Forgiveness and other things


Artwork by Winnie Truong 

I’m sure you’ve heard people say things like “you need to live in the moment”, but what does that actually mean? I’ve come up with a couple interpretations that might help solve this question. I personally tend to think of the question in a metaphorical kind of way where “living in the moment” isn’t some sort of mental state that you can pull up through vigorous meditation sessions, to me, it’s more the act of letting go.

Throughout life, we hold on to our own tragedies whether they’re self-inflicted or events that happened. There’s no problem in acknowledging everything that has happened to us over the years, but there is a problem when you let such things hold you back. You may not even be aware that there’s an element from your past that’s preventing you from moving forward wholeheartedly. For myself, it was an acknowledgement that I was being too hard on myself thinking that I should be “better than this”. That sort of idealization of who I wanted to be and where I wanted to go ended up being detrimental to where I was.

Another thing that helped me was when I realized that people generally just want to do what they think is right even if that “right” is a false positive. After realizing this, it became harder to hold on to small grudges that I had because it’s harder to see someone negatively when you observe their perspective. Of course, that doesn’t apply to everyone and everything, but you get the point.

To me, letting go of your past so you can move forward is what living in the moment means. But, that’s not to say that I think that that’s all it means (I’ll get to that later on :P). It’s easy enough to say “let go of the past” but how can you go about doing this? This is one of those “easier said than done” types of situations, because it means you’ll likely have to relive some of your past in order to understand it better.

Just analyzing your past may not necessarily be enough (but it’s a good starting point), you may need to adopt a different way of looking at it. Consider the idea of forgiveness. That word gets thrown around a lot and it’s largely a misunderstood concept. When you forgive someone, a situation or yourself, it’s not necessary for the other person to deserve that forgiveness (but it helps), it’s about allowing yourself to let go. Forgiveness is a process that you do to yourself, for yourself.


Artwork by Winnie Truong 

You can’t very well say a thing like “I forgive myself” and expect it to come true, you need to find the means in which to convince yourself that the forgiveness is justified. Otherwise, you’re just blindly accepting something without understanding why. The “why” part is important in understanding. When I was trying to work on my process of letting go, I had to change the way I saw situations. The goal was to remove myself from the situation so that I can see it clearer.

I was trying to look at it my situation through someone else’s eyes in a way. If you consider the past, not just your past, but everyone’s past, it’s obvious that there’s a lot of history and in order to understand someone (finding the “why”), you need to look at their past. Here’s a vague little nugget, but it might give you a better picture…

I think that the majority of you know the extent of damage abuse does to a person (if you don’t, google is just a quick click away) and if you consider that it’s really only been addressed in the past few decades, you can develop a picture of what the history of a lot of people might be. You may not have personally been whipped by a belt as a kid from a drunken father or lashed by a ruler from a school teacher, nun or priest (of course this doesn’t necessarily apply to all cultures, but the abuse is the same). Now if you go back even further, the level of abuse and traumatic events go up much higher. You can take the child mortality rates of the past and apply it to the damaged families. All that history comes back to you because it’s an echo.

Your parents may demonstrate passive aggressiveness, lashing out, show little patience, so on…as part of their learned experience of what “works” and what’s “right” because their parents showed a more extreme version of that which lead them to where they are now. Their parents before that and so on. It’s slowly going away because of the mass cultural shift we’re going through where abuse of any form is no longer acceptable. That doesn’t mean that things are better by any means because we’re faced by different problems than what we’ve faced before as people. But, this view of things, this story of the echo of abuse, it gives you a better idea of why certain people might treat you a certain way.


Artwork by Winnie Truong 

For me, understanding was the key in letting go of my past so that it doesn’t affect my present and future. It was through understanding and asking “why” that led me to the forgiveness of my own downfalls and the downfalls of others. However, I will always be working on this “living in the moment” thing.

I hope this was useful.


A Brief History of Brody and a short story


Artwork by Kyle Stewart (

It looks like I haven’t posted since April and there’s good reason for that (which I’ll get into). I don’t usually talk too much about my personal life on this blog, but I recently had a talk with a friend about transparency in your life and how it brings out authenticity. So, I’ll give you a run down on what’s been going on.

In November, I went through what I call a “meltdown”. I sum it up as being an accumulation of stressors that haven’t been handled with. It seems hypocritical of me to have a blog about the different mental tools to avoid such things, but in truth, I lost all of these mental tools as a result of losing everything around me. I had lost my house, my wife and the life I had been working towards in a matter of days. The shock sent me catapulting downwards as I wasn’t able to adapt to the single life quickly enough (probably from the loss of my mental tools). There were a few other key stressors that followed and several personal revelations, but the point is that I wasn’t able to cope anymore even though I had spent most of my years developing these coping tools for such an instance. That’s why I initially started this blog. It was to document and also to share the coping tools that I’ve lost during this trauma period. Slowly, one by one, they started coming back to me, but it wasn’t easy. It was like being thrown back into pre-adolescence and trying to figure everything out all over again. Me, you, the world. Because all of my pre-conceived notions of the world tumbled down, I was able to see myself (and therefore life) a bit clearer. In Zen, they say that the beginners mind is a masters mind and though I didn’t have much say in the events that happened to me, the result was the same (not saying I’m a master here, just that my brain’s emptier :P). I’m still always learning and so I value any input you might have.

I stopped writing in April because I was going through a series of insomnia attacks followed by a drawn out physical depression (my mind was fine, but my body wouldn’t work). This I believe was a direct cause of the “meltdown”. I had to move back to my parents house during this period and have gone to the point where I couldn’t work either. It seemed like I tried everything at that time. All medications from pharmaceuticals to natural remedies. Nothing worked. That’s when I got really desperate and did a lot of research. Apparently, I’ve been doing a “half assed” version of meditation before then and I was barely skimming the “deeper” levels. I started doing Zazen (properly this time) twice a day for twenty minutes each time. After a week, I started to feel normal again and after 2 weeks I was able to start working. After all this, I don’t think that I’ll ever be able to function the way that I used to and will be relying entirely on meditation. Since then, I’ve managed to live in my own apartment and I’m working on my career. So, all things considered, I’m doing pretty good for myself and I’m now in a place where I can start writing again.

In an attempt to be more authentic as a person, I want to alter the blog a little bit. I used to try to keep my articles as short and zen-like as possible, but I need to be honest with myself, I’m not a zen master from the 14th century and I like being able to fully explain a concept so that it can be better understood (which means longer articles). I’ll aim for bi-weekly articles, but I make no promises (I do this for fun after all :P).

I’ll keep writing if you keep reading.


Artwork by Kyle Stewart (

I have a friend who wrote me a short story about what it would be like if I were to step into her mind. I wrote her a response, basically on what it would be like for her to travel in my mind. I figure since this is one of my more unusual blogs, I may as well end it by posting the short story that I wrote. Here it is:

She came in with a thud. The space that encapsulated her was dark and ephemeral as though the air was made of charcoal which constantly moved, shifting from side to side. The chamber she landed in had no distinct walls or surfaces, but if she tilted her head a certain way, she could see that she was inside a giant sphere. She could see this because of the light of stars shinning through. Nebula, galaxies and millions of stars were all barely visible, but could be detected the same way as a fish might be able to detect the reflection of the moon. Fear set over her because of the unfamiliarity of the place, but soon she was able to calm herself and that’s when she noticed that the charcoal air would form pockets or bubbles of clearing. Her curiosity grew as she drew closer to the pockets and she would begin to ask herself questions about her situation and what was happening around her. Suddenly, her mind began to wander and she remembered. Floods of memories passed through her like rushing water without any boundaries or restraints. As soon as this happened, a glimmer of light began to shine in the center of the pocket which was then followed by a projection of the memories being played by her own mind.

This startled her but she could not run because the fascination that grew inside her, paralyzed her. The opalescent pocket grew as she stared into it more and more till it took up a large section of the dome. The stars beyond the dome could be clearly seen now and the periphery became visible. The dome chamber had become completely engulfed in her memories and this brought up a wave of sadness as she viewed the events that influenced her life. She collapsed into a fit of tears and the sobs of her own voice brought her no comfort, but the sadness within herself was soothing since it was a familiar emotion that made her feel safe and at home. Her vision was blurred as she finally looked up and a specter or shadow could be seen walking closer to her. Although the idea of a strange specter walking nearer would normally terrify her, she didn’t feel afraid. As the stranger approached, he transformed from a giant shadowy stick figure to what looked to be a scratchy drawing of a human figure. Jagged lines rolled around him to create the illusion of a body and slowly a face had started to emerge. Eventually, the lines became smoother and more fluid and the specter became a hyper-realistic drawing of a man.

He asked “How did you get here? I didn’t think anyone would come”. She was surprised, but kept calm, responding “I don’t know, but were you expecting someone?”
“I wasn’t expecting, just hoping. This place is hard and sometimes cruel, but it’s also beautiful in how complex it is. I was hoping someone would come to take the edge off from living in this place”

As soon as he said this, bright green grass began to form around his feet and ankles. He raised his hands up and small blue flowers started growing in patches around where his hands were. He looked at her with a dreary stare and said “I’m the master here. I have complete control over everything that happens.” He looked downward and the greenery around him unraveled and disintegrated till it all disappeared. “So, how did you get here?” he demanded. “I told you, I don’t know”. He tilted his head to the side in a manner that suggested he was contemplating something deeply. “There are other domes around here. You can only see them if you know how and I know they’re there because I can feel them. I think we’re all connected together and so every once in a while when a connection is strong enough, they meet. It’s been a long time since someone was here with me”. A look of shock overcame him as he stumbled over his words “c-could I…umm…offer you some tea?”. She smiled at the drawing of a man

“I’d love a cup”.

Understanding and Emotional Martial Arts


Artwork by Kim Alsbrook (


A long time ago, a high school teacher of mine made the class watch a documentary on people with different types of memory loss. What intrigued me about this was the descriptions of the before and after effects of a victim suffering from amnesia after a car accident. They claimed that not only her memory was gone, but also that her personality had changed. This made me wonder that if such a thing as a personality could be altered by an accident, could it be altered on purpose?
From my own experimentations, I’ve found that it can be changed, but only to a degree. I think that’s because of memory. Every morning we tell ourselves the story of our lives and we remember who we are and where we came from to get where we are. If we were not able to remember our story, would we be the same person?

I warn you here. Every article I’ve written before has been an underlying process to dealing with specific problems. I’ll be covering processes that I undergo currently and so are still in a constant state of being processed. Incomplete. I can’t help but feel that it’s valuable and useful regardless and hopefully, you, the one reading this, may even be able to take it further. This next segment, I call emotional martial arts.

Like I’ve said earlier, your personality can be altered on purpose to a degree, but with that, you need a certain understanding of yourself. Probably a more accurate one. You need to understand that you, your ego, this thing you try so hard to defend against others, is really invisible and barely exists. The only reason why this invisible thing might be susceptible to attack is because you let it. If you can accept that you and your ego are actually nearly nothing, it doesn’t do much for your esteem, but it also makes you invincible. Yes, invincible. You can’t hurt something that isn’t there.

With that in mind, it’s still hard to let this idea of you go. You may not be able to completely. But, allowing this sort of understanding become an every day part of your life, it let’s you become more pliable or softer to coerce. I know that this sounds bad. That, you should just accept yourself for the way that you are and that’s the end of it, but I don’t see any fun in that. There’s something that can be said for accepting yourself and a whole other thing to build your character. We’re not born with the right set of mental tools necessarily and so some of us need to develop them much later in life.

There are many ways to do this, but everything I know, I’ve learned mostly on my own with a little help of zen every once in a while. Therefore, this information I relay to you is personal and may not work necessarily. But, I don’t think that there’s much difference between people other than experience, so, I don’t really see why it couldn’t. As I go on in my articles, let me know if any of this is helpful.

Alternative Approaches for Dealing with Anxiety



Artwork by James Lee (

Usually depression and anxiety are linked together pretty well because depression causes anxiety and anxiety causes depression. But, that’s not always the case. You can be depressed without feeling anxious and your anxiety can be situational. As I’ve said in the previous article, anxiety is the inability to cope. So, I’ll explain to you what I’ve done in the past to cope.

Personally, my anxiety has stemmed from a circle of negative thoughts (keep in mind that I say positive and negative in the sense of what causes harm). Every emotion has an opposite and that opposite can be found in the similarities in bodily responses. This is why you’re able to go from laughing to crying in an instant. Happiness to anger and so on (I’ll explain this further in future articles). If you look at what your body is doing when you’re anxious, it’s actually very close to what it does when you’re excited. A sudden surge of energy, a shakiness almost like nervousness. Whenever I would feel anxiety, I would then think about something that would make me excited. You do this a number of times and your brain makes that link so that it’s no longer anxiety that you feel. Sometimes, finding that thing that makes you excited is hard to do, so, it may just be beneficial to you (in more ways than one) to make future plans that do excite you.

It also helps to deliberately put yourself in a situation that you do get excited about and then think about what’s causing the anxiety. This is not so that your brain makes a link, but more for understanding what the anxiety really is. Understanding the truth of your situation allows you to let go of whatever it is that’s causing you harm.

Anxiety can also stem from past trauma where an event plays over and over again causing fear of that situation to become overwhelming and in turn creating a bodily response. There is a documentary on an alternative method for dealing with this sort of anxiety, but despite my best efforts, could not find it on the web (If you know which one, please let me know in the comments). Essentially, it was about how you can stop the repetition of the traumatic event playing in your mind, by simply, writing it down every time it comes to you and also allowing yourself to see it. It’s like your brain skips over the event like a broken record. But, this analogy fails because a brain can fix itself. I suppose the idea is that your brain comes to acceptance after you confront it through your own intended repetition. However, I don’t know how valid a method this is because I haven’t used it personally, but I thought it was worth a mention since it coincides with much of my other mental tools such as dealing with physical pain. This type of anxiety is often associated with post traumatic stress disorder (P.T.S.D.)

My motivation for learning how to do this has always been that I see cycles as enduring things. They can last a lifetime and so I’ve always put the fixing of deadly cycles as the most important thing. In truth, the deadly cycles are really just you, doing bad things to you. It’s simple and yet the hardest thing to change.



A Method For Depression


Artwork by Zachari Logan (


There are many ways to change negative thoughts into positive ones. A series of negative thoughts combined with a downward spiral usually leads to anxiety which then turns into depression. This is what I’ve noticed anyway. There’s a method called Neuro Linguistics Programming that I’ve been recently introduced to which allows you to shift your internal dialogue from a negative to a positive. Since I don’t know much about this, I’ll just supply a few links at the bottom and you can take it from there.

I’ve been through severe depression twice in my life and I’ve been able to release myself from it and move passed it. I can try to describe to you what I did as best I can, but this has just been the right path for me. It may very well be different for you.
For me, the key wasn’t turning every negative thought into a positive. It was more about focusing my thoughts so that I don’t end up with having useless clutter roaming around in my brain. Whenever a negative thought would arise, I would stop and question it. “Where’d that come from?” “Do I really gain anything by thinking this?” “Is it something I can do something about?”. If I find myself unable to drop the thought, I’ll then try to find it’s root. The “why?” to the problem. Sometimes it leads to bigger problems where the original thought was just the tip of the iceberg.
Once you uncover the iceberg and see it for what it is, you come upon a life changing realization. Once you can name your demon, you gain power over it. At this crucial point comes a decision. A choice. That choice will need to be integrated into your life so that this downward spiral doesn’t form again.

In summary, what I can say about depression is this. It’s a series of bad habits that you’ve formed in your mind and life that keep leading you down the same path. Anxiety is the inability to cope. But anxiety is also a whole other demon and stems from fear. It requires a whole other set of tools (which I’ll cover in later articles).
It can take a very long time to discard the underlying problems to negative thoughts, but the alternative to me just seems like a waste. Doing nothing. Anyone suffering from depression and\or anxiety knows how terrible a situation it is and if they could change it, they would in an instant. But, initially, what you’re doing is undoing a life that brought you to this state so that you can reconfigure it to a point where living as you isn’t as much of a problem. To let every day become better, not worse.

NLP Links:
How to eliminate unwanted thoughts:
Tony Robbins Ted Talks (why we do what we do):
NLP Pattern Interrupt :


How to increase thinking



Artwork by A. Andrews Gonzalez (


I was always a very curious kid. You could say I was intensely so. Completed with my natural sway towards introversion and doubled with my shyness, I tended to keep most things to myself while going inwards with my questions. This brought upon constant thinking. Though it occurred naturally for me, I think that it’s something anyone can learn and do.

You can slowly increase the amount of thoughts that go into things depending on how much time you spend on them. Repeat this over and over and you’ll begin to do this towards everyday things. You’ll also increase in speed and depth at which the thoughts will go. It’s a bit irritating at first and feels like a waste of time, but the more time you spend on a specific subject, the more you get bored with it. The more you get bored with it, the more you’ll try to find something amusing about it and the more insight you’ll gain on that subject. I like to go to museums and art galleries to do this, but that’s just because of my interest in those things. You can go in depth about sports, theater, media, politics. Everything really. It’s easier if you focus on your point of interests. 
The consequence of doing this, however, is dwelling. If you become obsessed with a certain issue, you’ll find it hard to guide yourself away from it. This is where mediation comes in. The kind I’m talking about is breath focus. You sit and pay attention to your breath. Gradually slow your breathing. Thoughts will come, acknowledge them, move past them and focus again on breathing. You do this enough times, you’ll slowly be able to gain control over your thoughts. It’s because of focus. If you practice your focus, you practice the control over your thoughts. Then, you can stop dwelling while still having the benefits of constant thinking.
The more you think, the more you learn.
The more you learn, the more you experience.
I realize that these lessons are easier said than done, but they’re intended to open you up to the possibility that you’re not a static creature. You’re more pliable than you can imagine. With a bit of daily effort, you can begin to see who you are and what you’re capable of. That is the greatest lesson I can give.

Arsenal Of Tools



Artwork by Nykos Gyftakis (


Last blog post, I finished by saying that you need an arsenal of tools to be able to handle whatever twist life has for you. I’ll go into more details about this.

There are some things about yourself that you don’t like and you probably tell yourself sometimes “I should be better than this!” but the reality is that there are some things that you can change and other things that are far too ingrained to be able to do much about it. But, you might find yourself surprised when you see parts of yourself changing that you once thought impossible. I’ll do my best to try to teach you how to do this, but I can only go into depth on the traits that I’ve developed personally. There might be more, but I may not know them.
1. Basic Shaping.
The general idea is that we are a product of our environment, so if you change your environment, you change yourself. This is sort of the backbone to “successful” people. If you want to gain muscle and become an athlete, then you need to spend more time with athletes. Same goes with business, art, etc. Not only can you get helpful advice from your groups, but just being in that environment encourages behaviours and an understanding. It also works if you want to eliminate certain things from your life as well, such as addictions and other bad habits. That’s how the method goes, but it’s not an absolute and it’s not the only thing you’ll need. This is actually a much easier and simpler way to influence a course for yourself. These next ones are going to be a bit more difficult.
2. Foundation of Shaping
Patience (tolerance), discipline (self-control) and willpower are the same thing. It works like a muscle. The more you exercise it, the stronger it becomes. This is something I noticed within myself and there are some scientific discoveries that further my point. Here’s a video that may be more helpful. (hour long, but worth it)
(Consider this a practice in your patience, you might need to rewatch it a few times)
A simple trick that I’ve learned is to just pretend not to care. If you force or act a certain way, eventually, that acting becomes a part of you after repeating it enough times. It’s the whole “fake it till you make it” concept. It does work. 
As humans, we are highly adaptable to conditions and there are some studies that show how pretending something is real is actually eerily close to that something being real (which makes truth seeking very difficult).
***Please note that this is not the same thing as trying to be someone or something that you’re not. You will always be you, but I want to show you that you can be a version of you that you want to be. Think of it like tree shaping, you influence where the growth goes.