Perhaps the greatest paradox of the spiritual life is that we ultimately realize ourselves to be eternal, limitless, and all-pervasive, yet we wake up each morning in a particular body and mind, experiencing life through a particular set of eyes and ears, called upon to relate to particular people and circumstances. Though we know that we’re essentially nothing and everything, we still find ourselves answering to one name and not another, prefering strawberry to chocolate, laughing at some jokes and not others, and having certain feelings and thoughts but not the feelings and thoughts of the person next to us. Our essential nature is unconditional and free, but our bodies and personalities have been deeply conditioned over a lifetime and may react to life in automatic, preconditioned ways that do not accurately reflect the profound understanding we’ve awakened to. Unlike the proverbial hermit on the mountaintop, we’re called to live our inherent perfection through these imperfect human forms, dealing with the “karmic bundle” we’ve received from a combination of early experiences and genetic endowment.
Happiness is your birthright, your natural state—but It’s been obscured by the negative beliefs and stories you’ve accumulated over a lifetime. Everything I offer on this website, the fruit of decades of spiritual experience and teaching, is intended to support and guide you in penetrating through the layers of conditioning and attachment to reveal your natural state of inherent wakefulness and peace.
If you’re drawn to the practice of mindfulness, I recommend that you begin with my Mindfulness Meditation mobile app—it’s filled with comprehensive instructions, guided meditations, and an eight-week plan to help you establish a regular practice.
If you’re seeking guidance on the journey of spiritual awakening, you can begin by watching my interview with Rick Archer of Buddha at the Gas Pump or reading one of my books, Wake Up Now or Beyond Mindfulness. If you’re ready to go deeper, I offer both spiritual mentoring and counseling designed to foster the realization of your true nature while helping to release the core stories that perpetuate suffering. And if you’re looking for a full immersion experience, I lead periodic retreats and intensives in the “direct approach” to spiritual realization in Tucson and New York.
Wherever you choose to begin, I offer you my heartfelt wishes for a fulfilling journey home to this timeless, luminous moment . . .where you’ve always been.
With love and blessings,
Just last week a longtime friend and colleague died unexpectedly. She had visited the ER several times with chest pain and was finally diagnosed with an aneurysm in her aorta. After emergency open-heart surgery, which she survived, her vital signs began to falter and she was put into an induced coma to improve her chances. Within a day, she was gone.
My friend had always taken great care of her body and appeared to be in excellent health. She practiced meditation and yoga, exercised regularly, ate organic produce, never smoked—ini other words, she did everything she possibly could to prolong her life. But at the age of 62, suddenly and without preparation, her life came to an abrupt end.
At the recent antiterrorism rally in Paris in response to the Charlie Hebdo tragedy, participants wore signs saying “I am Charlie Hebdo” and “I am a Jew” in solidarity with those who were targeted by Islamic extremists. At the same time, France was rocked by anti-Muslim violence in retaliation for the attacks. It’s so tempting to reduce events of this kind to a simplistic us vs. them rhetoric, as if this makes the situation easier to address and resolve, which of course it does not. But there’s a deeper opportunity here, an invitation to look beneath the surface and find our solidarity not just with those who agree with or resemble us, but with everyone, no matter their skin color or religion. Not just “je suis Charlie,” but “je suis tout le monde.”
For many years I spent New Year’s eve reflecting on the events of the year drawing to a close and New Year’s day clarifying my plans and aspirations for the year ahead. Eventually, I recognized that my aspirations were the same year after year: to be more present for my life, to open my heart even more fully to love and connection, to be of benefit to others. Over the years I discovered that I could affect the circumstances of my life to a limited degree, but I always had the power to find happiness in the midst of any situation. And in my work with people as a teacher and therapist, I’ve come to realize that we all aspire to essentially the same thing. Who among us doesn’t want to be happy, to enjoy life, to share love and connection? Even the suicide bomber and the drug dealer have the same aspirations. The only difference lies in how we go about actualizing them.
As much as you may love the holidays, they’re uniquely designed to seduce you into believing the thoughts and stories you otherwise hold in spacious awareness. As the old adage goes, if you think you’re enlightened, go home to mom and dad and the rest of the family and see what happens. If you haven’t completely released the grip of the past, it will surely come back to haunt you. The holidays are an especially good time to sit quietly and welcome the full range of your experience. Here are some reminders for flowing through the holidays with presence and grace:
Only the present moment exists.
It’s tempting to get embroiled in the unfinished business of a lifetime when you’re spending time with the people who helped create it in the first place. Even if your parents are no longer with you, or you’re the parents now and the kids come home to you, it’s easy to get triggered by the old familiar faces, the habitual chatter and patterns of behavior. But the truth is, the past no longer exists except as thoughts in your mind right now. In this moment, is there any problem that isn’t generated by your thinking, judging, interpreting mind? Let go of the thoughts, and the past has lost its hold over you.