just be it It’s about the work involved in establishing a dedicated practice to feelings of a bigger belonging through practices aimed at increasing feelings of compassion, gratitude and forgiveness
April, 2020

Where Do You Find Security?

Tuesday, April 28th, 2020

Finding freedom when fenced in.

Interview with Bikram Yoga Teachers: Breath, Align, Go Deeper

Wednesday, April 15th, 2020


I recently discovered this interview with Patrice Papke, Michael Mullin and Heather Johnson.  Patrice and Michael were Bikram Yoga instructors that greatly facilitated getting back into the body, out of the head, with a regular practice.  Impermanence happens.  Michael left his body a little over a year ago.  The studio Patrice taught in has just closed. Change hurts, but I will carry their insights with me and hope their wisdom helps you through the difficult changes of this pandemic.

Taking Refuge in “Just Being”

Wednesday, April 15th, 2020

In the throws of “I don’t know land”, it’s imperative to move from the pains of “to have“ and “to do”, resting in the moment, and “just being”. It’s a place where we find refuge and grounding.


Tuesday, April 14th, 2020

One of my favorite books, insights downloaded in 1961.

Maybe we’d be nicer to each other if we were ‘faceless’

“Behead yourself!…Dissolve your whole body into Vision: become seeing, seeing, seeing!” RUMI

You Matter.

Tuesday, April 14th, 2020
Nothing stays the same. Everything affects everything. Nothing disappears.

It can be extremely challenging if you’ve bought into equating your ‘mattering’ to what you have or what you’ve done.  We can spend lifetimes chasing after the approval of others, forever seeking more stuff, more recognition, more attention and a bigger audience to what we do.  No doubt, validation from others feeds our self esteem.  It also feeds our sense of separateness.  The more we have the more we put attention to not losing it.  The more attention we get, the more we want it.  Yet, our real sense of ‘mattering’ begins with putting loving attention to the matter that transports us through this thing we call life, the body.

Ground zero for mattering is the body.  If you’re alive, you matter.  If anything is alive, it matters.  There’s a recognition of the sacred in all life.  We may use arbitrary symbols to create words and thoughts that may seem to be matter.   They’re not.  They are much like the perspiration from the body, they come and go.  I can attach to the concept of mattering due to my possessions and accomplishments.  Yet, sooner or later this breaks down.  It’s of human nature to age, to face disease, to say goodbye to the body, goodbye to all our stuff and all our relationships.

In the midst of this pandemic, the felt experience of worth or worthlessness has touched so many.  If you’re struggling for food and/or shelter, in full survival mode, you may already have lots of experience in dealing with those feelings of low self esteem.  If you’re someone new to the humbled experience, new to unemployment, new to spaciousness in your day, and new to losing attention from others, you are probably being worked pretty hard.  Thoughts of ‘not enough’ may be running rampant in your head.  Anxiety about uncertainty may be causing great stress.  

I’ve found the most effective treatment for this ‘squeeze’ is to simply put my attention to the breath.  I begin with the body, deepening awareness to the mystery of its functioning, extending gratitude for all that it does for me.  The first step is to move into the present moment, accepting it fully as gift, gift for the opportunity to participate in this thing called life.   It’s most helpful when I can eliminate personal possessive pronouns when thinking of the body.  Instead of directing loving attention to ‘my hand’, I’ll extend warmth and appreciation to ‘the hand’, often prefacing my gratitude with, ‘dear hand’.  I learned this from a serious knee injury I sustained at the age of twelve.  It was not helpful to whine and complain about the injury.  The more I did this the more the knee hurt.  I learned early on that the more loving attention I gave the damaged knee, the better it responded in the healing process.  That injury had me confined in a hospital for a month, in a wheel chair for three months, and on crutches for eight months.  My surgeon understood the healing process and challenged me hard to stay in the moment, working through the pain of the exercises he gave me.  I suffered to the degree I stepped into craving things the way they were before the injury and suffered to the extent I pushed him to definitive answers to my uncertain future.  He did speculate that I’d need an artificial knee at twenty-two years of age.  I’m now almost seventy and daily give gratitude to the beautiful functioning of that knee.  That knee matters.  That knee is matter.  That knee deserves my resolve to care for it, to exercise and strengthen it, to give attention and compassion to it when pain sensations arise, and to steward it the best I can.

Our attention may be all that we own.  Others are continually asking us for it.  We may feel like we matter when we get it from others for what we have or what we’ve done.  Yet, our real mattering comes from waking up to our matter, giving thanks for how it serves us and stewarding its functioning through awareness training and conscious consumption.  At this time, for me, it’s critical to tend to the body strengthening the immune system to face another potential viral predator.

When cultivating this sense of ‘mattering’, it’s not a comparative to others.  It’s full recognition that all life matters, nothing superior, nothing inferior.  That’s the beauty of waking up to the illusion of our separateness.  When we care for the body, no complaint/no complaint, we care for the universe.  When we abuse the body or recklessly put it in harms’ way, we harm the universe. That’s why awareness training is never ending as we continually deepen in balanced, awake behavior that takes us just beyond our edge of performance.  Moving deeper, we’re ever increasing our capacity to hold a balanced posture, to move deliberately, from a sense of support, gratitude and compassion…finding the true meaning in ‘take care’.

You matter.  You have always mattered.  You will always matter, nothing disappears.  You are loved.  You have always been loved.  You will always be loved.  You are supported.  You have always been supported.  You always will be supported.  You are not alone.  You have never been alone.  You never will be alone.  You matter.  You have always mattered.  You will always matter.  Living in the divided mind, the us vs. them mind, is living in the profane.  Living in the unified mind, the mind that wakes to the illusion of separateness, is living in the sacred.  In the sacred there’s no birth, no death.  Just this precious moment. Just Be It.

Settling into the Mystery

Monday, April 13th, 2020

Now is the time to increase capacity to meet change (impermanence) with equanimity.

It’s a time to find the value of ‘less can be more’

Use less toilet paper and appreciate it more.  Less water and appreciate it more.  Less food and appreciate it more.  Lesson your load and appreciate it more.

Discover the spiritual and scientific truth that joy is the necessary consequence of truth.

Leave a lighter footprint, not from fear but from a sense of stewardship for others and those who follow.  Real happiness and well being comes from awareness, little self (ego) settling the big Self (inter Being), settles into the curious open mind beyond judgment and assumption.  It humbles in fullness to the unknown, the Mystery (God, Divine, Allah, Jehovah, Ram, whatever name you use). Discover the Original Face, the one worn before the parents were born.

Big Hope…the Amaryllis

Thursday, April 9th, 2020
Holding the confidence of the amaryllis…meeting the moment fully

Spiritual Integration

Thursday, April 9th, 2020

When we can come to that place where we’re on our knees in gratitude for everything, when we can release our ego’s claim to knowing, where we can humble ourselves to ever think we can define or fully describe God, where we can touch the felt presence of that which is beyond, we touch peace. Spiritual integration has deep respect for all as gift. There is a sense of wonder with each opportunity of breath. There is a discipline to pause in finding the gift of the given. At this point negativity evaporates, energy increases, and a sense of equanimity fills the body/mind. At this point one truly experiences the mystery in all, the ignorance from our separated thoughts diminishes and we come to wholeness, healed past our notions of being alone. As Rumi has written, at this point we step into a field beyond notion of right knowing and wrong knowing, ready to explore the mystery together. At this point we surrender the potential violence that comes from our beliefs and opinions. At this point, through spiritual integration, we find our humanity.

A Viral Reset

Saturday, April 4th, 2020


The pandemic has brought change to all of us in ways we can only imagine.  Perhaps it will allow us to shift from an economy without moral conscience to one of stewardship where we honor those who can live well with less and stop honoring those who hoard and crave wealth/power.

The Art of Awareness

Saturday, April 4th, 2020

“The foolish reject what they see, not what they think; the wise reject what they think, not what they see…Observe things as they are and don’t pay attention to other people.”  Huang-Po (9th Century)

Our health and well-being are fed by our capacity to adapt to change, meeting the moment to what comes up.  For me, this is why staying in the moment, working to meeting things ‘fresh’ just as our young puppy, is the best way to build immunity from increased suffering.  In Philippians of the Bible, it’s written: 

 “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.”

This virus is causing all to lighten our load.  In a society that screams you need to have more or desperately hold on to what you have with weaponry, the skills in letting go and getting lighter are being sewn and shown.  The media has bought the notion of ‘bigger is better’ and now only a few of the extremely wealthy feed you information on what to think.  I’m hoping you can see how foolish the old school political platforms are, how the focus is on holding the sheep in line with some more programs aimed at a sugar buzz high, of trying to communicate a sense of knowing when we face our own uncertainty.  We all see things differently, and that’s ok.  Yet, I think it behooves us to share what’s worked for us before, especially if we have the experience of getting lighter and realizing the benefits that come from it.

It’s just of human nature to want things to be different.  We’re by nature restless, wanting things to be the way they were or hoping for things to be different in the future, anxious about what’s to come.  Yet, wisdom advises that our health, peace and well being will come from seeing what’s in front of us, here and now.  There’s a softening, an easing of our craving thoughts, and a settling into meeting discomfort with more ease, less vulnerable to potential ‘dis-ease’ from greed (trying to hold on or grab more) or fear (trying to push things away).  

I’ve been in many situations through my life where I felt the squeeze from not wanting things to change, fearing the unknown, losing my stuff and identity.  I’ve had very physical reactions as a doctor told us he had no cure for our son’s illness, as I lost identity from my position in heading a large company, or facing the grasping to hold on to physical assets through the last recession.  The stress (the distance between where you are and where you want to be) took its toll and I want to share what worked for me so that you take better care of you wellbeing through this crisis of radical change.

I’m older now, almost 70, and currently enjoy the comforts of shelter and food security.  I like our neighbors and ‘seeing’ has led me to stay away from knocking on their doors at night without first phoning since they have all said they have weapons in their house for protection.  So, my basic needs have me grounded.  Yet, I’ve seen what happens when we don’t put the basic needs first for all.  That’s why, for me, the notion of pulling trillions of dollars out to hold on to our ‘stuff’ seems foolish if we haven’t first addressed how to provide the basic needs of food, shelter and safety to all who are insecure.  

I found that I didn’t want to be around those who tried to convince me of their knowing when it was obvious their thoughts blocked their capacity to see.  Whether it was meeting with doctors, legislators, educators, friends, spiritual leaders, etc., I learned to gravitate to those who ‘lined up’, those who had deep experience in their area of expertise and communicated ‘this is what we know for now’.  With that, we moved with those professionals who had the deepest experience, curiosity and respect for how fast things change.  I learned that in moments like these, the best action was to humble to the cushion or mat and allow the mind to still, to deepen awareness to the body, to give it kindness and aim higher in my vow to care for it’s service to me, to breath awareness with friends and family, free from words that could add more stress.  The bottom line was, “Where am I finding my security?”.  How am I finding my capacity to embrace uncertainty with a confidence that is the antidote to the harm stress causes the body?  Where do I find my resolve to get stronger in the face of radical change, to cultivate stability on an ever increasing unstable platform?  How can I practice those things that feed balance, the awareness to see and wisdom to let go, holding a virtue of equanimity, gratitude, forgiveness, and compassion to meet others who are suffering.  I suspect those who put their security in what they have are deeply suffering as the market crashes, as paychecks diminish and the dreams for getting more and more diminish.  Those who put their security in what they do, tied heavily to the good opinion of others for what they do will have to face themselves and realize identities, too, will have to be let go.  It’s an odd thing, this letting go, kind of like Dorothy in Wizard of Oz when she was instructed to click her heals and realize she could always go home.  That’s what I found with always going to the cushion, to just sit, to watch the next arising moment, using breath to arrive home, repeating the phrase, “Here, just here.  Now, just now. Be, just be”.

This experience of deepening awareness to what we see leads to new vows where we aim to not cause harm.  To gain awareness to the footprint of our actions, words, thoughts and emotions.  Those who still function from a sense of duality (us vs. them) will probably not understand this, caught in notions of security from thoughts held so deeply.  In the late ’60’s and early ’70’s we had the gifts of diversity as Western and Eastern wisdoms came together, as musicians presented songs that transformed our dualistic minds, as we opened to the wisdom of ‘the circle has no sides’, ‘we’re all connected’, ‘everything affects everything’.  The rug was pulled from us and there were those who met this radical change with altered experience, curiosity and humility and there were those who craved the stability of the ’50’s and early ’60’s.  There was also rapid growth in science and technology that shook the very ground of our being.  Change was accelerating at a pace we hadn’t ever seen and we either developed the skills to meet them or we put all our attentions to stopping change or ignoring it.  For me, a hallucinogenic experience pulled the rug of certainty from under me.  The good fortune of having Lutheran ministers introduce me to Zen masters for meditation training in the value of the cushion, finding grounding in the groundless, deepened my faith and awareness in seeing.  The study of language, linguistics, statistics, and General Semantics clearly showed me how limiting my thinking had been.  I had deepened my awareness to how our use of language limited our experience.  I had experienced the beauty of the ‘no thought zone’, the vast freedom in a vacation from the verbal mind.  Statistics taught me the value of reliability tests and how to strengthen the validity of our conclusions, always humbled to, “This is what we seem to know now.”  There was alway a deeper question.  General Semantics taught me that meaning was in the person, not somewhere out there.  The meaning we put to words comes from our experience.  It humbled me to how little we know and how dangerous it is to ‘think’ we know.  We can only build maps to this huge territory, and with eduction, experience, collaboration and persistence, we move to a more accurate map.  Yet, we know we’re so far from knowing the full territory, that our only response is to sit in awe and wonder at this miracle of being, offering our deepest gratitude for the opportunity to participate in this life.

So if you have been fortunate enough to have bounced into the unified experience, some of my suggestions for what’s worked for me will make sense.  If you’re still into building walls, trusting authoritarian leaders, judging those of different experience from a ‘right vs. wrong’, you may be bewildered by all of this.  That’s ok, too.  The only appropriate response for me is, “I’m ok, you’re ok”.  Some other mantras I use are:

  1. The problem is never what you ‘think’ it is.
  2. Everything is working out.
  3. With change, there is no resolution, just capacity to see and adapt.
  4. If basic needs of food/shelter/safety are met, shift attention from ‘just have’ and ‘just do’ to ‘just be’, aiming to move with a lighter footprint resolved to reduce harm.

In response to reducing stress with this virus uncertainty, here’s what I’ve found to reduce stress:

  1. Practice awareness to my preventive actions when out in public.  When I avoid contact of surfaces, is my intention to keep the virus from others or from myself.  That’s the gift in not knowing, the uncertainty as to who’s a carrier given the lack of early symptoms.
  2. Spend more time on the cushion, putting attention to the breath.  “I’m here.  I want to be here, now.  Breathing in ‘Yes’ to this precious gift, breathing out ‘Thank you’ for the opportunity to have been graced this breath”.  Use this as an anchor when thoughts arise, notice the thoughts and let them go, coming back to the breath always.
  3. Get a schedule for nutritious habits.  When waking, commit to gratitude for the return of sensation, for mobility, for working plumbing, for any life that’s in the room with you, etc.  For me, after time with Jane and our puppy, after some coffee and cleaning up, I spend thirty minutes meditating, followed by trumpet toning, and either writing or recording insights.  I alternate aerobic/strength days with yoga days.  I wake at 5am, usually finishing these activities by 10:30.  We’ve incorporated a half hour social distance walk with our grand children, have lunch, twenty minute nap, social coffee/tea with Jane, and then it’s boardsport time depending upon the conditions.  Jane and I bookend the day with reverence to the sunset, I then play my horn in gratitude, and we wind down to comfort entertainment or as much news as we can handle before it starts to get to us.  
  4. Keep learning those lessons, deeper and deeper.  Do whatever you can to stay away from saying, “I knew that”.  It’s a dead end street.  Keep a ‘puppy fresh’ mind, always drilling deeper.  For me, the experience of ‘well being’ has become more and more palpable.  It resides from just below the belly button to the neck.  It’s not like being happy or positive.  It’s vibration that can accept suffering and joy with solid footing.  I seem to find it best when exerting my physical skills to the edge, when fasting, when immersed in great artistic expression, and when receiving the welcome and validation (not approval) of others, or opening to them beyond notions of ‘us vs. them’.
  5. Get enough rest.  Take vacations from food, the verbal, and when feasible, from shelter.  We come to gratitude from not having, recognizing we’re entitled to nothing and consequently work to take nothing for granted.
  6. Ingest those things that sustain health.  Reduce those things that provide a sugar buzz high only to leave us feeling depleted.  Spend more time outside, tasting each breath taken, hearing more deeply, seeing the beauty of the season in all its glory.  Surround yourself in blue when you can…water, sky.  Seize the benefits of sunshine while recognizing today’s sky demands sunscreen.  Spend time by the water and when you can, get in the water.  I can notice building anxiety when I’m in a house two blocks from the ocean.  Without fail, whenever I’ve gone down to jump in the ocean, the anxiety is gone almost immediately.  Make a list of those things to do and foods to eat that always feed and sustain your well being, those foods that not only taste good in the mouth, but also sustain that ‘great fullness’ while digesting.  More vegetables, less refined sugars, sugar substitutes and starchy carbohydrates.  More real foods, less processed foods.  More plant based, less factory farmed foods that disregard kindness to soil and animals.  More organic foods, less pesticides and fertilizers that destroy our ecosystems.  More foods that raise the vibration, less consumption of those foods that put us to sleep. More real food, less processed foods filled with chemicals we can’t pronounce. Aim to eliminate food waste.
  7. Stop using personal pronouns when referring to the body.  It’s your gift from the divine, serving you in ways far beyond your comprehension.  Consequently, develop a practice of sending love to various body parts for all they do for you.  Take a vow of “No complaint, no complaint”, committing your aim to cease criticizing or complaining about your body.  Let your body speak to you, listen deeply, and develop a practice to see/feel its sacred qualities, it’s gift to you as you move about during your time on this planet. Your body wants to live.  It’s the tricky ego that seems to do the work of self sabotage.  Again, settle that ego down with periodic mental chatter vacations, simply settling into noticing the sensations in the body.  Do this noticing without labels, in that gap between words, if possible.
  8. Have practices that feed the qualities of rhythm, balance, harmony, upright posture and equanimity.  Listen to music and play music, preferably without words.  Practice yoga, dance, martial arts, pilates or any other number of regiments that challenge balance.  Engage in strength training to reduce muscle entropy.  Stay away from ingesting food and intoxicants in the evening so the body can ready for healthy rest.  Have a solid routine for going to sleep and for waking, aiming to a minimum of 7-8 hours sleep.  These are all practices that have worked for me.

When we ‘take care’, it begins with the body.  When we care for the body, we care for everything.  Practicing awareness in our actions, learning what works from our personal experience, deepens us to the human experience.  All we have is our attention (awareness, consciousness).  How we daily set our intentions on where we put our attention is the essence of our spiritual journey.  Waking to awareness of impermanence, meeting change moment to moment, with awareness of the illusion of separateness, we move more carefully, aiming to not cause harm, aiming to more kindness, more wholesome actions, thoughts and words.

Continuation…no birth, no death

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