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. 

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Authenticity

mountain-stream-picture-id478639070 One’s true nature or beliefs

Lately, I’ve been watching different people to observe kind of the process of what they do to connect, and how they post and all that kind of stuff … and one of the things that I have noticed is that a lot of them – not all of them, but lots of them – they always have like perfect skin … not a mark on their face … no age spots or wrinkles. I’m not complaining …  I’m just saying: not everybody could have perfect skin. I know this sounds crazy. I know a lot of people use filters … I’m not telling you anything you don’t know. But it was new to me.

So that got me to looking at things through a different lens. And what I was noticing was how many images were out there with filters. Hmmmm … we put so many masks up in our daily lives … and in social media, a lot of people say our lives are shared in its “Facebook version” – all the things that are great that are happening out here. And then there are all the shitty things that happen in some aspects of the rest of our world, and we don’t share those.

I’ve never been one to feel that way. I feel like whatever’s happening is happening. And I want to share with you where I’m at, what’s happening, whether it’s good, bad, or otherwise. I also have a Mastermind group- a beautiful group of women that are really learning and working on vulnerability and authenticity and showing up. So, it kinda shocks me that there are so many people that go to social media and look at or listen to accounts of people that really aren’t being authentic, but then compare themselves to it. They compare themselves to the people that are using all these filters and making everything look like it’s perfect when it really just isn’t perfect … and then they are feeling bad about themselves and the buttons that it pushes and the triggers that that brings up.

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Two Easy Steps To Experience An Inspired Calm

trail-signs-in-sedona-arizona-picture-id1161687088 Experience An Inspired Calm

My husband and I planned a quick trip on Labor Day. We were looking to relax and reconnect while exploring the Grand Canyon and Sedona in Arizona. I made reservations for a glamorous tent site as well as a couple of guided tours. I didn’t take into consideration that 25 percent of the world’s population and their pets made the exact same plan. I also wasn’t prepared for a heatwave impacting every waking moment of our escape. In the first 24 hours, I needed to be emotionally rescued from my vacation.

Our luxury camping adventure began with our GPS attempting to send us through the desert on a road that didn’t exist. When we finally located our weekend stay, it was well over a hundred degrees, crowded, and dusty. We found our tent with very small water, mister, in the doorway providing little protection from the heat. If the canvas flap was open, we could sometimes feel a light breeze. We quickly figured out that taking a shower and lying in front of the doorway was our best cooling option. On a side note, the shower had no temperature control and it was operated by a pull cord. The glamping wasn’t quite what we had expected. It was memorable and interesting but definitely not relaxing.

The following morning, we had a late start to a hiking adventure. Because of the heat, we decided to trek only three miles down before starting back the steep climb up. We shared the narrow trail with mules, their riders, families, rangers, happy people, stressed people, and everything in between. I was completely inspired by the beauty of the Grand Canyon but overwhelmed by the crowds.

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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?

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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.
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One Light, Many Reflections – Tree Collection 

acorn-3700512 One Light, Many Reflections

I write one page at a time, with only one to five words per line. The structure can look like poetry but has more to do with the physical limitations of a handwritten page and my desire to emphasize multiple meanings. My Page poems are a combination of sketch pad and journal.

The history and method of my writing process can be found in my article How I Wrote Three Thousand Pages Without Trying

It can feel unsettling to let go of concerns for punctuation, sentence structure and the rules of grammar but it is a natural part of my writing style to allow ideas to flow. The samples shared here are the original raw versions.

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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.

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One Light, Many Reflections – River Highlights

One Light, Many Reflections – River Highlights One Light, Many Reflections – River Highlights

I began a private daily writing exercise in 1996 and never stopped. I have written over three thousand pages.

I write one page at a time, with only one to five words per line. The structure can look like poetry but has more to do with the physical limitations of a handwritten page and my desire to emphasize multiple meanings. My Page poems are a combination of sketch pad and journal.

The history and method of my writing process can be found in my article How I Wrote Three Thousand Pages Without Trying 

It can feel unsettling to let go of concerns for punctuation, sentence structure and the rules of grammar but it is a natural part of my writing style to allow ideas to flow. The samples shared here are the original raw versions.

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Take Yourself to a Higher, Happier Life Level

happy-family-holding-hands-and-jumping-against-the-sky-picture-id543084146-1 Take Yourself to a Higher, Happier Life Level

Human beings are a unique creation in the cosmic scheme of things. Unlike the untold billions of other life forms teaming on the Earth -- whose nature is an open and shut case -- human nature is not fixed. What does this mean to you? Only everything!

The tiger, the horse, and the bird must express their nature. They have no real choice. And even though they may be free to choose which part of the jungle, or open range, in which they want to feed and roam, these animals have no choice as to the kind of world in which they must dwell. 

The tiger can't choose to live above the jungle floor any more than a shark can decide to soar through blue skies. The tiger, horse, bird, and shark must live where they do because of what they are. Try to see this deeply.

The tiger's nature determines its life. And that life is a part of the jungle floor. They are inseparable. The tiger's nature and its life level are one thing. The tiger's life level determines the world it must inhabit. Its nature and life level are as fixed as its stripes.

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Letting Go of the Struggle

matteo-di-iorio-VD-Vjc8VmRA-unsplash-2 Letting Go of the Struggle

Several times when hiking very early, I have heard drumming at sunrise. The powerful sounds shifted over the desert floor in a beautiful and mystical way. The rhythm always found my heart. I could feel traditions and rituals that respect the earth and all that is. These moments became sacred to me. I would pause my stride to honor the energy that was being shared.

Over the next couple of months, I attempted to find out where the sounds of the drum were originating from. I also wanted to know who was gifting us such an amazing start to the day. Last week, I asked the right person. He suggested I climb Piestewa Peak. There was still a mystery as to who did the drumming. The opportunity of seeing the ceremony stayed in my thoughts. While making my plans, I learned a comet might be visible about an hour before sunrise… So my goals included hiking the peak, seeing the comet, experiencing the drum ceremony, and seeing the sunrise. I hadn’t felt this excited and uplifted about an adventure for a while.

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Igniting evolution through crisis

sun-peeks-out-from-behind-the-clouds-in-womans-head-picture-id1197670670 Igniting Evolution through crisis

We are in a world of crisis, from economic collapse to environmental decay to climate change to war, hunger and poverty. If today’s headlines make you wonder about the fate of our planet, here is some news that may surprise you: from an evolutionary standpoint, we are exactly where we need to be.

Contrary to what conventional science and religion have been telling us, evolution is neither random nor predetermined, but rather an intelligent dance between organism and environment. When conditions are ripe—either through crisis or opportunity—something unpredictable happens to bring the biosphere into a new balance at a higher level of coherence.

The good news in the bad news is that frontier science offers both the hope and challenge that we can safely navigate this dark passage to a healthier sustainable future. Advances in epigenetics, quantum biophysics and fractal geometry reveal civilization is poised on the threshold of a major evolutionary event.

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6100 Hits

Nature’s Identity Crisis and Ours

global-children-picture-id483205433 Nature’s Identity Crisis and Ours

By Zach Bush MD, Paul J. Mills, PhD, Rudolph E. Tanzi, PhD, Michelle A. Williams, ScD  and Deepak Chopra™ MD

As our nation dives into sorrow and outrage over another merciless killing of a black man without cause, we must take the opportunity to transform a deep mindset. To achieve this, we will have to collectively shake off deep patterns of subconscious and conscious beliefs and experiences. The frequency of these instances of wrongful deaths and centuries of racially motivated abuses throughout the world creates hopelessness in our minds.  For all of the rhetoric and grandstanding of our politicians and special interest groups, we do not see fundamental change happening. This hopelessness breeds violence, resignation, isolation, paranoia, and of course more fear.

Whatever the current crises happen to be—right now it is COVID, racial injustice, police brutality, and street demonstrations—a familiar pattern has been nearly impossible to break. The crisis generates a public outcry, humanitarians face off against reactionaries, and once the worst of the crisis simmers down, things go back to normal. The great hope now, however, is that “normal” will finally be seen for its distorted abnormality.


In our view, this abnormality runs deeper than a pandemic or heart-rending injustice and inequality. A much-needed shift cannot take place until humankind passes through an identity crisis. How we see ourselves is presently through a distorted lens, and our illusions extend to the very basis of Nature herself. Human activity has despoiled Nature without conscience because humans, at our core, feel that this is our right as the planet’s superior life form. The contradiction here is that a truly superior life form would respect all of life, seeing the wonder and fragility of the miracle known as biodiversity.

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A New World Needs a New Worldview

protecting-world-from-coronavirus-covid-19-novel-corona-outbreak-picture-id1212579812 A New World Needs a New Worldview

It is very rare that human beings have a chance to rethink our place in Nature. The modern world is the fruit of a worldview that has placed Homo sapiens reigning supreme over all other life forms.  This worldview seems only right and proper to the vast majority of people. In the course of just a few weeks, however, over seven billion people’s lives changed for the worse.  Economies were halted, global transportation and supply chains were shut down to a crawl, and hundreds of millions of jobs were lost. More money has been lost globally than in any other moment in history. Amid the shock and panic, the catastrophe of COVID-19 has prompted some radical rethinking. Can a new and better world emerge? Not unless our worldview changes, because in many ways the virus isn’t a mindless primitive life form ravaging us, “the most superior life form on the planet”. Nor did Nature strike back to punish us. Something deeper is going on. To see what it is, we need to consider a worldview based not on humans-as-supreme, but on life-as-supreme.

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Where Is Your Home?

IMG_2205-1200x900

The coronavirus mandate to “stay at home” has meant different things to different people. For some, it has meant freedom from external-world busyness and distractions and a return to inner peace and quiet. To others, it has felt like unwanted confinement and loss of in-person social contact. Some have lost their jobs and incomes; others, like healthcare workers, have had no choice but to leave the “safety” of home to provide critical services, despite the risks. All of us are suddenly facing issues of life and death. Our entire world, inside and out, has changed radically and continues to do so. In the midst of these huge ongoing changes, what does home mean?

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Mark Nepo's Weekly Reflection: The Golden Thread

photo credit:Jenna Beekhuis. Mark Nepo's Weekly Reflection: The Golden Thread

The thread on the border of the fabric painting of Mount Fuji—stitched so many years ago, so many oceans away—has held the scene together longer than I’ve been alive. And on this uneventful morning, the soft rain makes the oak outside my window dip enough for the early light to stream across the braided mountain hanging on my wall. Now the thread on the border swells with the sun and seems for the moment the source of all strength. Then the sun steps higher in the sky, and the thread that holds all things together goes back to work.

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Locked down While the Earth has this Chance to Heal Itself

turtles Locked down While the Earth has this Chance to Heal Itself

Humans are on lockdown to give the planet a minute to rebirth. Turtles are able to lay eggs on the beaches without human interference, polluted skies are clearing, fish are jumping, birds are singing, the deer and the antelope are playing. Look at us.

We will be back but maybe we have learned a thing, or two. The universe is gifting us with a second chance to get it right - to discover (or rediscover) what is truly important to us. The gift is an equalizer. Everyone is affected equally - rich, poor, white, black, gay, straight - Finally.... We are one. Finally we are in this together and for each other. It is not your thing, or my thing - it is our thing.

It is as if we were spinning out of control - faster and faster and faster and the universe hit the brakes. Just stop, take a breath, begin anew. Begin anew with new and fresh and fair paradigms.

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Be Home

home Be Home

What’s your deepest nature?

The Practice:
Be home.

Why?

Throughout history, people have wondered about human nature. Deep down, are we basically good or bad?

When the body is not disturbed by hunger, thirst, pain, or illness, and when the mind is not disturbed by threat, frustration, or rejection, then most people settle into their resting state. This is a sustainable equilibrium in which the body refuels and repairs itself and the mind feels peaceful, happy, and loving. I call this the Responsive mode. In a sense, this is our “home base,” our fundamental nature as human beings. (Obviously, I am not talking about the physical location where a person lives.) We are still engaged with the world, still participating with pleasure and passion, but on the basis of a background sense of safety, sufficiency, and connection.

But when body or mind are disturbed – perhaps by overwork and fatigue, or by the cough of a nearby lion a million years ago or a frown across a dinner table today – Mother Nature has endowed us with hair-trigger mechanisms that drive us from our resting state. Fight-flight-freeze systems in the body get activated, and related experiences of fear and anger, disappointment and drivenness, and loneliness, shame, and spite occur in the mind.

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Coronavirus Speaks – Loudly And Clearly

shaman Coronavirus Speaks – Loudly And Clearly

“Virus epidemics are Mother Earth’s way of teaching us lessons that have lasting impacts,” an Andean Shaman told me. “When we contract a disease – or worry over it – we learn about ourselves and the world around us.”

I’ve thought about the historical implication of those words during this time of the coronavirus. A couple of perspectives:

  • The Black Plague that swept through Asia, Africa, and Europe in the 14th century killed an estimated 50 million people, as much as 60% of the population. It ended up impacting ideas about contamination, the economy, environment, and the importance of science. Although the role of viruses would not be discovered until much later, people realized that removing garbage and sewage from the streets and quarantining infected patients prevented it from spreading. Because of the many deaths, labor was in short supply and gained the bargaining power to increase wages significantly. As populations shrank, so did communities and farm lands; forests were rejuvenated. Perhaps most important for the long-term, the Plague generated an interest in scientific approaches to medicine and understanding the universe. (1)
  • The most notorious virus in modern times is the one that causes HIV/AIDS, a virus that since it was first identified in the early 1980s has caused an estimated 32 million deaths. (2) The HIV/AIDs virus has had huge social, cultural, economic, and educational impacts. It has taught us about the importance of safe sex, clean needles, properly-administered blood transfusions, and timely medical treatment. It has kept many people out of labor forces, especially in parts of Africa, and thus has decreased their purchasing power and GDP growth. (3) It has resulted in many attitudinal changes previously held toward different races and sexual beliefs; these resulted in new perceptions and established new laws and cultural norms. 
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A Whale Song and the Soul’s Light

tail-fin-from-diving-humpback-whale-at-sunset-picture-id185327720 A Whale Song and the Soul’s Light

As I often say, some people are attracted to light, while others emanate it. Let me tell you a story about the parents of a very good friend of mine. This is such a special story and one I hold close to my heart.

Ken and Pat are from Great Britain and were in the U.S. for a visit. I thought I’d surprise them by taking them out on a very special boat trip. It was the first time Ken and Pat were going to experience a whale-watching excursion.

As the boat slipped away from the New England harbor, Ken was clearly eager as he looked overboard, scanning the water with his battered and aged binoculars. The boat gathered speed and we headed out into the ocean, which was unbelievably calm. It was about an hour and a half later that we saw in the distance the first spouts from a family of whales.

The captain announced we were going to edge closer to the whales. He explained: “Male humpback whales sing the longest and most complex songs in the animal kingdom, each one lasting for half an hour or so. They sing to woo females and frighten off rival males. The songs can be heard underwater hundreds of miles away!”

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Mark Nepo's Weekly Reflection: Singing Light

singinglight Mark Nepo's Weekly Reflection: Singing Light
When I was ill, I walked
the antiseptic corridors,
holding God so tightly
I couldn’t see a thing.

Only now, years later, have
I had this dream in which
a small bird is singing light.
It follows me and everything
it brushes begins to glow.
I catch it, to have with me always.
But in my hands, it stops singing.

It’s made me see that more than
holding, we need to be held,
by the larger things that
enable us to live out loud.
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Mark Nepo's Weekly Reflection: The Drop of Ocean

20200211-123915 Mark Nepo's Weekly Reflection: The Drop of Ocean

The drop of ocean teaches us about integrity and faith because, no matter how churned up it is, it never loses its transparency or its ability to go clear. As transparency and clarity are intrinsic to the true nature of water, integrity and faith are intrinsic to our true nature. Regardless of how churned up we are, restoring our transparency will enliven our integrity, and restoring our clarity will enliven our faith.

As one drop of the sea contains the entire ocean, each human being contains all of humanity. When churned up and full of trouble, we are disconnected from this living heritage and things always feel worse than they are. When transparent and clear, we reflect and reveal all of humanity and are able to draw strength from the living heritage we are a part of. This is why we need to discover and inhabit a personal practice of transparency and clarity that will return us to our true nature by restoring our integrity and faith.

All the spiritual traditions offer rituals and practices, including all forms of meditation, in order to support us in our ongoing task of returning to our true nature when the roughness of living challenges our assumptions. How do we personalize these practices? How do we create our own? What is your own history of being churned up? What are the ways by which you have restored your own transparency and clarity? Who and what helps you return to your true nature?

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