Hello...it's your emotion calling

Emotions are our Soul's alarm system. When we ignore them, we ignore our needs. And when we ignore our needs, we practice self-betrayal.

And when we practice betrayal, we're being loyal to whole systems of oppression and abandonment. Modeling abandonment and oppression gives the world around us and those in it permission to do the same. No good!!

Healing starts by respecting emotions and listening to what they have to say! Model love, start with you.

Alright, alright, alright...

It can be rather easy to compare ourselves against others, worry we don't fit in, or even pathologize the tendency to do so. Another way of seeing might inform us that the visions we hold of what could be better, different, or held another way are there to help us acknowledge what simply doesn't serve any more, what simply isn't sustainable in the first place. And that's true and essential for evolution whether of a country, a partnership, or one's own sense of self.

Attuning to the voice that whispers, "but what if..." or "I shouldn't..." isn't necessarily or intrinsically a negative thing. In fact, what if that question isn't coming from the inner critic at all? What if that question were to be honored? What if it were there from your soul, pointing like a compass toward what's needed next?

When practice listening to the parts of us that question, then we learn to befriend our curious nature. And that friendliness can in turn help us treat all our parts with respect instead of judgement.

From this place, we just might find a vision in the heart of who we're becoming, what medicine we have to offer our communities, and what dreams in us wish to be fulfilled. I hear in this speech that it's important to acknowledge, to express one's gratitude, to surround oneself with love and support, and to engage with life from a place of respect for self and others. And to that I say, "alright, alright, alright!"




Many artists, mystics, teachers, and warriors, chiefs, priests, and saints have spoken of the importance of the pilgrimage throughout the ages. The turning point from autumn to winter is an invitation to go inward, and the trees can be our teachers in this way as we watch them burst into color before showing us the way of detachment without judgment or clinging.

The agenda of the great tree teacher is that it makes room for creation by rooting itself deep, stretching beyond the surface, and regenerating with detachment. It does so in a patient space, all in right timing.

And so we can wait, so we can extend a patient heart and attitude to our own gestational process. What shall your fruit be? What quality of life are you looking to harvest for yourself? What is the spirit of change you are nurturing and how will you let go of what no longer serves? As Kabir said, "I felt in need of a great pilgrimage so I sat still for three days." The winter invites stillness. Mother nature invites us to rest, reflect, and study our intentions. 

Pamela Zagarenski Art, "Pilgrimage"

Pamela Zagarenski Art, "Pilgrimage"

Be Wild

“Be wild; that is how to clear the river. The river does not flow when polluted, we manage that. The river does not dry up, we block it. If we want to allow it its freedom, we have to allow our ideational lives to be let loose, to stream, letting anything come, initially censoring nothing. That is creative life. It is made up of divine paradox. To create one must be willing to be stone stupid, to sit upon a throne on top of a jackass and spill rubies from one’s mouth. Then the river will flow, then we can stand in the stream of it raining down.” 
― Clarissa Pinkola Estés, Women Who Run With The Wolves: Contacting the Power of the Wild Woman



"Letting Go"

One of my mentors gave me a list of what it means to truly let go. We are always confronted with the opportunity to let go of something. Sometimes it's an expectation of how we think something should be or the way we want something to feel, or even the experience of a relationship changing that keeps us out of the present moment and in resistance to change. 

Most of the time when we're having difficulty with change, it's because we're clinging to an agenda driven by the ego. Mindfulness is a practice of attuning to the present moment which in turn increases our ability to meet change with a friendly attitude.

This is the art of non-attachment. So, what exactly are we trying to detach from and how do we notice it in the moment? Usually it starts with a judgment such as, "they ought to have..." or "they never..." or "I should or shouldn't have..." Sound familiar?

Marshall Rosenberg's teachings in Non-violent Communication remind us that sticking to the "should's" trigger a feeling of being trapped and promote defensiveness because "should" implies that there isn't a choice in the matter. And when we don't think we have a choice available to us our autonomy is automatically under a perceived threat. This can put us in a state of regret, irritation, worry, doubt, fear and more.  

Fear keeps us out of the present moment...out of being present for our feelings, the feelings of another, our needs or the needs of another. And when we aren't available for what is, we're unable to attend to what needs tending. Acting from an agenda of avoidance doesn't leave much room for learning. In fact, it can be a rather limiting experience and even can create some rigidity.

Letting go is as much about learning how to be flexible and open to outcome as it is matching our expectations to our reality.

Letting go is an exercise in flexible thinking, flexible feeling, and being curious with ourselves and in our relationships. So without further ado, here's the Letting Go list once offered to me. I know I'm still working these!

Letting Go
By Char Sundust
Sundust Oracle Institute

To “let go” does not mean to stop caring; it means I can’t do it for someone else.
To “let go” is not to cut myself off; it’s the realization I can’t control another. 
To “let go” is not to enable, but to allow learning from natural consequences.
To “let go” is to admit powerlessness, which means the outcome is not in my hands.
To “let go” is not to try and change or blame another; it’s to make the most of my Self.
To “let go” is not to care for, but to care about.
To “let go” is not to fix, but to be supportive.
To “let go” is not to judge, but to allow another human Being.
To “let go” is not to be in the middle arranging all the outcomes, but to allow others to affect their own destinies.
To “let go” is not to be protective; it’s to permit another to face reality.
To “let go” is not to deny, but to accept.
To “let go” is not to nag, scold, or argue but instead, to search out my own shortcomings and correct them.
To “let go” is not to criticize and regulate anybody, but to try to become what I dream I can be. 
To “let go” is not to adjust everything to my desires, but to take each day as it comes and cherish my Self in it. 
To “let go” is not to regret the past, but to grow and live for the future.
To “let go” is to fear less and love my Self more. 

Sneak Peak ~ Behind The Scenes Recording at Jack Straw

Hi all ~

I'm so proud to announce that a new CD is in the works to be released for purchase Spring 2017. I've been in the studio at Jack Straw Cultural Center today. Here's a behind the scenes look at the folks involved.



I am so incredibly grateful to have each one of them working on this project. Hire them! They're amazing. Check out links below to their work. 

David Close ~ Composer

Brad Hawkins ~ Cellist

Brandon Vance ~ Violinist

Jack Straw Cultural Center ~ Recording Studio

Parental Evolution instead of Fixing Children

"The extent to which we as parents can love deeply laugh loudly, risk bravely, and lose freely is the extent to which our children will know joy and freedom." Dr. Shefali Tsabary

Dr. Shefali Tsabary is a clinical psychologist and author providing therapy and insight regarding mindful parenting. She's written three books on conscious parenting and is making waves throughout the psychological world encouraging practitioners and parents alike to embark on a different kind of journey...one that challenges the status quo of what parenting is considered to be and calls for a parenting paradigm shift.

Her message is a call to release the perception that children need fixing when they "mis-behave" and invites us to witness our "mis-conceptions" of what parenting is in the first place. She explores parenting as an opportunity for us as adults to grow up and and into our own healing by reconciling missed opportunities, tragedies, and more. It is a call to visit the parental heart and offer it unfettered access to personal growth. It is a brave concept, and certainly for people embarking on this journey into conscious parenting it is a brave new path of awakening.

Over the next few months I'll be exploring Dr. Shefali's work through continued learning, trainings, and more. I look forward to offering a support group on her pivotal work in the spring. In the mean time, you can learn more by watching her 2012 TED Talk below. 

Fantastic Haggling

The birth of Spring invites me to think of the death of Winter and over all, the generative process of nature. I consider, what it is that comprises God-ness...this sense of generating, organizing and deconstructing energy that unfolds all organic matter and ideas in a cycle of composition and decomposition? How does this God-ness abide within and without me even as I observe the delicate growth of the violet crocus and the rotting twig in soil, even as I breath in and exhale? Essentially, this contemplation is an exercise in mindfulness observing what life in me and around me requires death. This could be a dying of an old way of being, old emotional responses, unsustainable behavior patterns, and so on in order for my most productive ways of being to emerge.

In our search for survival, we turn toward illusory messages that point us - we hope - toward the direction of security, a sense that predictable enoughness creates predictable survival. This is hope. And hope, in mindfulness, can be viewed differently than the mainstream. In fact, hope can get in the way of being present. "Hopelessness" says Pema Chodron, "means that we no longer have the spirit for holding our trip together. We may still want to hold our trip together. We long to have some reliable, comfortable ground under our feet, but we've tried a thousand ways to hide and a thousand ways to tie up all the loose ends, and the ground just keeps moving under us," (When Things Fall Apart, p.39). Our search for survival means we get a brain geared toward simplifying processes, determining safety, and acting impulsively to ensure avoiding danger. We want seamlessness between lack and enough, between receiving and letting go,  between living and dying. We judge ourselves quite harshly for "not having" or "not doing" enough, for things feeling "insecure" and "unpredictable" and become more stressed when we, others, and our environments don't live up to such expectations. We have constructed social norms that define safety as means toward an impossible end - the license to immediacy - to have when we want, understand when we're confused, or be comforted when we're unsteady. And there's nothing inherently wrong with our needs for survival like safety, structure, comfort, and love. 

Mindfulness teaches us that suffering is the natural process of living and dying; accepting that we are always in a phase of grief in the cycle of generating and organizing and deconstructing is freeing. Tara Brach teaches that freedom is forgiveness and I think of this in relationship to God-ness - that our freedom lies in the forgiveness, or rather the compassionate acceptance of our survival mind, behaviors, and instincts. There is freedom from fear when we acknowledge our very humanness. Resilience comes alive in the face of challenge, just as contentment comes alive in the presence of acceptance. Resistance invites judgement and hardens the Soul from the Self. 

Meditation helps us learn how to acknowledge in place of avoid - not in spite of what is difficult but because difficulty appears. Mindfulness treats difficulty with respect, it considers difficulty as a teacher and therefore all difficult emotions and experiences as evolutionary opportunities. And so I meditate on God-ness as I sit typing. God-ness…my words; God-ness…my thoughts; God-ness….my tidal emotions; God-ness…my tidal breath. Each manifestation a rise and fall, a becoming and a fading away, being and non-being.

“Manic Screaming” by Hafiz in I Heard God Laughing

“We should make all spiritual talk simple today:

God is trying to sell you something,

But you don’t’ want to buy.

That is what your suffering is:

Your fantastic haggling,

Your manic screaming over the price.”

How do we use mania to drown out the voice of God-ness within? What perceived benefit do we receive as a result of drowning the voice of God? What is so important that we are willing to drown the voice of God?

Behaviors are the survivor’s guide to the life cycle.

It’s a game-plan, a way of getting through the day, the life-span, and finding connection with source along the path. To think that we can drown the voice of God-ness in us is to avoid our survival nature and our own path towards self-acceptance and grace. We are no better at surviving when we avoid that which we are ready to create and erode in order for our personal evolution. Life requires death. Spring requires Winter. Light requires dark. Soul requires we turn toward the difficult emotions to learn from both the loving and alarming voice within. 

October '15 - Book of the Month: "Seven Thousand Ways to Listen" by Mark Nepo

I've been meditating daily on "listening" and asking myself a lot lately, what does it really mean to listen? But, asking oneself, "What does it mean dear one for you to 'listen'?" is also to learn, what it means to be inwardly distracted. 

What is required of me to listen, to soothe my distractedness enough that I can tolerate what is present?

Tara Brach says, "If we're really honest, there aren't that many moments that we 'put down our life'...and are fully available to fully receive what's offered." (watch Tara's talk here). 

So often, we're caught in the habit of reacting when we hear something triggering, that we loose sight of our skill to respond. The habit of reacting could be judging ourselves for what we feel, think, or how we behave, to simply doing to or with others. Deep "listening" is attending to, tuning in, seeing agendas, discovering unmet needs, catching the difficulty of accepting the impact of one's needs on another like a fish in a gentle basket and letting go of it.

Mark Nepo's book Seven Thousand Ways to Listen is a companion guide along the journey of prayer-like attention. It's poetic, at times linear, and offers a rich mirror to the pains associated with tuning in, which so often image back the difficult emotions. This book is a generous guide for the heart and soul and serves as an anchor and coach ~ where am I coming from? Can I be a friend to myself? Nepo offers his reader to "listen to the part of you that life is trying to wake," (p.13). 


Letting go of the agenda for one's impact to be more palatable on the ear of another is a gracious, generous act that requires patience. And patience is won at the hand of effort. And to be effortful one must first and with devotion commit one's attention toward their intention, allowing desire like inertia, to carry their arrow toward the mark after launch. 

Learning about the qualities of attention brings us in touch with "attention's" shadow, "aversion." And then there are the strategies of distraction from what thoughts, feelings, and behaviors feel intolerable. What are those strategies? And beyond them...there is what is waiting to be heard? 

The Gift of Feeling

Courage is contagious, and building a society that is more open and less judgmental begins when you start speaking up. ~ Adora Svitak

Teenager and prolific writer, Adora Svitak perhaps became most widely known for her TED Talk "What adults can learn from kids."

However, Adora is likely less known for her brave article at TED-Ed blog, where she asks the question, "How do you talk about depression?" Among the many bright insights in her post are a list of excellent resources for readers to discover a reframe for thinking about "depression" as less pathological and as an avenue for growth and an opportunity for personal insight. 

Svitak quotes Stephen Fry from a New York Times piece titled "Depression's Upside," saying "It’s not all bad. Heightened self-consciousness, apartness, an inability to join in, physical shame and self-loathing—they are not all bad. Those devils have been my angels. Without them I would never have disappeared into language, literature, the mind, laughter and all the mad intensities that made and unmade me.”

So I ask you to consider, how do you talk about "depression?" Does it get all the attention or little to none at all? What are it's characteristics? How and when does it show up? What, is it banging down the emotional door and you're standing there going..."Seriously, you're not necessary! I don't have time for that. I'd rather be Happy!" Or, are you in the bathroom all night crying it out thinking the world is passing you by? Deeply acknowledging the fact that we are in relationship with our qualities of experience gets us a free pass to meet our needs. Avoiding our needs by avoiding our feelings comes at an exceptional cost: emotional shutdown, numbness, physical symptoms, overwhelm, the list can go on.

How we talk about our feelings suggests the relationship we have with them...as well as the approach we take to addressing, healing, or harming them.

What if it was less about "dealing" with our feelings, and more about understanding our feelings? What if it was less about "getting over" our feelings, and more about learning from our feelings? What if it was less about "moving on" from them, and all about giving them safe, sacred attention? 

Svitak leaves her readers with a similar sentiment from personal experience behaving vulnerably. Choosing to address her emotions rather than avoid them in spite of the cost of fear turned out to bridge a relationship gap and find that in the end, she wasn't alone after all.

It was only after this long sadness had ebbed, passing with an uncharacteristic gentleness, that I felt like I could tell anyone else. I turned 14, and I confessed — about the crying, the journaling, the emptiness — to my best friend. “Why didn’t you say anything before?” she asked, aghast. A part of me was surprised, as if I had expected a reprimand for a different thing — for having the long sadness, not for staying silent.
I resolved not to stay silent anymore. ~ Adora Svitak