It's easy to forget that we are all perfect in our own design. Sometimes we muck it up with habits and choices that do not serve us. 

Join Soulspring for conscious insights... ...on all things life, wellness, love, transformation and spirituality...

And receive this very special audio recording from Panache Desai on Breaking Bad Habits.

Mark Nepo moved and inspired readers and seekers all over the world with his #1 New York Times bestseller The Book of Awakening.  Beloved as a poet, teacher, and storyteller, Mark has been called "one of the finest spiritual guides of our time," "a consummate storyteller," and "an eloquent spiritual teacher." His work is widely accessible and...
Mark Nepo moved and inspired readers and seekers all over the world with his #1 New York Times bestseller The Book of Awakening.  Beloved as a poet, teacher, and storyteller, Mark has been called "one of the finest spiritual guides of our time," "a consummate storyteller," and "an eloquent spiritual teacher." His work is widely accessible and used by many and his books have been translated into more than twenty languages.  A bestselling author, he has published twenty books and recorded fourteen audio projects. 

In 2015, he was given a Life-Achievement Award by AgeNation.  And in 2016, he was named by 
Watkins: Mind Body Spirit as one of the 100 Most Spiritually Influential Living People, and was also chosen as one of OWN's SuperSoul 100, a group of inspired leaders using their gifts and voices to elevate humanity.  In 2017 Mark became a regular columnist for Spirituality & Health Magazine.
More

Mark Nepo's Weekly Reflection: The Gold of Suffering

*Photo Credit: Michael Held Notes from the Pandemic

The apple blossoms behind Susan’s studio are opening and the weeping cherry is turning pink. And today, we have coffee on the deck, our faces in the sun. Everything is so peaceful and full of quiet that we can, for the moment, forget that the Earth is draped in a pandemic. Still, all things are true and all things are happening at once. As I breathe in the early light, someone is taking their last breath. As I wrestle with a jolt of fear, a couple is making love for the first time. As a thousand things are falling apart, another thousand are coming together. This ebb and flow on a cosmic scale is what keeps the Universe going. It feels inevitable that the more I can’t go anywhere, the more my heart travels everywhere—across the globe, then back and forth through history.

Continue reading

Mark Nepo's Weekly Reflection: The Mending Quality of Life

nepo-migration The Mending Quality of Life

The slightest nudge in the fabric of existence alters everything. The shift of an atom when no one is looking can turn a molecule into a disease that covers the Earth, as in the pandemic we are suffering. Similarly, one small act of care can birth a food source that can feed the world. As happened 10,000—14,000 years ago, when an anonymous Chinese farmer first domesticated seed from wild grass to cultivate the first known rice field near the middle stretch of the Yangtze River.

In just this way, the opening of a soul’s eye under all trouble can turn darkness into light. This, too, can cover the Earth. Still, life in its totality has always been overwhelming, though the world has always turned on the smallest gesture. To stay devoted to how life will always join other life while never knowing if your effort makes a difference is at the heart of an enduring, nameless faith. We can describe this nameless joining as the irrepressible life-force emanating through us to keep remaking the world, no matter how many times things fall apart.

Continue reading

Mark Nepos' Weekly Reflection: Not Great But True

*Photo Credit: KS Kyung

I began as all young artists do—working toward some imagined greatness that might reveal itself in time, if I could stay devoted enough to my craft. But along the way, I was humbled to be more uplifted by what was true rather than what was great, by what was heartfelt rather than what was intricate. It kept me close to my own experience, which when entered honestly began to reveal the common ground of all experience and all time.

From there, I risked more by entering the poems than by writing them, not sure where they might go, and found myself touched and changed by showing up in my life so completely. Well, that’s not very different than being changed by loving another, is it? Now in the second half of life, I am devoted to being in that holy space where the conversation of aliveness exists. It’s not about the words but the poetry of life that is revealed and enlivened by our honest engagement.

Continue reading

Mark Nepo's Weekly Reflection: One More Time

Wilfried-Santer Fragrance of peace

Every day, we are challenged to love what we’re given as much as what we want. We don’t have to like the things we’re given, but we need to find a way to accept them. And love is the surest way to deepen our acceptance. And so, we must stay devoted to getting up one more time than we fall down. To waking up one more time than we fall asleep. To being sensitive one more time than we are blunt and cumbersome. To listen one more time than we speak. To hold one more time than we drop what we’re holding. To aspire to be clear one more time than we are confused. To open one more than we close. And to lean into life one more time than we are pushed away. We may not always land in the open, but when we do, the tenderness we find is the earned fragrance of peace.

Continue reading

Mark Nepo's Weekly Reflection: Living a Making

digital-tablet-and-eyeglasses-on-books-in-public-library-picture-id1135144614

When finding my way as a young man, I came home from college to have a classic argument with my father. Over dinner the first night, I declared to him with excitement that I was a poet. I hadn’t yet written anything but knew it was true. He was incredulous and frustrated and loudly asked, “How are you going to make a living?” I’m not sure where it came from in me, but I looked at him and said, “I’m going to live a making.” I confess that I’ve spent much of my life learning what that means. And it is living a making for so many years that has led me to the place of true meeting that waits under all our struggles.

I have learned that making a living is how we survive, but living a making is how we thrive. We need the strength and resilience to do both.

There is always a tension between surviving and thriving, and between making a living and living a making. Part of the journey of individuation is withstanding the tension of both until they work hand in hand.

Continue reading

Mark Nepo's Weekly Reflection: Germs

maria-teneva-vf4O1OwtPnk-unsplash Germs

Germs are microscopic cells that breakdown the structure of the life they enter. In the biology we inhabit, germs are the cause of disease. The spiritual equivalent, however, reaches us as unseeable agents of revelation that break down our structures so we can restore our direct sense of living. These spiritual germs cause us to feel and think in new ways. More simply put, these enzymes of pure life-force cause us to have the rug pulled out from under us. It’s how Saul was knocked off his horse, only to dust himself off as Saint Paul. It’s how Pissarro one day stopped painting realistically and devoted himself to the painting of light. It’s how we spend years building a dream that hardens into a cage until one day, for some unknown reason, we feel confined more than lifted, and have to break the dream in order to go on. No one likes this or seeks it out. But like gravity, it grips us nonetheless. So, as the germs of the coronavirus wreak havoc with our biology, what unseeable agents of revelation are being released, even as we speak, to break down the many structures we have built between us and life?

Continue reading

Mark Nepo's Weekly Reflection: Miracle and Tragedy

*Photo Credit: Oliver Hihn Miracle and tragedy are forever linked

Sometimes, the life-giving downpour will snap a limb on its way to releasing spring. And once the storm has vanished, the flowers come alive and open. And sometimes, a boy drawn by their wild color will find the broken limb among the flowers and bring it home to secretly carve a walking stick for his bent and smiling grandfather who is as crooked as the fallen limb.

From outside the story, this seems a sweet happenstance. But when it’s our turn to be the snapped limb, then God seems merciless and life has no meaning. And this is true, in part, the way when we close our eyes, the world of light is lost and gone—as long as we refuse or forget how to open our eyes and see again. As real and painful as tragedy is, it is always as close to miracle as the opening of an eye or a heart or a mind. It’s as challenging as it is true that the only way through tragedy is to open up and let the lost world of light in again.

Continue reading

Mark Nepo's Weekly Reflection: Fighting the Instrument

snowy-mountain-ridge-with-footprint-in-blizzard-picture-id1010514668 The storm is not as important as the path it opens
Often the instruments of change
are not kind or just
and the hardest openness
of all might be
to embrace the change
while not wasting your heart
fighting the instrument.


The storm is not as important
as the path it opens.
The mistreatment in one life
never as crucial as the clearing
it makes in your heart.


This is very difficult to accept.
The hammer or cruel one
is always short-lived
compared to the jewel
in the center of the stone.

Continue reading

Mark Nepo's Weekly Reflection: Longings for Worth

red-rose-isolated-picture-id504131676 Care erases the walls we build between us.

After almost seventy years, I confess that though I have struggled I have never been lost and have never stopped loving—everything. And this has enabled me to inhabit life authentically. In the beginning, there were goals I was taught to work toward and these longings for worth were honed in time into personal ambitions, which all fell away. For staying true to the love of everything as our teacher has turned out to be the most enduring ambition of all. This love has made me get up when I have fallen, and has given me the strength to enter the breaks in my heart where I have retrieved my gifts. And so, I have very little to offer beyond the confirmation that unending love without preference will lead us to drink from the Mystery without leaving the world. Unending love without intent will fill every contour of existence the way light fills every hole. So, there is very little to teach. Just that love awakens everything. And care erases the walls we build between us.

Continue reading

Mark Nepo's Weekly Reflection: I Promise You

Photo Credit: John Fowler I Promise You
I was in a circle of those who
climbed from the sea of trouble
onto the shore of a day like today.
We were tired, aglow, broken.

Out of a sudden silence
a young woman stood and sang
You’ve Got a Friend. When I heard,
You just call out my name and
I’ll be there…” I saw you all.

No vow has meant more to me.
Yet there was the time I couldn’t
get there. And the time I was afraid
to come for some dark reason too
familiar for me to understand.

I am sorry for the wounds my
absence has caused.

We try like birds awakened by
a tone of light to fly into each
other’s need. And always
wind throws us off.
Continue reading

Mark Nepo's Weekly Reflection: The Life of Care

friends-playing-guitar-and-singing-around-bonfire-at-the-beach-picture-id657428556 As a fire needs wood, the soul needs care to thrive.

As a fire needs wood, the soul needs care to burn strong and bright. And just as it doesn’t matter what kind of wood is given to the fire, the soul doesn’t value one form of care over another. Any act of care will make the soul come alive through us. And since all things are worthy of care and in need of care, any ground of experience we devote ourselves to will brighten our aliveness—in us and between us. Simply and profoundly, as a fire needs wood, the soul needs care to thrive.

A Question to Walk With: Describe a form of care that feeds your soul. What role does this have in your life?

Continue reading

Mark Nepo's Weekly Reflection: Moment of Lift

dandelion-clock-in-morning-sun-picture-id665037880 Moment of Lift

I was bearing up under a weight I could no longer see, when the exhalation of something older than all my trouble unfurled my understanding, like a scarf blown out of the hands of someone clutching it. And my mind, floating between preoccupations, was now see-through and weightless. For the first time in months, the grief I’d been obeying went silent. I felt whole in a new way, as if the skin of all I’d been through had grown over all my conclusions. I can’t name this other than to say: I have moved through something difficult that has finally opened. All this bearing up and bearing down to be lifted like a scarf on the wind that a child might chase.

Continue reading

Mark Nepo's Weekly Reflection: The Fierceness

heavy-rain-and-lightning-stroke-picture-id149379157 Mark Nepo's Weekly Reflection: The Fierceness


When you can admit how

heavy you are with sadness,

then we can talk. Right now,

there are too many knives flying

around and it’s hard to see your

hands. I dream of the day that

we can sit in the sun under a

breeze with nothing to say.

Your sorrow hides in your

anger like a soft bird falling

in a storm. The storm that

is you drives us all away. No

wonder your heart feels

like it’s on fire.


A Question to Walk With: Describe a time when you were fluttering like a bird in the center of your own storm. What did this feel like? How did the storm pass? If it hasn’t, what can you do to put the storm down?

Continue reading
Tags:

Mark Nepo's Weekly Reflection - Leaning In

*Photo Credit: Nick Hillier Mark Nepo's Weekly Reflection - Leaning In

I’ve sat in hundreds of cafés, watching lives pass by, each eager to meet someone, each desperate to get away. I’ve stared into hundreds of photographs, each a window to another patch of time and space, where beautiful souls were falling down and getting up. Still, I can’t quite grasp how many of us there are and how each of us is a world unto ourselves. Right now, in this café on Fourth Ave., an older woman in a sweater is wheeling a small, lonely suitcase toward the door. While across the street, a young Hispanic man is delivering cleaning supplies to a Vietnamese restaurant. He’s almost dancing. And there are twenty-five others around me, each wanting a pain to stop, each wanting some moment of love to linger. Now the jittery woman next to me tosses her hair and wobbles on her heels, heading back into the stream. Once outside, she passes an Asian man in argument, his arms folded. We are so easily hurt as we bounce along the pavement spilling our expectations. The young couple in the corner looks tired and tender as they lean into each other in silence. When this open, I can see into the hearts of others. Now a grandfather dotes over his granddaughter, running his fingers through her month-old hair. I hear everyone’s dreams and disappointments which, next to each other, reveal a depth I can’t live without. If it weren’t for gravity pulling on us, I’d swear this is Heaven.

A Question to Walk With: Describe a favorite café you have visited. Why is it your favorite? What have you learned from going there? What makes you want to return?

Continue reading

Mark Nepo's Weekly Reflection - INTERIOR PSALM

Mark Nepo's Weekly Reflection - INTERIOR PSALM Mark Nepo's Weekly Reflection - INTERIOR PSALM
The wind, skirting the dock, lifts a

veil and I feel a sudden relief. I watch

the endless variations of wave and think,

what will be will be. I have arrived beyond

yes and no. Now the loss of what is familiar

and the fear of what might come are torn.

Now my deeper eyes appear with nothing

between them and the world. The wind

buffs my soul and I slip beneath my name.

A lone duck lands, its bottomless eye con-

veying some message beyond words. I call

the duck closer by the mere authenticity

of my being. Now the duck glides toward

me, swimming imperceptibly, its efforts

below unseen on the surface. As it nears,

I admit that I am as alone as that bird,

gliding on a vast and changing sea,

yet at one with the Universe.
Continue reading

Mark Nepo's Weekly Reflection: Singing in the Face of Days

david-boca-kB8p2u--xx4-unsplash Singing in the Face of Days

dhikr in Islam, japam in Sanskrit, witness in English:  the repetition of a name or face of God.


In the air that lets a leaf fall slowly.

In the mud that swallows every blade.

In the bridge that creaks but will not break.

In the fence that fails.

In the secret maps that lead us nowhere.

In the questions that sprout from our mistakes.

In the suffering that makes us give more.

In those slain for no reason.

In those spared for no reason who keep naming the slain.

In how the mind stops spinning its web in light.

In how truth like rain makes tender hearts swell.

In how arms spread like wings when dropping all they carry.

In how petting the dog keeps us from leaving.

In the smoothing of a stone by a thousand waves.

In the smoothing of our ego by the slap of time.

In the drops of blood covered by snow.

In the stories of kindness finally praised.

In how we keep dying without dying.

In how we keep losing without losing.

In how we live in spite of everything. Like

hungry fish parting the water of our days.

Continue reading

Mark Nepo's Weekly Reflection: Now That You’re Gone

david-hofmann-XmD4gx8jsXE-unsplash Now That You’re Gone

In my sixty-eighth year, I saw a dancer, middle-aged, outside a café. I was at a conference in California and she was hired to dance at lunch time in the open. I sipped my coffee and watched her for a while. Most of us were busy going to what was next. Something in how she leapt and landed softened me. For she was so thoroughly herself that there was nowhere to go. And I realized that all of us were there to find what she had found.

It’s been a week since I flew home. And I’m up early, having dreamt of the dancer being herself. And before the sun comes up, I realize Mom, now that you’re gone, that this was all you ever wanted—to find a spot in the sun where you could leap out from under the turmoil of your life and be thoroughly yourself.

Continue reading

Mark Nepo's Weekly Reflection: Miracle and Tragedy

sunbeams-breaking-through-spruce-tree-forest-at-sunrise-picture-id498371910 Mark Nepo's Weekly Reflection: Miracle and Tragedy

Every life is a miracle and a tragedy, and these undeniable forces will, at times, overwhelm us. So, our first epic struggle is not to drown in the depths of tragedy and not to leave life through the transcendent pull of miracle. Our second noble struggle, which never ends, is to let the lightness of miracle and the groundedness of tragedy braid in our heart, so we can be thoroughly alive and live here now.

Continue reading

Mark Nepo's Weekly Reflection: Labor Day

*Photo Credit: Unsplash Mark Nepo's Weekly Reflection: Labor Day
I was drowning in a dream

when the storm cleared and I was

lifted to the surface. I woke to find

your hand on my heart. You’ve

always had the power to calm

what you touch. Like the baby

bluebird you held last summer.
Continue reading

Mark Nepo's Weekly Reflection: How Can You Still Make This About You?

austin-neill-0A_b9G-Rm6w-unsplash Mark Nepo's Weekly Reflection: How Can You Still Make This About You?

I thought after death had its way with us, you would have stopped trying to get somewhere. You would have stopped making up conclusions. But you still take what you go through and force it on others, making the world into a silhouette of your pain. Yet this never frees us. We just keep praying to what is missing. I know. For I painted the strangers I met while lost with the colors of my sadness, wondering if anything mattered. Then, just as I was about to give up, something gave way, including my want to make everything like me. Sure, it was frightening. But when the Mystery of Oneness washed over me, experience dropped me into the common well below our names, where what happens to one of us happens to all of us. And then, the way a boulder tired of holding on slips into the sea scattering the fish into a glimmering pool of light, I began to cascade anonymously. Now, I can only say that though what pains us may be different, where it hurts is always the same.

This is how we find each other.

Continue reading