People Living Large – Robin Sparks An American woman’s global search for a new country. Sat, 04 Oct 2014 07:44:29 +0000 en-US hourly 1 5509250 A New Face For Communal Living Fri, 03 Oct 2014 20:20:50 +0000 As some of you may know, I have been living in an intentional community in Marin California this summer. You see, even when I am ‘home’, I experiment with new ways of living in the world.

I dreamed of living in community for years, and although I had thought it would happen in Bali, it has come to fruition in Marin, California. I love the lifestyle. In short I live with 8 people in a beautiful home in Novato, California. In our home we have 3 married couples and 2 single women. There are a number of other communal living houses in the Bay Area. I call it an upscale commune.

Here is the view from one of the community homes in Novato, California. The view from a community home in Novato

I will write more about my personal experience living in community in the near future, but for now, here is an article recently published in Common Ground Magazine, co-authored by 4 women in my community – Debra Price Van Cleave, Dr. Amore Vera Aida, Teri Bigio Berling, and Fay Freed.

A New Face For Communal Living – A New Day For an Ancient Way of Life

“You have been telling people that this is the 11th Hour, now you must go back and tell them that this is the Hour, and there are things to be considered: Where are you living? What are your relationships? It is time to create your community.” Hopi Elder

If you’re still imagining hippies and hacker hostels when you think about communal living, you may want to think again. Across the Bay Area, from twenty-something tech entrepreneurs to baby boomers, individuals, and couples with or without children, intentional communal living or co-living is often the housing option of choice and with good reason – the benefits are many.

Ancient tradition with a modern twist: Since ancient times, people across the globe have been living in groups for reasons as diverse as safety and security, building cities, developing agriculture, or simply fulfilling the human need for belonging. People then, as now, discovered that doing life alone is really not a viable option for having a thriving life, especially as we age.

Many of today’s communities worldwide are examples of ‘transitional’ lifestyles for a more sustainable future on Earth, rich with goodness but without compromise for the generations to come. This in comparison to the intensive consumption and wasteful style inherent in traditional nuclear families model. Examples of current styles of communal living include the Kibbutz movement in Israel, Findhorn Community in Scotland and Damanhur in Italy, co-housing and farm-based communities across America and worldwide, as well as the compound-style of extended family in Bali. Locally, Green Gulch Buddhist community and a multitude of techies living together in San Francisco and Silicon Valley are current examples of communal experiments.

A Marin County Successful Communal Experience: Let us tell you about our successful intentional community model for the urban-suburban environment. We are a diverse group of boomers and genXers living a thriving lifestyle in various configurations of households for more than 25 years. We are passionate about this powerful, viable, sustainable and timely solution for living vibrant lives.

Over the years, we’ve raised children, created businesses, traveled, invested, celebrated and grieved together. As a group, we’ve supported many socially responsible organizations. In short, we’ve intimately shared our lives and supported each other through all of life’s twists and turns. Community is a lifestyle we feel to be the perfect antidote to today’s fast-paced, stressful, expensive and isolating design. While it’s not for everyone, we’ve 
found that there are many benefits of intentional community living that might resonate for you, too.

Financial Benefits: Living in community is more affordable, making a higher lifestyle available by sharing. As a homeowner, you can enjoy having additional income and tax benefits. As a renter/housemate, you gain broader access to combined resources, and investment opportunities are sometimes possible.

Personal and Relationships Benefits: At whatever stage of life, you are not doing life alone while having access to privacy and required solitude when you choose. A powerful support system surrounds you in good times and in challenging situations; we solve problems together.

Singles have many more people with whom 
to interact, and the couples find that their relationships are enhanced by having other eyes and ears around them, as well as learning from others. Children are notably well-adjusted because they experience many styles of adult behaviors. There are extensive resources for their enrichment. By the nature of living together, one is prompted to show your best self. By sharing tasks, many hands make lighter work, and of course it’s more fun as well.

We make a difference as a group: Our lifestyle is more sustainable due to 
a lighter footprint on the planet. We share appliances (one stove and two refrigerators instead of many!) and bulk purchases of food and supplies; we use solar energy and conserve utilities. We live our lives with a committed purpose that is conscious and mindful.

Life becomes more creative and interesting: 
Imagine a life filled with delicious gourmet and organic meals together, celebrating occasions, business co-ventures, outrageous parties, multi-dimensional workshops, weddings, memorials, and traveling together!

Many intentional communities in this country and abroad are mission-driven or based on a particular philosophy or spiritual foundation or leader. Our community has no one leader. While we share many common values, we do not share a specific philosophy or religion. What our diverse community homes do share is a practice of appreciation and gratitude, for example giving thanks before a meal. We practice consensus decision-making so that everyone’s voice counts. Regular household meetings assure that all kinds of situations are addressed, with differences and preferences included. This makes for a smoother flow, and more joy and nurturing in community living. We like to say, “In communication, anything is possible.”

Many people ask us how this community got started? There are different ways to tell the story, but the bottom line is that it developed out of the long-standing friendships and sisterly relationships of the women. It was our aligned desire to raise our families in a design different than the single nuclear family model, that of ‘extended family’. The partnership we have received from the men in our lives has made this all possible. (In addition, we were given much guidance and support across the years from friends and experienced mentors.)

This article was co-written by four dear friends passionate about Communal Living: Debra Price Van Cleave, Dr. Amore Vera Aida, Teri Bigio Berling, and Fay Freed (Left to right in the photo.

Additional resources:

Fellowship for Intentional Community

Global Eco-village Network

Co-housing Association of the US

Lafayette Morehouse Community, Lafayette, CA

Damanhur Federation, Piedemonte, Italy

Ubud Writers and Readers Festival, October 2013 Sat, 19 Oct 2013 08:35:40 +0000 At the recent Ubud Writers and Readers Festival, there was an Indonesian author who touched me deeply.

Augustinus Wibowo journeyed from Beijing to Pakistan over a 4-year period and has lived in the Middle East and Afghanistan. His most recent book “Titik Nol”, which will be translated into English next year, is a tale of visiting his dying mother and their exchange of stories – his of life on the road, hers of life at home.

Indonesian Author, Augustinus Wibowo with Tony Wheeler at Ubud Writers and Readers Festival in Ubud, Bali, Oct 2013

Indonesian Author, Augustinus Wibowo with Tony Wheeler at Ubud Writers and Readers Festival in Ubud, Bali, Oct 2013

Wibowo describes a scene where they are standing around the hospital bed where his mother lay dying. “Christians stood on one side of the bed, reading the Bible and trying to baptize her. On the other a Buddhist priest chanted. My mother opened her eyes, laughed, and said, ‘Bring them all in.’”

“We are human with so many colors,” Wibowo said.

There was more:

“The more I travel, the slower I go,” he said. Wibowo lives with locals when he travels and avoids social media. “ If I’m checking emails from back home, I’ve disengaged from where I am. I am there to connect to the sorrows, the joy and the lives of those I am visiting.”

Wibowo said that most readers of travel books read “to feel connection.”

“Travel is learning to see from a different point of view, and ultimately travel is about discovering yourself, about coming home. We don’t have to go far to travel. Our lives are the real journey.”

This guy was singing my tune.

More gems from the festival:

Don George, editor-at-large for National Geographic Travel Magazine said that good travel writing brings about wonder, dignity, respect, appreciation – that which makes the world a better place.” He added that some of the best travel writing comes from writers who allow themselves to be vulnerable, who take risks.

Don George speaking on Travel Panel at Ubud Writers and Readers Festival in Ubud, Bali, Oct 2013

Don George speaking on Travel Panel at Ubud Writers and Readers Festival in Ubud, Bali, Oct 2013

Mona Prince from Egypt, an outspoken Egyptian professor who has recently been charged with insulting Islam and suspended from her job said, “In 2011 Egyptian women were full of dreams and hopes.” “Aren’t you afraid?” the moderator asked Prince. “I’m willing to pay the price, my life if necessary for our freedom,” the Egyptian novelist said.

Mona Prince, Egyptian novelist, literary translator, and activist after "Inspiring Women" at Ubud Writers and Readers Festival in Ubud, Bali, Oct 2013

Mona Prince, Egyptian novelist, literary translator, and activist after “Inspiring Women” at Ubud Writers and Readers Festival in Ubud, Bali, Oct 2013

Haideh Moghissi, author of seven books, from Iran, encouraged the audience to hear all voices. “So much of the western world excuses the way that Middle Eastern countries treat women by saying that it is a cultural issue. “That,” she said, “is cultural relativism”.

Haideh Moghissi speaking on "Inspiring Women" panel  at Ubud Writers and Readers Festival in Ubud, Bali, Oct 2013

Haideh Moghissi speaking on “Inspiring Women” panel at Ubud Writers and Readers Festival in Ubud, Bali, Oct 2013

Amish Tripothi, from Mumbai, India, saw his first book, The Immortals of Meluha break into the top seller charts within a week of its launch.The Shiva Trilogy has become the fastest selling book series in the history of Indian publishing, with 1.7 million copies in print.

Amish said, “It took me 9 years to become an overnight success.”

Publishers did not believe there was an audience for his book. And so he and his agent published the book on their own and it sold 45,000 copies in the first 3 months. The publishers then began bidding on it. Amish refused to make the changes that the publishers requested. He said, “You can’t compromise on your book. That’s the voice of your soul.”

“The Greeks,” Amish added, “Say ‘The genius does not exist in you. Your task as a creator is to let the genius use you.’ My characters live in parallel universes and my task is to enter their worlds.”

Debra Yatim, Indonesian author after "Inspiring Women" panel Haideh Moghissi speaking on "Inspiring Women" panel  at Ubud Writers and Readers Festival in Ubud, Bali, Oct 2013

Debra Yatim, Indonesian author after “Inspiring Women” panel Haideh Moghissi speaking on “Inspiring Women” panel at Ubud Writers and Readers Festival in Ubud, Bali, Oct 2013

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Breathing Underwater Tue, 26 Feb 2013 11:28:05 +0000 Written on Nusa Ceningan, a small island off the coast of Bali, Indonesia on February 13, 2013.

snorkeling at Manta Cove

Breathing Underwater at Manta Cove

When I was walking along the beach last night, an Indonesian man told me they needed one more person for a snorkel trip in the morning. They were going to see mantas he said, and to stop at other beautiful underwater spots while circling the islands of Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Penida. Time of departure, 9am.

“Ooh, that’s early,” I said.

I had arrived the day before on Nusa Ceningan for a solo 2-week writing retreat.

“I’ll see how I feel in the morning,” I said.

And so when I awoke this morning I thought, “Robin you are here to write your book, so write.” Another voice, “But it’s only 3 hours out of the day, and you want to exercise anyway and you can write all afternoon and evening.” A third voice, “Let’s see how it flows.”

A few minutes later, the electricity went off in my bungalow. It was 8:30 am. I’ve noticed that the electricity “goes out” for a couple of hours in the morning and again in the afternoon. My cabin, which sits in direct sunlight on the beach all day, was quickly turning into a sauna. Oh what the heck, I’m going. I climbed out of bed, dressed, packed my bag and met the boat at the harbor.

Our first stop was Manta Cove where there is a cave where the sea water is breathed in and exhaled out. Into the cool cerulean soup I went. And drifted towards the cave.

In less than 5 minutes a large dark shadow appeared like a space ship, coming to within inches of me, and then gliding out of site.

Oh my God, I have seen a manta ray, and up close!

Before long there was another and then another. Darth Vader-like, the manta rays arrived with mouths agape. I floated quietly gazing into their eyes saying silently, “You are such a beautiful creature”. Each one (there must have been 8-10 in all!) would appear, look me in the eye, then swoop away, bank like a plane, and return. Flashes of light sparkled through the water from divers wielding cameras on the ocean floor. I flapped my arms slowly, gracefully, mirroring (thank you NLP training!) their movements, and I did not follow or approach them, but waited for them to come to me, and come they did. Again and again.

It was as if they knew that I was loving and appreciating them, and they were digging it.

They had wing spans at least 5 times the length of my body, triangular bodies, heads rounded, mouths open to display gills and hollowness inside. Underneath they had large evenly placed gills on a white torso. And a long tail from which I noted no stinger or threatening barb. We curved around each other, beings of light and love.

I wondered briefly if they were dangerous (vaguely remembering a recent story about an Australian travel adventurer who was stung by a ray directly in the heart) and then was glad I hadn’t asked before we left. Again and again they came and we practically greeted each other with a kiss.


exploring the over and underwater world of Nusa Ceningan, Indonesia

Exploring the over and underwater world of Nusa Ceningan, Indonesia

In snorkeling, breath is the main event, loud, and present, like a metronome. I-Am-Here-Now-in-This-Moment breaths. What irony that I’d felt a tinge of disappointment this morning when I realized there would be no time for my breath practice – because here I am now breathing, deeply, rhythmically – underwater.

Hypnotic, soothing, effortless while all around is the beauty and wonder of the underwater world. What better way to go with the flow than snorkeling, where with the smallest effort you move like the fish with the fish?

I spent 3 weeks last month trying to push through a last minute visa to India so that I could attend a trauma release breath work class in Goa, India. One day while driving back from Danpasar after yet another failed attempt, the words “No more pushing the river” came, and I surrendered.

A few days ago, the trauma release breath work teacher I had hoped to train with emailed that he and his girlfriend, a tantra teacher and life coach, will be coming to Ubud in March and would like to trade a room in my home for personal training. Both tantra and trauma release are modalities I’ve wanted to incorporate into my breath work. Two teachers, coming to me, now that I am floating effortlessly.

I kept riding the current through February and ended up in Thailand where I met with old friends and new ones who re-invigorated me with their love. I interviewed Chiang Mai expatriates for the Thailand chapter in my book, and rode elephants bareback at an eco resort, which just happened to be perched over a flowing river. It was there where I met the owner Alexa, whose story will bring light to the chapter about Thailand’s expatriates – a chapter which had been leaning a bit too far to the dark side.

I will return to Alexa’s Chai Lai Orchid Eco Resort next year to offer trauma release breath work to the girls she donates her profits to – girls at risk for sex slavery. A greater purpose for my Clarity breathwork training last summer had appeared.

And as if that weren’t enough, 2 screenwriters and several writers have appeared in the past few weeks to support me with my book.

Life is coming to meet me where I am. Bringing me exactly what I need and much more now that I am still.

There is a popular meditation and way of being called “Following Life”. I like to think of what is happening to me now as “Life Following Me” when I stop pushing and directing it.

I love warm seawater

I love warm seawater

In the water I am transported to a primordial world where I once lived – Mother Earth’s underwater show of sacred geometry, repeated in shapes underwater as overwater and within and without in every living and non-living thing.

I’m sure I once lived in the sea as I am so at home and happy here. We all began, come to think of it, floating effortlessly, safely, in the wombs of our mothers complete with our own private snorkels, until our time to be born and breathe on our own arrived.

I think of my home of Ubud, Bali as a womb – warm, wet, and feminine – a bubble in which I have gestated, received nourishment, and grown. And I’ve been feeling vague contractions lately, a knowing that my time to emerge and to meet life in the light is nigh.

When I first attended a Transformational breath work session 3 years ago, I met the Divine within in such a cathartic way that the name “Transformational” was a an understatement. I was hooked. For God’s sake, it was here, inside all along. All I have to do is breathe deeply, evenly, for at least an hour to access it.

It’s occurred to me since I began breath meditation, that the things I have loved most throughout my entire life – riding a bicycle as a child, running through the woods with my dog, swimming, cross country skiing, ecstatic dancing, hiking in nature, connecting intimately with a lover, meditating, to name a few – all involve breathing deeply, evenly and consciously. Nourishing every cell in my body with oxygen, love, life force, the Divine. It was about the breath all along.

I have missed my Ubud community and our group breath sessions this past month – and I am exactly where I am supposed to be.

Breathing under water.

Taking a break from writing at Dream Beach, Nusa Lumbongan, Indonesia

Robin Sparks is a Level Four Clarity Breathwork Facilitator, available for private and group breathwork sessions. She’ll be leading a weeklong workshop at Kumara Sakti in October 2013 in Ubud, Bali called Breathe Life Into Your Book.
For details email Robin at

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Bali Spirit Festival Finale Thu, 07 May 2009 04:02:15 +0000 The Bali Spirit Festival is behind us now. Thank you Megan, Kadek, Charley, the more than 40 presenters (many who donated their time), the hundreds of volunteers, the festival attendees, and sponsors. The organizers of the festival took a financial hit of over $50,000, but the point of the festival was not money. It was about bringing together some of the world’s top yogis, sacred musicians, instructors, and gurus. It was about giving back to the community. About sharing the true essence of Balinese culture with a wider audience in order to positively impact the consciousness of people throughout the world.

On all of these accounts, the festival was an gargantuan success.

Sunday, the last day of the festival was a free day, open to families, and anyone who wanted to join, and join they did. Musicians to play together, yoginis to teach together, the community to co-mingle with visiting foreigners. It was the embodiment of Indonesia’s proclaimed mission – Unity in Diversity.

Sunday night jam session

Akim Funk Buddha

Akim Funk Buddha

Akim Funk Buddha dancing while members of various bands jam together

Akim Funk Buddha dancing while members of various bands jam together

Jam session

Jam session

Rocky Dawuni moves his performance into the crowd

Rocky Duwani moves his performance into the crowd

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Hip Hop at the Bali Spirit Festival Sat, 02 May 2009 14:02:37 +0000 Participants at the Bali Spirit Festival

Participants at the Bali Spirit Festival

I waited outside the Kafe Restaurant with a small group of people for the shuttle to the Bali Spirit Festival ground. One of those waiting was a quiet dark man wearing a bowler hat and bright Afro ethnic clothing. I asked him if he was going to the Holistic Hip Hop class. He smiled, nodded affirmatively, and said nothing.

We arrived at the festival and as it turns out, the man was Akim Funk Buddha himself,

Akim Funk Buddha

Akim Funk Buddha

Holistic Hip Hop

Holistic Hip Hop

a New York based performance artist and educator, who has performed at venues like Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, the Blue Note and was the instructor of the holistic hip hop workshop.

Akim Funk Buddha – gotta love that name.

Princess Lockeraroo, Akim’s DJ, spun James Browns’ “Talkin’ Loud and Sayin’ Nothing” and Akim was off, miming moves and motioning the students to imitate him. Soon, the lawn pavilion was filled with grooving hip hoppers of all ages – small children to senior citizens and all types- from hippies to suits from all over the world.

Hip Hop students (that's festival founder Megan on the left)

Hip Hop students (that's festival founder Megan on the left)

Any self-consciousness anyone may have felt initially, was quickly shelved as they learned moves like popping and waving. I’m pretty sure that there were more laughs logged per minute at the hip hop workshop than at the Laughter Yoga class.

Simultaneously, there was Kathak Dancing, Hatha Yoga, Prana Flow Yoga, Mark Whitwell’s “Practical Secrets of Intimacy & Love” yoga , a drumming and chanting circle, a Javanese Movement meditation, a Sacred Middle Eastern Traditions Music workshop, and a fire dancing class.

I found myself at the tarot card booth at the Dharma fair whereupon I learned that there are to be more challenges in my near future. OK, so bring it on (so I can get it over with). Everything happens fast here.

The headliner of the evening was Ganga Giri, a Didjeridu player from Australia who was joined by musicians from around the globe to pump out high-octave fusion.

Ganga Giri and friends at the Bali Spirit Festival

Ganga Giri and friends at the Bali Spirit Festival

The crowd pumped, jumped, leaped, and swayed for the next 3 hours. And when the lights went down, they moved to the Flava Lounge in Ubud, to continue to into the wee hours.

Suddenly it doesn’t matter that I missed the gypsy music festival in Istanbul this year. Because world music has come to Bali.

Bloggin’ from Bali
Robin Sparks

Philosophers’ Notes from Bali Fri, 06 Mar 2009 21:42:54 +0000]]> p1060857
Everyday is an extraordinary day in Bali.

I began at 6AM this morning with a one hour holosync meditation, which is (in a nutshell) stereophonic sound designed to put take one quickly into an alpha state.

I then wrote on the terrace outside my room overlooking rice paddies, palm and mango trees, fountains, lotus flowers, a garden, and a pool. The staff brought me a breakfast of banana pancakes with palm sugar syrup and fresh watermelon, papaya, cantaloupe, and bananas. I put on a blouse I bought in Turkey, a skirt from India that I bought in Argentina, and flip flops from Brazil. Then I drove myself on a Yamaha scooter to see a house for rent in Nyuh Kuning, Bali by a guy from Oakland. I scootered through Monkey Forest past monkeys and temples and over bridges and up and around jungle ridges, past a man balancing a huge bag of who knows what on his head walking through a rice paddy and wound my way around tarp after tarp of rice laid out in the street to dry.

I ended the day at the open-air Yoga Barn in Bali participating a Osho-designed (India) Sufi (sect of Islam in Turkey) dance meditation, guided by Selina who is from the UK and has lived in Asia for 18 years.

Only one month left in Bali! Scary but a necessary part of the journey.

It is so easy to be here.

Philosophers’ Notes Discussion Group

The touchstone of my 3 months in Bali has been a discussion group I attend three times a week called Philosophers’ Notes. Brian Johnson from Los Angeles has been in Bali for six months writing Cliff Notes-ish summaries on 100 self-development books and in our group we discuss the big ideas he extracts from each one. He records our discussions and puts them on his website.

Participants at a Philosophers' Discussion Group in the Yoga Barn - Ubud, Bali

Participants at a Philosophers' Discussion Group in the Yoga Barn - Ubud, Bali

Our Philosophers' Notes discussion group leader, Brian Johnson

Our Philosophers' Notes discussion group leader, Brian Johnson

There was a new guy in our group today, a fan from London who discovered Brian’s Philosophers’ Notes online and came to Bali expressly to meet him. And not a minute too soon because Brian announced today that he’ll return to Los Angeles in two weeks. (Note: Since this blog was posted, Brian has postponed his return to Los Angeles until August. Yay!) He’s been swamped with requests by authors to add their books in his Philosophers Notes selections. And a big name self-help author is advising Brian to expand Philosophers Notes and has hooked him up with the world’s largest spiritual publisher. In partnership, their mission says Brian, “will be to unify the world around a common set of truths.”

It is Brian’s work he says to challenge people to become fully alive. After being in Bali for 10 months “upgrading” his consciousness, he will return home.

All part of the “Hero’s Journey,” a mythical construct that comes up frequently in our discussions. From the intro in The Hero with a Thousand Faces, Joseph Campbell explains the Hero’s Journey like this: “A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder (Bali in this case): fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won: the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man.” I’m not sure what “boons” are, but I’m sure Brian will do a great job bestowing them. (-; To retain the wisdom gained on the quest, to integrate that wisdom into human life, and then share the wisdom with the world is the most challenging part of the Hero’s Journey.

Go Brian!

Today’s Big Ideas

Today’s featured book was “The Other 90%” by Robert Cooper.
First a caveat…I found myself editing the word “God” from the notes that follow and then I stopped and thought, What’s up with this? Why am I comfortable speaking one way here but feel it’s necessary to edit what I say elsewhere? It has occurred to me lately that almost all my friends in San Francisco and Istanbul are avowed atheists. In Turkey secular atheism is understandable as a reflex to the threat of fundamentalist Islam. In San Francisco, I suppose it is a backlash to fundamentalist America.

In Bali, the people I’ve been hanging with openly refer to God, Jesus consciousness, Buddha, Abraham…all the big names in religious history. People here exist on a level that I can’t quite put words to. It’s a polyglot belief system, beyond Christianity, while oddly similar. The words you hear Bali-ed about are energy, vibration, polarity, consciousness, prayer, Goddess…I’m a kindergartner in this language and “way of being”, but I like it. And actually I think I’ve been an accidental practitioner most of my life.

Two years ago I wrote on my Facebook profile that my religious beliefs are: “spiritual, not religious”. I dislike (I was going to write “I hate” but that sounds decidedly unspiritual) dogma and exclusivity, whether it is in the form of fundamentalist Christianity, New Ageism (I received a reprimand from a friend via text message when he heard I was eating at Naughty Nuri’s, a restaurant that specializes in barbequed ribs) or I’m-gonna-convince-you-or-else atheism. Yes, atheism is a belief too. When you believe that your beliefs are the only right ones, you are practicing dogma and fundamentalism. My opinion of course. (-;

Rice paddies south of Ubud, Bali

Rice paddies south of Ubud, Bali

Quickly a little about my beliefs, I have always known that there is more than I can see. Since I can remember I have been able to sense things outside the physical plane. I am highly intuitive. I know in some indefinable way that there is a supra-loving, all knowing power both out there and in here, and well, everywhere, because I have experienced it. Repeatedly. And I believe that this super consciousness has manifested on earth a number of times to different ethnic groups as Jesus Christ, Buddha, Abraham, Mohammad…. and all the other “Greats”…If I had to pick one religion that resonates with me most, it would be Sufiism. Followed closely by Tantra.

Anyway, the word God as used in the notes that follow, means something bigger than yourself, which is in you when you are in tune with it. A something more than we can conceive of at our present level of consciousness that exists in every molecule in the universe. A universal intelligence if you will.

There! That said, let’s go…

The “Notes”:

Syntropy – The innate drive to perfect oneself.

Gradualness kills. If you want to make a change, Do it!

A good question to ask yourself is, are you closer to who you want to be and where you want to go than you were 30 minutes ago?

Winners are superior not to other people but to their former selves.

Your dharma, your highest calling, your raison d’etre is the divine expression of your unique truth. Everyone has it. It is when we shrink from expressing it in our lives, work and play, that we become depressed and frustrated. Most people numb the pain of non-expression through television, alcohol, food, drugs, gratuitous sex… fill in the blank here with your favorite numbing substance or activity.

When you take on the challenge to be and give your highest self to the world, you’ll be enthused, inspired, and happy.

You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.

What are you five signature strengths? Write them down and then make sure that what you do employs these strengths.

In every moment, we have the choice to step forward into growth or back into fear.

Pain is God’s gift – a challenge that helps us to grow as we reach towards becoming our higher selves, or as Brian puts it, “the unfolding of our awesomeness”.

When we get out of our minds and let the thing that is bigger than us, come through us authentically and truthfully, we are at our most powerful.He tells the story of a piano player who announced to his audience, “I am just a piano player, but tonight God is in the house”… Musicians know about channeling. Writers understand. Painters absolutely know. When you are “in the zone”, something bigger than yourself flows through you and the result is magnificence. By the way, it takes 10,000 hours of practice to master a skill. And it is through letting that bigger thing flow through you that leads to excellence.

Go away for one week of complete silence, just you and your journal, and when you get back into the real world the ideas you wrote in your journal will seem insane. Do them anyway. Those ideas were divinely inspired.

Whenever you feel stressed, ask yourself, “How can I best let God flow through me?”

EGO = Edging God Out

Brian says that personal development guru Gay Hendricks’s affirmation is “I expand in success, abundance, and love as I inspire others to do the same.” Hmm, I wonder, is it ok to steal someone else’s affirmation?

Which leads to this one: If there is a path, know that it is not your path.

Are you a weathervane blown every which direction by circumstance? When everyone is freaking out about the economy are you stressed about it too? Or are you a lighthouse, rock solid beaming your light steadily no matter how hard or from which direction the wind blows?

Two of Brian’s top values he says are authenticity and full expression. Beautiful. I may have to borrow these too. (-;

You can gauge a person’s character by how easily annoyed they are by other people and events. Picture a “character meter” with a 10 at one end representing someone unaffected by anyone or anything, and the number 1 on the other, representing someone who is bothered by everyone and everything.

What is your highest ideal for yourself? In every moment how can you demonstrate this by integrating it into your actions?

Embrace your biggest expressions, surrender to the power that is bigger than you.

Aspire to be a 2,000 watt light bulb that can sustain more of God’s flow without blowing.

Adversity – when overwhelmed, ask yourself, what is one thing I can do to gain some control over this situation? Action kills fear. Postponement feeds fear.

That’s a taste of life in Bali and a nibble on the Big Ideas from one “Philosophy Notes” discussion. More soon!

Over and out, Robin Sparks – Ubud, Bali. March 6, 2009, where everyday is an extraordinary one.

Robin reporting from her cubicle in Ubud, Bali

Robin reporting from her cubicle in Ubud, Bali

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Entheos 01/09/09 Sat, 10 Jan 2009 10:48:40 +0000
Dec.12, 2009 in Ubud, Bali
Dec.12, 2009 in Ubud, Bali

Do you find yourself waiting to do what you love until after you retire? After the children leave home? After you finish taking care of that other person’s needs? After, after, after…

Are you living the Life Deferment Plan?

You’re not alone. There is a way out.

First, identify what you really want. You know you are doing what You want when you are infused with enthusiasm.The word enthusiasm comes from the Greek word entheos, which means to be inspired by a god. When you are enthused, you are plugged in, and the energy flows. You are in alignment with Source – your purpose for being on the Planet. Not only will you feel good, but everyone around you will benefit as well. Marianne Williamson says that when you let your light shine, you give permission for those around you to do the same.

For those of you who feel it’s your mission to put others first, if you feel any resentment around what you are doing – that you are sacrificing time that you would rather spend on yourself, stop immediately and reconnect to Source, to yourself. Giving comes happily and naturally when you are doing what you love.

How? For some it is exercise, for others art, meditation, yoga, dance, travel, spirituality – whatever it is that takes you back to the place where you remember who you are and what you love. Go there daily to remember and then take at least one action step per day to honor yourself and those around you by taking time for you. Ayn Rand, author of the Fountainhead, says that it is a far greater gift to others to inspire others by being your highest self, than to directly assist them at neglect to yourself.

Your family, your loved ones, your friends, your employers – some of them will resist at first, but those who have your greatest interest at heart will grow to understand that you are not abandoning them. They will eventually rally around what you are doing. Some people, perhaps even a job, will drop away. But do not fear! A void is necessary to draw in the right people and opportunities.

I abandoned my life deferment plan 10 years to begin living and traveling around the world to tell the stories of some of the world’s greatest adventurers. I am not rich. I meet people living uncommon lives all the time and they are usually not rich either. All it takes is creativity and the willingness to look outside of the box, and the courage to go against the grain.

My work cubicle by the pool over the holidays
My work cubicle by the pool over the holidays

A month ago I moved from my now-home in Istanbul to Bali for the winter. Tons of self-inflicted guilt and resistance came my way, even a last minute injury almost causing me to cancel, but I came anyway, and it has been a precious, nourishing, and so RIGHT experience in every way!

I’ve not entirely mastered this skill of taking time for me. A few weeks ago a gorgeous Venezuelan man living in Bali began courting me. He helped me find a place to live, helped me move, introduced me to a meditation group in an ashram, a philosophy group, in essence he took care of me and I ate it up. Once seduced however, he began trying to convince me that anything that took me away from him should be eliminated. And for two days I found myself at his home in the jungle doing the things that mattered to him. I think I wrote for 20 minutes during those 2 days. We didn’t socialize with anyone else. My yoga classes dropped off. He said I should give up my home in Istanbul and move to Bali to live with him. He even tried to convince me that the offer of a free retreat I’d received in Bali in exchange for writing an article should be turned down because it would mean he couldn’t see me for a week.

Uh-oh, the old familiar feelings of losing myself came flooding back. How many times must I hit my head against this same wall before I finally get it? I “escaped” quite literally from his home in the jungle and am still struggling to resist his persistent overtures. I, like everyone, need love. But must I give up me for love? I’m trying to be ok with a void in my love life, keeping the faith that the right man for me will be in alignment with what I am doing (and me with what he is doing) and will support it, not ask me to abandon it.

As for you, whether it be a spouse or lover a job, a member of your family, societal expectations, whatever – remember that when you do what you love, you are entheos, and not only you, but everyone around you wins.

This is so important that I encourage you to join us this coming March 27-29, 2009 at a Time For Me conference in the Virginia mountains near Washington DC. Best selling author and speaker, Barbara Sher, will be the key note speaker– I’ll be speaking too, telling the stories of my global adventures these past 10 years and the amazing people I’ve met along the way.

Come take time for you. It will change your life.

Robin Sparks founder of OneWorld Ltd
Istanbul, Turkey

. . . this must be paradise . . .
. . . this must be paradise . . .
All About France from an Insider Tue, 24 May 2005 19:48:24 +0000 Adrian Leeds, an American in Paris, has the inside scoop on property rentals and sales, best restaurants, and events in Paris. Best of all are her conferences on how to invest in France. Click here

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