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Why We Should All Consider A More Bohemian Lifestyle

Why We Should All Consider A More Bohemian Lifestyle

The Oxford English Dictionary defines a “Bohemian” as someone, “especially an artist, literary man, or actor, who leads a free, vagabond, or irregular life, not being particular as to the society he frequents, and despising conventionalities generally”.

In today’s world, the term “Boho” or “Bohemian” is mostly associated with a fashion style or certain way to decorate a home. In fact, the bohemian style has become a real trend over the past few years. The brand Freepeople, for instance, is a great example of this bohemian styling trend. But there’s a lot more to it.

“Bohemianism is not a trend, it’s a timeless movement, a way of life both fleeting and enduring that reappears every now and then as a backlash against our bourgeois, mass market, easy access culture.” Laren Stover, author of Bohemian Manifesto: A Field Guide to Living on the Edge.

Bohemianism is a lifestyle. It stands for those free spirits who are living a life away from the usual everyday life, the stress and pressure, a life in which we are disguising our own feelings and personality in order to fit into today’s society and its ideals. We become the “perfect” version of ourselves, living our allegedly “perfect” lives, rushing from one place to another because those 24 hours just aren’t enough to fit in ten hours of work, working out at the gym, eating, getting dressed, grocery shopping, and picking up the kids from school. You get the idea.

Living a life always hassling from one place to another isn’t always what we really want. We do it because everybody does it. From early on, we give our very best at school in order to get into a decent university. When we are at university, we give our very best in order to get a good job with some major company one day. And when we are at work? Well, we are giving our very best in order to please our bosses, to get a pay raise, or to finance the next vacation. At the same time, we are constantly working on ourselves, trying to fix our flaws, to get in better shape, to get a better look.

While we are doing all this, we tend to forget our talents, our dreams, our true selves. We forget about the things that actually make us happy and fulfilled. This “perfect” version of ourselves often isn’t ourselves. That is where Bohemians are one step ahead of us. They live the life they want to live, they fight for their ideals, they are their true selves, managing to live out their dreams. Even if that means that they don’t have a permanent place of residence or a hefty savings account.

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Even though this lifestyle might not suit everyone, it clearly involves some aspects which any of us can, and maybe even should, consider implementing more in our own lives. All points are underlined by statements from what has become one of my favorite books: Bohemian Manifesto: A Field Guide to Living on the Edge by Laren Stover.

1. Have the courage to follow your own ideals and live your life to the fullest.

In order to live life to the fullest, you’ve got to be willing to take a risk once in a while. Have courage and know that the risk is worth it.

“Giving up security takes guts. Bohemians have the courage to reject mainstream society; to follow an ideal and forsake praise and security; to alienate family; to be, as Jack Kerouac put it, ‘yourself at whatever cost’.”

2. Free your artistic self and surprise yourself.

Take photos, take notes, jot down your thoughts, paint, or do pottery. There are a million ways we can act out our feelings. Just try it.

“Art is a way of life to the Bohemian, so it is difficult to separate art from life. They make it. They sell it. They barter it. They inspire it. They find it on the street, on the beach, in the Dumpster, in the stars. […] Walls, floors, shoes, shirts, sidewalks, street lamps, skylights, no surface is safe from the Bohemian with a paintbrush, marking pen or glue gun. Broken objects may become art; broken crockery or scallop shells end up as mosaics.”

3. Speak out loudly for what you believe in.

Don’t hide your feelings and thoughts just because they might not seem appropriate for some people. Be true to yourself.

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“Revolt comes naturally to Bohemians; they are contrary, irrelevant and disobedient. They like to shake things up. They tickle, rattle, inspire, amuse, repulse and overthrow. Bohemians revolt against dress codes, the circadian clock, business hours, temperance, established mores, the conventional idea of a work ethic, established art forms, politics, traditional living arrangements and institutions.”

4. Dare to live a more unconventional life.

Who tells us how we have to live our lives? High school, college, work, family, kids. For some of us, this might sound wonderful — which is fine. For some of us, however, it doesn’t. It’s just not us. So why should we force ourselves?

“The bohemian is not a follower of the virtues espoused by bourgeois society: routine, temperance, convention, mediocrity, materialism and respectability. Bohemians despise authority, the status quo and, because they are often broke, capitalism and consumerism.”

5. Be proud of being different.

You simply cannot identify yourself with the “normal,” ordinary way people around you talk, act, think, and live? You feel like you are kind of weird in some way? Different? Extraordinary? Well, congratulations. Be proud of it.

“To Bohemians, there is no shame in experiencing altered mental states and sometimes even a little glory in it. […] The Bohemian is never shy about sharing any alternative or outlaw experience. This includes asylum stays. They will illustrate treatments, painting doctors and wards and discussing the stay as though it were something of notoriety or great prestige.” 

6. Embrace your body.

Bohemians are comfortable with nakedness because they are comfortable in their bodies. Imagine how much happier we would all be if we could just accept our bodies the way they look and see them as the beautiful things they are.

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“Nudity as a state is liberating, free of class, inhibition, pretense, rank and fashion. It’s an opportunity to return to the earth, to create a Utopia uncorrupted by buttons, buckles, zippers, neckties, bow ties.”

7. Stop believing in materialism.

Owning a lot of things doesn’t necessarily make one happy. On the contrary, it is not a rare occurrence that this stuff gets in our way and becomes a burden. So, what exactly is the point of all those possessions we accumulate over the years?

“The Bohemian makes do — creatively, exultantly — and does not need the newest appliance, car or gadget to impress, to feel whole, to define himself or herself, to pursue dreams. The true Bohemian is a connoisseur of texture, color and sensation. While the bourgeoisie can experience excitement, a feeling of fulfillment only through consuming, the Bohemian is exhilarated by observation, by creation, by experience itself.”

8. Travel away from the destinations of guidebooks and tourist hotspots.

Discover new lands, foreign cultures, freedom off the beaten track. Get inspired.

“They travel inordinately, incessantly, restlessly; observing, freeloading, freewheeling, free loving, freedom bound, drinking, mountain climbing, [..], taking jobs, taking notes, taking photos, typing away in the room at night, maybe all night. […] Bohemians shun tourist attractions. The Bohemians has been to Paris ten times yet has never been to the Eiffel Tower, and when they do, always by accident, end up at a tourist attraction, they’ll get there so late it will be closed.”

9. Reconnect with nature.

A walk in nature is often referred to as the best medicine. In today’s modern world, however, we tend to forget that and rather turn to our electrical devices or even pills to calm us down, to distract us from our problems, from the struggles we have. So the next time you are feeling down or stressed, try a walk in the park. It will not only help you de-stress, but also to get a little physical exercise.

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“Bohemians are more primal, closer to the earth, and more prone to embrace nature than people who consider themselves above the four-legged with tail or scales. They do not, as a rule, put out sticky traps or tear down spiderwebs, and never one that is inhabited. Bohemians rescue animals.”

10. Don’t be afraid to try new, foreign things.

Trying out and learning about new things will not only open up new possibilities and chances to you in life, it will also make you smarter and benefit your personality in a great way.

“Bohemians embrace, whenever possible, unconventional food and eating habits. […] Bohemians like to eat and prepare food from countries not native to them, or from another time period.”

However you are living or planning on living your life, take just one minute and think about it. What’s the feeling you are getting? If it feels good, congratulations, that’s great. If it doesn’t, however, there might be a weak spot in the way you’re living. Now, think of those points mentioned above. They are all crucial elements in the bohemian lifestyle. Maybe you’ll find yourself in one of them, maybe there are some small adjustments you can implement in your own life and maybe, just maybe, they will help you to live your life more fully, more happily, and more truthfully.

After all, “there’s just something about the freedom, recklessness, scandal, artistic vision and spiritual splendor that makes it tantalizingly worthy of membership.”

Featured photo credit: via Flickr // taylorfranks via flickr.com

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Last Updated on August 20, 2019

How to Control Your Thoughts and Be the Master of Your Mind

How to Control Your Thoughts and Be the Master of Your Mind

Your mind is the most powerful tool you have for the creation of good in your life, but if not used correctly, can also be the most destructive force in your life.

Your mind, more specifically, your thoughts, affect your perception and therefore, your interpretation of reality. (And here’s Why Your Perception Is Your Reality.)

I have heard that the average person thinks around 70,000 thoughts a day. That’s a lot, especially if they are unproductive, self-abusive and just a general waste of energy.

You can let your thoughts run amok, but why would you? It is your mind, your thoughts; isn’t it time to take your power back? Isn’t it time to take control?

Choose to be the person who is actively, consciously thinking your thoughts. Become the master of your mind.

When you change your thoughts, you will change your feelings as well, and you will also eliminate the triggers that set off those feelings. Both of these outcomes provide you with a greater level of peace in your mind.

I currently have few thoughts that are not of my own choosing or a response from my reprogramming. I am the master of my mind, so now my mind is quite peaceful. Yours can be too!

Who Is Thinking My Thoughts?

Before you can become the master of your mind, you must recognize that you are currently at the mercy of several unwanted “squatters” living in your mind, and they are in charge of your thoughts. If you want to be the boss of them, you must know who they are and what their motivation is, and then you can take charge and evict them.

Here are four of the “squatters” in your head that create the most unhealthy and unproductive thoughts:

1. The Inner Critic

This is your constant abuser who is often a conglomeration of:

  • Other people’s words; many times your parents.
  • Thoughts you have created based on your own or other peoples expectations.
  • Comparing yourself to other people, including those in the media.
  • The things you told yourself as a result of painful experiences such as betrayal and rejection. Your interpretation creates your self-doubt and self-blame, which are most likely undeserved in cases of rejection and betrayal.

The Inner Critic is motivated by pain, low self-esteem, lack of self-acceptance and lack of self-love.

Why else would this person abuse you? And since this person is actually you– why else would you abuse yourself? Why would you let anyone treat you this badly?

2. The Worrier

This person lives in the future; in the world of “what ifs.”

The Worrier is motivated by fear which is often irrational and with no basis for it. Occasionally, this person is motivated by fear that what happened in the past will happen again.

3. The Reactor or Trouble-Maker

This is the one that triggers anger, frustration and pain. These triggers stem from unhealed wounds of the past. Any experience that is even closely related to a past wound will set him off.

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This person can be set off by words or feelings, and can even be set off by sounds and smells.

The Reactor has no real motivation and has poor impulse control and is run by past programming that no longer serves you, if it ever did.

4. The Sleep Depriver

This can be a combination of any number of different squatters including the inner planner, the rehasher, and the ruminator, along with the inner critic and the worrier.

The Sleep Depriver’s motivation can be:

  • As a reaction to silence, which he fights against
  • Taking care of the business you neglected during the day
  • Self-doubt, low self-esteem, insecurity and generalized anxiety
  • As listed above for the inner critic and worrier

How can you control these squatters?

How to Master Your Mind

You are the thinker and the observer of your thoughts. You must pay attention to your thoughts so you can identify “who” is running the show; this will determine which technique you will want to use.

Begin each day with the intention of paying attention to your thoughts and catching yourself when you are thinking undesirable thoughts.

There are two ways to control your thoughts:

  • Technique A – Interrupt and replace them
  • Technique B – Eliminate them altogether

This second option is what is known as peace of mind!

The technique of interrupting and replacing is a means of reprogramming your subconscious mind. Eventually, the replacement thoughts will become the “go to” thoughts in the applicable situations.

Use Technique A with the Inner Critic and Worrier; and Technique B with the Reactor and Sleep Depriver.

For the Inner Critic

When you catch yourself thinking something negative about yourself (calling yourself names, disrespecting yourself, or berating yourself), interrupt it.

You can yell (in your mind), “Stop! No!” or, “Enough! I’m in control now.” Then, whatever your negative thought was about yourself, replace it with an opposite or counter thought or an affirmation that begins with “I am.”

For example, if your thought is, “I’m such a loser,” you can replace it with, “I am a Divine Creation of the Universal Spirit. I am a perfect spiritual being learning to master the human experience. I am a being of energy, light, and matter. I am magnificent, brilliant, and beautiful. I love and approve of myself just as I am.”

You can also have a dialogue with yourself with the intention of discrediting the ‘voice’ that created the thought, if you know whose voice it is:

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“Just because so-and-so said I was a loser doesn’t make it true. It was his or her opinion, not a statement of fact. Or maybe they were joking and I took it seriously because I’m insecure.”

If you recognize that you have recurring self-critical thoughts, you can write out or pre-plan your counter thoughts or affirmation so you can be ready. This is the first squatter you should evict, forcefully, if necessary:

  • They rile up the Worrier.
  • The names you call yourself become triggers when called those names by others, so he also maintains the presence of the Reactor.
  • They are often present when you try to fall asleep so he perpetuates the Sleep Depriver.
  • They are a bully and is verbally and emotionally abusive.
  • They are the destroyer of self-esteem. They convince you that you’re not worthy. They’re a liar! In the interest of your self-worth, get them out!

Eliminate your worst critic and you will also diminish the presence of the other three squatters.

Replace them with your new best friends who support, encourage, and enhance your life. This is a presence you want in your mind.

For the Worrier

Prolonged anxiety is mentally, emotionally and physically unhealthy. It can have long-term health implications.

Fear initiates the fight or flight response, creates worry in the mind and creates anxiety in the body.

You should be able to recognize a “worry thought” immediately by how you feel. The physiological signs that the fight or flight response of fear has kicked in are:

  • Increased heart rate, blood pressure, or surge of adrenaline
  • Shallow breathing or breathlessness
  • Muscles tense

Use the above stated method to interrupt any thought of worry and then replace it. But this time you will replace your thoughts of worry with thoughts of gratitude for the outcome you wish for.

If you believe in a higher power, this is the time to engage with it. Here is an example:

Instead of worrying about my loved ones traveling in bad weather, I say the following (I call it a prayer):

“Thank you great spirit for watching over _______. Thank you for watching over his/her car and keeping it safe, road-worthy, and free of maintenance issues without warning. Thank you for surrounding him/her with only safe, conscientious, and alert drivers. And thank you for keeping him/her safe, conscientious, and alert.”

Smile when you think about it or say it aloud, and phrase it in the present tense; both of these will help you feel it and possibly even start to believe it.

If you can visualize what you are praying for, the visualization will enhance the feeling so you will increase the impact in your vibrational field.

Now take a calming breath, slowly in through your nose, and slowly out through the mouth. Take as many as you like!

Replacing fearful thoughts with gratitude will decrease reactionary behavior, taking the steam out of the Reactor.

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For example:

If your child gets lost in the mall, the typical parental reaction that follows the fearful thoughts when finding them is to yell at them.

“I told you never to leave my sight.” This reaction just adds to the child’s fear level from being lost in the first place. Plus, it also teaches them that mom and/or dad will get mad when he or she makes a mistake, which may make them lie to you or not tell you things in the future.

Change those fearful thoughts when they happen:

“Thank You (your choice of Higher Power) for watching over my child and keeping him safe. Thank you for helping me find him soon.”

Then, when you see your child after this thought process, your only reaction will be gratitude, and that seems like a better alternative for all people involved.

For the Trouble-Maker, Reactor or Over-Reactor

Permanently eliminating this squatter will take a bit more attention and reflection after the fact to identify and heal the causes of the triggers; but until then, you can prevent the Reactor from getting out of control by initiating conscious breathing as soon as you recognize his presence.

The Reactor’s thoughts or feelings activate the fight or flight response just like with the Worrier. The physiological signs of his presence will be the same. With a little attention, you should be able to tell the difference between anxiety, anger, frustration, or pain:

  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure; surge of adrenaline
  • Shallow breathing or breathlessness
  • Muscles tension

I’m sure you’ve heard the suggestion to count to ten when you get angry—well, you can make those ten seconds much more productive if you are breathing consciously during that time.

Conscious breathing is as simple as it sounds; just be conscious of your breathing. Pay attention to the air going in and coming out.

Breathe in through your nose:

  • Feel the air entering your nostrils.
  • Feel your lungs filling and expanding.
  • Focus on your belly rising.

Breathe out through your nose:

  • Feel your lungs emptying.
  • Focus on your belly falling.
  • Feel the air exiting your nostrils.

Do this for as long as you like. Leave the situation if you want. This gives the adrenaline time to normalize.

Now you can address the situation with a calmer, more rational perspective and avoid damaging behavior.

One of the troubles this squatter causes is that it adds to the sleep depriver’s issues. By evicting, or at least controlling the Reactor, you will decrease reactionary behavior, which will decrease the need for the rehashing and ruminating that may keep you from falling asleep.

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Master your mind and stop the Reactor from bringing stress to you and your relationships!

For the Sleep Depriver

(They’re made up of the Inner Planner, the Rehasher and the Ruminator, along with the Inner Critic and the Worrier.)

I was plagued with a very common problem: not being able to turn off my mind at bedtime. This inability prevented me from falling asleep and thus, getting a restful and restorative night’s sleep.

Here’s how I mastered my mind and evicted the Sleep Depriver and all his cronies.

  1. I started by focusing on my breathing—paying attention to the rise and fall of my belly—but that didn’t keep the thoughts out for long. (Actually, I now start with checking my at-rest mouth position to keep me from clenching.)
  2. Then I came up with replacement strategy that eliminated uncontrolled thinking—imagining the word in while breathing in and thinking the word out when breathing out. I would (and do) elongate the word to match the length of my breath.

When I catch myself thinking, I shift back to in, out. With this technique, I am still thinking, sort of, but the wheels are no longer spinning out of control. I am in control of my mind and I choose quiet.

From the first time I tried this method I started to yawn after only a few cycles and am usually asleep within ten minutes.

For really difficult nights, I add an increase of attention by holding my eyes in a looking-up position (Closed, of course!). Sometimes I try to look toward my third eye but that really hurts my eyes.

If you have trouble falling asleep because you can’t shut off your mind, I strongly recommend you try this technique. I still use it every night. You can start sleeping better tonight!

You can also use this technique any time you want to:

  • Fall back to sleep if you wake up too soon.
  • Shut down your thinking.
  • Calm your feelings.
  • Simply focus on the present moment. 

The Bottom Line

Your mind is a tool, and like any other tool, it can be used for constructive purposes or for destructive purposes.

You can allow your mind to be occupied by unwanted, undesirable and destructive tenants, or you can choose desirable tenants like peace, gratitude, compassion, love, and joy.

Your mind can become your best friend, your biggest supporter, and someone you can count on to be there and encourage you. The choice is yours!

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Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

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