The EVOLVE podcast is for those who prefer a straightforward approach to mindfulness, spirituality, and an enlightened way of being. Our goal is to help people achieve a greater sense of wellbeing, to feel more at ease, to live more fully, and with greater contentment. Kalani provides techniques and strategies for reducing stress, increasing feelings of joy, gratitude, personal connection, appreciation, and calm. This is a podcast for people who believe that everyone can live a more spiritually fulfilling life, regardless of background, education, economic status, or religious beliefs. Thank you for leaving a review of the EVOLVE podcast. Contact Kalani at kalanidas.com.
Seeking happiness or contentment based on temporary states or conditions can lead to an experience of changing moods that are fleeting and fragile. When we focus on the sensation of being, we tune into our true essence, our shared life that is radiant, pervasive, and unwavering.
We have been taught and conditioned to believe that rearranging and managing our life circumstances is the key to happiness. We work to increase income, status, and raise our social capital, in the hopes that it will bring us greater joy and a sense of peace. Advertisements provide us with a constant source of insecurities, needs and goals to be met that send us scurrying to work, then to the mall.
Beyond seeing to it that we have food, clothing, shelter and a social network, very little beyond those basic needs has anything at all to do with reaching a deep state of contentment. How do we know this?
It’s quite easy to look back throughout the history of humanity and see that amassing great power or accumulating wealth can be directly correlated with happiness or contentment. There are many examples of individuals, who accumulated massive wealth and fame who were, by their own accounts, apparently quite miserable and unfulfilled. Fame and fortune do not lead to happiness.
At the same time, when happiness is studied and measured, what we find is evidence that it has more to do with personal choices, creativity, and the very simple act of pausing our thinking long enough to allow the deep underlying current of the life force that permeates the universe to fill our awareness. We can call this Beingness.
Spiritual teachers throughout millennia have all talked about universal love and the feelings that come with simple Beingness, noticing the beauty of nature and acknowledging that you are also part of that beauty, because you are also nature. The act is so simple, yet we forget it’s available. Perhaps we think there must be more to it.
Why is it, when so many have studies happiness and contentment, that we still spend so much time and energy striving to achieve material wealth and social Capital? We have the tools, but how are we using them?
Imagine someone rushing through traffic in their very expensive car, discussing a business deal on their cell phone, late for their yoga class and now worried they won’t get a good spot near the teacher
It’s just as easy to treat spiritual practices as we treat our work, as things to accomplish. It would be hypocritical not to acknowledge that the relentless pursuit of spiritual or religious deeds is in any way different, when it comes to creating space for peace and contentment, than the relentless pursuit of fortune or fame. When we link our self-worth to any form of achievement, whether it be financial, social, or spiritual, we risk missing the entire point of a spiritual practice, which is to bring it us a greater sense of contentment and feeling of connectedness to all that is.
Any system that seeks to measure and label spiritual “levels,” creating a hierarchy based on performance or achievement, is a result of a false premise, which is: People must demonstrate the depth of their spiritual status by performing tasks that are observable and measurable.
When we realize and acknowledge that spirituality and contentment are not performance-based, we will be closer to our goal because we will have it cleared away so much of the clutter that is burying that which is readily available. Everyone has access to the same spiritual tools, regardless of location, of language, of economic or social status, of age or ability, or of any man made construct or system.
Just as the accumulation of things can lead to clutter, so can the accumulation of religious and spiritual practices lead to a burying of the awareness you may have of your true essence ...
Good News and Neurons
News is what people tell us about what we haven’t experienced. We can improve our life experience, and even our situation, when we consume news in ways that are responsible, nurturing, and beneficial to ourselves and to others.
One of the challenges we face when posed with the question, “What should I believe about what people tell me?” is the fact that we are biologically predisposed to believe what people tell us. As we evolved as humans, we developed the tendency to believe stories about potential dangers over things that were potentially neutral.
Imagine a group of early humans walking through the forest together. All the members are spread out far enough so they can see and hear one another, but not close enough to see and hear the same things. Some of the members hear a sound come from the bushes and quickly need to decide if it could be an animal or not. If it is an animal, is it one they are looking for or one that might be looking for them? Have they found prey or are they about to become prey?
A member of the group closest to the sound decides it’s not worth the risk and starts to run. The others in the group see him running, assuming there is danger, and begin to flee towards safety. They regroup on a nearby hill, ready to defend themselves if needed. Suddenly, a large bird emerges from the bush and flies away. Dinner has eluded them, but everyone is safe.
Our need for safety is often greater than our need to confirm what is actually happening in our environment. We are more likely to believe in potential threats, simply because it’s far more acceptable to lose a meal as opposed to losing one’s life. We are wired for defense and that makes us especially susceptible to what people tell us about what we haven’t experienced. Not believing in potential threats can place us in stressful situations. At the same time, believing in unconfirmed threats can make us fearful, paranoid, and disempowered.
It’s up to each of us to question the news we hear, to seek to confirm what others tell us about what we have not experienced, and to decide for ourselves how to respond, rather than running in fear because we see other people running in fear. Yes, maybe there is a tiger in the bushes waiting to pounce. It’s probably a good idea to remain a safe distance away until that theory can be proved or disapproved.
When we choose to run away from any situation in which we have no first hand experience, not only do we increase our own anxiety due to all the terrible things we imagine, we lose the opportunity to experience the world as it is, to grow and develop, and to nurture and empower ourselves.
When someone tells you story of a terrible danger, rather than running away in fear, thank them for letting you know about a potential danger, then do your best to discover the truth so you can take action based on your authentic experience.
When we breathe, we consume. When we drink, we consume. When we eat, we consume. When we see and here, we consume. Whatever we consume, we add to ourselves in some way, shape, or form. We consume to nurture our bodies and our minds. The quality of what we consume directly affects the quality of our life experience. We are shaped by our environment and our relationship with it.
We are social creatures, sharing a high degree of empathy. It’s quite easy for most of us to imagine the sensations and feelings of other people. When we are exposed to people who are laughing and smiling, we often laugh and smile, even when our experience is brought to us through something as remote as a television or computer screen.
Because our minds are equipped with mirror neurons, it’s fairly easy for most of us to experience reflections of what happens to others within ourselves. If you’ve ever cringed when watching someone else getting ph...
Your mind is wild, untamed, and organic in nature. Thoughts rise and fall like waves in your imagination. Memories play in the theatre of your awareness as your mind wonders into the future, like a child lost in a Bizarre. The question is: What will your experience be, one of panic or of wonderment?
Your mind is a beautiful tool. It helps you solve problems, presents you with options, and imagines the possibilities. It offers you myriad paths to follow, some of which will help you reach your goals. You mind is wild, unpredictable, creative, and complex. It loves to identify, label, compare and categorize. It seeks out patterns and makes predictions – and it does all of these things automatically, whether you prefer it to or not.
Understanding the nature of your mind and creating a peaceful and prosperous co-existence with it, is one of the goals of the Thoughtfulness Practice. The first step is accepting and acknowledging the dynamic nature of your very creative human mind. Know that having thoughts is not a problem, especially when you consider the alternative. Having an adverse relationship with your thoughts can cause you to suffer needlessly.
The good news is, there are ways to change your relationship with your thoughts that will liberate your emotions from the burden of over thinking.
Why is it, that certain thoughts seem to create a stronger internal reaction than others? It all has to do with Associations. Your mind is constantly making connections between things, ideas, and feelings. You meet someone for the first time who reminds you of someone with whom you’ve had some conflict, some unpleasant feelings, and you immediately feel those negative emotions, even though you have no history with the person standing in front of you.
We’ve all experienced having a certain type of emotional reaction to a person, place, or situation that shares some similarity with another experience from our past. Why does this happen? It’s simply your mind making connections, looking for patterns, exploring possibilities, and making associations between things.
Remember: Your mind is a network of memories and those memories trigger emotions. When one aspect of your mind is stimulated, other areas are as well. Thoughts about one thing ignite thoughts and feelings about other things. We know this to be true. An examination of your own thought process will confirm this.
Because our minds are making associations between things that are similar, the energies or emotions we experience along with those things are also drawn into our experience.
Because we cannot control this process, we sometimes have strong reactions to what we think of as a single event. In reality, it may be a new and unique event, but because our minds are always looking for connections, patterns, and similarities, we experience it along with the memories and emotions of many experiences, some which may carry with them undesirable or unsettling emotions. The more associations our mind makes, the more likely we are to have an intense experience of something. This is your neural-network in action.
What are we to do with our wild and uncontrollable minds? How do we stop this process so we’re not reminded of past trauma? How do we control our thinking?
Your mind is designed to be wild, to be creative, to make associations. This is what makes you human. Don’t make the mistake of viewing the way you are designed as wrong. Taking this position will only cause you greater hardship and suffering.
Accept your mind the way it is. Evolution is not about suppression, it’s about creating better relationships. If your mind is wild, accept that it is wild and work with it the way it is. Observe your mind like you would a natural landscape. Do you try to stop the wind from blowing?
A Natural Practice
They tell us to clear our minds, to empty the space in our heads, to focus on non-thinking. What tool will you use to reach this state, your mind? Will you think your way out of thinking? Will you clear your thoughts with different thoughts? How will you suppress the parade of images that seem to flow freely? Even if you could press a button and reduced the chatter in your mind, how would you guarantee that only the most useful thoughts remain?
Surrender to Beauty
The universe has been at play since the beginning of time. You are her partner. Every element, the seen, the unseen, the manifested, the un-manifested, the obvious, and the subtle, are waiting for your hand. You don’t have to “do” anything special to be at play, only to surrender to your natural way of being.
A good game is enjoyed equally by all, win or loose, rise or fall. The game is life and playfulness is one path to victory. It’s the playful ones who never loose. They know it’s not about holding a trophy when the game is over. They are winning every moment they are awake, thankful for this life and forever amazed at the beauty that surrounds them. They value play over “profits.”
A playful moment is a cherished moment.
Seek out opportunities to dance with the Devine. Your life is forever creating itself and you are the sculpture. It doesn’t matter what others may believe about you. Dig into the earth and pull out handfuls of potential. Surrender to the beauty of the moment.
The virtuous one is still and without thought. When he moves he is without design. He keeps no tally of right and wrong, good or bad. Virtuous ones share their gains with All, and from this they derive pleasure.
- The Book of Chuang Tzu
Becoming the objective observer, refreshing your views through active and unbiased observation, is taking a step along the enlightening path. The more judgment we place on what we observe, the farther from the center of mindfulness we move. Being centered is being free of judgment, being mindful, being empty.
Views are what we experience when we observe something from different angles, considering various aspects and qualities. Views help us see a portion of a situation. They can be narrow or broad, but they don't automatically change when situations change, so they are often in need of updating. View points are useful to help us learn about something, but it is when we begin to collect views a memories that we risk moving away from the Center. Views that are held in our memories are no longer in-the-moment experiences and therefore can affect the way we experience the world.
As we collect views as memories, we may develop an Orientation, a way of favoring certain types of views and viewing the world in a particular way. When we become oriented in our thinking and life experiences, we may end up rejecting experiences and information that don’t quite fit with those we’ve collected, even when our experiences are first-hand. We unconsciously restrict our perception, our thinking, and end up with a preferred set of views that we hold onto, like old photographs that bring us comfort.
If we continue to deepen a particular orientation, viewing the world from the same perspective over and over, without taking the time to observe without bias, without judgment, and seeing through a beginner's eyes, we may eventually take a Position. Positions keep us locked into specific ways of thinking, built from static artifacts of our experiences. They are predictable and often unchanging, even in the light of the truth. A position says, "I don't need to look or listen any longer because I already know what that is." Positions can destroy presence. They keep us far away from center and often, in order to feel balanced, need an opposite position to lean against. Maintaining a position requires work. It requires that we build walls around our minds, our senses, and our hearts. When a position becomes so engrained that we no longer are aware of all the work we’re doing to maintain it, it might become a Belief.
Beliefs are notions of the world that supersede our experience of it. They are views that emanate from our internal experiences, rather than our observations. There is nothing unnatural about having beliefs. Everyone believes things. It's only when we place our beliefs in the highest regard, choosing them over our unbiased experiences, that we stray from the center of our mindfulness practice. Being mindful requires that we be willing to update our beliefs, positions, and orientations by taking into account our unbiased observations and first-hand experiences.
Experiences meaning what we sense, rather than what we think or imagine. It means trusting our bodies over our minds, remembering that our minds are as creative as the weather is unpredictable.
Forming beliefs around thoughts is like building a house on the wind.
We find our center when we consider all Views, remember that Orientations and Positions are limiting, and that Beliefs are perceptions of the world that are more rooted in thinking, rather than experiences. Life is growth, change, and forever new. Presence and centeredness develop through observation and attending to in-the-moment experiences, that are uncompromised by thoughts. Thoughts may be interesting, amusing,
Wonderful seeds of wisdom, just one gripe
I absolutely love this podcast. Was very helpful to me when I was searching for a way to help me with some issues. I just wish the music would only play during transitions. It's very distracting when it's being mixed under the dialogue. I found it hard to concentrate on what you were saying with heavy percussion in the background. Of course that's just my opinion. Anyhow, thank you for sharing your wisdom!
Each episode is concise, intelligent, insightful, and wise. 💥💥💥💥💥💥💥💥💥💥10 stars.
Great podcast on anger, but the music killed it for me. It’s a little over the top, but again the content was spot on.