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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Breakfast with a Bent Fork (and Other Musings from a Silent Retreat)

Gently and quietly, I place my plate, silverware, and mug on the table. Lowering myself into the chair, I settle my feet on the floor and lift my gaze out the window. There is a man outside, holding a mug in his right hand. I chuckle inside my head, “That man is outstanding in his field!”

The man I am seeing is the same one who has his meditation seat right in front of me in the meditation hall. This guy is nice looking and sturdy; he is wearing the kind of pants made for outdoor activities. They are stone colored, Columbia brand, the kind where you can zip off the legs if you want to wade into a stream. His fleece jacket is a medium blue color, not navy, maybe royal blue. He has a Nordic style beanie covering his head. The grasses he is standing in are tall, about knee high, beige and wispy. It’s windy, so the grasses are swaying around his legs.

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One Earth—Peace Within Crisis

We have used language to separate ourselves from each other through a litany of pronouns—you, he, she, it, they—which together mean “other.” Yes, we say “we,” but it is usually used in a sense that cordons off “us” from “them.” The greater “we” that encompasses all of humanity is rarely part of our vocabulary. World events in the form of a deadly virus are now compelling us to open our hearts to that inclusiveness. We can no longer separate ourselves from one another, and that includes all of Nature as well. Our survival depends on seeing “we” everywhere. We are being radically schooled in oneness.

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Triggered by News and Social Media? Try Mindfulness

We live in the age of the 24-hour news cycle. It even leeches into our social media feeds if we’re not careful; we may crave peace-loving memes and photos of our friends’ four-legged companions, but every time we take the bait and click through to read a heartbreaking news story or the latest political fodder, the algorithm gods take note and feed us more of the same. Being tapped into the digital world can become downright overwhelming for many of us — but we don’t have to just brace ourselves and take it.

Take a moment to answer these questions for yourself:

  •  How are your physical, mental, and emotional states faring when you are constantly tethered to news and social media feeds?
  •  Do you notice yourself feeling tense or angry — not just when you see or read an upsetting news story or social media thread, but throughout the day as you’re thinking about it?

It really is tempting to stay connected to the world’s ever-evolving storylines and dramas, but if they are compromising your sense of wellness and inner peace (and they really are for many of us), it may be time to consider a change.

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Feeling Stuck? How to Get Unstuck and Move Forward

When are you? As you experience yourself in this moment, are you really present in the now?

Of course, we’re all physically here right now, but most of us don’t often truly live in the present moment. Our minds have the incredible ability to draw us back into the past and propel us into the future, all while we go about our day-to-day lives. While it can sometimes be good to relive old memories and dream about our future, living in the past or future more than the present can also keep us stuck. 

How many times have you found yourself in a repetitive cycle you just can’t seem to break? Or, what about getting caught up on a future outcome, while avoiding things you need to focus on now? We’ve all been there, myself included. So what do we do to come back to our present moment and get unstuck?

In my #1 bestselling book, The Map: Finding the Magic and Meaning in Your Life,  I teach you how to work with the map of your life. I lead you through a profound process to discover the inner landscapes you inhabit on your path—the unseen patterns, hidden motivations, and family legacies—and show you how to break free of whatever is holding you back from the super amazing and meaningful life that is your birthright. And, one of those things that can keep you stuck is time-wandering—living “somewhen” other than the present moment.

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2020: Your Year of Mindful Self-Compassion

Just for a moment, forget about all your standard New Year’s resolutions. It goes without saying that most of us want to be healthier, wealthier, and wiser – but what if we’re going about it all wrong? Have we ever really stopped to wonder whether it’s possible to shame and “should” ourselves into going to the gym more or eating better?

Luckily, there’s another solution. Allow me to introduce you to a lovely practice called Mindful Self-Compassion (MSC). Mindfulness is the foundation of MSC. Why? Because we need to become aware of and acknowledge our suffering in order to respond to our discomfort with kindness. Self-compassion involves acting the same way towards yourself as you would act towards a dear friend when you are having a difficult time, fail, or notice something you don’t like about yourself.

Instead of just ignoring your pain with a “tough it out” mentality, you can stop to tell yourself, “This is really difficult right now. How can I comfort and care for myself in this moment?” Instead of mercilessly judging and criticizing yourself for various inadequacies or shortcomings, you are kind and understanding towards yourself when confronted with personal failings. After all, who ever said you were supposed to be perfect?

You may try to change in ways that allow you to be healthier and happier, but when you are mindfully showing yourself compassion, you change because you care about yourself, not because you are worthless or unacceptable as you are. Perhaps most importantly, having compassion for yourself means you honor and accept your humanness.

Things will not always go the way you want them to. You will encounter frustrations, and losses will occur; you will make mistakes, bump up against your limitations, and fall short of your ideals. This is the human condition, a reality shared by all of us. The more you open your heart to this reality instead of constantly fighting against it, the more you will be able to feel compassion for yourself and all your fellow humans in the experience of life.

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Using Mindfulness to Let Go of Stressful Triggers

A wise person once said, “Hell is other people!” That being true, what’s a being to do? We have little to no control over the actions or reactions of someone else. The good news, however, is that if we develop the tools, we potentially have 100 percent control over our reaction to a given situation. It doesn’t mean we won’t experience difficult emotions; it means that we can manage those emotions before they eat our heart out.

Mindfulness, present moment awareness, allows us to notice emotions arising. If you find yourself stressed out at family events, for example, slow down and notice what is coming up for you: “Oh, that’s anger in my chest,” or “that’s anxiety in my stomach.” Labeling the emotion puts more space between you and the situation, allowing you to observe what is occurring instead of being hijacked by the emotion. Once you label the emotion, your brain calms down. Then, you can soothe yourself by placing your hand wherever you identified feelings constriction and consciously sending yourself softening and soothing thoughts. Imagine placing a warm compress or warm oil on the hurt.

The next step is to acknowledge that it’s difficult to feel this way, and give yourself love and encouragement by way of an affirmation like, “This too shall pass.” Everything really does change; the good changes and the bad changes.

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Making the Season of Peace Really Matter

A world ceaselessly in a state of unrest seems to mock this time of year as a season of peace. Most people are simply grateful that unrest hasn’t touched their lives, and hope fades for the victims of war and strife who will probably never enjoy peace except during brief truces. The link between holidays and holy days may be fragile in these times, but you can be a unit of peace consciousness starting now.

This  happens at the level of intention and attention.

First, intention. Holidays are about gatherings, first of family but also of events that embrace community and nation. It's therefore easy to feel, on the negative side, that you have little or no control over what's happening around you. Swept up in holiday rituals that are simply a given, surrounded by squabbling family members and old tensions, you can easily be overwhelmed.

The way out is by centering yourself and being clear, first on the inside, what you intend your holiday season to be.  A helpful exercise is to sit quietly with eyes closed and say to yourself, I want joy. I want peace. I want grace and love. As you say each phrase, pause and feel joy, peace, love, and grace as  the silence of your Being. Joy, peace, love and grace are your essential nature. It doesn't matter how you settle into this  feeling/knowing. Putting your attention on your heart is often helpful, or seeing a soft light in that region.

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Are you looking for peace in an uncertain world?

Did you know that forgiveness, peace, love and joy are inextricably linked?

It is only when we’ve experienced true inner peace that we understand there is another world that exists beyond the ego mind’s comprehension.

It’s an awesome world of wonder and the bliss of pure love. Sounds good, doesn’t it?

Imagine waking up tomorrow morning… your to do list is full… family is on the way…

The demands of life just keep coming…

and you…

you are completely at peace.

How good would that feel?

As we enter the holiday season, peace is often the gift we most desire. 

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Choosing Joy to De-Condition Our Negativity Bias

Some years back, I was talking with a woman in our community. She was a breast cancer survivor and she told me about a conversation that she had with a friend who also was a survivor. Her friend asked her, “What would it feel like for you to think that something good might happen, rather than something bad?” Her response was, “Totally weird and uncomfortable. “Good,” her friend said. “Try it now.”

From an evolutionary perspective, it really makes sense that we feel uncomfortable when we envision positive things coming our way. Our brains are designed to scan for trouble and fixate on what might go wrong in any given situation. This is described as the negativity bias and it one of our hard wired survival strategies. Of course, it is a very good strategy for avoiding real danger. But, in the absence of a true threat, it limits our capacity for enjoying, and celebrating our moments. We have such a short time on planet earth. When the negativity bias rules, we get very loyal to our anxiety, mistrust and vigilance. We cannot inhabit the fullness of our lives.

In happiness research, a common denominator among those who are deemed “happy” is a sense that they are actually choosing to be happy. They believe that happiness is possible and there is a willingness to turn towards it. Catholic mystic and writer Henri Nouwen writes:

“Joy does not simply happen to us. We have to choose joy and then keep choosing it every day.”[1]

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The Paradox of Planning for the Future

When you initially arrive into a new situation, the optimum strategy for dealing with that situation is to quiet down and hear the totality of what’s going on around you. To hear all of the variables and how they are all working together, just in a quiet intuitive way, out of which will come an optimum action. That is, the more fully you are present in that moment of decision making, the more you can expect an optimum response. Optimum in the sense of it being in the deepest harmony on the most planes of reality.


The best practice for being fully present at that moment of choice is to practice being present in this moment.

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A Simple Skill to Amplify Mindfulness in a Heartbeat

Heartfulness is the companion, not the opposite of Mindfulness. Awareness is the result and cause of this beloved union.

“In all Asian languages the word for mind and the word for heart are the same word, so in English when you hear the word mindfulness, if you are not hearing the word heartfulness, you are not understanding it fully.” Jon Kabat Zinn - internationally known for his work as a scientist, writer, and meditation teacher engaged in bringing mindfulness into the mainstream of medicine and society.

Amazing things happen when you begin with the awareness of your breath in Mindfulness and add awareness of our heartbeat in Heartfulness. The synchronized rhythm of your heart beat, breath and mental focus can greatly amplify the experience of harmony and balance in your daily life.

This heartful state of being supports a lifestyle of energetic buoyancy, where life can flow with more harmony, calm, ease, intuition, confidence, safety, concentration, aliveness, gratitude and generosity. As Heartfulness becomes an effortless habit, you will experience increased relaxed confidence and more effective results in your daily activities.

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6 Mindfulness Practices from Around the World

Many cultures around the world have deep traditions of mindfulness practices. Learn how mindfulness is practiced all around the world.

If you look at any culture throughout history, you’ll find that their traditions include some form of meditation or mindfulness practice.

Christians and Muslims pray. Catholics recite rosaries. Buddhists meditate. People in India practice yoga. Native Americans perform sweat lodges…

…and so on.

So why do so many different societies evolve some sort of practice dedicated to helping people clear their minds, and access deeper levels of awareness and consciousness?

It’s because the wisest people in every culture understand the same profound truth: that the quality of our thoughts create the quality of our reality.

So if you want to experience a more peaceful, joyful and fulfilling reality, you must learn to raise your consciousness and access a higher level of thoughts.

But not all mindfulness practices are tied to religion or take the form of prayer or meditation.

Today I’d like to share some of the other interesting ways people around the world cultivate mindfulness to maximize their happiness and fulfillment in life.

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Finding Balance Between Mind and Heart on the Path to Liberation

There are many tools that all serve the process of awakening or liberation, and when you listen inward you can feel – or situations present themselves to show you that your energies are out of whack, or that your heart is too closed off.

Your mind can be full of high wisdom, but that’s in your head. There are times when I listen to somebody, and I can hear with my body. I hear in a certain way in which I’ll feel pressure in my head, or I’ll feel tightness in my chest.


There are two theories about how you do this: One is that you go for broke with whatever you do. For example, if you focus on quieting the mind, and the mind gets quiet enough, at the latest stages the heart will automatically aline and the energies will aline. The first strategy is to find your method and just keep doing it, and wait for the others to all fall into place behind it. There will be tremendous imbalance until very late in the game. The other is where you keep correcting the inner process along the way. I don’t really know that one is better than the other – you have to intuit which way to go.

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Mindfully Manifest a New Beginning

Most of you know, if you’ve been following my blogs, that we lost my husband’s father recently. If anything forces you to stay in the now, it’s this kind of loss. Everything stands still as you take stock after the shock, even before the arrangements, etc. there is this sense of being suspended in time. For me, as I have lost both my parents and now my second dad, I know it’s a precious moment that is filled with gratitude and heartbreaking love, breaking open to appreciation and reverence for all life and for the Spirit that is inherent in all things. You don’t have to lose anything to find that spot, you can enter it through mindfulness meditation and then by choosing to be aware and awake to both inner and outer conditions. 

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Spirit Doesn’t Need a Mobile Phone

Are you tired of always rushing around? How are you handling your digitally driven life? I’ve noticed that everywhere I go, everyone has their eyes on their cell phones. We’re living in a new world where our digital devices are speeding up and maybe even taking control of our lives.

I remember the days before email, before Facebook, and even before everyone, including young children, had mobile phones. My older friends remember having to handwrite letters and drop them in a mailbox to correspond with their family and friends. Then there was the dial-up landline telephone followed by the novelty of sending a fax. Now it’s the explosion of all things digital.

The net affect of all this instant communication is that we’re always rushing. There doesn’t seem to be enough hours in the day. We’ve become more impatient, more intolerant and more about results than the journey getting there! These days, we want things done yesterday and expect things to just materialize or happen when we want them to.

I see how dependant we’ve become to our phones, especially when I’m at the movie theater. Seconds before the film starts, everyone takes one last glance before turning them off. The glow around the cinema says it all.

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Making The Quantum Flip™: Changing Discipline to Devotion

If there was one thing that could make you more successful, prevent depression, and allow you to maintain healthy weight, would you do it? What if I told you it had nothing to do with working out or eating right?

We all know that maintaining a consistent physical practice as well as healthy eating habits positively affects our physical, emotional and mental well-being. However, there is something more than simply maintaining a dedicated routine that brings even greater benefits to our lives.

More important than the routines, is who we are when we do them.

When we go about our daily routines, we do have to maintain consistency, but we must do it in a vibrational frequency that is closer to the truth of who we are.  Our vibrational frequency has everything to do with who we perceive ourselves to be which plays a role in the state of our choices, disposition, orientation in the world, sense of self and our ability to maintain clarity and consistency in our lives.

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The Balanced Mind: A Better Model

Now that meditation has caught on widely, it’s time to understand why it works. The physical findings measured by neuroscience gives intriguing hints about changes in brain wave activity, but that’s an effect, not a cause. The same holds true for physiological changes outside the brain, such as lowered heart rate and blood pressure. The how and why of meditation must be sought “in here,” in the meditator’s subjective experience.

This isn’t a mysterious route to take. Pain studies are based on how much pain a subject feels; there is no objective way to measure this. In the case of meditation, I believe the correct model is that the mind in meditation is rebalancing itself. Medical studies have known for a long time that the body tends toward a state of dynamic balance known as homeostasis. If you push your body out of balance by shoveling snow off the driveway or running a marathon, as soon as you stop that activity, heart rate, blood pressure, oxygen use in the muscles, and even digestion and the immune system return to homeostatic balance.

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Make The Most of This Day (Mindfulness)

Being mindful, understanding and keeping track of your thoughts and emotions is critical in being able to change your state.

This simple but powerful tool will raise your awareness of exactly how you’re feeling at any given moment and can help you change the way you feel from one moment to the next.

Practice this technique and make a habit of using it.

Answer the questions truthfully and spontaneously. Stay focused on the answer to question number four for as long as you can.

Use your own words and the wisdom of your own heart to answer the questions.

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Desire: A Current of Homecoming

Desire is intrinsic to our aliveness, yet when we have unmet needs, it can possess us. This talk explores how to relax open the grip of wanting and heal the suffering of addiction. You will learn how to bring mindfulness and compassion to the roots of desire, and be carried home to open loving presence (a favorite from the archives).

For us addicts, recovery is more than just taking a pill or maybe getting a shot. Recovery is also about the spirit, about dealing with that hole in the soul.
~ William Moyers

You might also enjoy Tara’s online course, curated from this talk, plus several of her others: Freeing Ourselves with Mindfulness: Using mindfulness and meditation to heal harmful habits, attachments, and addictions. Register at any time. Link includes discounted price.

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How to Stay Mindful in the Age of Digital Distractions

People have loved practicing mindfulness and meditation for centuries – and for good reason. Studies have found that this time-honored tradition has huge mental and physical benefits. Research attributes mindfulness to increased focus and working memory as well as increased quality of life. Also attributed are reductions in anxiety and stress, so with all these reasons to be mindful what's stopping us?

In this new age of technology, distraction is just a click away. Tiny pocket-sized devices provide hours of entertainment with a few taps of a finger. This daily intake of likes, notifications and messages does come at a cost. Technology has brought with it many great conveniences but not without consequence. Overuse of technology has been linked to depression, anxiety and many other mental health issues that are currently on the rise. Developing mindfulness can help to prevent and even repair these negative impacts of technology.

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30 Simple Ways to Create Balance and Connection

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