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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A Conscious Reset

There are times in life when you may feel as if you’re running backward down a dark alley that has no outlet. Kind of like a bad dream. When you finally realize you’re backing yourself into a dead end, there’s nothing to do but stop, take a deep breath, and look honestly at where you are. In fact, you are being given a precious opportunity to fully awaken and live with greater awareness. It’s what I call a conscious reset. And it’s what I’m experiencing right now.

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The Three Wishes of Every Spiritual Aspirant

Principal to all that we study is an immutable, interior law: As goes my attention, so comes my experience. What I give myself to, I get. If I give myself to something low, I get low. If I give myself to something beautiful, I get beauty. If I give myself to the Divine, I get the Divine. This law is what we must keep in mind as we gradually look at the idea of what it is that we really want from life. Not: What do I want when I get up and I see the news and I get all stirred up, or what do I want when I look at the markets and I get all worried about that, or what do I want because something has stimulated me… but what do I want when I see that all that has stimulated me has left me with nothing?" That’s a significant difference. 

What is it that I really want? A big part of a person's work --for probably many years -- is just the gradual realization of how (like the Prodigal Son) they have wandered off and squandered their resources -- meaning their time and their attention -- which is all that we really have of our own. Then it starts to get a lot simpler to give voice to a truth seeker’s three real wishes.

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Trusting Who We Are (retreat talk)

When we are suffering, we are believing something untrue – usually a limiting story about who we are. This talk explores the roots of our self-doubts, and the teachings and practices that remind us of our basic goodness – the loving awareness that is our source (given at the Fall 2019 IMCW 7-Day Silent Retreat – 2019-11-06).

Carlos Castaneda – the Don Juan books – puts this way. He says, “You talk to yourself too much. You’re not unique in that every one of us does. We maintain our world with our inner dialogue. A man or woman of knowledge is aware that the world will change completely as soon as they stop talking to themselves.”

Sri Nisargadatta says, “Love tells me I’m everything. Wisdom tells me I’m nothing. Between the two my life flows.”

I really invite you to experiment and find the way of remembering love that warms your heart because it’ll help you trust your heart and we deep down really want to trust the goodness of our hearts.

May we trust who we are.

~ Tara

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Everything Depends on What You Want from Life

Our lives are living opportunities to explore the celestial stuff of consciousness from which we are created. We can either choose to substantiate this relationship with reality through the "process" of paying attention to its invitation, or we can refuse it.

 

The first (and highly recommended) action places us upon the guest list of God’s life. 

The latter choice, our failure to be awake and attend to the moment at hand, leads to nothing but more involvement with nothing. So the right choice is always to choose in favor of Real Life! That's what our studies together are all about: learning to discern Truth when it knocks at our door. And practicing what we know strengthens our relationship with Truth. For instance, much as in the same way we must learn to give our attention to these impulses of consciousness appearing in the stream of our self, so we must learn to be awake to the garbage that bubbles up from the bottom of this stream that also calls for our attention. When a depressive state begins to press in, we can work to wake up and remember that a depressing thought embraced crushes the one who embraces it. We learn this lesson by loving something Higher.

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Change Your Entire Life with this Simple Technique from Thích Nhất Hạnh.

To be beautiful means to be yourself. You don’t need to be accepted by others. You need to accept yourself. ~ Thich Nhat Hanh

I was visiting a friend in New York City this past weekend as we discussed various elements of all things spiritual. Discussion of teachers, techniques, paths and so forth culminated into some personal and candid sharing with one another. She knew some of my past but not all of it. She’d never heard the stories of my self-inflicted cutting, or that I used to sleep on a dozen sharp knives because it gave me a sense of being alive in an otherwise empty and fleeting day to day reality. Then there was the suicide attempts, numerous trips to emergency rooms, rehabs and psych wards, all of which she took in stride.

As I went to sleep in my friends cozy guest bed, I reflected on those dark times and how truly transformative the following technique taught by Thich Nhat Hanh has been in turning my life around. I also thought that since it’s worked so well for me, it may work well for you too.

It’s extremely simple and can be done anytime, anywhere and in virtually any circumstance.

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Count Your Blessings – You Are One of Them!

One of my favorite teachers is Mathew Fox, whose book Original Blessing made probably the biggest impact on my life when I was really struggling around the holidays. My mentor, Margueritte, who bless her sweet heart was like Aunt Clara from Bewitched (for those of you who remember the dotty old witch whose spells sometimes landed her in a trash can, or she’d accidentally turn herself into a cat) handed this book to me along with the same author’s version of the Sermon on the Mount. The holidays seemed to trigger all my low self-worth buttons and behaviors, and all she said to me when she gave them to me was, “God doesn’t make junk—and you are a treasure.” She also used to call me her exotic bird too, while others in the church basements we frequented would look at my goth appearance and look away in fear and loathing muttering that there should be a dress code for sobriety. Ya right. 

The gist of this book was that we are all born in Original Blessing, not Original Sin, that each of us is born innocent and blessed by the Divine, and that our task in this lifetime is to discover that sparkling thread of this Truth and weave it into the fabric of our lives. In this way we could free ourselves to be human, to keep committed to a conscious contact with a benevolent Higher Power, and if we make mistakes we can be accountable and take action and make amends when needed. We were not the sum total of our mistakes, that they, in fact, are each an opportunity for growth and a return to Love and to Spirit. 

For someone newly clean and sober, this was a revelation because I had so much shame and unprocessed rage I didn’t know how to be other than to say, “I’ll show you how hurt I am. I’ll set myself on fire,” or just sit in a corner and stuff my face wondering if I will ever feel safe, or free from myself. (Oh! Right! If you’re new to my blog, I’m turning 34 years clean and sober soon, and the holidays are when I get right into looking for blessings everywhere even in the face of pain).

So this concept changed everything for me. Since then, every year I have started taking my inventory of the year before around now.

It’s when I clean house, both my actual environment and my inner. I take away what I don’t need from my outer, which is relatively easy, but before I focus on what needs to go internally, I do a slightly different inventory. I first look for the treasures in my life, experiences that were both obvious and obscured.

It’s kind of like a hidden object game called Where’s Waldo—Elf of Holiday Blessings? 

So I’m going to invite you to do what I do. 

The question I ask myself is where can I find the blessings in my life hidden in plain sight? 

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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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How to Create Compassionate Holidays

Compassionate Holidays require that you act consciously each moment. Unconscious caretaking and pleasing others (giving gifts because it is the “season”) are NOT compassionate deeds. They ignore the humanity of the recipient because the recipient is being exploited by frightened parts of your personality. This type of interaction multiplied billions of time each “Holiday Season” makes the experience much less than it could be.

Compassion is being moved to and by acts of the heart. I am not speaking of the sentimental “heart,” the “heart” that feels pity and need to fix other’s problems (these are experiences of frightened parts of the personality). I am speaking of the most healthy, inclusive, grounded, and loving part of yourself. If this heart is not involved, no compassion is present. Therefore a compassionate Holiday, like a compassionate family dinner or a compassionate country requires you to replace the experiences of frightened parts of your personality (which also include anger, impatience, frustration, and judging) with the experiences of loving parts (gratitude, appreciation, patience, caring). This creates authentic power.

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Vodka, Cops & the Bhagavad Gita.

“The Edge…there is no honest way to explain it because the only people who really know where it is are the ones who have gone over.”

~ Hunter S. Thompson

As I sat in meditation recently, I had one of those experiences. It’s something I’ve learned to laugh at now, the absolute ridiculousness of it in a very Bukowski sort of way, but there’s of course a small part of my stomach that still knots up when memories like these rear their ugly heads.

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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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Set Your Sights on Self-Liberation

In our inner work to awaken and realize ourselves, we must begin where we begin, and put away any other concerns about where that beginning is. It’s enough just to make a start, wherever that may be. What difference does it make at what point you enter into a great river? Sooner or later, all of its waters reach and pour into the sea.

Never let discouragement have the final word, and one day there will be nothing left to discuss. Besides, you can have just as many new beginnings as you’re willing to leave behind all of your ideas about yourself. Nothing in this world, or in any other, can stop you from discovering your original, free being. This has always been your destiny, as Walt Whitman confirms: “The central urge in every atom, to return to its divine source and origin.”

Following are 10 secret ways higher self-studies help you succeed in life:

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Doorways

Everything in our life is here, because at some point, we walked thru a doorway and summoned  the experience.  I will share an example of this; outside my window there are rabbits and an occasional red cardinal eating pieces of lettuce and carrots.  Earlier in the day I put the produce out knowing it would attract some animals.  My thoughts and actions created the enjoyable encounter.  I also credit thoughts and behavior for the not so sweet manifestations.

What ever shows up in our life, we play a significant role in how and why it has appeared.   Our mind creates the door frame and our response leads us through the passage that holds our experiences.  The power of our mind is responsible for building everything physical and non physical on our journey.   Imagination holds the potential for everything.

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Do You Have a Psychically Sensitive Child?

I’ve become fascinated by the ever-increasing number of children who are displaying amazing psychic abilities. I’ve noticed over the past few years how many more questions I’m getting at my lectures, during my radio show and on my Facebook page about psychically sensitive children.

Young intuitive children see the world and people as they truly are. They show their sensitivity in such simple ways. For example, if your child encounters someone new and it appears as though they don’t like that person, then I’d suggest that first and foremost, you take a moment to listen to your child.

Your child is probably able to see clairvoyantly, or they’re feeling the colors emanating from the person’s aura. They could also be picking up the energy of the person, and they interpret it as a something they’re not comfortable with. The important thing is that you’re totally supportive and you talk to your child about what they’re feeling.

How can these abilities or spiritual gifts be understood and developed? Rather than look to your child for answers, we must first look within at our attitudes, thoughts, and feelings. Parents and teachers have to realize that being intuitive or psychic is normal. There are too many misconceptions.

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Saying “Yes” to Our Life - A Short Talk and Meditation

Our habitual ways of avoiding pain keep us from experiencing intimacy with our inner life and with each other. This short talk and guided meditation offers instruction in saying “yes” to the life we encounter. As we release resistance, we discover the creativity, wisdom and love that express our truest nature (a reflection from the archives).

Listen to the full talk: Saying “Yes” – Meeting Your Edge and Softening.

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The Butterfly Effect

The art of becoming is accomplished through an act of rebirth. As you continue to evolve as a spiritual creation that is constantly seeking growth and a heightened sense of awareness, the ability to navigate the process of rebirth becomes vitally essential.

I am so grateful to discuss rebirth and how the evolution of a butterfly’s journey from caterpillar to cocoon to gaining its wings to flying can provide important key aspects to our own journey as we manifest the life we want to live! I want to start with a quote from the great Maya Angelou…It reads,

“We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.”


Let’s think about that for a minute. How do you feel about this statement? Can anybody relate? You know you are destined to soar yet you have been just crawling along not realizing nor expressing your full potential. Don’t get me wrong…the caterpillar stage is fine and is important. And I don’t want to negate the importance of the caterpillar experience. You can have joy here. You can have success, happiness, abundance, and love. I am sure if you ask the caterpillar, they are happy moving along eating leaves. I mean what do caterpillars eat anyway? I mean I don’t even know... but and it’s a huge BUT…if you are longing for more or you know there is a greater something that is seeking to be born, in your heart of hearts, you know you have more to give this world then it’s time to be brave and enter into your cocoon phase. You willing enter because you know it’s time. You begin to trust in the magic of rebirth. Maybe you have even had visions of flying and landing on flowers. You can even see what colors your wings are. Have you had that experience? You know where you been, you know where you are right now, and you have seen the vision for the future. The vision is in 3-D Pixar color and it’s clear. You want it. I often say…I want that.


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It’s Pruning Time!

Our minds and lives are just like a garden. A good gardener understands that pruning is vital to the overall health and vitality of the garden and must be done on a regular and consistent basis. When you prune the weeds or old unproductive soil, it gives room for your flowers to flourish.

As we spiritually mature, we must be willing to prune old habits, old ideas of who we think we are or were, and any weeds or outdated information that no longer serve the new idea or the emerging version of ourselves. Each breath presents a new possibility.

There is a Divine Intelligence in nature that cannot be denied. Fall is one of my favorite times of the year. I am often in awe of the trees and now they simply release their leaves. There’s no effort or unwillingness to surrender. You know I strive to be like the tree.

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The Still Small Voice Within

In this dharma talk from 1975, Ram Dass speaks of the still small voice within that serves as a constant reminder of our true nature and relationship with God.

Ram Dass reflects on the fire of the Living Spirit that exists inside each of us. A flame that becomes suppressed to just an ember by our time in the world. Ram Dass examines how that ember acts as a still small voice within that reminds us of our true nature and our relationship with God.

“Though we have lived our life totally involved in the world, we know that we are of the spirit. As you go towards God, you learn about yourself. When you return from God, you learn about the world. But when you are in the world you know not of the world. You cannot see the forest for the trees.” – Ram Dass

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Do Numbers Keep Showing Up in Your Life?

Numbers play a key role in our lives, in the world, in science and technology. When you think of it, everything in the Universe revolves around numbers. From the rotation of the earth and the planets in our Universe, our calendars, to the way we keep time, everything is based on numbers.

Do numbers keep showing up in your life? This could be how your loved ones on the Other-Side are trying to get your attention.

Oftentimes, your loved ones who have passed on will attempt to communicate with you through numbers. Have you noticed any number or series of numbers that appear repeatedly in your life? It could be on your digital clock, license plate, bills, telephone numbers, or those synchronistic moments when you find you have the same birthday as someone you’ve just met. Many people will see the exact time of the passing of a loved one repeatedly appearing in their lives.

Numbers play a big part in my work, both on and offstage. For a while, I frequently used to see the number 149. No matter what order they were in, these three numbers kept popping up in my life. I searched my memory banks and scrambled the numbers in every possible combination. For the life of me, I couldn’t figure out what it meant. No one I knew had passed at that specific time, nor did any birthdates make sense. So I figured they were given to me to play the lottery. Well, sadly, that didn’t work either!

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How do you find the right spiritual practice?

There’s a matter of timing in Sadhana that’s important to keep in mind. We often choose a Sadhana, a spiritual practice, a little before it’s time, or before it chooses us. Before the marriage works. And we find ourselves in this “ought” and “should” predicament where you start out with great love, and within a little while it’s, “Oh, my god, I’ve got to do my practice.” And it’s just another thing like washing the dishes.

Certainly there is value in doing a practice regularly every day, even when you don’t want to do it.

Especially in meditation practice, because in meditation practice the not wanting to do it is as much grist for the mill of meditation as wanting to do it. It’s all stuff you can work with, with your mind, that’s very beautiful. But the delicate balance that has to go on inside one’s self, recognizing that if you build up too much negative tone to your practice, too much resistance, you’re going to have a reaction to it that’s going to take you away from it for a while, before you can come back later on.

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Personal Transformation - What It Really Means

Most people have mixed feelings about how their lives are going, which seems inevitable. Taking the bitter with the sweet is an old saying dating back to the 13th century, but it expresses a universal experience. In the face of life’s mixed blessings, however, there runs a deep yearning for transformation. It is expressed through visons of heaven where eternal bliss is gained, in romantic literature where a perfect life is attained here on earth, and in utopian visions of every kind, including worldwide myths of a lost Eden or a Golden Age.

Is this yearning for transformation mere wish fulfillment, like dreaming of what you’d do if you won the lottery? If you are totally pragmatic, the answer is yes, and having abandoned such fantasies you can productively direct your energies to becoming better off by inches and degrees. Even then, modest goals aren’t always achievable. We settle for half a loaf, or less, because common sense tells us to.

But I think the issue runs deeper than pragmatism. In my new book Metahuman: Unleashing Your Infinite Potential, I propose that the desire for transformation is not only realistic but totally necessary. Transformation is like the total change of state when two invisible combustible gases, oxygen and hydrogen, combine to form a liquid, water, that puts out fires. The essential nature of the two gases give no hint that they could be transformed so completely. But that is what transformation means, as opposed to gradual stepwise change.

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30 Simple Ways to Create Balance and Connection

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