I’m coming off of the rare pleasure of a weekend with friends, among them, the ever-wise Glenda Mackie. This morning before teaching, she asked if we knew why leaves turn color in fall. I actually had no idea. Throughout spring and summer, leaves are constantly generating chlorophyll, giving them their green color. As we shift into fall and the nighttime hours grow longer, chlorophyll production stops and other chemical shifts occur— revealing the stunning array of pigments we see in autumn leaves. From darkness, beauty. As always, the nature. Right there teaching us what we need to learn.
It feels so appropriate as I’m currently studying a form of shadow work, rooted in eastern philosophy and infused with techniques of Jungian psychology.… Read the rest
“Every person must choose how much truth he can stand. “ — Carl Jung
Truth. Satya. It seems so straightforward. We think we understand it. It appears uncomplicated. We believe we choose it more often than not. However, after years of studying and teaching the topic and continuing to peel away layer after layer, I’ve found it is, as Oscar Wilde is quoted as saying, “rarely pure and never simple.”
Last weekend I led a four-day Tantra intensive and we spent an afternoon examining the intersection of sva dharma (your personal role, duty, or true nature), satya (truthfulness) and purushartha (four goals of human life).… Read the rest
For ten years, I’ve offered a long weekend intensive called What’s Next? It’s four days of deep diving, soul poking, truth excavating work, guiding you to take a clear and honest look at who you truly are, where you’re getting in your own way, and what is the next step you can take toward your truest, brightest self. In a 2021 session, we had gathered on the second day to check in before starting the work. One participant shared a reflection— almost a mantra or a prayer— that had surfaced for her as she tucked into bed the previous night: “May I be strong enough for what is coming.… Read the rest
impermanenceJuly 31, 2023 in Blog
Last week, I heard from a longtime student that her beloved furry companion of 12 years died suddenly and unexpectedly. Deep in grief, she had questions about the why of it all. What are the lessons? How do we pay attention to what matters most and what are we supposed to learn through the process? Coming up on two years since Padma’s departure, I could easily feel into that pain and immediately thought of this is what love feels like. Love. Loss. Two sides of the same coin.
Every person I know was faced with these questions during the pandemic- a season of loss and change for all of us.… Read the rest
Ben Franklin was quoted as saying “There are no gains without pains” but in my lifetime, it was Jane Fonda, circa 1982, who popularized the saying “no pain, no gain” in her exercise videos. It spread quickly from step aerobics and athletics to just about every endeavor, and became the silent credo of a generation. In short: if you want to get somewhere, do something, or be someone, discomfort is part of the deal. Plan for it. Expect it. Your progress is directly proportional to your suffering.
As with so many other things- from trends in fashion to politics- we eventually swing from one extreme to the other.… Read the rest
In our monthly Dharma & Satsang discussions, we are continuing to work through the kleshas: the whys of our suffering as human beings. In April, we dove into dveśa. Usually, translated as aversion or strong dislike, I leaned into the richness of the Sanskrit and added some additional layers: burning; hatred; and the understanding that the root of dveśa lies in experiences and memories of pain from the past. It’s about how it’s possible that what we most dislike can take over our experience. You’d think we would prefer to focus on what we like (attachment) but it turns out we can be just as overtaken by what we don’t like.… Read the rest
I remember when I was going through a messy divorce many, many, another-lifetime years ago. After the initial separation, I returned to what was once our shared home and dedicated every ounce of energy I had to the hustle. I progressed from room to room: painting, moving, fixing, anything-and-everything to change the space, to make it mine, to start over—again.
I filled every moment with busyness, but I felt lost and I felt alone. I had no idea what to do next, how to make ends meet, where to go, or how to move forward. I clearly remember standing in the office, my bare feet on the cold hardwood floor, looking out the window into the backyard, and talking on the phone with an old friend from New York.… Read the rest
silenceMarch 2, 2023 in Blog
Last month at this time I was tucked away in the snowy Sawtooth mountains of Idaho for a five day silent meditation intensive. When I first read about it and saw in the description “must be prepared for and comfortable with extreme weather” my initial yes turned into an absolutely yes. I get that this is not everyone’s cup of tea; it might, in fact, send a lot of people running in the other direction. But after fifteen years of facilitating retreats— both in silence and otherwise— I was so ready to climb over a snowdrift, throw my bags into a Snowcat and head into the middle of nowhere to find out what was in store for me.… Read the rest
hibernationJanuary 30, 2023 in Blog
When I originally posted the January Hibernation retreat, it was early fall. At the time, I was in an extremely overwhelming work vortex and hibernation sounded like a fabulous idea. I didn’t put a whole lot of thought into it— the theme welled up from wherever ideas arise, it resonated, and that was that. Come January, when we actually gathered, I felt good in the knowing that yes, hibernation was necessary. Why? Resources for thriving had become scarce. A refuge from challenging conditions was needed. It was time to conserve energy, and figure out how to rebuild from within what we’d allowed to be depleted from without.… Read the rest
liminal spaceJanuary 2, 2023 in Blog
Putting aside my fervent wish to enjoy a lazy morning after this morning’s practice, I got moving early to head to the store to pick up the final ingredients for a day-long cooking project. It doesn’t exist in any tradition I know of, but I say forget about bitter greens or lentils or black-eyed peas. If sticky toffee pudding can’t bring in good luck for the new year, I don’t know what can. So despite the desire to hang out by the fire, I got myself together and headed out.
The driveway here drops down to the road, which descends into the valley.… Read the rest