A Complete Guide to the Practice o Meditation

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Gratitude for the Worst Things I’ve Ever Experienced

“ Life is messy, tragic, terrifying, but also unbelievably breathtaking. There are deep gifts hidden in the most demanding challenges that life throws at us. In a time of crisis, gratitude is the key to opening your heart and unlocking the magic contained in these truly profound gifts.” - Jan Desai

In the ring stands a boxer. He is clearly exhausted. In the early rounds of the match, he was a fighter. Then, there was a hope of winning. That hope now seems long gone. Now, the boxer is simply trying to survive. Cut and bleeding, he attempts to defend himself. Taking one body blow after another, he endures the punishment, waiting for the sound of the bell.

Does life sometimes leave you feeling like this boxer? Are you dazed and exhausted, struggling to navigate your way through whatever challenge or crisis you are facing? Do the overwhelming negative emotions that you are experiencing feel like crushing blows? Are you barely enduring, waiting for some relief, believing that you may never find your footing again? If so...come sit next to me!

Life can seem like a brutal and overwhelming opponent. Believe me, I know this feeling firsthand. One doesn’t make it into their sixth decade without experiencing a multitude of potential knock-outs. Death. Divorce. Illness. Infertility. Depression. Addiction. Really, any kind of loss is like an unexpected sucker-punch. You don’t see it coming and, when it hits, you are overwhelmed by the crushing unfairness that sends you reeling into the darkness.

How I Made it Through My Toughest Fights

Let me share my toughest fights with you. Let me be completely transparent about how I’ve felt during these insurmountable times. Let me show you how I’ve made it through to the other side. My prayer is that, in doing so, you will no longer feel completely alone. In fact, I hope you recognize my words as those of a dear friend who is reaching out a hand in recognition, comfort, love and inspiration.

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Mark Nepo's Weekly Reflection: The Mystic Spinning of Threads

I wonder where you are tonight.

Each of you. You who I lived with

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Be Aware Of Progress

Are some things getting better?

The Practice:
Be aware of progress.

Why?

There are always things that are getting worse. For example, over the past year, you probably know someone who has become unemployed or ill or both, and there's more carbon in the atmosphere inexorably heating up the planet.

But if you don't recognize what's improving in your own life, then you feel stagnant, or declining. This breeds what researchers call "learned helplessness" - a dangerously slippery slope. It typically takes only a few experiences of painful entrapment to create it but many times as many counter-experiences to undo it.

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Mark Nepo's Weekly Reflection: One More Taste

When on the go, there are more

places to go. When stopped, I’m

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Receive Generosity From Others

Let it sink in that receiving generosity is good.

Do you accept the gift?

The Practice:
Receive generosity from others.

Why?

Life gives to each one of us in so many ways.

For starters, there’s the bounty of the senses – including chocolate chip cookies, jasmine, sunsets, wind singing through pine trees, and just getting your back scratched.

What does life give you?

Consider the kindness of friends and family, made more tangible during a holiday season, but of course continuing throughout the year.

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Before He Knew

He was thirteen before he knew what a hand drill was. His father saved and bought him one for 75 cents. Before that, he made holes in wood by twisting coal-fired nails into the grain. It was his job to throw wood in the fire after school. When red hot, he’d pinch a nail with a pair of pliers and twist it through the wood, which went soft and dark until there was an opening. Now his skin is thin and just last week he stumbled out of bed and landed hard on the radiator, his forearm tearing like a thin curtain. It took an hour to stop bleeding.

He just took care of it himself. We are held this way in the fire of time where we go soft and dark till our skin goes thin and just waking tears us open.


A Question to Walk With: Ask an elder in your life for a story about the first tool they learned how to use.

This excerpt is from a new book in progress, Compass Work: Finding Our Fathers While Finding Ourselves.

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The Pink Lemonade Solution

Sh*$ happens.

It comes in many forms: illness, money issues, breakups, loved ones pass on (even worse, sometimes it all happens at once)!

Since we can’t control the ups and downs of life, we can discover empowering ways how to respond and react.

I’ve always loved that old saying, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade!”

When I am confronted and challenged with these darker times, I like to make “pink lemonade” – it’s about finding the blessings in the problem and also adding a huge dose of love to it.




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Unconditional Love

​I struggled in high school and dropped out at age 15. At the same time. I moved out of the home I was raised in. There was no direction in my life. My inner compass was being ignored. My outer world was filled with confusion and scarcity. 

This brought me many opportunities to make horrible decisions. It also brought me the opportunity to experience Unconditional Love for the first time ever. 
 
At age 18, all my options appeared to be exhausted.  I had experience as a waitress. I was uneducated. I had no money; but I knew there was a better life waiting for me. 

It was my mother that showed me Yosemite National Park was seeking summer help. Three weeks later I rode the Greyhound bus to Mariposa, California. I can’t remember how I made it into Yosemite.  

My life changed overnight. Each day was filled with anticipation. My job was bussing tables. Clearing tables was not what I was living for, but it was good.
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Between Troubles

The old painter tells me that he loves to drive through small towns, so he can sketch the light and strike up conversations with the young woman who pumps his gas and the lobster fisherman who lets him bait his traps. He loves to meet life as it bubbles up between troubles. Last summer, he wanted to meet that poet from Nebraska, the one who speaks so simply of all that matters. He didn’t want to bother him, just to say how grateful he is for what his poems open. Eight hundred miles later, he was asking for the poet in the old bookstore. Then he drifted into the antique store in Garland where he bought four lanterns. It’s there the owner said, “Oh Ted, he lives in Dwight.” So the painter took his lanterns and drove the back road to Dwight where he left a note on Ted’s window that read, “Your poems matter.” Once home, he set up the lanterns and confessed that he needs more light as he talks to death. The next day, he painted a barn he saw in Dwight and sent it to Ted. In telling me this, he’s all aglow, a lantern himself. He takes my hand and wells up, “I love this life.”

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I Rise on the Song of the Sparrow

There is a large courtyard in the building where I live. It plays an important role in my self-balancing to deal with the day ahead.


I wake up, meditate, get dressed, grab a coffee and go to sit in the courtyard – there is an overhang of the second floor so there’s protection from the rain.


My courtyard experience always starts with Gratitude. When I sit down of a morning, my thoughts turn to all the things I am grateful for, from evenness of spirit to beloved friends.


Second comes a visit, not from something majestic or mighty but from the lowly, common sparrow.


"Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows." ---Matthew 10:29-31


Sparrows are sprightly birds, quick and attentive.


I have created a position that when I see a sparrow it’s going to be a good day. Look at them, going about their business, hopping and bopping, cocking their heads this way and that; in camouflage colours of gray and brown, when they explore around the woody branches they are visible only by their movement. And then they fly, quickly, to the hedge or the two Japanese upright maples. This being a chosen sign for me, I do not have the opposite idea – that if I don’t see a sparrow it’s not a good day. I just miss them when they don’t show up.

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What If You Could Turn All Your Wrong-Doers Into Angels

Imagine this…… one day - seemingly out of the blue - you have an awareness that all your rejections and “failures” are gifts, and all the “wrong-doers” in your life are actually,  angels and/or spiritual guides - leading you (or knocking you back) to your true path. 

If a person throws you away,

Say thank you.  

If you get fired from a job,

Say thank you.  

If your forever relationship ends,

Say thank you. 

If no one shows up for your event

Say thank you.  

If you keep hitting walls, 

Say thank you (and look for a door!)

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My Most Magical Mystical Weekend

I had the most incredible weekend with the coolest, most mystical, weird & wonderful spirit-loving people. We read Oracle Cards, we laughed, we meditated, we danced, we journaled, we cried, danced some more and we had a fantastic time together.

What did I do? I hosted the 2nd annual OraclePalooza®.

It was a dream come true to have close to 300 people join me for my yearly giant Oracle Card party and celebration event. Everyone brought amazing positive energy and dove into up-leveling exercises all while sharing their hearts, smiles, and so much joy. Even the tears were liberating in so many ways as people broke through their personal barriers.

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What I’m Thinking Ahead of this Fourth of July

The other morning when I sat down to meditate, my mind was bouncing all over the place and I struggled to access a place of calm.

 

One second, I was thinking about my children. The next, I was thinking about the children who have been separated from their parents at the border. I could feel myself feeling their fear and anxiety and I shuddered at the thought of what they must be going through.

 

Then, I found myself thinking about the terror inside the newsroom in Annapolis. I felt terror inside me as I thought about how unsafe everyone seems to feel these days. In fact, just the other day, I cautioned my kids not to get into a fight with someone on the road (or anywhere else for that matter). I cautioned them that everyone has so much rage and anger these days that you have to be careful in every circumstance. You just never know.

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In the Details

“God is in the details,” some wise individual once said. Different people interpret that sentence differently, but for me it means the Divine lives in every seemingly insignificant detail in the world. God does not show up solely for fiery sunsets, mountain panoramas, and sacred ceremonies. God is also in the tiny ant crawling across the picnic table and the voice of a neighbor singing off-key at 6 a.m. God exists beyond judgment and circumstance. God is everywhere.

 

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The Power of New Beginnings

“Your soul senses the world that awaits you.”


That’s the last line of a poem by one of my favorite poets, John O’ Donahue. It’s called “New Beginnings,” and I just love the image that it conveys. A world awaits you and your soul.

Several years ago, I printed out the poem, put it in my wallet, and promptly forgot about it. Then last Sunday as I was sitting in a parking lot, I rediscovered it.

The crumpled piece of paper caught my eye as I was rummaging through my wallet trying to find one of those crazy punch cards for juice that my son makes me buy.

“What’s that?” I thought to myself as I spotted the wrinkled paper.

I unfolded it and found the poem. There, sitting in my car in a CVS parking lot, I read it once again. Tears streamed down my face.

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Life Is Complicated, Life Is Simple

We humans like to think life can be reduced to a list of tips or suggestions that will keep everything controllable and running smoothly. Social media and marketing promote this illusion with articles and ads that proclaim the “top ten” ways to health, wealth, love, or eternal youth. The truth is that life is not manageable. Relationships can be challenging, checkbooks may not balance, and the most carefully thought-out plans fall through. Is this the end of the world, reason for despair? Absolutely not. If life were predictable and reducible to easy steps for across-the-board success, it would be boring, and we would not grow and evolve.
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Conversations Around My Kitchen Table

My kitchen table is always a busy place. (Not as busy as newsrooms or the White House were this week, but pretty busy nonetheless.)

I love family, I love food, and I love to invite people into my home to sit with me at my table. Oftentimes, I invite friends of mine or people I’ve met through my kids. Other times, I invite people who friends have suggested I meet because they’re doing something interesting in the world. I invite people who have different perspectives on different issues. People who think differently than me politically. People of different races. People of different faith backgrounds. I’ve even been known to cold-call someone I’ve read about and invite them to join me at my table.

It never ceases to amaze me how much I learn from those who join me. I learn how little I really know. I learn how vast the world is. I learn how wide-open people’s hearts are. How much suffering there is. How many creative and inspiring ideas are out there bubbling in people’s minds.

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The 5 keys For When You Are Feeling Lost and Confused In Life

Sometimes when you think you are most lost, you are actually much closer than you think.

As you face dark times, failure, or confusion, it’s easy to lose the faith and want to give up. It’s easy to feel alone and question yourself and the validity of your dreams.

In the midst of a difficult time, you may not always understand WHY things are happening. But TRUST that all things are happening for your good, even if you can’t see it right now.

The universe is cooking the blessings on your behalf.

So you must let go of the life that you have in order to embrace the next level of life that awaits you.

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Finding a ‘Yippee!’ Moment in Every Day

A profoundly simple idea came to me last weekend.

It came way before I watched the Comey interview. Way before the Time 100 list came out. Way before Jeff Bezos told us how many Amazon Prime customers there actually are. (OMG.)

The idea came to me as I was sitting in conversation with three old friends and a dog. I don’t know exactly whose idea it was, but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t the dog’s. 

The idea came out of one of those conversations that traversed the news of the day, the bumps of life, and the challenges at hand. As we were talking, we collectively decided that we all needed more joy in our lives. “Yippee moments,” to be exact.

What is a yippee moment, you ask? Well, it’s a moment you consciously celebrate. It’s a moment where you decide that you get to feel joy-filled at least once per day, since most of us don’t focus on finding joyful moments on a daily basis.

Most of us are so bogged down getting through life and attending to life’s never-ending stream of responsibilities that before we know it, we aren’t playing anymore. We aren’t celebrating anymore. We aren’t thinking “yippee!”

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Gratitude Instead of Grievance

Celebrate the blessings in your life and let go of the perceived wrongs. At the deepest level, everything is a blessing, and those who challenge your identity or cause you pain play their role in your life too. It’s all a giant improvisational drama, this life on Earth. We came into this world with a soul framework, a few costumes, and a troupe of other players. Together we live the magic of life lessons and evolving epiphanies, which lead us forward on our journey.

In grade school, I had two teachers who each embodied different qualities: one, Mrs. Logan, was pure loving-kindness, and the other, Mrs. Wyman, was filled with anger and a need to control.* Both of them taught me human lessons beyond the classroom and had an effect on my life that I’m beginning to see more clearly now after all these years.
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30 Simple Ways to Create Balance and Connection

Join Soulspring for conscious insights...

...on all things life, wellness, love, transformation and spirituality...

 PLUS! Get your FREE Guide: 12 Mindfulness Practices to a Peaceful Mind