Balancing Your Body and Mind

What are Realizations and Why Do You Want Them?

In the video below, Katya and I were driving through Mississippi on our way to my sister’s place in North Carolina. We were absorbed in a discussion of philosophy, mind over matter and what personal transformations are. During the conversation, a new way of understanding an age old word (everyone uses all the time) occurred to me.

That word is, “Realization.”

But what is a realization? I pulled out my phone and looked it up. The first definition at is “the making or being made real of something imagined, planned, etc.”

I’m still not sure why I never looked this word up before, considering how much it means, but it got us thinking how realizations impact our lives, and to what extent. I asked Katya to film a thought I had. It’s a cell phone camera so we apologize for the audio delay.

Pretty much everything you think you know about the world around you came from a realization. They shape our thoughts, mold our beliefs, expand our interests to learn new skills and recognize opportunities. They open the world up to us. This is why I started to wonder if the word could be used as a verb: “I’m going to go out and do some realizing today.” Still sounds weird right? I suspect it’s because very few of us practice it as a behavior or art form.

Like I said in the video the word realization is based on its prefix, “real”. Read the definition of “real” taken from


1. true; not merely ostensible, nominal, or apparent
2. existing or occurring as fact; actual rather than imaginary, ideal, or fictitious
3. being an actual thing; having objective existence; not imaginary
4. being actually such; not merely so-called
5. genuine; not counterfeit, artificial, or imitation; authentic

So, as soon as something is realized, it becomes real (at least compared to before). It finally takes form, becomes tangible, true and alive with substance.

Most of us live in the inner worlds of our minds (I know I can) where we entertain and sometimes dwell too long with our imaginary goals (sometimes faking to others that we are more than we have truly realized). I knew many people like this in Los Angeles. Whether we do that or not, there’s one thing few people like to face and that is, “Am I reaching for my goals as much I know I should be?” Usually it takes someone else to tell us our head is so up in the clouds that our feet aren’t touching the ground anymore. Then we act like victims or martyrs when we explain the procrastination. We are our own worst critics. But what if the real reason isn’t about being strong or adequate enough to make something of our goals? Maybe we’re plenty strong and the problem is totally out of the box? What if it’s far simpler than believing you aren’t motivated enough?

If the things/goals in our heads aren’t real enough, don’t have enough substance, perhaps that’s why we keep putting it off. Not because we’re lazy, but because there is close to nothing to grasp. I believe we live in an age of constant distraction. You can hardly blame anyone for not having uninterruptable focus. Everything from economic worries down to our phones, emails, and social networks pull our attention to the next “necessity”. Many of us don’t have a handle on the situation, so our lives run on autopilot. Our realities feel less and less real day by day, and we continually feel something is off. So we escape, usually into our feel-good fantasies, what-if’s and goals. But how ‘real’ are these places inside you, that you dream of living someday? Think about a goal of becoming financially successful for example. Does the imagining feel real or blurry? It might feel vague at best, or thin of substance. If you are like most people, it’s hard to establish any detail. It’s like holding onto smoke. So what would it take to increase the realness?

A Realization I Won’t Forget

I remember the first time I had a deep realization about multi-culturalism. I was on a boat taking a tour of the “floating village” in Siem Reap, Cambodia. I was looking out across the water, taking it all in, the tops of trees emerging from the surface, others in boats drifting by and villagers going about their business. At first I noticed how far away their culture felt to me, like people from another planet. I couldn’t seem to relate. Other than the common basics, there were hardly any other deeper things to relate with. The link was too thin. At a glance they talked, looked and acted at a completely different pace. I could only smile, be polite while feeling very distant.

mattstruve_cambodia_tripThe boat stopped. So I sat back and decided to imagine if I we’re the middle aged man sitting on a wood deck outside a floating building, with (I assumed) his 2 children near, his hands reaching in and out of a bucket washing some clothes. I looked closer, and imagined what it was like to be him. As I let everything else fade out, I put myself in his shoes (or feet in this case), I felt shorter and hunched over but no knee strain, my clothes felt stiff, my hands felt calloused.

I kept imagining. I had a different mental pace, my mannerisms and voice felt tighter, but my attentionbetween the wash and “my” kids jumping in and out of the water felt lighter, less encumbered. I also felt many other things hard to explain. I didn’t feel like myself, it was very interesting, and I’m positive the relaxation and the waters movement helped me drift into it.  The boat started up again and we continued the tour and finally left.

Later that night, the realization hit me. I felt much closer to their culture. When I went into the town, it was a completely different experience, I started relating faster and more often. I didn’t feel as closed off. And I ended up having a really fun time. I was experiencing more of reality that otherwise wouldv’e been closed off to me. In the end, the perception exercise I did on the boat allowed more reality to become available to experience. And in this case, I realized what the term “cultured” meant after returning to the States.

Questions to Ask Yourself

Try this. Think about yourself in the most ideal future, and be somewhat realistic; you’re not going to ever be a alien with 10 arms that humans mistake for some Hindu God. Consider a future where you have achieved what you feel your potential is capable of. Now, how real is it? If it’s not that real, try focusing in on any details. Have you ever asked yourself, what do I look like in this future? How old am I? How centered is my mind? How would my body feel? What shoes am I wearing? What would I look like from behind if I were to follow myself? Is my body language different? What are my responsibilities be? These questions are just ways to test if it is sufficiently realized into a solid goal yet, at least mentally.

Aside from personal success, it’s the same process with relationship issues. Imagine if your current relationship were perfect, how would it be different? What would we have done to build a stronger bond? Would you both have traveled? How would you respect your partner differently then? How would your parents or friends see you both? How far in the future are these thoughts? Compared to the present, how black and white is the contrast? Again these are random examples of ways you can realize new things about your direction in life. The stronger (more rich with detail) these types of thoughts become, the sooner you’ll begin to see changes in your behavior, and it starts with attentiveness.

There are so many areas in life just waiting to us expand through new realizations. If you feel depressed, it might be you are stuck in a old perspective (from an old realization). Especially if that perspective makes you fearful of realizing new things. We all have an innate urge to keep growing and forming new realizations, so be careful of getting stuck in old ones. Honor your prior realizations, but also remember, as life goes on, so will your learning and realizing go on. If you give up the quest, you could feel stubborn and stagnate, believing that you need someone or something else to give you a jumpstart to feel alive again, to feel vitality. That jumpstart is, and always has been, in your hands.

So keep realizing more into your reality!

Ultimately, the more realizations you can strive for in life, the more reality will open its doors to you. In fact, the doors are swung wide the whole time, it just takes realizing to see the opening. The more you seek new ones, the more you will begin to feel alive again. They renew the spirit, and let us yield to a bigger, truer purpose waiting to be discovered.

It also doesn’t mean you need to change anything major in your life, other than re-interesting yourself in seeking new realizations. And not just books or movies… but looking out the window and putting yourself in someone or some’thing’ else’s shoes. Slow down, take the time, savor the taste of a new perspective. You and the world around you will increase in realness. And it’s perpetual, the more detail you see, the wider reality will stretch for you to accommodate more.

I hope this small random thought from our road trip gave you a twist on a common word.

To your vitality,