Monday, December 28, 2009


I'm not sure what to write about. Sometimes when I am in this place and I have time to write something ends up flowing out of me. It's almost as if it writes itself. Tonight I am aware of how much I have been running from being quiet. I am eating past the point of being full and picking my nails more. When it is cold out I feel more anxious. I have this disconnect in my brain that says when I am cold eat. It feels good to write about this and sit with the feeling of wanting to eat and not rush to the refridgerator to allay my anxiety. What is going on with me? What is behind my desire to eat anything that isn't nailed down. I notice a vague sense of unease. My breathing is shallow and I'm experiencing a sense of urgency.What am I running from by distracting myself with thoughts of what I will do next?
As I sit here breathing I notice tension in my chest as if I am afraid to breathe fully. It's almost as if some scary character from my past, like a big scary gunslinging cowboy I wouldn't want to encounter, is waiting for me under my breath so I keep it shallow to avoid meeting up with him. Sometimes I feel this anxious feeling that has no name and no story. My fear of the feeling is much worse than the feeling itself. As I breathe more deeply into my chest I notice a catch in my breath. There's the place I don't want to go.
Well, I guess I did want to go there because right after I wrote that last line the power went out in my house momentarily.My computer needed to restart and i couldn't get to my e-mail. I took it as an opportunity to be with myself and breath until I was able to write about it again. Under the tension is my critical ego voice telling me I am doing it wrong." I am wasting my life, nothing brings me joy anymore. I am going to be sixty and I will never be satisfied. I make choices that don't support my full aliveness. I settle. I sell out. I want too much. My expectations are unreasonable. Life will never live up to what I want. Why can't I be satisfied with what I have? " The basic message is " I am doing it wrong". I feel the gripping tension in my chest and the desire to spin a story about my relationship that proves that I am doing it wrong. That is door A. The habitual place I go to to run from the present moment.That's the canon fodder that feeds the fire of doing it wrong. Door B is to breathe and do something different. Just noticing Door A and its familiar appeal is the ticket to Door B. Awareness with compassion moves me toward the present moment where my egoic voice of "I am doing it wrong." can't meet me. It has on a hat and hats aren't allowed here. It has to leave and find something else to do. I get it that spinning a story that proves to me that I am doing it wrong keeps me in door A and keeps my critical ego in charge. What if doing it wrong is a myth I tell myself that perpetuates avoiding present moment awareness? What if doing it wrong doesn't really exist? What if doing it wrong is a deep fear I walk around with that is actually what keeps me from being with myself enough to know what really feels good to me?
What if with my breath into this moment I can move beyond doing it wrong and doing it right to what resonates with who I am in this moment? In this moment writing about this process is juicy for me. The tension in my chest and the urgency and anxiety and the overeating and the nail picking are all messengers that the present moment is calling to me and my vehicle of transportation is my breath. What if doing it wrong is really believing that I am doing it wrong and acting as if that were something I needed to defend myself against?
If you look at your own inner voices or critical ego what is the bottom line negative belief you are telling yourself? If you don't know, see what happens when you ask the part of you that knows. What if thinking you don't know is a roadblock to the knowing, like a flagman that says you can't go here?
The tension has been replaced by excitement about this process unfolding. In the presence process this week my present activating statement is, " I consciously respond to all my experiences. "I am starting to see the path of presence as a journey toward all of who I am that is actually underway. That is exciting. I can use whatever I am experiencing to bring me to this moment even if I am already actively engaged in automatic pilot door A. Door B or conscious awareness of this moment is just a breath away. What is your whoosh? The knee-jerk that draws you into doorA in such a familiar way it almost feels like an old friend? What is your canon fodder? What is the story you spin that proves to you that Door A is all there is? What about a breath into the awareness that automatic pilot is only one option and that conscious breathing will bring us to Door B, the possibility of other options.We don't even have to know what they are. only that other options exist. That is alot.
May 2010 be filled with whatever it is filled with and may you use it to bring yourself back to your own center, the indwelling place of right here and right now. Thanks for being an important part of my process. I hope I have contributed to yours.Warm blessings, Andrea

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Light and Darkness

What do Christmas, Chanukah, and Solstice have in common? To my mind they all celebrate Light. In my understanding of mystical Christianity, the birth of Christ symbolizes the birth of christ-consciousness or awareness of the divine or divine light within. Hanukah is the festival of light. In mystical Judaism that light represents the birth of awareness within. This light of awareness has the ability to illuminate our ego or personality strategy so we can release our habitual patterns and heal. Solstice is the celebration of the longest night and the returning of the light. It honors both the darkness and the light. It is important to me that in celebrating light we also celebrate darkness. Light wouldn't exist without darkness to be in contrast to it and neither would darkness esxist without light. I like to do spiritual practice that honors the darkness as well as the light. Let's say the light represents spiritual awareness and the darkness represents the stillness and quiet in which to realize the light. On Christmas when my daughter was small she and I and her father would sometimes sit in a darkened room and gaze at the lighted Christmas tree. On Chanukah I have a ritual of lighting a menorah, turning off all of my lights and watching the candles burn down. Gary and I went to a solstice party where by candlelight we all shared our personal thoughts or poems or chants about darkness and light. At this time of year we may be connecting with family and friends and appreciating them. It is also important to balance that with spending quiet time alone being still honoring darkness and light. It seems especially needed after spending time running around darting in and out of crowded stores under florescent lights. I want to be still and quiet the least when I need to do it the most. When I'm not centered quiet time seems overwhelming to fit into my schedule. I forget that being overwhelmed is a signal to me to slow down and be with myself.
So in this holiday season let's make a pact to breathe and remember our light within. Take a few full deep breaths right now allowing your breath to move into your belly and your heart.
Breathe into the light of awareness that is shining brightly within you.Take the time to be still and quiet, sit in the darkness and honor the light. I leave you with the words of Rumi:

Sit down and be quiet.
You are drunk and this is the edge of the roof.

I wish you holidays filled with whatever they are filled with.
Much love,

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The presence process

I have an unexpected hour. A client didn't remember her appointment. Although I am anxious when that happens and often feel abandoned, like I have been stood up, I also feel grateful for the time. I didn't know how I would find the time to write today and I wanted to. Here it is and here I am. Thanks for being with me again. I am glad to be home from my trip to Mexico. I had a lovely time. I especially enjoyed taking six yoga classes and hiking with Gary to a giant waterfall. I led Laughter yoga while I was there and as always I appreciate the opportunity to be a complete idiot that Laughter Yoga brings.
I am reading a book called the Presence Process by Michael Brown. My friend Ginger told me about it. Over the years Ginger has told me about several things and I do them. Her enthusiasm for healing and growth lets me know her recommendations are ones to consider. Michael Brown was in chronic pain for twenty years. He tried everything eastern and western to help himself. What helped him was what he calls the presence process. I had read the introductory materials before I left and I began the presence process while in Mexico. This is a ten week commitment to do fifteen minutes of conscious breathing twice a day, use what he calls presence activating statements and read the book. The purpose is to uncover, release and heal repressed emotional experiences from the past. This increases the capacity to experience the present moment. I am finding it to be very challenging and extremely satisfying. My present activating statement for this week is: I chose to experience this moment. I have been using it frequently.
It is helping me to see that I can be present in this moment whatever this moment happens to look like. Sometimes I like the moment and sometimes I don't. When I chose to experience this moment I notice I am grateful to be writing this blog. There is such a simple pleasure to be sharing my experience from my heart with you.
It was fun to be on vacation and I love being home. After about nine days I was ready to come home. My life is so full and satisfying just as it is. I am grateful for that too. I have wanted to do spiritual practice in the evening before I go to sleep for many years. I often start and last a few days or a few weeks. Committing to doing fifteen minutes of conscious breathing for the fifteen minutes before I go to bed each night for ten weeks is a real stretch for me. I am hoping that in ten weeks it will be second nature. One way to practice chosing consciously( Door B) over chosing habitually (Door A) is to commit to a practice of choosing Door B over a period of time. Making an agreement to do this process before I go to bed and when I first wake up for ten weeks brings up stuff just by itself. Michael Brown says to see everything that comes up as part of the process even resistance to the process. I notice I am calmer and more peaceful sometimes and more in touch with my joy and also that I have been near panic a few times. I have been quicker to react angrily and quicker to get over things. It has only been six days. I am eager to experience these 10 weeks moment by moment. I love being challenged to look at myself. I think of it as deep fun. Except when I don't and then I want to shut my heart down and run away from it all. The problem is always when I run away from it all I have to take myself with me.
This morning it was challenging to do the process first thing.I was putzing around a little and making myself wrong for it. Then I realized the book says as soon as possible upon awakening and I cut myself some slack. It's more challenging to do something first thing here than it was on vacation. I have to be aware of the little sabateur that says, What about checking your e-mail? What about eating breakfast? Arent't you really hungry?Etc. Etc.
Fifteen minutes goes by quickly so far. I will keep you posted. If the spirit moves you to check out this book it is available on amazon. It would be fun to have you do it and to give each other support through this blog. Or not. Is there something that you have been wanting to commit to that you could allow yourself to welcome your resistance in for tea and to do what you've been wanting to do? It could be small or big. What's the next step? How would it impact your life to do something you've been wanting to do and haven't let yourself? If the spirit moves you go for it. If you feel like sharing what it is feel free. The link goes through to my e-mail now. I'll talk to you next week.

Sunday, November 22, 2009


I will be taking a break from writing until the week of December 15th. I am going on vacation and won't readily have access to e-mail. Maybe you would want to browse the achived blogs while I am gone. I look forward to reconnecting when I return.
My friend Lori is a superb teacher of the enneagram. She interviews nine people, one from each type in the Enneagram in front of her classes. It is a great way to get a real life experience of the personality strategy of each type. For those of you who don't know, the enneagram is a psycho-spiritual system of understanding nine different personality strategies. Understanding the type you most resonate with provides a map with which to move from automatic pilot to conscious healthier choices. The enneagram is a tool to learn mindfulness and compassion for ourselves and others. I have studied the enneagram for 30 years and am quite passionate about using it to help myself and others. I was the representative of the four in Lori's Enneagram workshop on Saturday.The four is called the Tragic Romantic or the artist. It was exciting and scary to be interviewed about my take on the world in front of a group of people. Gary came to the workshop to learn more about me and about the Enneagram. I was very pleased that he came.
I learned a lot about myself from Lori's skilled questioning. For instance, abandonment is a much bigger issue than I had realized before. A lot of my anger and judgement toward Gary is because I feel abandoned by him. Our long distance relationship has separation built in. We see each other on the weekends. It often takes me most of the weekend to feel reconnected with him after we have been apart for a week. I feel protective ,critical and edgy when we first get together. I think that we both understood more about why this is so difficult for me and how important it is for me that he validates my feelings instead of trying to fix them. We have both been confused about which type he resonates with the most. I was frustrated because it is such a helpful tool for couples. Part of what I wasn't listening to was that he was confused, not that he wasn't interested. One of my growth edges in this lifetime is to learn to take things less personally. I sometimes see Gary as my enemy and attribute him with deliberate unkindness. I am realizing that his jibes are more often his way of protecting himself from communicating his anger directly. I can tell him that I feel hurt without making up a story that I need to leave the relationship. My friend Wendy was very helpful to me on Saturday before the workshop in helping me to see that I could ask Gary for what I wanted clearly and directly. He heard me and I felt so much better and was able to go into the workshop feeling more centered. Neutrality is rare for me. I often feel very strong feelings. My challenge is to know that I have feelings, not that I am my feelings. Then it is easier for me to get underneath the story I am making up to the sensation of the feeling in my body. In this way I bring my presence to my experience and the emotion can release. Emotion is energy in motion. I am learning that equanimity follows this experiencing and releasing process. What do you notice about your own experience of emotion? Are you learning to discern the story you are making up and wrapping your mind around over and over and to go underneath it to the sensation in your body that the emotion brings?
Maybe this time would be a good time to learn more about the enneagram. If you wish to, has some good clear information and several assessment tools. Have a lovely Thanksgiving whatever you are doing. I am grateful for you, for providing me this vehicle to share my learning and growing with you. I look forward to writing and sharing with you the week of December 15th.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

being real

Last week I wrote about my envy of the skilled and lithe yoga teacher Angela Farmer. One of my yoga students was moved by my blog and sent it to a woman who was in contact with Angela. Yesterday I received a warm and lovely reply from Angela acknowledging my being real. By writing about my shadow self, the part of me I think I need to keep hidden to be accepted, surprising and heartwarming things come my way. I am finding the more I am willing to be my authentic self the more easily my life flows. Now this has a caveat. In the beginning it was very important to me to make myself emotionally vulnerable with people who supported me. I don't think it is smart to be real with people who will ridicule or get defensive in other unpleasant or unkind ways. We live in a culture that values pretense. In many situations what works the best is the presentation that appears the most confident. In the beginning of my journey toward increased authenticity I made the mistake of sharing my soul with people who judged me for not having it all together. I ended up feeling misunderstood and messed up. At first I thought if I shared myself honestly it would motivate other people to share themselves honestly. Then I would create the deeper connection I was seeking. Two problems: One is that when I am giving to get I rarely get what I imagined. The second is that I needed to develop discernment about taking care of myself with my sharing. If a person wants to share honestly my doing so could create some safety for him or her to do what he or she wanted to do anyway. I began to develop better detectors for my own emotional safety. How do I tell whether a person will be receptive to dropping down below a superficial exchange? In the beginning I resisted having a superficial exchange. I began to see a value in small talk. I saw how jumping right in was pretty intense for most other people even though they might be comfortable in a few exchanges. What were some good ways to drop down? It's always a good idea to ask the other person a question that you really want to know the answer to and then to listen to the answer attentively. It's amazing how much safety this can create and how much spaciousness for a satisfying exchange to occur. Also a comment about your present time experience provides an oppportunity to connect in the present. For instance," I am enjoying this party. It's kind of surprising given how challenging social situations can be for me." Eye contact and slowing down my breathing are helpful tools to relax and show up. What has worked for you when you want to connect?
After alot of practice being myself with other people has gotten much easier.I used to worry much more about what other people thought of me. Now I realize that other people are not usually thinking about me at all because they are more concerned with what I am thinking of them. I am now more able to validate internally.Internal validation is knowing I am OK from the inside rather than seeking external validation from others. This is not to say that I don't still take things personally. I am still the queen of taking things personally. What's changed is that I can sometimes notice my own reactivity with mindfulness and compassion. What do you notice about being more of your authentic self with others? What's scary about it? What's in it for you to do it?Is there someone you'd like to get to know better? A good place to start is to tell the person you'd like to get to know them better and suggest a meeting. Is there someone you'd be willing to practice on? I appreciate praciticing with you. Feel free to write comments to my blog. The e-mail link is now working.

Monday, November 9, 2009


In the Enneagram, each point has what's called a passion. The passion in the enneagram is the energy that moves us away from our center toward our personality. For the one it is self-righteous anger, the two is pride, the three is vanity, the four is envy, the five is avarice,the six is fear, the seven is gluttony, the eight is lust and the nine is sloth. Today I read an article by Sally Klempton about envy. Since I identify the most with the four type, envy is my passion.
The article suggested that envy can be subtle. It can masquerade as irritation or annoyance with another person. Sally directs us to explore underneath the annoyance to see if envy lurks underneath. Envy is an embarrassing emotion for me. I judge myself harshly for begrudging someone else their talents, successes or good fortune. It feels so unevolved to secretly hope another will fail. Sally Klempton suggests that underneath envy is our own disowned self. When we feel envy it is often with a peer. The envy is about some quality we are jealous of in another that we don't own in ourselves. She advises getting underneath the story of the envy to the feelings underneath and being willing to be with them.
One of my yoga students lent me a DVD by Angela Farmer called Inner Body Yoga. It is a wonderful yoga class taught by this beautiful woman who appears to be in her sixties. She is incredibly flexible, fit and sensual. She seems so comfortable in her body. She has long luxuriously curly silver hair and wears no makeup. Her husband Victor who is a yoga teacher and an artist, painted these gorgeous pictures of women in yoga poses that illustrate the DVD.
Angela has created her own form of yoga and teaches internationally. As I moved through the class I was very aware of the limitations of my own body and a familiar feeling of tightness in my heart. The green monster was rearing its head within me. I wanted Angela Farmer's body. I wanted Angela Farmer's husband. I wanted Angels Farmer's comfort and ease with her sexuality. I was making up a story about how she does it right and I, by contrast, do it wrong. In my story of being one-down, she is beautiful, talented and lithe and I am dumpy, inflexible and aging rapidly by the minute. Feeling these feelings I am awestruck by the creativity in my story. I could see I was using Angela Farmer and the story I made up about her to feel crappy about myself. Sally Klempton suggests looking at what you want for yourself and sending these qualities to the person you envy. So I want to age gracefully and be grateful for my body and accepting of what it can and can't do, I want to be more and more comfortable with my body and my sexuality and I want to be a creative and inspiring yoga teacher. On top of all of that, I want to have fun. I imagine sending all of that to Angela Farmer and her receiving it smiling and bowing. Sending it to her I am more aware of my own generosity of spirit. I feel lighter and more spacious. It feels true to me that we are all one and that sending these things I want to Angela Farmer I also allow the space to see them in myself. This is fun. Envy doesn't have to be kept in the closet. The shadow is the part of me that I find unacceptable and keep hidden. I shine the light of day on my envy and invite her in for tea. She sits down and faces me and I let myself open to her and accept her as she is. She is a vehicle for me to empower myself. I ask her if she'd like some lemon and a few carrot sticks and allow her into my heart. When I can notice what I find unacceptable in myself without judgement, the charge of shutting down my own heart to myself releases a bit. Angela Farmer and I are sure a pair of passionate, creative sixty year old yoga teachers. I open to allowing myself to be inspired by her body and her talent as a teacher.What do you find unacceptable in yourself? Is there something you envy in others that you aren't owning in yourself?

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Circle of protection

An update on my brother. He is in a shelter with many helpful services where he can stay for ninety days. He is commited to making a new life for himself. I am so glad. Thanks for listening.
Today I have been thinking about Peace is in my Heart. When I protect myself within a circle of white light it allows me to open my heart. That circle is a boundary that helps me to stay open-hearted to myself and chose what I take in and what I don't. In the past I have shut my heart down to protect myself from the unwanted energy of others. Abandoning myself leaves me drained. When I am in my circle I can be around other people and chose what to take in. Then I my heart can be open and I don't have to feel drained and overwhelmed. When my heart is shut down I am also much more vulnerable to the criticism of my own ego.
Draw a circle around yourself and see it extending above your heart and below your feet. Imagine it infused with white light which comes from the universe through the top of your head. Breathe into your heart and feel the protection for your heart which this circle gives you. Spend a minute breathing into your heart and when thoughts come up bring yourself back to your circle. You can place one hand on your heart and one hand on your belly. Breathe so that both your hands move. Breathing into your heart connects you to the source of all there is and breathing into your belly connects you with the earth. Within your circle you are connected to the universe and the earth at the same time. After breathing and feeling connected and grounded in your circle feel the sense of peace that protection brings. Peace is available to us because it is the source of all there is. When I am protected and openhearted I can interrupt the warnings of my ego. For instance, right now my ego is telling me I am not making any sense. It also says that noone is reading this anyway so why even bother to write? In my circle I can protect myself from my own ego too. It is easier to reply to my ego
and calmly say, "That's a thought" when surrounded by white healing light. It is easier to be the witness to my ego's attempts to convince me of its fear stories. It isn't necessary to defend myself or to treat the ego angrily. When I can witness it as energy I don't want to take in, acknowledge it and move away I move toward peace. So now I am picking my nails. I have learned that means I am anxious. If I allow myself to feel the energy of the desire to pick my nails and be with the anxiety it begins to lift. It doesn't go away. What I notice is that there is more spaciousness created in my heart when I am willing to be with what is. The story my ego is telling me is that I don't know what I am talking about. I can acknowledge that as a story and say, Thank you for sharing. When I move to be present with the anxiety under the story I can feel the pull to pick my nails instead of feeling the anxiety. I have been picking my nails since I was a small girl. As I feel the desire and be with the anxiety I am protecting the little girl inside me from my negative core belief that there is something wrong with me. My little girl is safe inside my circle protected from the negative core belief. I see her inside the circle and imagine the belief outside the circle. I feel more peace and more space in my heart to allow the peace that lives in my heart to be there.
Experiment with your circle and see what you would like to be protecting yourself from right now.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


Tonight I am so grateful to have a warm house from which to watch the heavy snowflakes steadily falling. I think about the people who have no homes. Tonight my brother is one of them. He moved to Tuscon a few weeks ago. He went there with very little money and his car died and he was robbed. He has been a troubled soul for a long time. He tried to get into the homeless shelter and missed the last bed. He called me to give him money to stay in a cheap motel. The motels won't take payment with my credit card over the phone. He has his bicycle and is trying three more motels and will call me back. I feel for him. I feel helpless and powerless. I also resent him for being addicted to pot for over forty years and being in denial about its impact on his life. Now he has no money to buy it.Maybe this is what had to happen for him to acknowledge his addiction. I wish I could make his life different. He found a motel that would take my credit card. At least he has a place to sleep tonight. I am relieved and thankful. Tucson is going down to 32 degrees tonight. I am scared for my brother. I am planning to send him metta. That is a ritual to energetically send lovingkindness across the airways to another person. The prayer I will send goes like this:May you be peaceful. May you be happy. May you be free. In this body. On this earth. In this moment. It's something to do when there is nothing to do.
Tomorrow when he calls I will do what I can to help him. I will get clear about what I can do to help that will actually be helpful. I will try to set some boundaries and give what I can. Then I will do my best to let go. I am torn because if the tables were turned I know he would help me. He is my brother. I love him and care about him and he is a bottomless hole.I will meditate tomorrow and ask for guidance about what to do and what not to do. My spirituality has three parts: Trust in the universe, do my part and let go of the outcome. I will go deep inside and ask myself how best to honor my spirituality in my relationship with my brother.
Do you have any family members with whom you have a challenging relationship? Have you been involved in the process of discovering and setting healthy boundaries? What have you discovered?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


I went to a very useful workshop on relationships last Friday given by Terry Real. The thing I most got out of it was the idea that contempt takes two forms. One form of contempt is grandiosity where the contempt is directed toward another person. This type of contempt results in blame and judgement and the lack of taking responsibility for our own behavior. We go one- up and feel better than the other person and make excuses for our behavior based on blame. I blew up at you because you were criticizing me.The second type of contempt is shame. That type of contempt is directed against ourselves. It results in blaming ourselves and thinking we are crappy people and/or there is something wrong with us. With shame we often go one-down and feel inadequate and inferior to others. Most people do both kinds of contempt, yet major in one and minor in the other. Contempt is a knee jerk defensive reaction to discomfort or pain. This fit in with the other valuable gem from the workshop which was the idea of first consciousness and second consciousness. First order consciousness is the knee-jerk reaction. It is a response that got created in childhood that is automatic and familiar. It is also famous for getting the same ineffective results. Terry calls it Door A. When we respond and pick door A we are using our limbic brain the part of us that chooses to fight or flee. Second consciousness employs the neo-cortex of the brain or the thinking reasoning brain.
Second consciousness or Door B is a mindful choice. It means recognizing the knee-jerk or the "whoosh" reaction of doorA, taking a breath and making a conscious choice to be in our functioning adult. Sometimes we will already be beginning to respond on automatic pilot when our inner voice of guidance says, "Wait a minute. Take a breath. You don't have to do this how you have always done. You could chose door B. Contempt in either form is door A. The beauty of meditation practice is that it is the practice of choosing door B. In meditation each time we notice ourselves lost in our stories we mindfully bring ourselves back to the present moment. With practice bringing ourselves back to right here and right now and making a choice from that place, begins to replace our knee-jerk reactivity. Not perfectly and not all the time, however more and more you begin to notice that in the face of things that were incredibly triggering in the past you are calmer and more centered. The more I practice meditation it is easier to recognize a shame attack as self-contempt and bring myself up enough to look out of my own eyes and let myself know that I am OK even in the face of disapproval, comparison or anger. It is also easier to recognize the contempt of going one-up and being incredibly judgemental and critical of another as grandiosity and bring myself down to look out of my own eyes. Then I remind myself that I am no better and no worse than anyone else. Working with my knee -jerk reactions with mindfulness and compassion provides the opportunity to meet myself and others with more kindness and to grow from that kindness toward same-as, releasing one-up and one-down. I am committed to living my life choosing Door B. I am committed to working with my contempt and to healing. I am committed to forgiving myself when I don't and to forgiving others when they don't. I want to thank Terry Real for all of his good work with so many people and for providing so much food for thought. Living a life with less contempt is so very juicy for me. It supports me in moving closer to really knowing that I can take care of myself and be in close relationship with others at the same time.Where are you with contempt? What does it bring to mind about your relationship with yourself and others?

Thursday, October 15, 2009


I have been immersed in the novel The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck for several days.
I finished it late last night. I first read the book in college and barely remembered it. I did remember that one of the characters was named Rose of Sharon. My undergraduate school Cornell University sent a copy of the book to all of its alumni because they felt it was very timely to read in the midst of our current economic challenges. It was about a family in the 1930's who were tenant farmers and got kicked off of their land and replaced by tractors. There was widespread unemployment and millions of hungry people traveling to California in search of enough work to feed their families. The 12 members of this family traveled across the country with all of their belongings piled into a sawed off jalopy. Everything was scarce except for their respect for each other which seemed to grow as their money supply shrunk. At one point the mother of the family says, it seems like we only used to think of family and the less we have the more we think of everybody. People pulled together and helped each other even though they had next to nothing themselves. There was a sense of community created by people in tent camps traveling west sharing each other's births and deaths, tragedies and celebrations. At the end a young woman who has just given birth to a dead baby feeds an adult man dying of hunger her breastmilk. What I got from the book is that in times of trouble people pull together strengthening themselves and each other. In these challenging times it is now important for us to pull together too. Community means different things to different people. I participate in several groups and yet don't feel like I really belong. To me it has always been difficult to stick around with a group of people and accept all of the dogma and drama that goes with it. I am rethinking my position. I think I had the idea that I had to like everyone to be part of a community. Of course that is never the case. It makes sense that in a community of people brought together for whatever reason there are people who are drawn to each other and people who are not. I am yearning to feel part of a community with enough like-minded people in it. I don't have to like everyone, nor does everyone have to like me. That is a fantasy, just like the perfect partner. I am ready to begin searching for a community with like enough values that I can feel safe being myself. I don't know what it will look like or even what the common interest that will gather the people together will be. I am open to begin creating one if that is what is needed. Where are you about community? What has been your experience of community in the past? Is it appealing to you to feel a part of a community or not?

Tuesday, October 6, 2009


I want to write. I don't want to eat when I am not hungry. I am feeling anxious and I know that expressing myself creatively will help me to feel less anxious. I can't think of anything to write about. I forgive myself for not being able to think of anything to write about. I forgive myself for writing anyway even though I think I have nothing to write about.
I forgive myself for eating when I am not hungry. I forgive myself for rationalizing that I am eating healthy food so it doesn't matter if I'm not hungry. I forgive myself for feeling restless and empty and not knowing what to do with myself.
Restless and empty
I don't know
What to do with myself
So I eat.
It could be worse. I could be shooting heroin. I could be mainlining chocolate doughnuts. I could be blaming my relationship for not making me happy. I closed the refridgerator and am feeling empty and restless and writing about it. Lucky you for getting to read all of this.
Maybe you are lucky. How often do people get real about what is going on with them? It is always helpful to me to hear about someone else's stuff. I feel so much less alone. Sharing this with you I feel more connected and less alone. It's nice to know that someone is listening. Reaching out feels good. It's hard to reach out when things don't feel good. It's easier to pretend that they do feel good or to complain about the situation rather than share my feelings and be emotionally vulnerable.
I am breathing deeply focusing on the exhale. Now I am humming on the exhale. I remember that when nothing feels right, it's time to do nothing. I am restless and edgy and I need to go rest and be with myself and be quiet. I have been resisting that by thinking I needed to do something. I am tired and I want to rest. When I am tired it is easy for me to think I am hungry. When I am cold it is easy for me to think I am hungry. When I am thirsty it is easy for me to think I am hungry. When I am full it is easy for me to think I am hungry. In the book Emotional Intelligence, Daniel Goleman talks about women who mistake many feelings for hunger. They are medicating their feelings under food. I am one of them. It is important for me to be mindful when I think I need to eat. Instead of kneejerking toward food I want to pay attention to what is going on inside me underneath the story of my desire for food. When I tune into my body right now I can feel my fatigue. I worked with a lot of people today. I am depleted and need to rest and no amount of coconut butter will revive me. I am going to rest now. Thank you for listening. It does help to write. Creative expression is very useful. What is your relationship with food like? Is there a way you are medicating feelings by eating? Some people medicate feelings by not eating when they are hungry. Notice your relationship with food and see what you can learn about yourself.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009


This is the color of the flowers I saw walking along the river in Breckenridge. The flowers seem very vivid today because the sky is overcast. We have had four days of beautiful weather with clear blue sky and temperatures warm enough to hike in a tee-shirt. On Monday it was Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement. I got to celebrate in my temple, which is nature. Sitting beside a clear green mountain lake with a 360 degree view of snow dusted jagged mountain peaks Gary and I asked for forgiveness. When we finished a large group of sparkling diamonds of light began to move across the water in front of us. It moved from the far end of the lake to the shore closest to us. It seemed as if the universe was smiling and saying yes. I am grateful to have found my sanctuary within myself and from the mountains and to be able to share that sanctuary with Gary.
I went to a yoga class in town this morning at 8. I am really glad I went because when I got there I discovered that this was the last day yoga was being offered in the space. I had planned to take a class each day for the rest of my time here. It was a lovely class and I did sun salutes for the first time since I hurt my wrist. Doing yoga can be such a joyous experience. I am grateful that I listened to the voice that woke me up this morning and urged me to do what I needed to do to get to the class. I think a year ago I would have let the studio closing be a big disappointment. It was a small disappointment. It let me know I have made progress in letting go of attachment. Yoga is a form of worship for me. I will now continue to worship in the comfort of our condo. It is good to appreciate what I have and to let go of the form it appears in. Would you be willing to do an exercise today to let go of the form of what shows up for you and to take it in and be present with it? Also notice any disappointment and see if you can show up for yourself being disappointed.

Monday, September 21, 2009


I am excited to write tonight. I have just emerged from two weeks of feeling like my heart has been in a vise grip. When my heart is shut down I use my entire life to prove there is something wrong with me. When I am in the midst of this abject self hate the voice of my ego-mind seems to be the total truth. It all started two weeks ago on Friday when Gary and I went to the worst theapy session of my life. Both of us were doing the autopilot dance of our egoes while the therapist mostly sat passively observing on the sidelines listening and reflecting back to us. After the session I felt disappointed, frustrated and hopeless. For two weeks I have been angry, filled with blame and wanting to bolt. I called and communicated my feelings to the therapist and we won't be going back. It made it harder that no matter how much Gary apologized I couldn't forgive him. I felt betrayed by him, myself , the therapist and the theraputic process I hold so dear. I decided that Gary did not want to work on himself and since that is my most important value, I couldn't continue to be with him. I plotted exit strategies in my mind. Things were complicated by our upcoming week's vacation which I was dreading. Last night I had a dream that when I woke up helped me to see my part in what had happened and to view the whole experience with more clarity. I am so grateful for this dream and inspired to do more dreamwork. This morning we talked and talked and finally cleared things. I realized I was blaming Gary and shutting him out of my heart. I spoke my truth from my heart and finally felt heard enough to let go of the past and come back to the present. When Gary isn't being defensive he is a really good listener and is very committed to growing. We both took responsibility for our parts and held each other with respect. My love for him came pouring back in the magic of both of us being present in our hearts at the same time. When we first met we made a vow to support each other's growth. Sometimes it feels so difficult as a loving flawed human being to be in a relationship with another loving flawed human being. Sometimes it is the best life has to offer. I read an article on forgiveness today in which the author said that forgiveness can be the freedom that allows the forgiver to let go of the past and move on. I have the experience that Gary is on my side again. I am relieved to be back in the relationship with both feet. I am so much happier. I led Laughter Yoga today and Gary came with me. Because my heart was open it was so joyful to lead Laughter Yoga. For the first time I didn't feel self-conscious that Gary was there, I enjoyed having him there. When my ego popped up and let me know that noone was enjoying themselves and that the laughter exercises I had spontaneously created were lame, I recognized that voice as my ego, soothed myself and moved on. I felt inspired by chosing to be present anyway in the midst of my inner critic and the session flowed with love.
Do you know what your negative core belief is? What is the belief about yourself that you hold against yourself and sometimes use your life to prove it is true? How could you interrupt that habitual dance? What positive belief is as true or truer than the negative one? For me my negative belief is that there is something wrong with me and that something is that I am incapable of loving. The belief that is as true or truer is that I am filled with great love and that it is safe to share that love with myself and others, including my partner. If you are moved give this some thought. What would your life be like if you believed the new belief that
affirms your magnificense? What would be the first step in acting as if it were true?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Nature as teacher

I am not a scientist. The right side of my brain seems stronger to me than the left. Logic and intuition sometimes coexist peaceably within me, sometimes not. I read an article in the Sun magazine yesterday about science that really excited me. It is unusual for me to even read an article about science and I was drawn to it because although I love reading the Sun's insightful poems stories and interviews. It was an interview with Janine Benyus, a biologist and science writer who wrote a book about what she calls biomimicry. Biomimicry is the concept of teaching humans how to learn from nature. Biomimicry means to imitate life. The first step she advises in solving a problem is to look at the solutions that can be found in nature. She consults with private businesses and founded the non-profit Biomimicry Institute to promote the biomimicry concept to the larger culture. The institute runs the website, a public domain resource for anyone looking for nature's answer to a design problem. What excited me about this article was Janine's passion for sustainable conservation and industrial ecology. I don't think I really understood either of those terms except vaguely before reading this article. Janine talks in a way that translates scientific jargon into laypersons terms. She made what she does juicy for me. Before reading this article I would never have attempted to pass anything remotely scientific on to you. She is a bridge person, connecting engineers and architects to mother nature and her ways of wisdom. She helps people to see that in the development of new projects and products nature can be seen as a teacher rather than something to be conquered. For instance, she helped the company Seventh Generation improve their environmentally friendly cleansers by helping them look at the natural world. "The natural world doesn't use soap to remove dirt. But if leaves get dust on them they are not going to be able to photosynthesize. So how do they stay clean? A lotus leaf has little "nanobumps" to which dirt particles adhere very loosely. When rainwater comes, the dirt balls up on these bumps and rolls away, picking up remaining dirt particles as it goes. The plant uses the kinetic energy in rainwater to clean itself for free. It's called the "lotus effect". Janine says that now companies have designed all kinds of self-cleaning products-exterior house paint, roofing tiles, fabrics, cement, glass-with this nonobump structure. She also is working with green architects to create structures whose abilities to perform mimic nature. For instance some cacti are pleated, and the pleats actually shade the parts of other plants. In Phoenix, Arizona where there is less shade and moisture than is needed she consulted with building firms to construct buildings with pleats to shade other buildings. Nature takes into consideration the interdependance of all beings. For example, the body of the bumblebee and the body of the flowers that they depend on have evolved to fit better together. Geese fly in formation and feed on the energy created by the goose in front of them. Nature is interdependance. That is nature's dance. I am inspired by this article to hang out in nature. Janine lives in Montana in a beautiful natural place and works hard to balance her busy work schedule and commitment to helping the planet with lots of time at home alone and with her partner in the woods. You could call that honoring the natural balance.
So, I am looking at what nature has to teach me. When I recognize a teacher I like to study with that teacher. I am looking to find a time to be in nature and be still- to open my heart and ask my questions and absorb my answers. How about you? What questions do you have or problems you want to solve that nature might help you with? I am grateful to Janine Benyus for her vision and her capacity to widen mine. I am grateful to the Sun magazine for continuously giving me opportunities to grow and learn and doing it with no advertising. Check it out if the spirit moves you.

Friday, September 11, 2009


Wow! I forgot about writing my blog until today. It has been a very power packed week. In my adult life I have given the least amount of sustained attention to socializing and community. Socializing didn't come easily. When I first started going to parties I would concentrate on the food and stuff myself to allay my anxiety. When I was in my twenties and thirties I created an alter ego who I would send to parties. I called her Suzy Creamcheese. I would set aside my fears and present the persona of Suzy, the outgoing animated person I thought I should be. The problem was in pretending to be Suzy, I left myself and often felt very drained. As I've grown more comfortable with myself , I have grown more comfortable with socializing. Small talk is very challenging and I'm not naturally good at it. It's hard for me to think of what to say to a person that's deliberately superficial. I have recognized over the years that it's rarely appropriate to start discussing spiritual philosophy with a stranger and have learned the value of starting a conversation with a warm up. After I let go of Suzy, I rarely went to parties for many years. I mostly stopped getting invited. In the last few years I have been getting interested in being more social. I at least wanted to be comfortable enough at a party to have a choice whether to attend or not. So, I created my perfect party rule.
I would go to a party and have a meaningful one to one conversation with one person.( One to one is always easier for me because I am an introvert.)I would do this by asking questions I cared about the answers to, listening attentively and then being as authentic as I felt safe to be with what I shared. Than I was free to go. Several times I went and fulfilled my intention and left. Several times I fulfilled my intention and decided I was comfortable enough to stay longer.
So this is why I forgot to write my blog. My dear friend Lynne was in town from Austin with her new fiance Patrick. Gary and I and the two of them went up to our friends Linza and Eric's house in the mountains for the weekend. It was a big deal for both Gary and I to do this because neither one of us is very comfortable in groups. This group seemed more like a community because I felt more comfortable being myself. It was fun to cook meals together and go hiking. I have rarely experienced being at ease with five other people all of whom I enjoyed spending time with. Then Lynne and Patrick came down to my house and stayed until this afternoon. It was challenging because I was working in the midst of it all. It was also satisfying to practice taking care of myself and noticing when I didn't. One day I was having a conversation with them and didn't give myself time to eat breakfast. I got to see once again how irritable I am when my blood sugar gets low. It definitely isn't pretty. I learned a lot about my difficulty in asking for what I want and need especially when I have people staying in my house. By the time they left I was better at being centered and being close to them at the same time. I carved out some time alone and that helped too. I am glad they were here and glad they are gone. I am learning the importance of healthy boundaries. The alternative is to lose myself and then feel resentful-not a very attractive alternative. I am grateful to have friends I love with whom I can be real and grow. Where are you with socializing? How could you make it easier for yourself if you are drawn to do it and it is challenging?

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Heeding the call

I am home from my silent women's meditation retreat. I loved being in silence. It takes so much of the pressure of trying to hear away.This was my first all women's retreat. I enjoyed being in the company of 25 fellow female seekers. Terry, the teacher has white hair down to her waist and is a role model for aging with grace. The theme of the weekend was opening to what is with mindfulness in the body. Terry gave an inspiring talk about being with the sensation in your body of whatever is arising- not for the purpose of getting it to go away but rather to explore and embrace the present moment.
Today the peace quote I received was a sign from a casino which read, "You have to be present to win." I loved that. The idea of being present is even making its way to casinos.
Whatever it is we are thinking or feeling can be followed down into the body to a sensation and examined with presence. I got to experience the tightness around my chest that happens when I am worrying about what others think of me. As a sensation it was the experience of constriction and difficulty breathing fully as if my breath was catching itself on a nail along the way. When I noticed a story I was making up about what someone else thought of me or would or might think of me I let go of the story, sooner or later, and moved down into my body. Bringing mindful presence, or witnessing without judging, to what was happening in my body either allowed it to release or opened to the next layer beneath it. I felt how afraid and tense I was being around other people so much. It is challenging for me to relax around other people. This time I didn't try to get myself to relax. I went down into my anxiety and felt the tension in my body. I could feel the lifelong tight muscles in my neck and jaw. I could feel the scared little girl inside of me protecting herself from being hit with the vigilance of holding her body tight. I soothed her with my presence and asked her to stay with the feeling. It was so healing to let go of trying to get myself to have a different experience than I was having and to dive in to my experience in my body in that moment. I could feel the protective layers of armoring around my heart with which I keep myself from being known. I became more deeply aware that what I was thinking that someone else was thinking about me was really what I thought of myself. So I would notice myself thinking that someone else was judging me for how fast I was moving around. I would see that thought as a projection of my own judgement and take it back and own it. Terry suggested that rather than explore why we were feeling something to look at where we were feeling it in our bodies. My judgement of my pace was tightness around my heart. I could feel my heart closing to myself and that was sad. It also was what was happening in that moment. When I couldn't sleep at night I hung out with how tight and constricted my stomach felt. I placed my hands on my stomach, which is very soothing to the nervous system and let myself feel my fear and anger about not being able to sleep. Eventually I slept. I also felt moments of my heart expanding with pure joy. I loved taking in all of the beauty of the gorgeous mountain setting. There were several booming thunderstorms with heavy rain. It felt as if the thunder was punctuating our process with an exclaimation point.
The other thing I got from the retreat was a deeper understanding of the connection between righteousness and lack of self-worth. Attachment to being right and trying to be in control are two ways to protect myself from my fear that there is something wrong with me. Exploring that fear of my fatal flaw was also part of the tension around my heart. Being with it allowed me to explore the depth of it without getting lost in the story that there must be something wrong with me for thinking there is something wrong with me.
What would it be useful for you to be mindful of in your body? What sensation in your body is calling for your attention? Would you be willing to heed its call?

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


I am preparing to leave on my silent women's weekend vipassana meditation retreat this Friday. I have never attended a vipassana retreat that is all woman and I am really looking forward to it. I'll write about it when I return. I am hoping to quiet down inside and feel more balanced. I would like to be able to be preesent with what my experience is , whatever my experience is. It is easy for me to judge some feelings as good like happiness and joy and some as bad like fear, anger and sadness. The next step is if I am feeling the good ones it is good and I am good. When the bad ones rear their ugly heads it is bad and I am bad.
I went to a oneness blessing with my friend Ginger on Monday. Deeksha is a laying on of hands to impart the energy of oneness to the recipient. After the blessings she spoke of her teacher telling them about the importance of being with the energy of emotion rather than judging them as good or bad or themselves as good or bad for feeling them. She talked about hanging out and being with and breathing into the energy of the emotion and the sensation in the body rather than the story. It was validating for me to hear this because it is what I have been believing and intermittently practicing. For instance, when Gary was on his backpacking meditation retreat last week I really missed him. Missing him felt bad. I judged myself for being too dependant on him. In the past when I missed someone I often would distract myself by getting busy and not thinking about it and pretending I didn't feel it. This time I decided to just feel the missing even though it felt bad. As I sat with the sensation which was a tightness in my chest and stomach, it went from bitter to bitter sweet to sweet. I realized that missing Gary was a function of my love for him and my enjoyment of his company. It wasn't that I am weak and sniviling and need to get a life. I have a rich full life and was enjoying myself without him and I missed him. Even though it was still achey I imagined it was the ache of my heart breaking open and that felt expansive and joyful.
It's also possible to miss a person even though you don't want to spend time with them or think the relationship is healthy for you. It's just as important to experience that missing too. Feeling the sensations of the missing allows them to release and clarity about just why it is that you left to emerge. Missing someone isn't good or bad, it just is. Paying attention to the feelings and honoring yourself for having them leads to greater compassion for yourself.
Greater compassion for yourself is always a good thing. Is there someone or something that you miss? Would you be willing to let yourself feel it without judging the missing or yourself as being good or bad?

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

tuning in

I had a wonderful experience teaching yoga today. Last Wednesday I was supposed to serve on jury duty and found a substitue to teach my class. My jury number wasn't called and I didn't have to go. What a gift that was. I had the whole morning to myself and the person who I asked to sub encouraged me to still have her sub to further rest my injured wrist. I felt very supported and realized once again how good it feels to ask for help and let myself receive. My wrist loved having the extra time to rest and heal. I have been doing physical therapy and it has really helped. I have created entire yoga sequences that don't involve weight bearing on the wrists and have lots more compassion for other people's challenged parts.I haven't taken a regular yoga class or ridden my bike for over a month. That has been difficult. Difficult and well worth it because I am healing. When I broke my leg several years ago I was back in my yoga training pushing myself too hard way too soon. I was too stubborn and compulsive to give my ankle the rest it needed to heal completely. I think I am forced to rest and slow down when I need to by my body's protests. This time I have been listening. You know about the cosmic two by four. When your body wants to communicate a message to you first you get a little nudge. Maybe it will be feeling very tired or sad. If we chose to ignore the call for attention the nudge escalates. Maybe it will be a cold or a stubbed toe. If we chose to continue to blow ourselves off the ante may be upped to a cosmic toothpick like a cold or a stubbed toe or a minor fender bender. Ignoring ourselves further can result in a cosmic two by four- something quite dramatic that immediately gets our attention by forcing us to slow down. Making the time to take care of ourselves and listening to our internal process prevents this cycle. Staying in our own sacred circle and checking in with ourselves on a daily basis will not prevent uncomfortable things from happening but will sure make the odds better to live a harmonious life. Meditation and yoga are two ways to check in with yourself. I notice when I am neglecting my home practices of yoga and meditation because I am more reactive and stiffer. Practicing yoga and meditation at home regularly I can cope with lifes inevitable ups and downs more easily. Would you like to focus on giving yoursel more attention in this way? It seems to me that when I need it the most is when I have the most resistance. How about sitting or doing a few poses today? Think of it as a spiritual treat with a lot less calories than ice cream.
I used to think that restorative yoga was for wimps. It takes so much more courage to really relax and be present. After not going to a regular yoga class for a month, I went to a restorative class last weekend. Restorative as in get into a sucession of three relaxing poses supported by props and hang out for twenty minutes in each one. When the class was finished I felt as if I were in an altered state. Colors seemed more vivid and people looked beautiful. Resting is such a healing thing. I highly recommend restorative yoga to ease stress and open your heart. At harmony yoga there is a great class
Today it was a joy to be back teaching my yoga class. My inner critic took a vacation to a small desert island and I really had fun. I am relying less on external validation and more basing how I feel about my teaching on the life force that flows through me. Today I allowed it to flow and it brought a vitality and playfulness to my class. I am so grateful to be teaching yoga and I invite all of you to come to my class or anyone's class. Yoga is the best way I know to connect body mind and spirit. My class is on Wednesdays at noon at Whole Yoga. Come and play if the spirit moves you. There are noon classes four days a week at Whole Yoga all for $5. If yoga isn't your thing what would you be willing to do to connect with your inner process? Or yet what would you be willing to not do and just be?

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


I think something is wrong with my computer. It's moving very slowly and it might not work to write this now. We'll see. I so feel at the mercy of technology sometimes. When something seems to be going wrong I try what I know and hope for the best. I guess that's always true. With relationships when something seems to be going wrong I also try what I know and hope for the best. The difference is that my tool box is much more extensive and my confidence in my experience is greater. Probably the extent to which we are effective in different areas of our lives has something to do with how much we are willing to try something and mess up. A signal just came on and told me that my computer was unprotected and asked me to push a button that said fix now to fix it. Then it said it was fixed. What if it were that easy with relationship issues? Maybe it is. When I sense that something is wrong in an important relationship it makes sense to check out my intuition. First I ask myself, "Am I projecting?"
In other words is something going on in me that needs my attention rather than it actually going on outside of me. I check that out get a yes and clear it or get a no and plan what is next. I often ask the other person for a reality check. For example," I am making up a story that you are angry with me. Is that true?" If the answer is yes I thank them for telling me and ask if they would be willing to tell me more. Then I listen as attentively and non-defensibly as I can. Then I validate that I can understand that they could feel that way. Gary is getting really good at trusting his intuitiion when he senses I am angry with him. Sometimes I feel so high maintenence that I want to work things through on my own first before I talk to him but I am not making much progress. When he asks me to share it with him it is with the understanding that we can use the resolution of the conflict to get closer. I appreciate that he is listening to his intuition and supporting me in clearing things with him. I think being willing to work on a relationship and using the relationship to grow is my most important value in a partner. He is so much more able to listen attentively and non-defensively, too. It gives me so much more space to be all of myself even the parts I would just as soon send to Siberia. Gary is a good at being able to not take things personally.
I am a good teacher for him in providing lots of things coming at him to practice not taking them personally. It is really easy for me to focus on what is missing and ignore what is there. Gratefulness is focusing on what is there.
Yesterday I felt very grateful. Gary and I went on a long hard hike to Blue Lake. I haven't done a harder hike all summer. I felt a combination of fear and excitement. It was a gorgeous day and everything was so green. I felt as if I were in emerald city. The wildflowers were more vibrant than I ever remember them being at this time of year. I am grateful for all of the moisture we have been getting. I am grateful to my body for carrying me up the mountain and down without too much discomfort. I am grateful to have a partner who has nature as his temple as I do. I am grateful for the breathtaking beauty that exists less than an hour away and for the time to go hiking on a Monday. I am grateful for the comraderie that exists between people immersing themselves in that beauty. Strangers feel free to talk to each other about the flowers and terrain. I highly recommend getting up into the mountains for a hike. It opens the heart and expands the soul. When things go wrong as they inevitabley do I have that mountain hit to reflect back on and use as an antidote to the stress and chaos of city life. My body mind and spirit all remember and smile as I am back in the meadow surrounded by purple and yellow wildflowers feeling one with all there is. Would you be willing to carve out some time for a walk in nature? It is especially important if you feel you are too busy to.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009


It is so good to write. Even though I am tired I always feel energized by writing this blog. Creative expression is like that. When I feel like I have no energy for a creative project I remember that it gives me energy to let my creativity flow. It is life force. Is there a creative project that you've been thinking about? What would it take to push you over the edge? Creativity can be loosely defined. It could be anything that you do that helps bring you into the present moment. Maybe it is even the opposite of addiction. I think of addiction as anything that is used habitually to distract or avoid being present. Addictions are feeling stuffers. When I want to pick my nails or eat when I'm not hungry I ask myself (when I remember to) " What am I feeling? What is it I really need?" Often it is rest. If I let myself rest when I am drained or tired that is when creative ideas are most likely to flow. When I am quiet is is more possible for my muse to speak to me about her dreams. She speaks in a quiet calm voice that can't be heard above the din of my urgency and busyness. She says," Wouldn't it be fun to sculpt now? or how about concocting some juice? or how about allowing yourself to lie in bed and daydream? Ask to know your muse and then listen for her voice? She is there waiting for you to slow down enough to be with her. Sometimes it takes time.

I went to a workshop recently where they asked us to do a brag about the person who brought us there. It was so fun to brag unabashedly. So, I have a brag to share with you. My daughter Monnya is the most creative person I know. Creativity oozes out of her pores. She and Issac had a beautiful wedding. The whole family including many exes stayed in a rented vacation home in the mountains and worked together to make the wedding happen. I thought it was a terrible idea at first. I am glad that i kept that to myself. Being together under the same roof for that long bonded us together and created a supportive community around Monnya and Issac where the feeling of love was palpable. The very heartful celebrant created a native american ceremony honoring the six directions of north, south, east, west, above and below.His words honored Monnya and Isaac's love and offered prayers for their continued growth. Important people in their lives held each of the six directions and offered blessings to Monnya and Isaac. I got to hold the pole representing the center. I felt as if from the center of myself I held the center of the community. I offered strength to everyone there and received strength back. I was aware of the energy exchange that connects us all when we are willing to let go and surrender to being present with what is. That presence brought me clarity and peace. I am deeply grateful to all of the generous people who made the wedding so moving. The celebrant sang a song about love being forever and bringing growth. We all sang the chorus. We sang through our tears. Weddings are a ritual of love that brings up many feelings. For a long time weddings brought up sadness and lonliness for me. This wedding brought up joy and wonder at my daughter and son and the depth of their commitment to each other. They are an inspiration to me.
Because they have tatooed wedding rings they didn't exchange rings. Instead Monnya represented the element of water and Isaac of fire. Gary tended the fire that heated up Issac's rock. When Issac removed the rock from the fire Monnya pored her water over it from a beautiful glass bowl. The steam that billowed up joined their energy together. Creativity was afoot. The collective muses counsel made themselves available to us. We were all blessed. I am so proud of my creative kids and their ability to be themselves whether it fits with what's expected of them by the culture or not. Thanks for listening to my brag. Do you have a brag you'd like to make about yourself or someone else. Let er rip.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

attraction and aversion

Today as I left the park where I walked with my friend, I realized it was almost August. When I was growing up, summer was the happiest time in my life. My family rented a cottage on a lake for a month each summer and from the time I was 11 my only restriction was to be home for dinner at 6. That exhilarating sense of freedom merged into my love of summer after I left home and went to college. First I was a student and then a teacher. Although I worked in the summer since I was 16, things were different than the routine of the rest of the year. I looked forward to summer all year willing the other seasons to be over. Then when summer arrived I pined over how quickly it went by. When I got to August 1st I would be grieving the end of summer. After I finished graduate school and became a therapist I no longer had summers off. It was shocking at first and I felt a geat loss of my special relationship with summer.
I set the intention to open to the other seasons one at a time. I realized that living for summer kept me living in the past and the future. First I opened to the crisp newness of Spring. I started to appreciate the green growth and the cool days. I noticed the sense of rebirth in the world and within me. Next I opened to Autumn. I began to really see the gorgeous golden leaves changing and appreciate the sense of the cycles of nature as the leaves died and fell. It felt like a time of letting go of the old, shedding old skin to make way for what was to come. Winter was the hardest. It took years. I hate to be cold and on the bleaker days I felt bleaker. Appreciating winter came from learning to rest and go slower. It is called the going within time in native american stories. So I learned to take the opportunity to do quieter more creative projects that happend indoors rather than resist the cold. Taking care of myself in the winter helped to dissolve the heavy heartedness and dread I had felt.
So today when I realized it was almost August, it was with surprise to know I was open to letting go of summer. Part of coming to equinimity or balance is letting go of the strength of our attractions as well as our aversions. In order to open to being present in all of the seasons I had to let go of my exclusive attachment to summer and my aversion to the other seasons. That's what I learned this morning leaving the park. Summer isn't quite so special anymore. I can see that being really hot isn't that comfortable. I still love summer but not with the same clinging and craving. Summer had to be allowed to fall off of the pedistal I had put it on in order to let go of resisting what is. Idealizing Summer is just as much a story as criticizing and resisting the rest of the seasons. Being mindful of both my pull toward things or people and my pushing away is useful. Both inform my process of bringing myself back to the present. What do you notice about attraction and aversion in your life?
My daughter is getting married on August 1st and I am very excited. I look forward to sharing my experience with you next week.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Why meditate?

Why practice meditation? One reason is to practice building the muscle of bringing ourselves back to the present in the midst of daily life. When we take the time to sit quietly and bring our attention to our own inner process it is letting ourselves know that we matter. It is saying to ourselves," You are important enough to me that I will show up for you." Even in the midst of there being too much to do, (and there is always too much to do) taking a moment to breath and honor our own life force is beneficial. We all grow up with the myth that it's OK to rest when the work is done. As we all know from experience the work is never completely done. Something else to do always arises that needs our attention. With the intention to spend a few minutes a day sitting quietly in our own sacred space inside, we move ourselves up on our priority list. Drawing a circle around ourselves in the air is the symbol of this sacred space. It reminds us of our intention to center ourselves in the midst of whatever. Meditation practice isn't an all or nothing thing. You don't have to go to a weeklong silent meditation retreat to derive benefit. The discipline to pause and ask for help inside, or to appreciate one thing about yourself, or to breathe and rest quietly pays back in the form of less reactivity in daily life. Freedom is the capacity to pause between stimulus and response.
Any way we can support ourselves in having a moment between what comes at us in life and how we respond is useful. Pausing to notice ourselves and be mindful of what's going on inside of us gives us a moment to choose to react differently than our usual automatic conditioning. It allows us to respond differently than we've always done. Pausing gives us the option of witnessing mindfully and choosing a new option. Meditation gives us the practice of returning to the breath or to whatever is our chosen focus, no matter what arises. That practice teaches us that there is a possibility of responding in a new way in our daily life when something is overwhelming or threatening or upsetting. It gives us practice in bringing our attention inside and soothing ourselves. Saying to ourselves, "I am here for you in this moment with whatever is going on." I am writing this in honor of my own resistance to meditation. It is so easy to tell myself in the morning when I usually sit that there isn't enough time or that my time would be better spent checking my e-mail. Somehow it is scary to commit to being present and being quiet. I want to recognize that I am afraid because my learned response is to continue being a human doing and forget that I am a human being. Meditation practice supports me in knowing I am so much more than what I do. How about you?

Monday, July 13, 2009

Letting go of being right

In his teaching for the week from his book, Dancing with Life, Phillip Moffit suggests three practices of renunciation that concern our internal dialogue. The one I chose was letting go of being right. I took that intention with me on my personal retreat. I had a wonderful time being in a beautiful natural setting doing whatever I wanted to for three days. At home I rarely let myself read novels. When I do I have lots of trouble putting them down and do not want to do anything else. Growing up, I escaped from my life reading fiction. I was a voracious reader. I often stayed up late reading by the nightlight in the hallway with my legs up a chair while my family slept. One of the things I have always held onto being right about is what is worthwhile to do with my time and what is not. Even though I do read novels sometimes I usually feel guilty about the time I take to read a whole novel in a few days. On my trip I decided to give myself permission to read as much as I wanted to without guilt. I spent many many hours reading either holed up in my room or relaxing on the back porch with a breathtaking view to join me. One day I read for 6 hours. It was bliss. There is something so healing about completely losing myself in the world of a book. One book was a fantasy murder mystery about yiddish policemen. It was different than anything I have ever read. I had to let go of being right about the kinds of books I enjoy reading. The story and the characters were so well developed it allowed me to let go and enjoy myself. The other book I read was a delicious metaphysical fantasy about a soul group finding each other and creating a community. They could tell who their link or partner was by the similarity of their sound vibrations. The vibrant adventures of the elves in the story drew me into their community as if I were part of it. Near the end of my trip I soaked in the hotsprings with two people who I had pre-judged wouldn't be willing to really talk about anything I was interested in. We had a lively and depthful conversation about relationships. I came away feeling hopeful and inspired and glad that I let go of being right and didn't cancel going up to soak with them. There was another guy in the hotsprings ranting about the myth of global warming. I listened politely and then let go of being right about everyone disserving to be heard kindly. I told him I couldn't hear him very well and that I didn't really want to. I got out of the pool and was relieved to have let go of being right enough to set a clear boundary. Later I heard he was making disparaging remarks about Jews. I was so glad I had stopped before it got to that. It was also fun to let go of some of my rigidity about what I ate and when. Sometimes I had nuts and seeds and called it a meal. Sometimes I ate past my usual stopping time of 9pm. Sometimes I ate standing up. Letting go of being right sure lessens guilt. If there is no right way to do something, what is there to feel guilty about? Shoulda woulda coulda is all about being right. Where are you about being right? How does it manifest in your daily life in your relationship with yourself and with others? It has definitely been worth exploring. Next time I am going to apply letting go of being right to judgement and blame versus discernment. I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

asking for help #2

It is good to write. I've had a long day. I saw my therapist today. I go about every three weeks. I started back in therapy to get clarity about my relationship and why I had so many fears and doubts.It has been very helpful personally and professionally. I am realizing that my ego creates separation. That's what it does to survive. It's really nothing personal. It isn't out to get me. It isn't out to let me know there is something really wrong with me and I am crazy and stupid. Those are the tools it uses to insure its own survival. What is the ego? First of all it's most important to know what it isn't. It isn't the higher self, universal energy, inner divinity, my spiritual core, my inner wisdom or my source. It is a group of thoughts and beliefs that I take to be me. It is useful to me in navigating in the material world. I am noticing that the critical voice of my ego gets louder when I experience being deeply loved. Love brings up everything that isn't love to be healed. I also notice when I am tired or not eating well my ego gets louder.
The farther I have jumped away from my center and out of my circle, the more vulnerable I am to the voice of my ego. Getting enough sleep and eating well make it easier for me to see that my critical voices are my critical voices.
Today I created a strategy to be able to step out of my obsessive judging and more toward my inner source. First I ask for help. Asking for help lets me know that I can't work to separate from my mind using my mind. I ask for help draw my circle around myself and come back into it. Then I call in my resource team-the spiritual core, nurturing parent and protective parent. I visualize them surrounding me and breathe into my heart. I experience the fullness in my heart and say to myself, "I am here for you." At first that will make the judgement worse because when my ego is threatened it gets louder. I don't fight it. This isn't about killing it or getting rid of it. It is about moving my attention toward my spiritual source where I know it is safe to love myself and to allow myself to be loved. Meditation and yoga practice help create familiarity with my center and build the muscle of bringing myself back to my source. That why it's called practice.
I just got off the phone with a really good friend. She has this same pattern of being judgemental with her partner. They have been in a long distance relationship and her fiance is moving to her city in three days. She is smart and asked him to get his own place. That way they can ease into deeper connection and she can work with her ego.
I am lucky to be in relationship with a man who gets that is my judging is a pattern that developes when I am afraid to be close. He is learning not to take it personally. My friend is lucky in that way too. Both of our partners are learning to be more confident in themselves in the face of criticism. What do you notice about your own voices? What makes you more vulnerable to them? What helps bring you back to your center?

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Asking for help

It is good to be able to write. I haven't been able to get on to msn since yesterday. I was struggling to figure out what was wrong and trying my small repertoire of trouble shooting tools over and over. Tonight I talked to Gary and asked him for help. He gave me some ideas and showed me how to get to my e-mails and this blog from hotmail. I still don't have direct access to msn. I am grateful to get into this blog to write this.
It is such a blessing to have a partner that I can ask for help. For so long I had to either do everything myself or hire someone to help. It is difficult for me to ask for help. Somehow I believe I am supposed to know how to do everything already even the stuff I know nothing about. It feels so good to reach out and ask for help and actually get help. How are you at asking for help? Is there something you'd like to ask for help with that you are holding back? Would it be useful to stretch and ask?
I started sculpting again. I think I had given up, deciding that sculpting was something I did when I wasn't in a relationship. I starting sculpting eight years ago when Monnya was sixteen and left to go study dance in India. I figured I had better get a life and took a sculpting class. Making bronze sculpture is very time consuming and extremely expensive. My last piece took two years and two thousand dollars. Woking with the hard clay that is used under a rubber mold to create a piece was also very hard on my hands. They would ache like crazy after I worked for several hours. I also didn't think I was good enough to scult without my teacher and a model. It was discouraging to stop sculpting. I started writing again instead. When I started this blog I hadn't written regularly since completing my book many years ago.This blog was my sole creative outlet for the past 18 months. I so appreciate having this vehicle to express myself and to learn and grow.
Monnya asked me to make a sculpture of her and Issac to put on top of their wedding cake or pie or whatever they have for dessert at their wedding in August. I procrastinated for so long that there was no way I could do it in bronze. She said she didn't care what it was made of. I went to Hobby Lobby and looked at sculpting materials and found this stuff called Sculpty that was malleable, stays soft until you bake it, and bakes non-toxically in a regular oven. What a find! I have been so enjoying creating my new piece. It is so much fun that I have to make myself stop and go to sleep at night when I work on it.
In order to create more time in my life to sculpt I am going to be writing this blog once a week from now on. If you want to send me your e-mail address I will write and let you know I have written. Also there is some site where you sign up and they let you know I have written a new blog. I forgot the name of it and i can write to the person who told me about it if you ask me to. Otherwise just check periodically. I am excited to be continuing writing this blog and sharing my process with you. It is a pleasure to have a place to share what I am learning. I appreciate your participation. Do you have a passion that is a way to express yourself creatively that you are holding back from doing? I get into a place where I think I have to be "really good" at something to do it. I am learning that it is OK to do something creative for the fun of it and let go of being so attached to the end result. When I focus on the process and let go of judging the product it is easier to enjoy myself. Why not give that creative activity you've been fantasizing about beginning or beginning again a whirl? Is it something you'd like to find a teacher and ask for help with?

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Feeding and draining energy

I just read an interesting article about energy drains. What drains your energy? What feeds your energy? In this article she talks about three things that drain energy: people, food and thoughts. Starting with food, processed food and sugary food and drinks are energy drains. Although it might seem like a pick-me-up, a candy bar or a can of pop is really a let- me -down. People can drain our energy too. Is there someone in your life who when you spend time with them you feel energized and alive? Your vitality seems to get a jump start when you are around them. On the other hand, is there someone who after you've been with them you feel tired and/or irritable? Does that person complain a lot or focus on negativity or gossip about other people? Our own thoughts can also be draining. If we are constantly judging ourselves or telling ourselves we are not enough or not good enough it is very draining. Also a job we don't enjoy or meetings or social events we attend out of obligation that we don't want to go to drain our energy. I am aware of how draining it is for me to say yes to another person when I am saying no to myself. Setting clear boundaries with other people and standing behind them is very enlivening for me. I sometimes think I am being helpful to people to fit them in to my schedule when I already have as much as I can handle. I'm not doing anyone any favors to be with them when I don't have the energy. Of course there is a balance here. Being useful to others does feed my energy. However, if I am in a depleted place it is challenging to be really present. Balanced energy allows me to be more fully present.
What is one thing that you know drains your energy? What is one thing that you know feeds your energy? Would you be willing to create an intention let go of one thing that drains your energy? It could be a gradual process. You could start by being mindful of how you feel when you do it. Eating late at night drains my energy. It effects my sleep and the energy I have in the morning. I eat healthy food now and it is still draining to ask by body to be digesting food when I am asleep. In order to acomplish letting go of this energy drain I want to ask myself what it is I really need when I think food is the answer before I go to bed. Being compassionately mindful seems like a good first step. It is important to acknowledge myself everytime I notice I want to eat late at night and soothe myself. What is draining for you? Experiment with choosing one thing to bring your attention to letting go of. What energizes you? Is there one thing you'd like to allow yourself to have or do or a person you'd like to spend more time with? Choose one of those and experiment with what it feels like to expand your permission to yourself to be energized. I am energized by meditating before I go to bed.
I have been sitting before I go to bed most nights for about a week.I sleep better and wake up in a more positive state of mind. Last night I ate pistachio nuts and didn't meditate before I went to sleep. I recognize the difference in my energy level. Forgiving myself is very energizing. In the same way that judging myself is draining, forgiving myself is energizing. My intention is to let go of eating before I go to sleep and allow myself to meditate. I told myself that what is important is getting myself to my cushion before I go to bed no matter how short or long a time I sit. Play with this if it feels useful to you to see how you might let go of something that drains your energy and allow yourself something that feeds your energy.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Three centers 2

More about the three centers and relationships. Remember from last time there are three centers within each person: thinking, feeling and doing. Each person overuses one , is supported in that overusing by the second and represses the third. As I said, I overuse feelings am supported in that overusing by thinking and repress doing. That means I sometimes overfocus on my feelings and thinking about my feelings and am challenged about getting things done. Since I wrote the last blog I have been doing up a storm. I watered my whole lawn last night and washed all of my hand washables. It really helps me to write about things I am challenged by. By bringing mindful compassionate attention to things I would like to shift in myself, the shift begins to happen. Sharing it with you jump starts that shift.
Gary and I went to my friend Linza's 60th birthday party on Saturday night.
Linza and her husband Erick are in the Wisdom course, a personal growth course, all weekend. She asked us to come to the guest community part since that's where they were going to be on her actual birthday. As part of the night's activities we got into a circle and shared with the other people what we liked about each of them. Some of the people who were all Linza's friends, I had met before briefly, some not. In the past in a similar social situation with people I barely knew, I would have sat in the circle being afraid and thinking about my fear." What if I don't know what to say and can't think of anything to say? What if what I say comes out stupid? yada yada yada" I would spend the entire time worrying. When it came to me I would be breathing shallowly and not thinking clearly. What I said to the person may have been fine but I would rehash it over and over and judge myself. By the time I was the recipient of the compliments I would be so beaten down by my own invalidating that I wouldn't be able to take the complements in and would immediately forget them. Thinking about my feelings would have interfered with the doing of being receptive to the appreciations. This time I was way more focused on the doing. I sat quietly and listened. It was amazing to me how much I could get out of a sharing exercise when I was listening to what was going on. I was able to make contact with each person and breathe and say what I wanted to say without very much planning.
I could show up much more clearly for myself and others. When it came to be my turn I felt relaxed and receptive, even a little excited. I took in what people shared and felt grateful. The whole experience was a very positive one. It also let me see the power of people sharing from the heart with each other even if they didn't know each other well. The depth of the level of energy that got created was palpable. I appreciated the opportunity to practice what I am teaching.
Is there someone in your life or a situation, you could practice balancing your three centers with? What would that look like?