360 Degree Values


Greetings Dear One,

When I contemplate the Divine, I consider how numerous wisdom traditions claim that it is indescribable. In Islam there are the “99 most beautiful names of Allah“.  Sanatana Dharma expounds three energies: creation, maintenance, and destruction ascribed to Brahma Vishnu and Shiva. The Yogi’s describe their experience the infinite as “sat, chit, and ananda” (truth, consciousness, and bliss). Many Christians describe God as Love. The Buddhist claim no one has an immortal soul; however, we are all linked through karma.

Those descriptions sound very different.  In my opinion, the “energy” they describe has reciprocity.  The energy extends outward, infinitely, in all directions.  Whether you describe it as love, bliss, truth, kindness, or karma, it doesn’t know boundaries.  It is extended to all beings.

We can strive to embody this boundarylessness and make a stand to treat everyone and everything equally.

In ACT therapy, Values are described as the qualities you want to bring to your every aspect of your life.  They are how you want to treat your body, your mind, your loved ones, your neighbors, the planet, and even your “enemies”.  Values are the way you want to show up as you pursue your goals.  Ideally, you are Values congruent when you attain your goals and if you miss the mark.

Many wisdom traditions also explain that the apparent reality is ephemeral.  It’s not difficult to think about the impermanent nature of everything in existence.  Whether we believe there is an underlying Soul, or Nothing, it seems like the closest thing to constancy is the aforementioned energies of the Divine… love, truth, karma.

If we live with the understanding of impermanence we will cultivate and nurture our love. Only then will it last. You have to nourish and look after your love for it to grow.

Thich Nhat Hahn

Living from Values is emulating the Divine.  This way of being creates continuity during all of the ups and downs.  We can embody love during happy times and during sad times.  We can be truthful when we get what we want and when we don’t get what we want.  Compassion can be extended to every atom.

This is dharma as prescribed throughout the Wisdom Traditions: the Commandments, the Golden Rule, the parables of Jesus, yama and niyama, the noble eightfold path

This is following a code of ethics because you are aware that your are interbeing with everyone–not because you fear punishment or expect reward.

In my previous post, I noted I added new practices.  The loving-kindness meditation is designed to help cultivate the Values of love and kindness in a 360 degree format.  You can try this practice to help you deepen your capacity to experience and embody these Values.  You can even do it without the guidance and add other Values: compassion, friendliness, gratitude, persistence, resilience, etc.

Lokāḥ Samastāḥ Sukhino Bhavantu – Let the entire world be happy.

Sarve Jana sukhino Bhavantu – Let the People of the world be happy

Next time, let’s talk about “Happiness”

Om Shanti Namaste


New Guided Practices

Greetings Dear One,

I’m pleased to have had an opportunity to update my blog. I recently added two new meditations under “guided practices“. I added 61 points, which could be a nice practice for Yoga teachers to use during savasana. I also added a fun practice called, Loving-kindness. Please enjoy!

Arguing In My Head

Image result for sounds in my head

Greetings Dear One,

Have you ever been having a powerful argument, explaining your side, being absolutely right… I mean you are absolutely winning this battle… But, it was a completely one-sided conversation– the person you were arguing with wasn’t even there.

Our brains developed from ancestors who were survivors: they avoided being eaten by sabertooth tigers, they survived wars, they procreated despite unspeakable odds.  Whether you call it karma or genetics (aren’t they one and the same) we are the descendents of these amazing individuals.  

When our ancestors prevailed over their adversaries, it was beneficial for them to be able to tell their story around the campfire.  Imagine how helpful it was to explain how to increase someone’s chances of survival in a dangerous and primal world.

Our minds still like to tell a story.  Whether it about a car accident we had that we have to share on social media; or, it’s rehashing past grievances–even if only in our head.

Perhaps you’ve heard of autobiographical memory.  It sounds like an amazing super power.  Paradoxically, several scholarly articles explain this nearly perfect recall makes it more difficult for people to let go of the past.

Often, we believe if we reflect on our past we will garner a bit of information, we will make some more sense of… it–whatever “it” is.  In some cases this is true; however, for most of us rumination isn’t helpful.

As much as our mind has a habit (samskara) of time-travelling nostaligically into the past and anxiously into the future, our life is happening now.  This is the essence of mindfulness.

“I’ve lived through some terrible things in my life, some of which actually happened.”

Mark Twain

However, being mindful doesn’t mean always attending to the world out there.  It’s a flexible attention, shifting outward and inward appropriately.  This skill is garnered with meditation.

When we meditate regularly, we begin to observe our mind a bit more as if it were in front of all, the yogi’s describe this as being the witness.  Then we can see our mind has a habit of retelling stories when certain triggers are switched.  Next thing we know, we check out of our life and are arguing with those who have wronged us.

I am not saying we should allow ourselves to be victimized.  However, many of us (myself included) can find that we’re pining for a lost love, wishing a dead perpetrator would come to justice, or hating the first boss who fired us twenty year ago.

Life is happening NOW.  Now is all we have.

“You can be right or you can be happy.”

Gerald G. Jampolsky

Now, this is only one article–it’s not the answer for perpetual happiness.  Living in the “now” can be an excuse to procrastinate and avoid our obligations.  Mindfulness has to be in conjunction with our Values–it is a servant to a Higher purpose.

–That’ll be the next article.

Please, click on the links.

It’s been a while.

Life Happens,


My Hungry Little Ghost

Costly Buddha

Greed comes from a belief in lack.  It’s autonomic, like its precursor anger, there is some sensitivity in our nervous system to a reflexive belief in lack.  It probably came from our ancestors, they had no way of knowing if there would be enough food so we have developed an inclination to hoard and to hang onto things.  Also like anger, greed has either a story to tell or us a question to ask us.  We’re not getting what we want; or, do we do really believe that we are enough?

The more I witness my emotions, the more I am aware that the spark of anger precedes greed.  Anger may be called by numerous names;  it’s not always a hot passionate anger. Personally, I experience it as crankiness, impatience, anxiety, irritation, annoyance, frustration, and dissatisfaction.

For example, I may experience irritation that I’m not the most financially prosperous person.  Maybe I coveted another’s success.  Maybe I compared myself to another.  This lead to feeling that I am less than. This inner attack, completely from myself to myself, causes a reflexive defensiveness.  Like an autoimmune disorder, my ego’s actually attacking another part of my mind.  Paradoxically, there’s a desire to console the bruised angry part of myself with a bright shiny bauble.  One aspect is agitated, the other desires to soothe.  One time or another this, temporarily, “worked”.  The angry part was distracted.  But, the newness wears off.  The angry part resurfaced demanding gifts: a latte, a new skirt, another degree, it became voracious.

In Chinese Buddhism the Hungry Ghost is a revenant from someone who died traumatically, or has been neglected by their ancestors.  In a nutshell, they can be dangerous because they are permanently dissatisfied.  They haven’t found peace. However, I think of it as a metaphor for Now.  In this life there is often inability to find contentment, or as the yogi say santosha.

As I shared in my previous post, anger should be observed in its natural habitat. In the same spirit, it would behoove us to observe greed.  As mentioned, greed is often unaddressed anger.  There is an abrasion, an irritation, a tapping finger, a stomping foot buried at various layers.  I am not getting what I want!  I deserve this thing!  Argh!

As my dear teacher says, “witness everything!”  Pause, notice when you feel you can’t have enough.  It is that easy.  You just have to practice.  We just choose to ignore and be possessed by the feeling with trying to satisfy it.   Ask yourself, “will this bring me peace?” “Will this bring me closer to Joy?”  Use whatever term describes yourself when there’s no problem to solve.  If the answer is “yes”, I suggest you proceed. No one outside of you can answer this.  Watch the urges.  They are insidious.  They rear their ugly head in a split second.  One minute you enjoying a meal at the dinner table then the inner spoiled child wants another piece of cake.  It’s stomping its foot.  Will it bring you love? You are already the embodiment of love.  No piece of cake and add to that.


The Angry Baby

Image result for angry baby tiger

As a mindfulness instructor, it’s challenging to come up with an “elevator speech” or lesson about anger. Many people come to me seeking to become rid of their anger. This is not the goal of mindfulness training.

Anger is a reflexive emotional response to disappointment and aggression (real or perceived).  The yogis explain the powerful emotion springs from the four primitive fountains, which are inherent to all sentient beings: food, sleep, sex, and self-preservation.

Self-preservation is the most powerful urge. It makes sense, there is an inherent drive to keep oneself alive.  Eastern Philosophy would argue, many times (especially in the developed world) the reaction is to threats which exist only in our mind. The ego perceives the potential death of one of our many personae.

Physiologically, our amygdala switches on the sympathetic nervous system and our body is flooded with cortical hormones. It’s the classic flight or fight response.  This isn’t inherently bad, it serves an important purpose–it’s how our ancestors survived so we can be here to discuss this! 

The problem is many of us are overly reactive and every little ego-death causes us to fly off the handle. We’re literally a bunch of raw nerves.

So, shouldn’t we try our best not to feel anger? 

The answer is no! Anger is a signal that something is wrong (even if it’s in our imagination). We don’t want to become numb. We need to learn how to feel the emotion without becoming consumed by it. We should learn to react skillfully. 

The first step is deciding that we no longer want to be a slave to our emotions. Talk to yourself, connect with what is meaningful to you. Tell yourself when you are you’re possessed by anger that it takes you away from what matters. It puts strain on relationships and impedes connection.  

Next, (and you may need to find a teacher to guide you) you practice observing yourself when you’re feeling angry.  This isn’t easy and it takes willpower. This is one of the reasons systematic yoga meditation is powerful and effective: during the body scan you methodically move attention throughout your own body.  This helps you to develop a sense of actually inhabiting your body–most people are a little disconnected from their amazing human suit.  Over time you can use this skill to observe your body when you are feeling angry.  Perhaps you feel your chest tighten and your heart rate quicken.  This can signal you to use another technique from systematic yoga meditation, deep diaphragmatic breathing.  This counteracts the fight or flight response and helps to calm the nervous system.

In deeper stages of meditation you become a witness to the mind in its natural habitat, allowing the thoughts to come and go. This affords the ability to see thoughts and emotions as objects that are inhabiting the mind–they are not the mind itself. In a nutshell, you can observe anger in the mind with awareness it is not the entirety of the mind.

At this level of practice, you create a little space from anger. In that pause, which you develop during meditation, you can choose to act from the anger or to allow the wave of anger to arise in the mind and body and, when it abates, continue with a wise course of action.

Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh explains,  “Anger is like a howling baby, suffering and crying… Your anger is your baby. The baby needs his mother to embrace him. You are the mother. Embrace your baby.”

The anger isn’t evil; however, we may do evil while in its clutches.  Anger is shaktithe power of creation.  However, we can choose to create while blinded with anger or allow the anger to wake us up and enact positive change.  The anger can catalyze a course of action fueled by that which brings us closer to our higher self.  This is acting from love–this is acting skillfully.  But, in order to do this we have to broaden the space between the trigger and the anger–it has to become less reflexive.

Ignoring anger is just as detrimental as continually exploding.  The stored up anger has to come out–remember it’s the creative power of the universe.  It will manifest either in an H-bomb or in other deviant behaviors.

Rumi lovingly metaphorized emotions as visitors in his oft-quoted seminal work The Guest House:

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
As an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

Will you pause and listen to the guide or allow it to take over your mind while the Real You watches idly by?


Hangry for Sleep!


Alex Grey, “Insomnia”

I was posting the newsletter for the monthly Yoga Nidra practice I help to facilitate. It reminded me of an acronym used in treatment, to describe various triggers which catalyze substance abuse: HALT–hungry, angry, lonely, tired.

The ancient yogis recognized these primal urges, which are identical to those of our animal brethren: self-preservation, sex, food, and sleep. The four primitive fountains.

Self-preservation isn’t merely the urge to protect one’s body from death; it is the urge to protect our numerous personae. Sex isn’t merely the urge to copulate; it’s also driven by loneliness and insecurity. Food is a necessity; but, it’s also a sensual pleasure which can overrun other urges when unchecked. But, today, I want to talk about sleep. A blessing many of us are not partaking of.

In the Himalayan Tradition, there are three primary levels of consciousness (there are more, but brevity is helpful): waking, dreaming, and deep sleep. They are correlated with three states of energy: gross, subtle, and causal (hence, the name of the blog).

Yogis assert that the level of deep sleep in the causal plane is the most cathartic. It is the realm of pure potentiality, the place before the subtle manifestation of dreams. This is intuitive, think about the deepest sleep you’ve had… Right where you feel you’ve vanished for a while. This level is so close to the realm of pure being (or, turiya, the fourth state).

Yet, so many of us are sleep deprived–myself included. We go to bed too late, we have too much caffeine, and there are those darn LED lights. One article I read recently explained, soon lack of sleep will be viewed like smoking. It asserted in the near future, we will realize the detriments: depression, obesity, and cancer. Another NPR story suggest we get out of the city and spend some time in the dark–isn’t it bananas that we need to be reminded of needing dark!

Yoga Nidra is another name for deep sleep in the causal plane. It is also the name of a progressive series of exercises to bring one to that place, while, paradoxically, remaining awake. It is the psychic sleep of the Yogi . This is a tool for developing more than better quality sleep, it is a method for dealing with negative karma. I suggest clicking on the link that I attached above for detailed instructions on this ancient practice.

The causal plane is a womb. It is the realm of rebirth. A cleanse which we have the opportunity to partake in and give ourselves a spiritual reset. Challenge yourself to try the practice for 7 nights in a row (in a dark room without caffeine) and see how you feel.

When You Think You’ve Got “It”…

…”It” can be so challenging to not slip into self-judgment. When, you believe you’ve crossed some magical threshold and you can let your spiritual practices take a back burner. Ironically, this may happen even though you may be striving to “improve” your life.

The endeavor of entering seminary has been amazing for me. I’ve developed a deeper understanding and appreciation for an array of the world’s spiritual traditions. But, finding time to do my studies added another layer of busyness.

Next thing I know, old behaviors creep in…

…After a long day the couch and T.V. beckon.

As a mindfulness instructor, I know it’s not the T.V. that’s inherently evil. It’s the diversion instead of relaxation that causes harm.

Diversion is when you don’t make an effort to clear the mind and set down your obligations. Diversion is pleasant; but, it is ephemeral. Relaxation takes effort; but, it is cathartic.

Intrinsic relaxation is a skill. You don’t turn on music. You don’t do more–you subtract. There are an array of exercises for autorelaxation: yoga postures, shavasana, pranayana to name a few.

Paradoxically , it’s recommended to do something more engaging when the mind is busy (or if your newer). Move your mind around and it’ll settle down and focus.

As I share this, I remember a great quote, “put down the book [turn off the T.V, computer, device] and meditate”.

That’s what I’m going to do now.

Advaita (Nondual) Lord’s Prayer


Advaita Vedanta is the Philosophy in which the Individual Self is understood to be one and the same with the Unifying Nondual Supreme Consciousness.

This an interpretation of the Lord’s Prayer from the perspective of Nondualism.

As this body breathes, I connect with the Supreme Consciousness (which is infinitely named) that exists in and as me.

This is the Silence at the end of Om.

Absorption in this state exists in the Now.

There is no other; I am awake to I am.

From the depth of my heart, I offer gratitude for Self Realization.

Knowledge from this state removes attachments.

Nothing is mine. Nothing is mine.

I ask the grace of the Guru inside, to forgive myself if I stray from the Path of Fire and Light.

My mere mind cannot sustain this awareness. Grace, in the form of Divine Love, is the gravity that pulls me to my True Self.

Nothing exists that is not Brahman.

Om Shanti Shanti Shanti