
It wants to suffocate your love.

It wants to take you, break you, smother
All the goodness that’s left over,
It will win swiftly, quickly, well,
If this is how you choose to dwell.

You can’t be love, you can’t be light,
If you keep darkness by your side.
If you’re not willing to let go
Then you have given up your soul.


Monday, May 4, 2015

Monday Mantra: Secret #5

mantra is a sound, syllable, word, or group of words that is considered capable of "creating transformation".

Every Monday I will post a new thought, idea, or focus for the week. When you need a breather from life, when you need a little inspiration, or when you're about to jump over the conference table and strangle your co-worker, remember the mantra.


Monday Mantra: The cause of suffering is unreality
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Secret #5: The Cause of Suffering is Unreality

...pain is not the same as suffering. Left to itself, the body discharges pain spontaneously, letting go of it the moment that the underlying cause is healed.

Suffering is pain that we hold on to.

...what brings escape is not attacking the suffering itself but getting at the unreality that makes us cling to pain.

Steps that lead to suffering include:
-Overlooking actual facts
-Adopting a negative perception
-Reinforcing that perception by obsessive thinking
-Getting lost in the pain without looking for a way out
-Comparing yourself to others
-Cementing the suffering through relationships

All these steps build up a sense of unreality until it seems totally real.

The beginning of suffering is often a refusal to look at how a situation really is. When the worst misfortune occurs - when someone gets fired, has a spouse walk out, hears a diagnosis of cancer - about 15 percent seek some kind of help from a counselor, therapist, or pastor. The rest watch TV.

The assumption: Pleasure is better than pain; therefore, it must be the answer to suffering.

In reality, nothing exists outside the self.


Of all the secrets thus far, this is leaps and bounds above the rest of them, in my opinion. I genuinely feel that if this one portion of the book was taught in schools and workplace settings, the world might actually be a better place. 

Chopra talks about all the ways we choose suffering when we refuse to deal with reality. We decide if we're ugly or fat or miserable or wonderful based on outside factors that have no standing in reality. We base everything on our perceptions and we think these precepts are solid, reliable facts, when indeed they are not. We never think to question them.

After reading this section of the book, I guarantee you'll be able to see this everywhere you turn, in everyone you know, even in yourself. It is so obvious it's almost laughable: We cause most of our own suffering. For instance, when we attach to something, such as a celebrity, and we build a version of them in our minds, if they fail what we have created, we suffer. Generally speaking, when we build up false realities we do so to avoid facing a difficult situation in our personal lives. Thus, seeking pleasure to avoid dealing with reality.

We cause suffering in ourselves because we attach to what we own, what we do, what we like or don't like, what we want or don't want, what we have or don't have. These identifiers become far too important to us, so important that we push past who we are at the core of our being and it becomes a battle of you vs. me, us vs. them. We forget that who we are can be simply summed up as "I am." That is the beginning and that is the end.

Chopra goes on to explain the five root causes of suffering that tie into this:
- Not knowing what is real
- Grasping and clinging to the unreal
- Being afraid of the unreal and recoiling from it
- Identifying with an imaginary self
- Fear of death
(These alone are eye opening, but far too lengthy and complicated to explain here.)

To bring yourself back to reality and to cease the suffering, your awareness must be enhanced. You must begin to understand what is actual reality against what you have created for yourself that is not. 

For 5 minutes a day, you're supposed to sit by yourself and clear away everything complicating your life. You must organize your life and remove the disorder. You must ensure you don't cross the line from empathy of others pain to making it your own. You must examine your beliefs, your relationships, and anything negative in your life. You must raise your own awareness of reality. You must stop seeking pleasure in place of dealing with a difficult, painful situation. 

You must become intimately familiar with "I am" because this is who you really are. 

That is the beginning and that is the end.