Monday, December 31, 2018

My New Tradition: Celebrating the Great Year

Every year we celebrate the New Year full of hope and excitement and resolve. But I don't think that works for me. Who needs the added pressure of achieving resolutions while watching the media promote fear?

So, I'm starting my own new celebration on Dec. 31 each year. I think I'll call it Fulfillment Day. I'm going to celebrate the achievements, friends and places I've experienced during the preceding year.

For me, it will mark the great things in my life, including some of the great things that I've shared with people.

Happy Great Year! - Christopher

Friday, December 28, 2018

Rules for Writing a Novel (First Draft)

Developed for writers starting from Del Close’s rules for improv (1970’s) as listed in Art by Committee, by Charna Halpern

1. Exist to support your characters. Readers live in the characters. 

2. Resist the urge to jump in and rescue your characters.

3. Give characters room. Never interrupt. Allow them time to recover. Watch for signals of need from the key character in the scene, and then, don’t wait to be asked for help: Support. 

4. Let inspiration guide your actions: Once inspired, you have five seconds to act, then it’s gone.  

5. Speak up for each character’s dignity. It doesn’t matter if you agree or disagree with them, protect their integrity.

6. Never underestimate or condescend to readers. They are intelligent and their response is meaningful.  

7. Never label it. You could describe it, but it's better to do it.

8. Trust. Trust your fellow characters to support the main character or the key character in the scene. Trust them with deeply troubling experiences, and allow them to support. Trust the key character's response to their support.

9. Suspend judgement. Only watch for ways to help, what follows from the characters’ experience, or how they can support each other imaginatively, but only if support is called for.

10. LISTEN to your characters: They support (or don’t) according to their mood. What are they feeling?

- Christopher Aune, December 28, 2018 

Thursday, December 27, 2018

The Stirrer and The Soup

As a child, Conrad Cianán repeated what he had been taught: Throwing around spiritual terms as though he knew what he was talking about, as though everybody else understood and agreed on the meaning of those terms. People would make a face, then nod condescendingly before making a polite departure.

At thirteen, he was attending church one Sunday, and the priest was sermonizing. He noticed that the words spirit and soul were used interchangeably.

“That doesn’t make any sense,” he said to himself. Mother shushed him.

Later that day, she checked to see if he had been paying attention during the sermon. He felt his brow squeeze down on his eyes.

“I don’t remember much. I just remember that he used words like they meant the same thing, but they don’t.”

“Which words are you talking about?”

“He talked about the soul inside you, and then the next thing you know, he’s talking about the spirit in us. It was confusing. That’s the only thing I remember.”

“So, go look it up in the dictionary,” Mom said. That was the standard procedure in Conrad’s house. Mom spent money she didn’t have to provide the kids with a complete Encyclopedia Britannica and an unabridged Webster’s Dictionary.

It sounded like extra work, but he really wanted to understand. So, he went to the living room, grabbed the thick dictionary off the dark shelf, and plopped down into an overstuffed chair, sending a puff of dust into the sunlight.

Soul  /sōl/ noun 1. the spiritual or immaterial part of a human being or animal, regarded as immortal.

Spirit /ˈspirit/ noun 1. the nonphysical part of a person that is the seat of emotions and character; the soul; a supernatural being; short for Holy Spirit; the thought and attitudes of a particular period, person, nation or group; strong distilled liquor.

That didn’t help a bit, he thought. Then he looked up another word.

Spiritual /ˈspiriCH(o͞o)əl/ adjective 1. relating to or affecting the human spirit or soul as opposed to material or physical things. 2. A religious song

“Great!” he puffed, flopping the book closed. “It’s not material. Not physical. It’s part of a person, the feelings and thoughts. That’s it. The words mean the same thing.”

But he felt tension in the back of his jaw extending down his neck into the shoulders. Something wasn’t right.  

He closed his eyes and took three deep breaths. His body relaxed and went to sleep, but his mind was still reaching for an answer. His brain held the question and then released it as he slumped into oblivion.

Sometime later, he slowly sensed a delicious smell that drew him out of the chair and into the kitchen.

“So, did you get your answer?” Mom smiled over her shoulder as she stirred the soup.

“Yeah. But the dictionary wasn’t any help. But I figured it out.”

After a pause, Mom realized he wasn’t going to tell her, so she prompted.


“Well, spirit is things that people all share, their thoughts and feelings and attitudes. And the things we share with our church or family. And with animals. And I guess with plants and rocks, too. It’s in everything everywhere.

“But soul is that part of it that’s in one person. One person’s thoughts, feelings and attitudes.

“Oh, and it’s not the physical things, but the things that aren’t material, physical things. I guess that means the thoughts and feelings and stuff.

“But…,” he hesitated. “It seems to me that it’s not just the thoughts and feelings. It’s like there’s something that the thoughts and feelings are made of. I don’t get it, but it’s like it’s all the same stuff, and that becomes thoughts.”

He twisted up his face as he tried to express this new idea.

“The thoughts become things. They become physical things. But that’s not right. They don’t just become things. That takes more time, and things have to happen. Like there’s something that has to be done, but it doesn’t get done until there’s this thought. And then, when there’s this empty piece that needs to be filled – like a jigsaw puzzle – then it’s just possible. But when the possibility happen and the thought comes that matches with it, then things have to move together to make it happen.

“I don’t know. It’s still confusing. But I like my idea better that what Father Jack said or what the dictionary said.”

Mom had turned around to look straight at him, and was standing there holding up the wooden spoon like a wand. She raised her eyebrows.

“That’s some deep thinking,” she said. “Have some soup. It’s good for your brain.”

Conrad’s eyes found the floor; and he gave a laugh, and tilted his head to look up at his mother. He accepted the steaming bowl his mother held out for him.  

- Christopher Aune, Dec. 27, 2018 

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Meditations: Twelve Days beyond Christmas

The word Christ is not a title. It means spiritual anointing: A soul's recognition that it is integral to All That Is. Here are twelve cues for meditation beyond the decorations, rich food, caroles and presents. Blessings are in store! 

1. Some suffer, some rejoice. Same world, your choice.

2. Take responsibility for everything: You’ll be astonished by your power.

3. Out of unity, diversity. Out of many, one.

4. Everyone is doing the best they can.

 5. Wise ones learn from success as well as mistake.

6. Practice poise in all situations.

7. Do what you love, all else will fall into place.

8. Money magnifies what you already are.

9. Trust your heart: If something doesn't bring you joy, remove it from your life.

10. Love each one. Thank each one for every little thing. 

11. Know your friends: They reciprocate care and attention.  

12. LISTEN first, then decide whether to accept the message.

- Christopher Aune, Christmas 2018

Friday, December 21, 2018

I am your demon: The true first step to enlightenment

“No one is coming to rescue you from yourself; your inner demons, your lack of confidence, your dissatisfaction with yourself and your life. Only self-love and good decisions will rescue you.”
– Jenni Young

Some people are asking what are inner demons? Are people possessed by the devil’s minions? Not at all. Inner demons is a poetical reference to the suffering many people put themselves through trying to relive and resolve an old trauma, hoping for a different outcome.

Many people have suffered trauma - often as a child - and don't know how to shake off the repeating memories of that trauma. The world they experience is filtered through this traumatized perspective, so everywhere they look they see threats. Until they can come to terms with this inner programming (inner demons), they are doomed to repeat the same behaviors that draw similar situations into their lives, always trying to resolve the original trauma, trying to come up with a different outcome.

Even more often, people have suffered neglect. They have grown up in a family where they are not acknowledged, much less encouraged. The parents, teachers and authorities tell them all the things they are doing wrong in a well-intentioned attempt to help them do better in life. In the process, the reality of the individual – who the individual really is – is neglected, even oppressed. Parents, teachers and authorities try to conform the individual to society, culture, religion and laws; not realizing that they allow no room for the actual person to be expressed. So, a majority of people feel pre-disapproved, and have no confidence to speak up, knowing that they’ll quickly be criticized by any critic at hand. These critics become the manifestation of the neglected person’s inner demons.

Inner demons often get projected into the world because people cannot accept them as a internal phenomena. So, these folks are afraid of other people, whom they see as "demons" causing their trouble. Think the opposing political party, the priest/coach, the police, the man. It doesn't mean the original trauma didn't happen, just that it often gets projected on anyone who remind the sufferer of the trauma.

So, the important first step to enlightenment – mostly ignored and frequently denied – is admitting and taking ownership of our own inner turmoil and desire for peace. We either live in the turmoil, or we use it to motivate ourself toward peace and prosperity. This is a marvelous and uplifting step because, as soon as we take responsibility for everything that happens to us – everything – then we discover how powerful we are and how we can change virtually everything in our life. 

And we quickly realize how few and unimportant are the things we have little control over.

Finally, contemplate this: I am your inner demon. 

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Defining Meditation

Meditation is a broad concept that includes contemplation and prayer.

Meditation is the practice of becoming fully aware. Initially, we become aware of ourself and our surroundings. As we expand our awareness, our senses reach out into our surroundings, and we develop sensitivity to things beyond our immediate surroundings, as well as things that exist at energy frequencies beyond our five senses.  Taken to its reasonable end, meditation ultimately allows us to become aware of God. 

To become fully aware, we eliminate distractions. We train the mind and body so they don’t distract. We create a comfortable place free of distractions. We exercise and eat in ways that reduce the distraction of discomfort in the body. We live in a way that resolves – or better yet, avoids – distracting conflicts. 

When we have learned to eliminate distractions, contemplation becomes possible. Contemplation is focusing the mind on one thing. You can contemplate something that is troubling you or an expansive feeling of eternity, a deep idea from a book, a piece of music or a beautiful view in nature. The idea is to repeatedly return the mind and heart to that one thing so as to find harmony with it or integrate it more soothingly into your being. Again, this ultimately brings us closer to God. 

There are techniques and methods that help your meditation along, as well as ways to contemplate disturbances so as to resolve them and achieve peace in your heart and mind. We'll discuss those as we advance through our exploration. 

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Master 5 things for the life you desire

When a person masters the human task, they can create whatever life they desire. What is the human task? 

1. Recognize one’s own turmoil and desire for peace. You either live in the turmoil, or you use it to motivate you toward peace and prosperity. 

2. In meditation, be quiet and know one’s own presence in the vastness of space and time. Admit that you are here and now, and any different location or time is imaginary and therefore an illusion. Admit your abilities and limitations. Admit your many successes, unmet potential, failed attempts, and unpreventable traumas and losses. Allow yourself unmitigated honesty and grace, condemning and then forgiving your fiascos, and celebrating and then being content with your triumphs.

3. In meditation, be quiet and explore one’s awareness of the here and now reality – what your senses perceive internally and externally, what you think, what your intuition tells you, and the source and reliability of your perceptions. Then, extend your awareness to higher and lower energies, and to greater distances. Listen to that “little voice,” and decide within five seconds to act on it.

4. With a foundation of meditation, fully enter the turmoil of life, practicing presence and full awareness.

a. Distinguish between I and you: Fully express your self, and allow others to fully be who they are. Do what makes you happy, and allow others to do what makes them happy. Be silent and at peace when you disagree or don’t get what you want.

b. Practice poise: Mind your own business. Hear others’ advice and opinions, gracefully avert impositions, and carefully choose what you accept as your truth.

c. Protect yourself and yours:  There will always be the occasional person who wishes you harm for no real reason. As far as possible, be at peace with all persons. To that end, stop aggressive or harmful words and actions without anger. Destroy depravity when necessary without prejudice. Do your duty without attachment to the results thereof.  

5. Focus persistent effort on creating the life you desire.

a. Write your vision, values and plans.

b. Learn what you need to know.

c. Take action step by step as outlined in your plan. 

d. Ask for what you want. Everyone wants to help but doesn’t know how, so tell them how. Most cannot help, but a few can and will fully support your vision. Network until you gather a small group to work toward your common ends.

e. Give what others need. Listen for their needs and wants. Then provide simple helps (information, connections, encouragement) to help them along. A friend reciprocates and deserves your priority attention. If a person does not reciprocate, they suffer some sort of poverty. Do not neglect the impoverished. Give when you can, even when others cannot reciprocate. Do not give what you do not have, but you always have something you can share.

f. Invest yourself in your dreams. Survival is the first priority, so work as necessary to provide for yourself and your family. But invest 20% of your on your own vision. Your effort will produce exponential results. While a dollar saved every day for 10 years would be $3,650; with interest it becomes $4,273. Yet, effort produces exponential value: A couple hours of effort on your plan every day for 10 years will provide a result equivalent to 4 billion hours. Any person who know this key can become a millionaire, a saint or a president.

A true master of the human task can bring heaven to earth.  

Monday, December 17, 2018

Indications of an intelligent universe?

Physicists playing with artificial intelligence didn't understand how neural networks could come up with the great results they are achieving. Neural networks are equations that filter numbers to find matching combinations, such as sorting through thousands of pictures to find the digital representation of a cat.

Now they think they've figured it out: Neural networks reflect our reality. In our universe, reality is defined by several conditions, each of which is defined by a specific number. Each condition is a variable that could have been anything; but in our reality, each variable is a filled by a specific number known as a universal constant. If any of these constants had been a different number, our universe wouldn't hold together the way it does. It may have never formed, or it may have just flown apart into nothing. Or perhaps in a different universe, a different combination produces an entirely different reality.

So, our universe exists as a coherent thing because several variables hit the right numbers to create the combination that produces reality as we know it.

In the same way, neural networks search for conditions that have been defined similarly to the measures provided, that is, the equation for a cat includes a set of numbers that define pointy ears, whiskers, a tail, and a limited set of colors (black, white, various shades of brown, etc.).

It's a function that is essential in forming an artificial intelligence (which hasn't been done yet, by the way).

So, the implication is that the universe is constructed according to one of the most important elements necessary to create intelligence.

Fascinating, don't you think?

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Hearing greatness over the roar of guns

"It's more important to be kind than right." - unknown

A couple convicts escaped from a federal prison. They found some civilian clothes and got ahold of some guns and ammo. Soon they were surrounded by police in an old shack, and were ordered to come out with their hands up. One of them, a convicted murderer, complained, "Why is everybody always picking on me?" before he opened fire, according to the other convict. True story.

One of Tony Hsieh's employees at Zappos spontaneously suggested that they needed to have a big blimp for Zappos, like the Goodyear blimp. Tony didn't blink an eye, didn't hesitate, and said, "Good idea," and listened.

Many people have a different (even twisted) perspective of life. Be kind to them. Listen to all the crazy ideas. Sometimes what starts out as totally insane becomes sheer genius. It's better to say nothing than to tell them they're wrong. But if you say anything at all, wait 10 seconds, and then always tell your truth no matter what.

Kindness is more important in today's culture because we're all a little crazy. But it's also more important because we live in a culture where good and great ideas - even verifiable truth - are routinely criticized and dismissed. Kindness is more important because it opens a safe space for great ideas to bloom ... or for the craziness to be highlighted and exposed.

Allow the craziness to come to light, highlight it, and ask for the explanation. Often, the crazy-speaker will realize their own craziness. Don't insist that they admit it. Show a little grace when they get flustered and embarrassed, and allow them to escape.

There whether it's a great idea or craziness, it's important to be kindness. Give the great idea room to bloom, and give the craziness enough rope to hang itself. More kindness is always a great blessing.

Listen. Wait. Listen some more. 

Someday, with enough kindness, I hope we'll recognize that - in the final analysis - truth is just as important as kindness; and truth will take it's rightful place as a full partner of kindness. 

Until both are highly esteemed, neither will shine very bright. 

- Christopher Aune, 2019 

"The highest form of wisdom is kindness." - The Talmud

"No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted." - Aesop

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

How to Format Your Transformational Blog Post

Not sure how to create a great post for your transformational blog? Try these four keys that work every time.

1. The Connection – This is the issue that many people share, and it's what you're writing about. The thing that’s holding them down or holding them back. Show them you understand their issue, and it'll create a strong connection between you and your reader. 

2. A Surprise Solution Statement – Make a broad solution statement in a creative way nobody expects. It may not make sense on the surface, but it will if they read on. The fact that you're offering a solution challenges them to read further.

3. Three Power Points – Create three (or more) different perspectives or examples that partially explain how to do the Surprise Solution. They can overlap, but no one of the Power Points should work on their own. You need all three. 

Writing Transition – Write a short paragraph that makes a smooth transition from Points to Action, including a direct challenge to start now on a specific action - maybe one of your Power Points. Waiting is death to your readers' relationship with you. Action makes them glad they know you.

5. A Next Action Step – Direct the reader to take a specific Next Action to implement the solution. Maybe even provide them with a button to click to read more or to buy a more detailed solution. 

Tah dah! Not only did you help your reader, you showed them how to take the first strong, direct action to achieve the results they want. Now, do it again and again. 

-        Christopher Aune, 2018

Friday, November 30, 2018

Change what you don’t like about yourself and your situation

 To create personal change, there is a proven method.

1. It is important to detach from repeating thoughts. The longer you dwell on some issue, the longer it stays in your life. So, release those things. There is a method to do this.  

2. Replace unwanted thoughts and feelings with desired thoughts and feelings. You control what you think and feel.

a. Identify the repeating issue.

b. Identify the desired issue. (I know, Chad will say to simply release the desire. But from my perspective, that's only halfway.)

c. In meditative state (full release and awareness), imagine you are in the desired condition. Here's the key: Allow yourself to know that alternate possibility with all five of your senses and to feel fully the joy and wholeness of that moment. Think it and feel it.

d. Anytime the offending issue comes up, recognize what it is, and immediately change your thought and feeling to your desired condition. In this way, you practice the thought and feeling of the desired condition in meditation and in life. So, your mind and heart begin to automatically look for the improved condition instead of the old repeating issue.

3. The 5-second rule: In your daily life, the mind and heart will find the condition you are holding. When it appears, you have five seconds to take action on it. When it appears, if you fail to begin acting on it immediately, it will pass on and disappear. You'll have to wait for another opportunity. Keep practicing.

- Christopher Aune, November 2018

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Strive greatly. Trust completely

Is it possible to perform complex tasks with a quiet mind and sharp concentration (as in a meditative state)?

Yes. Every writer knows this. Every book author is a master of this. Complex tasks are accomplished by the conscious mind beginning to take action, and then allowing the free flow of spirit from your unconscious. Later you go back and look at what you have done, and are awed by what came out of you. You didn't even consciously know you were doing that. But you (your ego) takes the credit. And that's okay.

So, just write. Don't worry about it. Your subconscious is always guiding your conscious, and the spirit is guiding your subconscious. It's all good. Just write.

That's the spiritual version of the religious aphorism, "Let go and let God."

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

A thought or two about stopping overactive thinking

I thought I'd toss in a thought or two about overactive thinking. (Get it?)

First, we can all learn to stop thinking. I do it all the time. There are visual thoughts which I replace with sitting in front of an imaginary white board, like in school. There are auditory thoughts (including the voice in your head), which I replace with sitting in an imaginary anechoic chamber (a room that absorbs sound). You can imagine for the other senses, too.

Second, the brain is a thought generation machine. It has been trained over millennia to generate options to keep you safe. Consider our evolutionary ancestors in a tree and their response to any rustling of the leaves. Is it a cheetah? A snake? Is there safe escape route? Remember, curiosity killed the cat.

Third, at times - sometimes quite frequently - we react to something in our environment that reminds us of a painful prior experience. Our minds are working it over and over, trying to come up with a different outcome from pain. We even act these out in daily life, usually without really paying attention to them. If you'll take time to contemplate the root memory, you'll understand why you behave the way you do. Then, whenever you get that same feeling/thought again, you'll recognize it and release it quite quickly. 

Finally, if you constantly feed your brain images and sounds from television and social media, you are training your brain to think. You overload your brain with new experiences, and at night - when the brain processes and condenses memories - your brain gets lit up up with that work for hours. Rapid input of sensory information is less than 50 years old, but your brain is still designed for the relaxed times that preceded. 

Best wishes!

Thursday, November 8, 2018

We’re God’s gift to the world. Indeed.

Love is in everything. Love created everything.

Love is like a fresh water lake where you can see 30 feet down with crystal clarity. To pollute and disorder what Love has created, is like turning that lake into a cesspool filled with piranhas, and then swimming in it.

We are not sovereign above the consequences of our behavior.

Since humans appeared on this planet, 90% of species have gone extinct, and we’re losing more every day. (Read The Sixth Extinction.)

The beginning of our misunderstanding and arrogance is reflected in the writings of Teilhard de Chardin: “Each of us is God’s gift to the world. Our life purpose is to make a difference in transforming that world.”

“Human love is whatever energy we use to help divine love achieve its purpose.”

“After harnessing space, winds, the tide and gravitation, we shall harness for God the energies of love.” What sheer arrogance, putting ourselves in the place of God.

If we fail to take dramatic action within the next 10 years, we’re in for a 3,000 year hot spell, and virtually all life on earth will disappear. God will start over again as he did with the dinosaurs, only humans are their own comet.

To begin that dramatic action, first, humans must transform themselves. But we haven’t done that in the last 2,000 years. Why would we think we’ll do it in the next 10? God’s gift indeed.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

9 Keys to Better Energy

Quite often, people complain about losing their motivation after a couple of days. They start out excited and bright, but after pursuing their inspiration for a few days, the shine tapers off. They're no longer sure that's what they want. Well, here are eight keys to help you get over low motivation and get going. 
  1. Food: Are you eating healthy food? Sugar, grains and root vegetables have a lot of carbohydrates; but too much carbs fires up your metabolism for awhile, then sucks your energy and makes you feel unfocused. I consider sugar to be poison.
  2. Water: Dehydration makes your energy lag. Drinking water can cure this in a few minutes.
  3. Rest: Lack of sleep slows everything down in your waking hours. Don’t feel guilty about forgetting the concerns of life, they’ll be there when you wake up. Sleep at least 7 hours, and 10 hours on some days. Loll around in bed until you feel good about getting up.
  4. People: The wrong people distract you from your goals. Surround yourself with supportive people. Don’t tolerate energy vampires in your life.
  5. Purpose: Hold a clear idea of the life you want to live. Review it every morning and at bedtime. Motivation directed toward a purpose is very powerful. Without a powerful purpose, motivation disperses in every direction.
  6. Focus: You’ll notice that each of the above is about proper focus and direction, and eliminating distractions.
  7. Challenge: You have to break out of your comfort zone, or you'll lose your magic. We need challenges. The biggest challenge is getting started. "I don't feel like it." But once you get moving, the movement itself brings joy. Another challenge is feeling overwhelmed: There's too much that needs to be done to achieve my purpose. Okay, we can't do everything and be finished by lunchtime. Plan. Prioritize. And then take just the next step. Another challenge is not knowing how. But realize that for every challenge, you are the solution. You are a problem solver. There will always be challenges and problems. The way to succeed - and keep your energy up - is to solve the problems. Solve the small ones first, then you'll find that large ones are already taken care of. 
  8. Start: Just do it. Your brain is great at keeping you in a perpetual stall. We are ingenious excuse makers. The best way to get started is just before bedtime. Write down a list of all the things you have to do, then make a short list of the top three or five. Forget the rest of the stuff on that list, it'll be there when you get to it.  You don't have to worry them in your dreams. In the morning, take 5-15 minutes to meditate on how it will feel when you get your short list done. Then get up and do the first thing. 
  9. Fun: Trust yourself. If it makes you feel joy, do that! If it doesn’t bring you joy, don’t do that.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Recognizing our dark side, Learning to love the dark

I don't think that anyone is advocating we just accept the violent side of our nature and not manage it.

Instead, perhaps it would be helpful to accept that we all have dark thoughts. Understand that maybe the darkness isn't in the thought, but in the way we interpret it.

We can recognize our darkness every time we see something wrong in someone else. That is our unconscious rejecting our own dark side and projecting it onto someone else. If you feel offended and angry – often blaming and complaining about others – you have spiritual work to do.

You are free to reject your dark thoughts, but you can also attend to them, follow them, learn to dance in your darkness, run through it and splash around in it like a puddle. Give our darkness a hug, hold it and feel its warmth. Cry for it because the world doesn't know how to love it.

Monday, October 15, 2018

How can we be okay with not finding what we want in life?

Friday, October 5, 2018

Five essentials to becoming successful

People don't achieve their dream life by accident, by being smart, nor by working hard. Okay, some few people do because they fall into the right solution or are born into it. But anybody can become successful in America - and nowadays in most of the rest of the world. And you do need to be smart and work hard, not one or the other. Here are five essentials to achieving huge success in whatever you want. 
  1. Invest in yourself. Successful people never stop learning. They read every day and continue attending courses, seminars and workshops. Get OJT. Practice your skills until you're an expert (novice, competent, expert). Listen.
  2. Discover what it takes. Successful people interview a dozen-plus successful people in their area of interest to learn how they did it. Listen.
  3. Get a mentor (or two or three). Successful people get hands-on experience and real life learning under an successful mentor. Listen.
  4. Delayed gratification. Successful people sacrifice money, location and marriage early in life to get the hands-on experience and real life learning necessary to become successful. However, do what you love: Don’t sacrifice your heartfelt motivation ever, not for a minute. Do what it takes. Don't settle. 
  5. Build your team. Successful people cultivate a team of talented, like-minded people to work with them to achieve mutual success over a lifetime. Learn sales skills, and develop consensus among talented people by identifying their strengths and weaknesses, their motivation (what they love), and what they are interested in contributing to your mutual cause. Cut excess baggage. Insist on only the best on your team: These may be successful people you’ve come to trust or quality people who are motivated, innovative and trustworthy.

Friday, September 28, 2018

What are some tips for becoming successful?

I helped six people become millionaires, 32 to double their income into six figures, 300+ to find and change to their ideal career, and one to become a professional golfer. Here are a couple of the things I taught them.

1. Swim and float. The river will take you a long way, but it’s not likely to land you where want to go. 
  • Know where you want to go - The river of life will take you wherever the hell it wants to, unless you decide otherwise. If you don’t know where you want to go, get a job and suffer. At least your owner will have a nice life. Or get a life coach and figure it out. Invest in a good life coach after you get a car, but before you buy a house. It’s important to know where you’re going. 
  • Where you want to go - You want to do what you love. (Duh.) Do what you love and the money will come. Make a plan to get there from where you are. Don’t just quit your job and life, and walk away. Figure out how to make a smooth transition, but if you’ve been working at it for more than two years, just get off the river and walk away, or you’ll never get there. 
  • Swim some - If you swim against the current, you’ll be too exhausted to enjoy life. If you swim with the current, you’ll soon be out to sea. 
  • Float some - You should be able to float to a good starting point for your successful life by making successive course corrections - swimming some. 
The idea is that, if you’re on the river, some other force is running your life. You have tremendous power, and you’ll realize that as soon as you start for where you want to go. One of my millionaires was on the river for 25 years, but as soon as he got focused, he got there in two years. 

2. Eliminate all negativity - internal and external.
  • Your boss fired you and told you what a total failure you are. Let me tell you: Your boss is mean and a total failure. Every human being I ever met has great value - very often a whole lot more than they give themselves credit for. Any boss who doesn’t recognize that shouldn’t be a boss. 
  • There are a lot of possibilities that are passing you by. All you need is one. Think like a rock: Let all the No’s roll off you like rain. They simply don’t matter. The Yes’s are the only thing that count. 
  • You choose your own thoughts and feelings. If you’re not choosing them, then any piece of crap can float into your worldview. If you begin to notice a lot of crap in your mind, then you know it’s time to start making hugely different choices. 
3. Insist on the best, and you’ll likely get it.
  • People talk about how they have to choose between bad and worse. Bullshit! 
  • Know the difference between power and force. Force is from outside. Power is from inside. Nobody can force you to make a bad choice. You have to the power to find (or create) a better option and to choose it. People who do this make big money. 
  • Think! People don’t take time to think, so they end up floating down the river of life, and every so often some sewage gets poured on them. That shouldn’t be a surprise. Take time to think. Make choices that take you where you want to go. 
  • It is always easy to choose the best in life. Take a moment to think about what is coming into your life. How does it feel? If it feels like joy, choose that! If it doesn’t, always find a different choice, one that brings joy. If you don’t think that’s possible, it’s because you never tried it, and you’re too concerned about everybody else and their unending opinions. 
4. Work smart, work hard.
  • Work smart: See that stuff up above. Oh, and never stop reading or learning. 
  • Work hard: If you’re working smart, it’s easy to work hard and long with a minimum of unhealthy stress. Healthy stress actually makes you feel good, like after you finish a run or work on some exciting idea till 3 in the morning. If you’re not doing what you love, it will always be unhealthy. 
Well, this is turning into a book. Sorry so long. If you get the direction of this, most of the rest will fall into place. Go for it! Don’t let anything hold you back. - Christopher Aune, (c) 2018

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Then comes real living

We interpret what we see through the filter of what we believe. 

What would it be like if we could only see? What if there were no filter and no interpretation. Could we be sure without first trying out what we have thought? 

So, while meditation starts with mind, it advances with action, and concludes with desired real outcome. 

Surrender is to reality, but human fulfillment doesn’t end with surrender. It is only the beginning. Then comes real living. 

- Christopher Aune, Thursday Sept. 13, 2018

Friday, September 7, 2018

Ourself is a perfectly valid world

“[T]hese ancients taught that prayer was participation in God’s love, the activity that takes us out of ourselves.”  — Diana Butler Bass, A People’s History of Christianity: The Other Side of the Story

I’ve been promoting the use of the word “ourself.” People seem to think that multiple people is always a plurality, but on the deepest most basic level we are one. On the level of union with God, every person is participating and interacting in the world. 

So, when we talk about people and unity - all individuals as a unified whole - we speak about “ourself” as a single entity, instead of the plural ourselves. "We need to take care of ourself." "As I was meditating, I became more aware of ourself." "Nothing fills the hole in our soul better than ourself." 

When we meditate, we leave behind worldly concerns - our ego struggles: It takes us out of our individual selves. 

When we meditate, we go deeply into our truest self and find that we can sense our individual self at a very basic level. In that self-awareness, we become aware of ourself on an expanded, interconnected, even integrated level. 

It is often our struggle to maintain our individuality - our personal ego - that holds us back from admitting ourself, from releasing our individual cares, and blending into conscious awareness of ourself.  We are afraid to release our troubles for fear that we would lose our very self; but the truth is that, by releasing our troubles, we melt into the warm, sweet syrup of Ourself. 

Thursday, August 23, 2018

What is the root cause of depression?

Johann Hari’s book, Lost Connections: Uncovering the Real Causes of Depression – And The Unexpected Solutions covers each of these root causes of depression in detail, and then introduces seven solutions. I highly, highly recommend this book to everyone. A great read with huge social impact.

Causes of depression are divided into two categories: Reactive (externally caused) and Endogenous (internally caused). 

Reactive depression (externally caused)

Social/Circumstantial – By far, most depression is caused by social/circumstantial situations in a person’s life (78-85%):
  •      lacks meaningful work 
  •      lacks social/intimate connections
  •      lacks meaningful values
  •      inequality in income, status or respect
Socio-Psychological (overlaps between purely social and purely psychological [thinking] causes
  • hopeless or insecure future
  • habitual bad attitude
Endogenous depression (internally caused)

  • unresolved childhood trauma
  • disconnect from nature/open spaces
Genetics – Complex cause
  • First, there is one gene that is directly associated with depression. About 37% of people have a cluster of other genes that – in various combinations - have been associated with depression.
  • Second, genes must be activated by an extremely stressful or traumatic event (environmental) for genes to activate genetic depression
  • Third, gene activation can be reversed through a combination of healthy diet and meditation. Also, there is one medical, biochemical treatment that – when combined with diet and meditation – has been shown to improve outcomes.
One scientist summarizes: “Nobody is condemned to be depressed or anxious by their genes.”

Brain malfunction (Brain chemistry, Traumatic Brain Injury)
  • Brain chemistry - No definitive research supporting this as a cause. Two scientists: 1) “Doesn’t exist at all” or 2) “a vanishingly small number of people.” (<1% of those diagnosed with depression) (Very surprising since pharmaceutical companies campaign for chemical treatments.)
  • TBI – Often causes depression.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Buddha's Four Noble Truths compared to Reality Spirituality (and Christianity)

Buddhas Four Noble Truths

One: Suffering (Dukkha), Discontent, Unsatisfactory, Disappointment, Depression, Anxiety
  • Buddism says to heal self-inflicted suffering vs. the Christian heroic self-sacrifice.
  • Suffering is 90% imaginary: Remembered suffering, anticipated suffering. All in the mind.

Two: Origins (Samudaya), the origin of suffering, Cravings, Desires
  • Suffering comes from desires or cravings taught by ignorance.
    • Craving for objects that give pleasurable feelings, or craving for sensory pleasures.
    • Craving to dominate others.
    • Craving to be away from the world because of painful feelings.
  • Habits of thinking prolong cravings and suffering.
  • If we do not transform our suffering, we will transmit it.

Three: Removal and Cessation (Nirodha), Emptiness
  • Suffering can be ended by ceasing and removing the cravings or habits of thinking, feeling and living. 
  • One can master the mind and, by practicing prolonged emptiness, recognize and become the True Self, thus being free from all self-inflicted suffering.

Four: The Path to cessation of suffering (Magga), The Way
  • In the Theravada Buddhist tradition, it is the noble eightfold path: right view, right intention, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration.
  • In Christianity, it is surrender to the will of God.
  • The Buddhist and Christian ways enforce discipline.

Reality Spirituality

Reality Spirituality leads to health, peaceful living and awareness of one’s power.

Reality Spirituality empowers the individual to learn from their own thoughts and feelings, and from one’s experience of the surrounding environment. Thus, Reality Spirituality empowers self-discipline. This is different from institutional religions which enforce discipline.  

Reality Spirituality teaches you to proactively recognize and follow your compassion to find your True Self living in reality, as opposed to living in the illusions and ego filters of the mind as a reaction to reality.  
  • Your body reflects your spiritual or energetic self with senses and mirror neurons.
  • Trust yourself: Listen to your feelings, thoughts and experiences – what you should avoid, what you should do. (Learn to avoid suffering. Recognize and accept beauty.)
  • To arrive at the truth and at reality, the standard way to listen is 
    • to be open to everything without judgment, 
    • to watch without preconceptions, 
    • to be aware of the contrast between preconceptions and reality, 
    • to allow reality to be what it is, and 
    • to allow yourself to not know and not understand. 
  • If a suffering returns, it is because you have not trusted yourself and learned the lesson.
  • When you learn from suffering and beauty, and embrace the lessons, you become full aware of reality and live in consonance with reality.
  • Once you are empty of ego filters and suffering, you can become aware that reality is made of energy, in its power, waves and frequencies. From and empty state, you can learn to manipulate energy and form reality, creating whatever you will. - Christopher Aune, 2018

Monday, August 13, 2018

Wind turbines vs. Wide-open spaces

I used to like the idea of wind turbines, but the more of them I see, the less I like them. They are distracting and ruin the beauty of the land. Natural beauty is much more important than many people know or understand. How important are wide open spaces?

Here are some samples of the tons of research cited in Johan Hari’s book, Lost Connections.

- People viewing a beautiful piece of countryside show significantly greater drops in blood pressure, stress, depression and anxiety over people viewing the same scene as a screensaver on a computer monitor.

- A study that compared people dwelling in a part of the city without a green park to those living near a green park, with no other distinctions: Those near the green park showed 34% less depression and anxiety.

- Another study showed greater reduction in depression among runners in nature than those on a treadmill.

- “They got people who lived in cities to take a walk in nature, ... Everyone, predictably, felt better ... but for people who had been depressed, their improvement was five times greater than the other people.”

- Another study showed that pictures of open savanna immediately decreased stress levels and reduced feelings of depression better than pictures of mountains, oceans and woodland.

- A study of prisoners in Michigan showed that a group with a view of the surrounding fields were 24 percent less likely to get physically or mentally sick than those with a view of a cement block wall.
“’I have to say,’ Professor Howard Frumkin—one of the leading experts on this subject in the world, ‘that if we had a medication for which preliminary results showed such efficacy, we would be all over researching that medication … Here is a treatment that has very few side effects, is not expensive, doesn’t require a trained or licensed professional to prescribe it, and has pretty good evidence of efficacy so far.’ But the research is very hard to find funding for, he said, because ‘a lot of the shape of modern biomedical research has been defined by the pharmaceutical industry,’ and they’re not interested because ‘it’s very hard to commercialize nature contact.’ You can’t sell it, so they don’t want to know.” - (p. 130)

Isabel Behncke, evolutionary biologist/researcher of human nature/professor at Oxford University says: “Fucking hell—it’s our habitat.” - (p. 129)

We need to protect our open areas. - Christopher Aune, August 2018

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Overwhelmed or SuperClear

Some things just don’t make sense. I understand a certain thing, but somebody else is telling me differently. I experienced a certain trauma, and it makes no sense. I feel a growing frustration. It just doesn’t make sense.

If I keep trying, I’ll work it out. Or maybe not. If I keep trying and it still doesn’t make sense, my frustration grows.

Denying it allows me to keep working on task. But eventually even my denial is overcome because the damn thing still doesn’t make sense.

I’m working on it. I’m working despite it. I’m working to avoid it. But working doesn’t resolve the damn thing.

Eventually I can’t avoid it any longer, and even though I’ve long since forced the nonsense or the trauma out of conscious memory, my subconscious is still trying to resolve it. My subconsious puts me in situations much like the original thing that doesn’t make sense. I make the same mistakes over and over again, repeating the same nonsense, the same trauma, and coming to the same non-solution. I don’t understand why I keep doing these same mistakes over and over!

I deny my frustration so I can stay focused on my work – and distract myself from my nonsense or trauma and my frustration. But subconsciously I’m getting more and more frustrated. I just don’t realize it consciously, and all I know is that I keep feeling more and more driven to work harder and harder, because I just know there’s a reward that will come if I can just work hard enough.

I’ve forgotten what it is that doesn’t make sense, but my unconscious remembers and keeps working on it. My frustration keeps growing and growing. I can’t concentrate on my work as well anymore. I feel stressed and pressured, so I work harder and harder. I don’t know why. But my subconscious knows why: I’m avoiding the trauma that doesn’t make sense. But I fool myself into thinking that there’s a reward.

I don’t consciously know that the real reward is to resolve the nonsense and the trauma. That’s what I’m working so hard at, but all it gets me is money and a pat on the back. There is no resolution to the issue that I no longer remember. So, I work harder. There is more stress and pressure.

Under years of stress and pressure, one day my life breaks. I am driving down the road, and I turn right to avoid somebody walking in the road, and I run into another car. Big accident. I’m in the hospital for weeks. But there was nobody in the road. I was avoiding something, but I can’t admit it these days.

Or one particularly stressful day somebody complains, and it’s just one complaint too many. I break down and start to cry. What the hell am I doing? I’ve had stressful days before. Why are these tears coming down my cheeks? Why am I sobbing like a lunatic? It wasn’t that big a deal. But the big deal remains carefully forgotten in my subconscious.

One day I’m working my butt off to finish a project on time, and I just doze off. Not just once, but it starts happening on a regular basis. I can’t seem to stay awake. I’m stressed, but I choose the stress because I love the feeling of victory, of achievement, of doing something that makes me feel approved. If I can just do this, I’ll be okay. But I’m not okay, not subconsciously. I’m avoiding the pressure that comes from avoiding the real issue.

I’m totally overwhelmed by real life because it’s the life I choose so I can be distracted from the real life I am avoiding. I can’t go back and work on that issue now, I’m too busy at work trying to find excuses to avoid that old trauma, that old nonsense. My subconscious has other plans. I get in an accident. I start sobbing in the most inappropriate place “for no reason.” I fall asleep in the middle of a meeting.

I can’t function anymore. I lose chunks of my life: my job, my spouse, my day out with friends. I can’t do this, whatever this is. I don’t know how to fix this. I don’t even know what this is! I just know that things don’t work anymore. I don’t have any problems. I’m making good money. I have a nice family life in a fairly comfortable home. I drive a car that doesn’t need repairs for the most part. But something broke in me. I can’t keep up. I can’t keep doing this anymore. And I don’t know what I’m supposed to be doing. I’m lost, hopeless, anxious, worthless, and depressed. What the hell is going on?

What do you mean something happened in my life that didn’t make sense, that traumatized me? That didn’t happen. Nothing happened to me. I don’t have a pattern of repeating mistakes in my life. (Well, I do, but I’m not admitting it to you. And I’m certainly not going to go back and dig around in all that pain and anguish.)

I can take some drugs and feel better for months at a time. I get my life back to some semblance of order. And then, suddenly, in the middle of a pleasant conversation among friends, I panic. For no reason, I’m back to not being able to function. My job is gone. I’m afraid to see my friends because I might panic again. My spouse tries to avoid me, and I’m afraid to try to get close again. They give me more drugs, but eventually even the stronger doses, the stronger medicines, don’t work.

What is happening to me? There’s a devil lurking back there, in the back of my mind. I hate that devil. Why doesn’t it just go away? I’m afraid to face it. It’s gonna get me and destroy me. Rip me limb from limb. But what the hell, it’s already destroying my life. I consider suicide, but that is just more avoidance.

I have to face this devil. Talk to it. Talk through it. Cry it out. Admit that it doesn’t make sense. Admit that the solution wasn’t a solution at all. I have to stop repeating the same nonsense, the same non-solution. I need a new solution. Avoiding obviously doesn’t work.

All those times I worked through the same type of situation, and I didn’t even know I was looking for a different solution to that nonsense, that trauma. And now I have a different, more mature understanding. I have a different solution. In fact, I have several different solutions. I just have to notice when I’m making a wrong turn, getting ready to cry or starting to get sleepy; and then I can pick a new solution. Do a new thing. Reinvent my life. Have a better life.

It’s all clear to me now. I felt overwhelmed because I imagined it was all too big for me. But one little step at a time, and I can get away from that place where I’ve been living in my subconscious mind. I can create a whole new life. It’s all so easy. So super clear. There is a heaven, and it’s right here when I decide to live it. 

- © Christopher Aune, 2018 

Friday, January 19, 2018

How to help Nancy

Nancy is a “frequent flyer” at the hospital ER. She appears about once a week to demand narcotics, a meal and a room for the night. She is offered a ride to the homeless shelter and a bagged lunch. She refuses them and refuses to leave, becoming verbally abusive and then physically abusive.

Neither the hospital nor the staff caused this. In fact, Nancy didn’t cause it. Neither did her parents or caregivers. Nobody is at fault. Nobody is guilty. Nobody can be blamed. And nobody takes responsibility.

Over the years, our attempts to stop drug use included stronger law enforcement, then jailing the users and treating them in prison, then stronger punishments and mandatory treatment. The problem with all addiction treatment is that, afterward, we put them back on the street in the exact same environment that supports the addiction. Now, we’re trying to improve by intensifying these same failed approaches.

How can we fix this?

Instead of trying to stave off the flood after the dam has broken, we can address the root cause.

Today, we understand addiction and have ways to prevent it, ways that cannot be implemented as long as the medical community ignores cutting-edge research showing genetic predisposition (Reward Deficiency Syndrome) to substance abuse, and childhood trauma as the activation of that predisposition. The interaction of the two is the first essential steps toward Substance Use Disorder.


Prediction is now possible.Genetic Addiction Risk Score (GARS) … is a [demonstrated] identifier of polymorphic variances which predispose an individual to Substance Use Disorder, and other impulsive–compulsive behaviors and their root cause Reward Deficiency Syndrome (RDS) …. [It has] provided a critical tool in stopping the cycle before it begins.” “We now have entered a new era in addiction medicine that embraces the neuroscience of addiction and RDS as a pathological condition in brain reward circuitry that calls for appropriate evidence-based therapy and early genetic diagnosis and that requires further intensive investigation.”

Prevention is possible. “Dr. Kevin McCauley’s documentary Pleasure Unwoven defines addiction as a “stress induced defect, acting on a genetic vulnerability in the reward learning area of the mid-brain and the emotion choice area of the Frontal Cortex. …. [C]hildhood trauma alters genetic expression, and the interactive variance results in increased substance use and/or abuse.”  -  (This is a great review of a well-being approach to addiction treatment, including the needed and overdue change in public attitude and stigmatization.)

So, the First Level essential cause is Childhood Trauma that activates the genetic predisposition (RDS). After progressing through five levels – mostly a biological cascade effect in the brain – the result is Substance Use Disorder: A disease.

To prevent the First Level cause (trauma) is a DCS assignment, one that our DCS is failing at. The recent Indiana DCS director – in her letter of resignation – pointed out that prevention is possible, but not under inadequate funding. 

Using the GARS instrument to predict RDS, we can flag individuals for trauma prevention and early treatment, thus avoiding genetic activation of RDS. This can only be done by fostering healthy families and, failing that, community connections to substitute for the warm relationships developed in healthy families. Known connection points that are also currently failing to provide preventative support outreach and support programs in church, employment, clubs and other community organizations.

Legislative research, action and funding can thus direct funds to prevent Substance Use Disorder by fostering healthy families (the ideal DCS function) and promoting community connection points. 

This is really condensed, so there are links to supporting articles that will lead you deeply into the research on this matter.