This is a touchy and controversial subject. I’m not sure that I’ve formed any solid opinions about it yet, but let me tell you what I know, and share a quick story.
Some years ago, a friend cornered me at a family function, and basically held me captive for thirty minutes, telling me about The Secret. You’ve all probably heard about it/read the book/watched the video, or been similarly cornered by a follower. Well I gave it a fair shake back then, and decided it didn’t work for me. I now realize that I didn’t fully understand it, and wasn’t going about it the right way. (more…)
I’d like to share two resources for meditation that I find very helpful.
Let me first say (admit) that I didn’t awaken through meditation, and I wasn’t especially drawn to it at first. Meditation is difficult. It can be boring (if you’re not entirely sure what you’re doing). It’s physically uncomfortable, if not downright painful… And that’s just on the surface!
I first believed that meditation was supposed to make me feel good and happy and peaceful, but after a few sessions, all I felt was anxiety and an odd emotional discomfort. That’s when I decided that meditation wasn’t for me.
However, as I got more and more into the spiritual teachings, I tried to force it. I tried to “make” myself meditate every day. My mind came up with thoughts like “i should do this. i should want to meditate. i should have enough discipline to actually do it and develop a daily practice because otherwise I’m not living a spiritual life.” These are all, of course, just more judgments and mind traps. Once I realized that and let go of what I “should” be doing, I suddenly found myself drawn naturally to meditation, without having to force it. (Sidenote for beginners: the anxiety and emotional discomfort is meditation gold – don’t run from it. Welcome it. Use it.)
So my advice to you – don’t force it on yourself. Allow what’s there. When the time is right, you will be drawn to it naturally, without having to push yourself.
Resource #1: The insight timer app. It’s free and available on iphone and android. There are a ton of terrific guided meditations, if you’re into that. Or alternatively, there is just a timer function with beautiful bells (are they called bells? gongs? chimes? I’m not sure). Be aware though, that if you set your phone to airplane mode, in order to avoid interruptions, you will lose access to the guided meditations during that time.
Resource #2: Gary’s gratitude meditation. (it’s the first of the free sessions – you’ll need to create an account to access it, but it’s entirely free). This was one of the first meditations I ever did and continue to do almost daily. For me (as for many spiritual people), gratitude is a huge and important aspect of practice and belief structure. I think it is a crucial component of happiness, fulfillment, worthiness, and love. I downloaded the audio to my phone and listen to it (most days) while I’m walking the dog.
Good morning internet friends! It’s cold here this morning, so with a hot cup of coffee, I’ve sat down to write some more…
Several weeks after I discovered Gary and the Toltec wisdom, I thought surely these ideas must be available in other traditions, and so my relationship with Buddhism began. Instead of following one specific sect of Buddhism (they seem to be country-specific), I cherry picked ideas and teachers from the different lineages. Here is a collection of monks and nuns and dharmas that I follow. (more…)
It is my belief that once you awaken, and you start on your own spiritual path, you begin to see that every religion and every tradition teaches almost exactly the same universal truths; they just all go about it in different ways. This is a great thing, because as I mentioned before, different modalities will resonate for different people. It is up to you to find the one that will open the door for you.
And so here are some resources that will take you along the Toltec path.
The best known modern teachings of the ancient Toltec wisdom are the Four Agreementsby don Miguel Ruiz.
This book is a terrific quick read. The concepts are seemingly simple, but when you try to put them into practice, you’ll see that it’s really hard work.
If you haven’t done a lot of meditative inquiry, you might also find some ideas to be revolutionary. My favorite one is don’t take anything personally. At first you think “ok. sure. I can try not to take things personally.” But when you dive deep with that one, and you really try not to take anything at all personally, you start to bump up against your value system, which makes you wonder if there are some things that should be taken personally – which is exactly the point. When you’ve gotten a handle on the Four Agreements, there is the Fifth Agreement, which will take you deeper into the mastery of awareness, transformation, and intent. These are the three pillars of the Toltec tradition. (more…)
I’ve come up with a series of ideas over the last few weeks that involve making major decisions and investments of time and money. At first I felt a sense of excitement, and then some feelings of fear and doubt started to creep in. In trying to watch my thoughts from an observer perspective, I started to wonder if the fear and doubt was conditioned egoic thinking, or if it was my intuition telling me to stop and wait. A few articles and youtube videos later, I came upon one from Simone Wright – which resonated with me.
I think the main take-away from the video, and the answer to my question, is that intuition comes in an emotionally neutral way. If you’re experiencing an emotional charge, that is not the intuition speaking. It could be your own fear based thoughts or beliefs, or it could be an emotional reaction to the intuitive information itself. The key is to stop and watch what’s happening in the mind at that moment.
I also especially liked what Simone says right in the beginning: “Our intuition is the voice of our soul… who wants the highest good for us, who believes that we are capable of doing everything and anything that we set our minds to. So it’s also important to make the distinction that the voice of our intuition is going to guide us in supportive ways. It’s never going to diminish us. It’s never going to tell us that we’re a failure or we’re stupid.”
Happy Friday!! I came across two amazing new pieces in my spiritual journey, and since blog posts are free, I figured I’d share some more videos with you. (Also embedding videos is my new favorite thing, so yay!)
Here is a good sample of The Work by Byron Katie. Her entire message is that believing our thoughts is the cause of our suffering. Her program (which is easy and available for free) gets you to look at the roots of your beliefs, and to question them. In the questioning (or “inquiry,” as she calls it) you will find relief and peace and happiness.
Since my recent “awakening,” I’ve spent the last few weeks getting deeper into this area of awareness, mindfulness, consciousness, and spirituality. Here, for your enlightenment, is a collection of some of my favorite teachers. (more…)
Last week I shared my search for happiness story with you. (The tl;dr version is – I was unhappy. Found peace. Now I’m happy.) Thank you to everyone who wrote me, for all the love, support, and internet hugs!
This week, I’m so thrilled to welcome a very special guest, Will Meyerhofer, JD MSW, to continue this conversation about self-esteem. I’ve been following (read internet stalking) Will for some time, so I’m really excited that he agreed to sit down for a chat with me.
Here’s what you need to know about Will: he is the author of “Way Worse than Being a Dentist: the Lawyer’s Quest for Meaning” which was published in the fall of 2011. He has also written a book introducing and elaborating upon the central concepts of psychotherapy, “Life is a Brief Opportunity for Joy,” which was reissued as a paperback in December, 2011. Will writes regularly for Above The Law, and maintains a blog about life, the law and psychotherapy, at www.thepeoplestherapist.com. He attended Harvard College, the NYU School of Law, and the Hunter College School of Social Work. From 1997-1999, Will worked as an associate at Sullivan & Cromwell. Since 2005 he’s been a psychotherapist with a private practice in downtown Manhattan and a somewhat inadvertent speciality in working with lawyers. Will’s new book, a comic novel about a psychotherapist who falls in love with a blue alien from outer space, is called “Bad Therapist: A Romance.” For more information about Will and his practice, please visit www.aquietroom.com.
Some time ago, running a million miles an hour, I realized that I was really unhappy.
I mean, really, really unhappy. While on paper, everything looked fine (work, home, relationships), in the pit of my stomach I knew something was wrong.
First, I blamed everything around me: the hours I was working, the type of work I was doing, the difficult clients, and uncooperative economy. Then my beloved dog died, and I wrote off my unhappiness to grief. It took some time to recover, but when the grief went away, I was still really unhappy.
I threw myself into one hobby after another, looking for something that would make me happy.
I learned to cook, to code, to sew. I watched everything I could find on Netflix. I read one book after another and still … nothing. I watched a ton of TED Talks and still nothing resonated. I read Godin, and Gladwell, and Daniel Pink… still nothing.
Then I tried the self-help arena. I practiced daily affirmations and learned about the law of attraction. I read article after article about happiness and passion and what it means and how to find it… nothing worked.
Hypnosis? Tried it. It was nice for a few minutes, but no lasting effects.
I let a friend drag me to some kind of seminar, which turned out to be a cult. (I’m not kidding).
I tried returning to my religious upbringing, and when that didn’t work, I investigated other religions. I even went to see a shaman who chanted, waved feathers at me, and then and spit-sprayed me with fire and rum. (I promise this is all true).