Category: Travel

Spring Inspiration


The first signs of Spring….


…maybe it is the finer details?


Rustling Brook


Reaching upward….

John C. Bader is a photographer, wellness advocate and consultant specializing in spiritual self-evolution, meditation, and bio-energy healing. In his writing, he bridges science with spirituality and provides steps to encourage more mindfulness in daily life. His new book, The Responsive Universe – Illumination of the Nine Mandalas is a step by step process on how to begin your very own Hero’s Journey.

About the Book:

Now Available: Amazon    Barnes & Noble

The Responsive Universe on Facebook

John C. Bader on Twitter


Happy New Years to all of you reading this…

For those of you that are returning visitors to the Responsive Universe – I thank you from the bottom of my heart. I truly appreciate your energy, time and consideration. It means a lot to me!

For those of you new to the Responsive Universe – Welcome!

2014 is going to be an exciting year as there is change in the air. Change is good as it is intrinsic to our being. The more adaptable we are to change the more we will evolve and advance in this grand and amazing Responsive Universe.


I am excited to announce the soon to be published Responsive Universe – Illumination of the Nine Mandalas: To be edited, published and released by Wisdom Moon Publishing in 2014. This new version of the RU will be bigger, better and more in tune with our ongoing journey to self-discovery and illumination. More details to come!


On the Responsive Universe Blog get ready for my new blog series titled: The Mantra of the Month.  I am also excited to exhibit the wisdom and energy of several select guest bloggers and writers throughout the New Year. Our “Guest Blog” focus in 2014 will be on Meditation and Mindfulness. I look forward to all the new and inspiring contributions!


On my official Twitter page we will be continuing with the popular Blog Share Friday which includes like-minded content including healthy recipes, travel, and literary wisdom from fellow bloggers. I am so reverent for the 41,500 followers on Twitter – thanks so much!


Join me on Face book for updates and inspirational shares as we all disembark on this much-anticipated journey in 2014.


Again, with much appreciation, energy and reverence,

I thank all my followers, friends and fellow writers. Best of luck in 2014!


John C. Bader

2014 rocks!

San clemente sunset

The sounds of Jimmy Buffett permeate the vicinity as the rustle of westerly winds bring movement and rustling leaf resonance to the Southern California foliage and palm trees that surround my meditative beach head. The sounds of crashing waves in the distance seem to only add to the margaritaville music that anchors my mindfulness here in the present. A child’s laughter is heard somewhere behind me  – bottles clanking across the street from a small café. An airplane in the distance, buzzing and sputtering home from its adventure; a bird calls to its companion as the day matures and invites dusk in for a short visit. The sun begins to set; exploding with color across the Pacific; reds, oranges and hints of purple within its palette. a cool breeze cools my sun burnt face; tingling and bringing refreshing relief. Positive energy and bliss arising from within on this summer day in San Clemente…

Being mindful of the present is an amazing gift. It sits on a metaphorical coastline paradise all by itself. Yet there is nothing desolate or negative about being rooted in the present –  With thoughts connected to what is simply NOW, one can find a surprisingly simple and unfettered gift. To be connected to the present, sans of fear and the past and future and fantasy; to be rooted in the present moment of life and your surroundings… Wow, what a feeling of clarity and reverence as I sit, simply soaking up sounds, sights and the thoughts driven by my mindfulness. Soon the sun will set and my energy and focus will most likely shift… but for now… I am in a perfect place…

John C. Bader

About the Book:

Now Available: Amazon    Barnes & Noble

The Responsive Universe on Facebook

John C. Bader on Twitter

Responsive Universe Promo Video

Hawaii 2009 098In my own pursuit of enlightenment and self-discovery; and after awakening years ago to this new world that is my True Nature, I have found meditation to truly be the bridge between the ordinary and sublime. Meditation is that catalyst that connects our thoughts and energy to our inner wisdom within and the instinctual dynamism that is the Universe.  It truly is a special gift. For those that struggle with meditation, my best advice is this… Keep at it! Don’t give up! There is this misconception about what meditation is and isn’t. Any attempt at meditation, now matter how fragmented and scattered your mind seems; is still considered meditation. It is all part of the process and eventually it will get easier. Further, I find this bond to be even stronger when immersed in nature. How about you? Have you noticed the serenity and energy that seems to greet us outside? The greenery and solitude of a forest teeming with life. The exploding colors of a sunrise or sunset. The calm serenity of wind and water; birds and clouds up in the sky…

A couple years ago I did a blog series on meditation in nature as research for my recent book, The Responsive Universe. I set off on a road trip that took me across Americas Great Plains, the Maroon Bells in the Colorado Rockies, even a park within the city of Chicago. I traveled through the canyons of Utah, enchanting Sedona and reveled in the grandiose vistas of the Pacific Ocean Coastline. Throughout this adventure I stopped along the way and meditated at these scenic places. Weather and solitude permitting, I would spend as much as an hour in deep meditative respite.  It was amazing and further confirmed my notion that meditating in nature is special. It connects us to something special…


Explaining the connection to nature and meditation is difficult. For me there is this deep, intimate feeling that I am connected to everything and our natural environment is the heartbeat of this connection.  Sometimes there are no words to describe the feelings and emotions that arise while meditating in nature but my instinct and energy know them well.  Even in times of challenge and conflict, there is this feeling that everything is going be okay.  Nature is a refuge from the controlled chaos that is life.


If you are looking for a change in your life… Perhaps you need a fresh perspective or a new direction… Maybe you need to just relax and slow down…  This week make it a point to find some nature; its free, unadulterated and there is a reason we are drawn to its greenery, trees, distinct texture, unfettered beauty and energy. We are all born from the same energy and our strongest bond is through love and nature…

Trust me on this one….

John C. Bader

About the Book:

Now Available: Amazon    Barnes & Noble

The Responsive Universe on Facebook

John C. Bader on Twitter

Responsive Universe Promo Video



Energy Vortex? What is that?

Depending on how open and mindful you are – especially in nature; you may have noticed special places that exist here on Earth that hold higher levels of spiritual and, or quantum energy. Several notable places exist in Sedona Arizona for example. An energy vortex is a unique place where the quantum energies found here on Earth actually gather in a specific area or region. Mindful humans can sense these energies both in nature and in other humans. James Redfield is famous for writing about such energies in his Celestine book series. Dating back thousands of years, ancient civilizations have built churches and temples on or near these sites: Stonehenge in England, Machu Picchu in Peru, the Uluru-Kataijuta rock in Australia and the Pyramids of Egypt have all been documented as places akin to energy vortexes.

So how do you find these places locally? Well, also called Chakras, these special vortexes exist with varying levels of energy everywhere. Even the natural beauty of a forest, coastline or simply a sunset vista can hold higher levels of energy. On all accounts, it requires some effort from the person trying to connect to such energies. It is critical for a person to be focused in the present: Gone should be thoughts of the past and future which are typically rooted in fear and fantasy. Once our focus is fixed in the present, we can open up to the vast energy that is present in these unique places. I have a hunch that you too have felt this energy in one form or another. In general, we rarely pay attention to energy rushes or the peculiar fervor of a clear, sunny day because of our preoccupations with life. Yet I am sure everyone has had at least one moment where they tasted this kind of acute perception, especially while surrounded by nature.


In Sedona there are several energy vortexes within a 20 square mile radius. Many of the sites are marked by juniper trees whose branches and trunks are twisted and warped as if the energy present at this particular location is swirling – juniper trees at other locations do not represent this phenomenon. Two years ago, while researching my book, I traveled across America visiting places of beauty like Sedona; meditating at noted sites and blogging my experiences. The more mindful and aware you are; the more space and clarity you exhibit; the more connected you will be to these places. I have learned from experience that a sunny day can help accentuate these experiences. Clouds, trees, the ocean; it seems it is all connected in some form or facet. So, the objective is to be aware and you too will find your own prefect paradise in the backyard or somewhere locally. For me, the local forest preserve is where I spend several hours a week meditating and contemplating. There are several spots within this preserve that I am drawn to – it is there I feel centered, clear and connected. It is best to not over think such things; just simply revel in the beauty and energy of it all. Its purpose is simple.. to heal and connect us to the sublime…

So, resolutions aside, maybe make it a point to be a little more aware; especially in nature, and find that perfect meditative paradise you can call your very own church or sanctuary. This is something that can be shared or kept special just for you. Trust me on this… The proof is in the experience!

For more information about energy vortexes and meditating out in nature check out my blog series, Meditating Across America.

John C. Bader

Though you may travel the world to find the beautiful, you must have it within you or you will find it not.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

How true is this quote from the legendary Ralph Waldo Emerson? Many times we need to learn wisdom from the hard lessons in life – sometimes the painful way… I learned this wisdom the difficult way after graduating college. I had the opportunity to work in Los Angeles at an advertising firm – a referral from a professor who saw talent in me. Instead, I decided to throw caution to the wind and move to Hawaii to surf and follow my heart wish (or what I thought was my heart wish). Sounds great right? Yet, something was not right. I had much to still learn about myself and this thing called life.  My mindfulness was shortsighted and I could not put my finger on why I felt uncomfortable within; a boutique of bad habits, lacking self-esteem and energy. The result was one of the most humbling experiences ever: A mélange of bad karma that fed bad luck all of which contributed to the severed friendship of two great friends, a shattered ankle and a broken wrist; a job so inadequate I was on the cusp of poverty; left to picking sticky nickels out of the sofa to buy .99 cent burgers off the value menu. So downtrodden,  injured and mired with bills, I could not even surf some of the best waves in the world – and through it all I could not even remember the main reason I moved to Hawaii; all of this conflict and suffering while living under the warm and beautiful tropical sun. How ironic… Suffering in paradise…?

Ego and negative energy will follow you where ever you go… My own trappings from childhood and the demons of false-self traveled with me to paradise. But it was not a paradise. It was one of the most humbling experiences in my life. I look back on that experience now and see the art of the event; I see the wisdom from such encounters with suffering (and the cause of that suffering). The two long years I lived in Hawaii I grew from a boy to a man – from confusion to clarity. From that experience alone, I have learned that you can travel the world and find  beauty, but if you are not centered and self-actualized within; you will not experience beauty; only suffering. Our ego and false-self can create a mirror image or mirage that may look beautiful on the surface but deep down the root of such beauty is only veiled by the suffering intrinsic to our actions and reactions. Still the wisdom is to learn from such experiences – to evolve and prosper on the backbone of false-self – seizing a new day – a new paradise wherever you call home.

I look back on those days with some indifference; my feelings are complicated as the situations that created the memories now archived in my head. Still, we cannot escape our past for it is that old weed covered path we walked years ago that has led us to this point in the present. From negativity we can find wisdom; and from wisdom we can move soundly forward, clear, connected and self-actualized.


John C. Bader

Welcome to the One Week Responsive Universe Challenge – as seen on MindBodyGreen!

“If you are new to practice (meditation) it’s important to realize that simply to sit on that cushion for fifteen minutes is a victory”.

–          Charlotte Joko Beck

If you are having a difficult time connecting to meditation you are not alone. Have you tried to meditate only to end up frustrated and more agitated than when you started? It’s okay.

The first step in meditation is to simply be aware – mindful of all those thoughts careening through your head…. Most of the time we just let thoughts run ramped, simply unaware. Once you stop and actually focus on the steady stream of thoughts you realize it is a pretty busy place up there in the mind. No wonder some of us have a hard time falling asleep.

Where do thoughts arise from? Can you pin point it? Where do they go? Does the mind have a border or perimeter? Meditation only asks for mindfulness – nothing more…

What really is meditation? Meditation is the conscious focus of the present. What is happening right now? That is meditation… When we let our thoughts run ramped we are replaying tapes of fear and fantasy, past and future – the director of this mental function is your ego. When you root your mind in the present you are creating gaps between those thoughts of fear and fantasy, past and future. Your ego is powerless. You are living in the moment; present, authentic and connected to your True Nature – that is meditation: The focus is on what is happening right now – the experience at hand and all the feelings and emotions associated with that moment… and the next moment… and the next moment….

Did you know you can meditate anytime and anywhere?

I do bike riding meditations all the time. Walking meditations are great too because any meditation that includes exercise is fantastic! I have this beautiful forest preserve near my home with miles of trails that traverse ponds, tree tunnels, marshes and wild flower fields – no man made intervention, few people, lots of birds and sometimes perfect clouds above. As I ride, I connect to what is around me and not the continuous thoughts in my head. As I ride I breathe in the sweet air, notice the intricacies and beauty of nature and in doing so; stretch those gaps in my mind between aimless thoughts. Within those authentic gaps is this sublime connection to energy, relaxation, reverence and bliss. Most times I will ride between 10-17 miles which can take up to 2 hours. Along the way I will stop and simply settle into the moment around me. My thoughts slow, inspiration and awareness is fine-tuned and there is this heartfelt feeling that I am evolving in the right direction.

That is meditation….

John C. Bader

About the Book:

Now Available: Amazon    Barnes & Noble

The Responsive Universe on Facebook

John C. Bader on Twitter



Have you taken the precious time to just lay on your back outside

and watch the clouds just float by without much thought of anything?

Try it….

…..You might like it

John C. Bader

I HOPE YOU ENJOYED my blog series titled “Manifest Destiny” – Meditating across America. I learned a lot from this trip and since then I have really connected on sublime levels with the bond of Nature and Universe. It is hard to explain, but I just feel comfortable in the outdoors and I have found meditation to be especially powerful under the sun and clouds. I will talk more about this energy and experience in the Responsive Universe – Meditations and Daily Life Practice – scheduled for “Official Online Release” this July 4th, 2012 at 8am CST.

Thanks for all your time and consideration – JCB



Wauconda, IL (home)

4830 Miles Traveled

And so my adventure ends, “Meditating across America”, to Manifest Destiny. Over the course of two and a half weeks, I have traveled through 12 states and visited many amazing places and people. In some ways it was a bittersweet trip: It was wonderful to see family and friends in California; to surf and soak up the Pacific sun and the opportunity to travel and hike some of the most beautiful places west of the Great Lakes. Yet, there was some challenging aspects to my trip as well. Driving seven to eight hours a day was arduous and the plight of America in places like the Navajo Nation and tornado devastated Joplin were eye opening experiences. Still to drive across so many diverse geographical regions and exploring the different cultures and demographics was in itself rewarding.

searching for round chakra rocks at the beach was a simple walking meditation exercise that achieved full mindfulness of the moment.

The premise of this journal series was to explore Energy Vortexes across America. As discussed in previous blog entries, scenic places of beauty tend to hold higher levels of energy – or so I thought before disembarking on this road trip adventure. As I traveled across the Great Plains, spacious views would open up for miles in every direction. There is a quality of space and openness associated with big sky vistas. In the mountains of Colorado I connected to the epic beauty and grandiose sights of the Maroon Bells near Aspen. There amidst the snow-kissed peaks, I felt peace and inspiration that bought forth an acute level of awareness; a natural high of sorts. Across the red canyons and ravines of Utah came feelings of comfortable desolation and revelations of how small we really are in the grand scheme of the Cosmos. When I finally reached the coast, the healing ocean and scenic coastline brought back vivid memories of childhood but also the loss of my firstborn ten years ago. Bittersweet indeed, but seeing old friends and family made the trip all the more rewarding. Then of course there is Sedona and its famous healing vortexes. Hiking up Bell Rock was an amazing experience. I found the longer I stayed in Sedona the more energy I felt. There was even a lack of energy sensed upon my departure from Arizona. Throughout the entire trip I focused on my mindfulness of the moment – keeping my center and thoughts rooted in the present. I enjoyed some very productive and energy infused meditations, especially under the watchful eye of God; in the tranquil and unfettered dominion of nature.  Yet, even through the hustle and bustle of Chicago, peace was found. Truthfully, I can even find peace and inspiration meditating in my living room at home. So what conclusions can be deduced from all of these experiences?

Image by Tracey Dunba

It seems we are all products of God. The natural beauty of the Maroon Bells, the Pacific Ocean and Sedona are all products of God – as is the City of Chicago and the utter desolation of Utah’s southern deserts. Everything is a product of God. When I use the word “God” I am describing everything that exists in the universe: The vibrating waves of Quantum energy, the love we feel for a friend or spouse, the loss of a child and the birth of another. The essence of God is indefinable as it relates to the universe. To even think one can comprehend such concepts and designs is egoistical and futile. We as humans have yet to evolve to a level where the concept of God can be truly defined and understood. Still, we can revel in its beauty and immensity: The beauty of nature and the beauty of energy as it relates to our True Nature. It is enough to know we are a part of something so vast and special it tends to overwhelm the rational mind. It seems there is an energy and peace within us all – and all of this is somehow connected to nature and our intrinsic self. We can touch and wield its energy and power through compassion, karma and mindfulness. Still, the true, unfettered nature that is Mother Earth seems to bring us closer to the concept of God as it relates to everything. Maybe the synapses that connect humans with their soul or True Nature are easily coupled by raw unadulterated beauty – this is especially true for the many people that do not connect to these rudimentary concepts with ease. For many, the ego and a false perception of life muddles our True Nature and it takes amazing energy sources like Sedona to help bring forth this clarity. For a lucky few, the energy is already found inside our being – a source of empowerment that can be found in even the most ordinary places. So, it seems the concept of God as it relates to the universe and the concept of energy as it relates to Cosmos is already found within. Places of beauty like the Maroon Bells and Sedona only help us connect to this dynamism with more vigor and intensity. The challenge for all of us is not to seek out places of beauty like mountains and canyons, but seek a beauty and energy that lies within. It is then, that a true responsiveness of energy and life transcends this existence we call life.

My journey to Manifest Destiny is complete.

John C Bader

Albuquerque, New Mexico

3150 Miles Traveled

Sunset over the desert Mesa

I was sad to see Sedona go in my rearview mirror. I feel as if there was an amplified energy that continued to build the longer I stayed within its red rock reaches. I felt some amazing feelings of energy akin to the beauty that is Sedona but it was the lack of energy entering New Mexico that was more perplexing.

I visited the City of Gallup, just across the New Mexico border from Arizona. My Wife and I wanted to search for reasonably priced turquoise jewelry. My Grandfather, an old cowboy familiar with these parts said we should search the trading post/pawn shops that dot the border. The prices were through the roof despite a slumping economy, and disappointed, we did not purchase anything. I drove out of Gallup with a cold negative energy that seem to float over the dusty streets. It seemed as though all the local Indians were pawning their family heirlooms to make ends meet. The poor neighborhoods that dotted the landscape east were a grim reminder of how depressed west New Mexico really is. I felt sad for the Native American people that call this region their home. I felt a negative energy from people and the surroundings and was happy to leave for Albuquerque. All I can say is my heart goes out for these people. I think they need and deserve our compassion even if they greet tourists such as me with cold, indigent stares – not to mention, negative energy. I know Native Americans are very spiritual people and unfortunately they are victims to the social/political climate here in the US.

Still, the day was not a complete bust: Once in Albuquerque, I was greeted with an amazing sunset. I sort of consider myself a sunset connoisseur. I especially love tropical sunsets as the sun sets over the ocean. Still, here in Albuquerque, with the sun setting over the desert mesa, this moment (as shown below) is hard to beat. Sunsets can bring so much energy to just an ordinary vista. One does not need scenic mountain peaks or red rock canyons when the perfect painting of clouds and refracting light can make any moment at dusk extra special. This was a special sunset and I will post this journal now and continue to enjoy the afterglow that greets the night in New Mexico.

Tomorrow, the panhandle of Texas and then Oklahoma City as I grind my way home back to Illinois. Between you, me, and the cactus out here in New Mexico, I am ready to come home!

We will talk soon

John C Bader

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