Growing isn't meant to be hard, but we often make it that way. The tools and practices that grow us don't have to be complex, but we often turn them against ourselves. The things that divide us the most are often the things that could unite us. It can be incredibly hard at times to take the next breath, to speak our truth, to ask for what we need, to trust ourselves and each other. Life is awkward and beautiful, painful and wondrous and mysterious all at once.
I have spent the last twenty-five years with teachers, elders, and mystics from around the world, doing the hard work of applying their wisdom and practices in my own life and sharing these experiences with people from every imaginable walk of life ... and on this swiftly tilting planet, I have become absolutely clear about only a few things ...
One, this is the time ... every single one of us came here for. Two, you are exactly the person you need to be in order to do what you were meant to do from the very beginning. Three, the tools we need the most are the simplest, most obvious things of all: LOVE. FAITH. COURAGE. HOPE. Things it only takes a moment to access, and a lifetime to practice:
This year, Spirit Journeys is giving you the chance to reclaim the simplest and most powerful tools in the arsenal of the heart, and to laugh and play and grieve and celebrate our capacity to be brave and loving in the face of suffering, to move from grasping to joy, from stress to ease, from fear to freedom, from struggle to surrender, and from loss to love. Join us. It is time.
Deep peace to you,
“Mankind owns four things that are no good at sea:
Rudder, anchor, oars, and the fear of going down.”
— Antonio Machado
If your life is anything like mine, you find yourself bracing against life on a regular basis, and grasping for answers. The waves seem to come bigger and faster these days, and all the old answers seem to fall short. Fear is clearly useless — and dangerous! — but all of our old skills and tools lie around us, broken and useless. What can we hold on to, in times like these? How do we find a star to steer by? How do we move from bracing to living in grace?
I’ve only found three things that help in these moments. No, not control. Certainly not certainty. And approval? Empty Calories. These things only drag us down.
The only things that truly help in the hard moments of our lives are the most ephemeral, invisible, and absurd things we can imagine: our breath, our willingness not to know, and our vulnerability.
I know, crazy right? But life-giving.
Our breath is the only thing that can set you free in the hardest moments of your life — those moments when we’re paralyzed with fear or collapsed in grief, burning with anger or driven by desire — breath is our best lifeline. Breath brings us back to the present moment, teaches us to let life in, let go, and rest in the unending flow of our own lives. Breath is the body’s original language, and the body’s greatest tool in healing the everyday traumas of our lives.
Our willingness to let go of all our knowing is the only thing that opens a space for a deeper wisdom, an inner compass to rise up inside us. We need to let go of our old questions and our old answers, listen deeper, and discover that we know, deep down, far more than we ever admitted. We need to be content with each moment’s little cup of knowing, and take one step at a time, trusting that each step brings new understanding, and unfolds into the next … the path truly is made only by walking.
Our vulnerability — our willingness to be authentically ourselves with people who’ve truly earned our trust — is the only thing that frees us from a life driven by endless approval seeking, into a more authentic, joyful life. One risk at a time, one relationship at a time, we surrender all our images of perfection, and soften into our “one wild and precious life” — the only life worth living.
Will these things keep our boat from going down? No. But as the diamond sutra says,
“Thus shall you think of this fleeting world: A star at dawn, a bubble in a stream,
A flash of lightning in a summer cloud, a flickering lamp, a phantom, and a dream.”
Or, as one of my elders likes to say, “hokahey,” which means, “Let’s roll.” This is a good moment to live — and our breath, our willingness not to know, and our vulnerability give us our life back, right here and right now. They make us real and they make our world real to us. They give us the opportunity be the only person we truly can be, to enjoy the only life we have, and to give the gifts that we alone can give.
So, let’s talk. Or breathe together. Of course, I have some wonderful workshops and journeys you might enjoy participating in, with other courageous, loving souls. It’s hard to stop bracing against our lives, and it takes real practice to set the breath free, to let go of knowing, and to take the risk of being what we already are. We’ve practiced everything else for so long that we’ve forgotten what comes easy.
Together, we can remember what it’s like to live in grace.
Happy Trails, my friends!
My teacher cradled my face in her palms with such tenderness, such strength, locking her eyes onto mine, leaving me no possibility of turning away, distracting myself, or disassociating. "Just give yourself love - that's all I'll ever ask of you, all you ever have to do," she said. "But what about . . . ," I started to say . . . but she silenced me with a flash from her eyes. "It's so easy, honey, so effortless, and its all there is to do," she whispered. We sat there in the silence, resonating with the vibration left by her words ...
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I was talking recently with a client of mine, a brilliant, successful man named Gene. After twenty years of building a successful medical practice, Gene found himself haunted by a sense of spiritual emptiness and a longing to touch people's lives in a deeper way. “I just don't know how to go about this," he said. "I feel like I need someone to tell me which way to turn, a teacher of some kind. I've been buying books, and taking workshops for a couple of years now, but nothing seems to fit." The longing in his voice was almost palpable ...
Have you ever gazed into the innocent, wondering eyes of a small infant and felt something stir deep inside you that had no words? Have you stopped in such a moment and let yourself sink into that stirring? If you like, before you read any further, stop and remember such a moment ...
You have probably heard the old cliches, even in New Age circles: life is a school, and we are here to learn lessons; life will repeat the lessons until we get them; we graduate from one lesson to the next, and one life to the next.
Have you ever wondered what life was before there were schools? Children, of course, still grew up. They discovered their bodies, the people around them, the world stretching out from horizon to horizon and the stars wheeling overhead. They adapted and evolved and enjoyed the miraculous cascade of experiences the world presented. But life was not a school and we were not here to learn lessons ...