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