Follow Your Bliss; It's Who You Are

We recently saw "YesMan" with Jim Carey. In it, he makes a "covenant" to say "yes" to every request made of him; to every opportunity presented to him. Though initially saying "yes" to eveything, he realizes that he has not said "yes" to himself. His discrimination develops to the point where he learns to say "no" to his decisions based on what others wanted for him and from him, when it wasn't what he wanted for himself. This allowed him to hear more acutely his intuition (or his "yes") and his wishes for himself.

For me, intuition manifests as a joyous inspiration for a specific action. This joyous excitement (or "yes") is free of any suffering, yet filled with great anticipation.  A very life affirming feeling. If I die today, I want "Follow Your Bliss" as my tombstone epitaph (although, I have no "plans" to leave this mortal coil any time soon). I would place this phrase on my tombstone because these words are a reminder of my vision for my life. and I would call them the "secret of real happiness" for all beings. The more I follow my Bliss, the more Blissful opportunities show up in my life.

I love that bumper sticker that says "If it's not fun, don't do it." Amen to that!!!

We Are Bliss

At age 15, I met an enlightened Being, Swami Muktananda. Three days into my visit with him I had the direct experience of my truest Self. I was joyfully chanting away, my arms swaying, my whole being uplifted. In an instant, the "borders" of my being dissolved; no body to confine me or separate me; no three-dimensional reality whatsoever. Distance disappeared; no here, no there. Time dissolved; no sense of before or after. This experience was of an eternal Now and an Infinity without measure. This was accompanied by a Boundless Joy. Free of thought; completely still, I was not separate or alone. Only our minds conjure up the thought that we're alone.

Thought free, infinitely blissful, transcendent of everything, at one point I had the thought "this is great!" At that very moment this experience began to "shrink". Over the next few hours I became more identified with my thoughts and body. Although, I remember being in the lunch line and still being so blissed out that I hugged a pillar next to me! Even the pillar was a part of the Oneness.

I learned that this experience is called "Satchitananda". "Sat" means Existence Absolute. "Chit" means awareness of this Existence. "Ananda" is Infinite Bliss. I now had a name for my truest Self. Ever since, I have identified that experience as a "pointer" back to the real me.
As you explore every aspect of your life, I invite you to ask yourself: Do I experience joy, vitality, peace, or love when engaged in this?
Or is it a promise of some later reward?
Promises of later rewards are offered by insurance companies, religions (ie Heaven), the promise that making your body look a certain way will get you a relationship. Making enough money will provide future security.

Don't ask the world what it needs
Ask yourself what makes you come Alive
And go and do that.
Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.
~ Harold Whitman Thurman

What inspires you?

Have FUN with these links:

The Most Versatile & Melodic Drums On Earth

Celestial Instruments

My teacher Swami Muktananda, tells a wonderful story about tablas; it is said that a long long time ago, seers, deep in meditation, heard beautiful, celestial music. They wanted to create instruments replicating this divine music, so that mortal peeps (like myself) could be inspired into a state of bliss, similar to what they felt, when hearing celestial music.  Muktananda stated that there are 7 instruments in Indian music created out of this inspiration. You may be familiar with the sitar, Ravi Shankar's instrument. This along with the tamboura, veena, sarod, saranghi, tablas, and the ektar. Give yourself the gift of hearing tablas played live. It's a visual treat as well. Hypnotic!

History and Construction

Tablas are part of an ancient music tradition dating back 5000 years. The tablas predecessor is called by many names; mrdangum, pakhawaj, and more. This two-headed drum, shaped much like a conga, is played laying on it's side. At one point this drum was divided into two halves, then placed upright, creating the first tablas, around 500 B.C.
The "r. & d." put into these tablas is obvious. Look closely and see that they actually have 2 skins each. All other hand drums have just one. There is one skin that completely covers the shell and another that is braided into the first, covering only the outer inch of the head. This creates more variety in the tones produced.  The black center is a paste made from a variety of ingredients, depending on whats locally available. This paste also adds another dimension, as it is like having another head on the drum, producing very snappy slaps.

The Ultimate Rhythm Section

In western music (i.e. rock, jazz, blues, etc), the foundation of this music is what's called the"rhythm section", comprised of bass and drums, Together, they create a basis for the other musicians to play "over". The rhythm section provides the groove for the band and the more the bass player and drummer are connected empathically, technically, and spiritually, the better the groove. Well, there is no more solid a rhythm section than when you have one person playing both parts. This is some of the magic of tablas. Playing these together is quite evocative as the tabla player "dances" between melody and rhythm
The smaller (the "tabla") has 3 beautiful, distinct, bell-like tones, along with many other tones that make it the more rhythmical of the two drums. The larger drum (or "bayan") is a deeply resonant and melodic drum, akin to the talking drum from Africa. Over an octave of notes can be played on the bayan, making it the most melodic drum played today.

Drum Language

You may have heard jazz scat sung before. You know, when the vocalist starts riffing with syllables like "adoobeedaabee adoobeedaa aboombamma whambamma adiddleeedee". Classical Jazz has lots of great "scat" moments. The origins of these spoken rhythms are in African and Indian music. To this day, African and Indian rhythms have spoken syllables. In fact each stroke on drums from Africa and India has a different "name" or spoken syllable. Here are a few: "na tun da din tet diri te re ke". Playing a stroke on the bayan while simultaneously playing a stroke on the tabla produces a different name. For instance, "na" played with "gi" is called "da". Tada!
This language is a great tool for learning rhythm. One doesn't have to be at the drums to be practicing rhythm. You can sing these rhythms while doing dishes, hiking in the woods, or walking on the moon!
And when you return to the drums you have embodied the rhythm and your playing is improved. Of course, it's also quite fun to know a spoken rhythmic language. You just never know when you might "need" it.

Played Like Piano

Most hand drums are played with the flat palm. Tablas quite different in that each finger can be played independently or together, making tablas more like piano than other hand drums. I took a few years of piano lessons in my early teens. So, I actually had a head start at the tablas. Remarkably, many of the strokes on the tablas are akin to the fingerings on the piano. There is even a parallel between piano and tablas in that the right hand plays both the tabla and the treble clef; both are higher pitched, providing much of the "lead" of the instrument, while the left hand plays the bayan and the bass clef; both providing the  rhythmic and melodic foundation.

 A Night of Sacred Song
Please join us for an evening of sacred song!
On the night of Saturday November 30 at 7:30 p.m,  we'll be extending the 
holiday of Thanksgiving with an evening of chanting and kirtan.
Through sacred healing mantras and prayers, we'll create a space
for love for ourselves and all Life.
For this evening it's my honor to host Jens Jarvie 
and Terri Ann Gillette. Two exquisite musicians who bring such delight to song.  
For information, call me at (707)824-1796.
In gratitude for the Gift of this blessed life.


Why We War

In our quest for freedom, we attempt dangerous stunts, invent technologies that we believe will give us the experience of freedom: we go to war. We tell ourselves that freedom must be protected and "fought" for. That it can only be experienced at another's expense. This is the antithesis of real freedom.
We're looking in the wrong places. We have forgotten that existentially, we are wild and free, and everything we do in our lives is an attempt to experience the authenticity of our being, no natter how ill conceived.

"Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing". --Helen Keller

Our Loss Of The Wild 

I've come across a story , one I believe symbolizes our quest to unleash our innate wildness. It's about "Iron John".  He is the"wild man" (or self) in each of us.
The story takes place in a kingdom with a mysterious forest. Legend has it that whenever someone enters this forest, they never come out. One day a hunter enters the kingdom and goes to the king to inquire about work. The king tells him of the forest and asks him to find out what's happening. The hunter enters the forest with only his dog. His entering the forest alone is symbolic of our entering the dark mysterious unknown within us, where this "wild self" exists. We can receive support and guidance from others, but ultimately, we explore this "realm" alone.
The hunter comes to a pond. Immediately, a large hairy hand reaches our form the pond and pulls in the hunter's dog. The hunter hastily goes back to the kingdom and gets many men with buckets to help him at the pond. There they empty the pond bucket by bucket.
The pond represents our subconscious mind and the way we uncover (or "recover") our authentic self is by emptying this "pond" step by step. Like the men emptying the pond bucket by bucket, we must delve beyond our deepest held beliefs about who we think we are, to the truth of our existence. When the pond is emptied, they find a wild man covered with hair; Iron John.
This wild "self" is a part of each of us that we don't see alive in our culture, because it's not accepted. In fact, it's feared. Our wild self is thought of as unsophisticated, anti-social, and violent. In our desire to experience our innate wildness, we engage in sports, war: anything containing an element of danger. We create a context that is socially acceptable and for a brief moment we have a glimpse of our natural wildness. We then repress this wildness because we're afraid of it and what it (we) might do.

 Finding Our Wild Selves

The hunter and his men take Iron John to the king's courtyard and cage him, akin to how we deal with our "wild/ free selves". We allow our wildness to be expressed only rarely and under very structured circumstances. Not honoring our wildness by giving it full and unleashed freedom of expression, it comes out "sideways", through passive aggression, violence, and dangerous hobbies.
One day, the king's son is playing near Iron John's cage. He loses a golden ball, which rolls into John's cage. The golden ball is significant in that it represents purity and wholeness, something that we experience as children and then lose as we "mature".
John now has the ball. The boy decides that his ball is important enough to him to get up the courage to ask John for it. Iron John agrees to give it to him if the boy let's him our of the cage. "I would if I could, but I don't know where the key is", he replies. "It's under your mother's pillow", John says. This is significant as it symbolizes our having given up our wildness in exchange for looking to others for approval. To reach this primal self we must free ourselves from our fear of rejection. Like the boy who must "steal" the key from under his mother's pillow, we cannot ask for the key, just as we cannot ask permission to express our wildness. We must "steal" it back. We must take back the authority to express ourselves freely. The boys mother is representative of our society. Who, like our society, does not want to give the "key" to the boy for fear that she will lose her "nice boy".
The young prince waits for his parents to leave, gets the key and lets the wild man out. Like the boy, we have a choice. We can either let the wild man go back to the "woods" (where wildness exists) while we stay with our parents (suppress our wild self,  out of our fear of our losing the approval of others), or we can go with the wild man by letting go of the "nice boy".
This process of exploring and releasing  the unhealthy programming/beliefs we learned as children, while opening to our whole self is a rite of passage we all take. It's just a question of when.

                                                             Honoring Our Wild Selves

I wish to share with you a contemporary example of a people who honor the wild and authentic self.
I teach a rhythmic pattern called Morybayassa. The West African tribe from which it originates has a very powerful way of celebrating this rhythm. All members of the tribe are allowed to play this rhythm, while only the women are allowed to dance the Morybayassa. Each woman in the tribe dances the Morybayassa only once in her lifetime, making this a very sacred and rare ritual. The woman chooses when she will dance the Morybayassa. It's usually after a period of great pain, grief, or loss. The tribe gathers at her appointed time and plays the rhythm; Boom tata Boom ta, Boom tata Boom ta goes the rhythm. The woman dances her unique dance, which may last hours, even days! She may be dirty, wet, even bloody! The tribe witnesses and supports her throughout this catharsis. During the dance she is allowed to break all tribal taboos if she chooses. Only she knows when she has completed her dance. When done, she goes to the woods by herself, removes the clothes in which she danced and buries them under the Morybayassa tree.
Imagine the power of this ceremony. Imagine your community gathering around a woman
who has chosen her "dance time".
Supporting and witnessing her.
The possibilities!

The Invitation
By Oriah Mountian Dreamer

It doesn't interest me what you do for a living. I want to know what you ache for and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart's longing.
It doesn't interest me how old you are. I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool for love, for your dream, for the adventure of being alive.
It doesn't interest me what planets are squaring your moon. I want to know if you have touched the centre of your own sorrow, if you have been opened by life's betrayals or have become shrivelled and closed from fear of further pain.
I want to know if you can sit with pain, mine or your own, without moving to hide it, fade it, or fix it.
I want to know if you can be with joy, mine or your own; if you can dance with wildness and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your fingers and toes without cautioning us to be careful, be realistic, remember the limitations of being human.
It doesn't interest me if the story you are telling me is true. I want to know if you can disappoint another to be true to yourself. If you can bear the accusation of betrayal and not betray your own soul. If you can be faithless and therefore trustworthy.
I want to know if you can see Beauty even when it is not pretty every day. And if you can source your own life from its presence.
I want to know if you can live with failure, yours and mine, and still stand at the edge of the lake and shout to the silver of the full moon, 'Yes.'
It doesn't interest me to know where you live or how much money you have. I want to know if you can get up after the night of grief and despair, weary and bruised to the bone and do what needs to be done to feed the children.
It doesn't interest me who you know or how you came to be here. I want to know if you will stand in the centre of the fire with me and not shrink back.
It doesn't interest me where or what or with whom you have studied. I want to know what sustains you from the inside when all else falls away.
I want to know if you can be alone with yourself and if you truly like the company you keep in the empty moments.

Cannabis; Nature's Miracle Medicine

Last week, I wrote about the most versatile plant on the planet; hemp. This week, I continue with its "cousin": cannabis or "marijuana", as it is commonly known.  To start, I want to share some recent statistics, which may surprise you.   
  • Deaths from marijuana use: 0  
  • Deaths from aspirin (U.S. per year): 180 - 1,000 +
  • Deaths from legal drugs (U.S. per year) at doses used for prevention or therapy: 106,000.  
  • Before 1937, there were over 1000 medical cannabis products in the US.
  • For at least 3,000 years, marijuana extracts (buds, leaves, roots, etc.) were the most commonly used real medicines in the world, for the majority of mankind's illnesses.
In 2007, a study entitled "Comparing Addictive Qualities of Popular Drugs" compared
nicotine, heroin, cocaine, caffeine, alcohol, and cannabis in the following categories;

1) Severity of withdrawal symptoms.
2) Substance's ability to get users to take it again and again.
3) How much is needed to satisfy increasing cravings for it.
4) How difficult it is for the user to quit.
5) Level of intoxication and increases in personal and social damage a substance may cause.

In this study, cannabis scored the same as caffeine, as the most benign of these drugs. As you may have guessed, heroin scored the highest, rating it as the most detrimental. But what may surprise you is that alcohol rated a close second, rating it as more detrimental than nicotine or even cocaine.
Comparing Addictive Qualities of Popular Drugs
Withdrawal: Presence and severity of characteristic withdrawal symptoms.
Reinforcement: A measure of the substance's ability, in human and animal tests, to get users
to take it again and again, and in preference to other substances.
Tolerance: How much of the substance is needed to satisfy increasing cravings for it, and the level of stable need that is eventually reached.
Dependence: How difficult it is for the user to quit, the relapse rate, the percentage of people who eventually become dependent, the rating users give their own need for the substance
and the degree to which the substance will be used in the face of evidence that it causes harm.
Intoxication: Though not usually counted as a measure of addiction in itself, the level of intoxication is associated with addiction and increases the personal and social damage a substance may do.
- See more at:

Comparing Addictive Qualities of Popular Drugs
Withdrawal: Presence and severity of characteristic withdrawal symptoms.
Reinforcement: A measure of the substance's ability, in human and animal tests, to get users
to take it again and again, and in preference to other substances.
Tolerance: How much of the substance is needed to satisfy increasing cravings for it, and the level of stable need that is eventually reached.
Dependence: How difficult it is for the user to quit, the relapse rate, the percentage of people who eventually become dependent, the rating users give their own need for the substance
and the degree to which the substance will be used in the face of evidence that it causes harm.
Intoxication: Though not usually counted as a measure of addiction in itself, the level of intoxication is associated with addiction and increases the personal and social damage a substance may do.
- See more at:
Comparing Addictive Qualities of Popular Drugs
Withdrawal: Presence and severity of characteristic withdrawal symptoms.
Reinforcement: A measure of the substance's ability, in human and animal tests, to get users
to take it again and again, and in preference to other substances.
Tolerance: How much of the substance is needed to satisfy increasing cravings for it, and the level of stable need that is eventually reached.
Dependence: How difficult it is for the user to quit, the relapse rate, the percentage of people who eventually become dependent, the rating users give their own need for the substance
and the degree to which the substance will be used in the face of evidence that it causes harm.
Intoxication: Though not usually counted as a measure of addiction in itself, the level of intoxication is associated with addiction and increases the personal and social damage a substance may do.
- See more at:
Comparing Addictive Qualities of Popular Drugs
Withdrawal: Presence and severity of characteristic withdrawal symptoms.
Reinforcement: A measure of the substance's ability, in human and animal tests, to get users
to take it again and again, and in preference to other substances.
Tolerance: How much of the substance is needed to satisfy increasing cravings for it, and the level of stable need that is eventually reached.
Dependence: How difficult it is for the user to quit, the relapse rate, the percentage of people who eventually become dependent, the rating users give their own need for the substance
and the degree to which the substance will be used in the face of evidence that it causes harm.
Intoxication: Though not usually counted as a measure of addiction in itself, the level of intoxication is associated with addiction and increases the personal and social damage a substance may do.
- See more at:
A Medicinal Treasure Trove

Delving into research on cannabis, I've found it to be quite possibly the most remarkable and versatile medicinal known to humanity. Take a look....
In 1988, Italian researcher Vincenzo De Marzo PhD discovered the "endocannabinoid System". A system that exists within all species other than insects. With receptors throughout the body, this system effects nearly all emotional and cognitive processes. The cannabinoid's our body produces are identical to the medicinal components found in cannabis. The cannabis plant cannabinoids (or CBD's) effect almost every system within the body, by keeping a balance of these systems.

De Marzo wrote "CBD's help humans with eating, sleeping, relaxing, forgetting and protection." There are so many strains cannabis is a kind of "31 Flavors". A strain for whatever ails you!


You've heard of "the munchies". Need I say more? Cannabis helps with eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia. But interestingly, cannabis assists in weight loss for people suffering from obesity!


Presently, western medicine  prescribes opiates for significant pain. The problem is that opiates are highly addictive. Patients become very addicted to them, needing more and more to avoid withdrawal symptoms. The most common concern with opiates is constipation that increases to the point where patients actually need surgery. Opiates are depressants. So, while on opiates, patients are often prescribed anti-depressants. Severe nausea is another side effect of long term use of opiates.

A clinical trial conducted at UC Davis demonstrated significant relief of pain caused by damage to nerves. This "neuropathic" pain is notoriously resistant to treatment with conventional pain drugs, including opioid narcotics.  UC San Diego conducted a 10 year study at a cost of  $8.7 million, concluding that cannabis provided relief of nueropathic pain caused by injuries, infections, diabetes, and other medical conditions affecting the nervous system. It soothes and relieves pain from arthritis, MS,  fibromyalgia, headaches, backaches and skin disorders-redness and itching.


Insomniacs and patients with sleep disorders have reported a better quality of sleep than with many of the sleeping pills available.


Certain strains help people deal with emotional pain and trauma. Perhaps most dramatic is with vets returning with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Upon returning, they suffer greatly, being haunted by their memories of war. So much so, that the highest rate of death in the military is due to suicide by veterans. For every soldier killed by enemy combatants, 25 kill themselves! A sobering reflection.
The endocannabinoid system is integrally related to memory extinction; the normal, healthy process of removing associations from stimuli. This has profound implications for patients with PTSD. By aiding in memory extinction, cannabis helps patients reduce their association between stimuli (ie. loud noises or stress) and the traumatic situations in their past.


Cannabis helps strengthen the immune system, as an antioxidant and an anti-inflammatory. With multiple sclerosis and cancer patients, it has actually shown to help regenerate nerve cells. Whereas chemotherapy kills all cells (cancerous and healthy), cannabis discriminates between cancerous and healthy cells, killing only the cancerous.

Cannabis research has demonstrated therapeutic value and complete safety in the treatment of many health problems, including AIDS, alcoholism, asthma, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, glaucoma, nausea, tumors, epilepsy, infection, stress, migraines, depression, rheumatism, arthritis, and herpes.

A New Paradigm

Since the DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) has labeled cannabis as a "Schedule 1 Substance", the amount of legal research and development that can be done is strictly limited. 
In order to serve their patients, the medicinal marijuana industry has taken the "lemon" of these restrictions and made some wonderful "lemonade".  They're taking an approach to patient care beyond the old paradigm of "doctor knows best"; a kind of "top down" approach, where the patient is told what will cure them and is given little choice or responsibility in their healing.

In addition to prescribing a certain strain of cannabis, care professionals advise their clients to journal about their experiences while medicated and return with their journal, documenting their experiences with that particular strain. This leads to anecdotal results rather than a "one size fits all" determination. We all react differently to chemicals and as our body chemistry is always changing; what previously worked for us may not be the best for us now.
By having a more open ended dialogue with the care provider, there is more collaboration with the patient. In this arrangement the patient plays a greater part in their medicine choice and inevitably finds a medicine that fits their individual needs.

Over 100 CBD's have been identified in the cannabis plant, while only two; THC and CBD have been studied in depth. Imagine what more we might we find!

The Most Versatile Plant On The Planet

 In this article, I offer a "tip of the iceberg" view of what may well be the most useful plant known to humankind; hemp. Almost any product that can be made from wood, cotton, soy, or petroleum (including plastics) can be made from hemp. There are more than 25,000 known uses for hemp.
In the world of textiles, cotton is "king". Cotton represents 1/2 the fiber grown worldwide for clothes and other textiles. Although, cotton requires ever increasingly heavy doses of pesticides and fertilizer to produce the same quantity. The production of cotton worldwide accounts for about 25% of the world’s pesticide use. These chemicals end up being absorbed into our skin as we wear cotton clothing.
The hemp plant requires no fertilizers, no pesticides: no chemicals whatsoever. In fact, it feeds the soil with valuable nutrients. It is naturally resistant to pests. Its large upper leaves naturally push out weeds allowing it to grow very quickly, maturing in three to four months.
Growing cotton requires about 1400 gallons of water for every pound produced. Some areas of the world have even experienced desertification as a result of producing cotton. Hemp requires 1/2 that, while producing about 250% more fiber. Repeated washing breaks down cotton fiber about 1/3 faster than hemp. Creating hemp clothing would mean we would need to produce much less clothing.

Food & Nutrition

In agriculture, soy is"king".  Although, hemp is a healthier source of protein and likely the most versatile plant in the plant kingdom. Hemp contains;
* All 20 amino acids, including the 9 essential amino acids our bodies cannot produce.
* A high percentage of the proteins that strengthen immunity and fend off toxins.
* Nature’s highest source of essential fatty acid.
* A perfect ratio of Omega-6 and Omega-3, for cardiovascular and immune system health.
* A superior vegetarian source of protein considered easily digestible.
* A rich source of phytonutrients, the disease-protective element of plants with benefits protecting         immunity, bloodstream, tissues, cells, skin, organs and mitochondria.
* The richest known source of polyunsaturated essential fatty acids.
Hemp oil can be used in cosmetics and body care products, nutritional supplements, and food products. It can be used in cooking, added to salads, and used in dressings and condiments.
The seeds may be eaten raw, added to soups and salads, used in baking, used as cereal, flour, sprouted, turned into tofu or nut butters, used as a protein powder, added to smoothies or shakes, or made into tea. The fresh leaves of the hemp plant are also edible.

While corn and soy dominate the food industry, they are almost entirely GMO (94% of soy, 88% of corn grown in the U.S. in 2012). Hemp is never genetically modified.


Hemp oil can be used to create an eco-friendly alternative to petroleum based paints, oils, and inks. One of the most compelling uses of hemp is in the form of clean-burning bio-fuels. Hemp is Earth's number-one biomass resource. Biomass can be converted to methane, methanol, or gasoline at a cost comparable to petroleum. Growing hemp produces 10 tons per acre in four months, 10 times more methanol than corn, making biomass from hemp an obvious alternative to petroleum.
Hemp fuel burns clean and does not contribute to global warming. In addition, hemp is spectacular at sequestering CO2! Farming just 6% of the continental U.S. acreage with biomass crops would provide all of America's energy needs!!!

Construction/ Pulp

Conflict Resolution, Part 2

When we verbalize our emotions, we are using linear descriptions to express a non-linear aspect of our life. Emotions are "energy in motion"; not a linear description. To access and authentically express your emotions in a healthy way, I offer a very powerful technique that I occasionally use in support of couples in my counseling practice. Sit facing each other about 5' apart. Whichever of you is feeling the most intensely will start this process by holding a drum between your legs and drumming what you feel. No words are spoken as they can actually distance us from this very visceral expression. Although, I encourage you to non-verbally vocalize what you are feeling, as it will assist you in even more effectively expressing your emotions. While one of you is drumming what you feel, the other says nothing, just listens and opens in an empathic way to what is being expressed. This technique requires no drumming experience or technical ability whatsoever. In fact, it's best to let go of technique all together. Let go of anything linear; rhythmical patterns, tempo, and words. This will allow you to better let go of "thinking" your way through this emotional exercise and to more fully express your emotions. "Drum out" your feelings as long as you need.

 Now it's the other persons turn. Repeat this same process. Take turns, back and forth until you feel "done". When you both feel complete, talk about what each of you felt while the other drummed.

As I mentioned in last weeks blog, although there are myriad variations of emotion, they boil down to 4 basics, making them much easier to identify. These 4 are sad, mad, glad, and scared. By remembering these, we can have a basic navigation of this inner watery realm of emotion.
We often confuse emotions with action words. We say things like " I feel betrayed" or "I feel abandoned" or "I feel alone". Betrayal, abandonment, and being alone are actions, not feelings. These terms imply that we have been victimized. They also imply that the person we are in conflict with is the perpetrator.

Here's a list of descriptive variations of emotions, for more accurate identification and communication.

Sad                             Mad                     Scared                  Glad        
sorrowful                     resentful                afraid                     happy    
melancholy                  irritated                  fearful                    content   
gloomy                       enraged                  frightened              satisfied    
heavy-hearted             furious                   timid                      rapturous   
mournful                     annoyed                 nervous                 enthusiastic
dull                             indignant                anxious                  inspired     
discouraged                bitter                     apprehensive          vivacious   
somber                      angry                      terrified                  exhilarated 
dismal                        infuriated                horrified                  joyous                     

Here are more variations, so that you may never again be at a loss for words.

Confident            Doubtful            Interested
secure                  skeptical              fascinated
 resolute               suspicious            curious
 certain                 hesitant                engrossed
 bold                    indecisive             intrigued
 determined          perplexed            concerned
                            wavering             absorbed

After witnessing your partner express their feelings, tell them what you now realize about them:

1) Do you recognize experiencing the same feelings they expressed in your own life?
2) What needs do you see they were attempting to get met as the conflict started?
3) How do you attempt to get these same needs met in your own life?
4) Tell them what needs you were attempting to get met when the conflict started.

As we recognize the needs of another in ourselves, our love and compassion deepens. We see that everyone has the same feelings and needs. We see ourselves in everyone and everyone in us. We see that it is through our humanity that we experience our Divinity, or Oneness with all Beings. We are motivated less by fear (based on the belief that we are separate). We live more out of being inspired by Love.

It's been said that in essence, there is only one choice; whether to be motivated by fear or inspired by Love. As we develop our "loving muscles" we choose fear less and less. Eventually we no longer choose fear. Once we have chosen love enough, we'll no longer choose fear. We no longer consider fear as an option. At this point, we experience the 'choice-less choice' of choosing only Love."

"Get into that state which is beyond thought,
beyond change, beyond imagination,
beyond differences and duality.
Once you have begun to get into that state and can stay there…you will see your own Self in everyone around you.
Then the flow of love from within you will be constant and unbroken." –Swami Muktananda

Conflict Resolution, Part 1

Ever have an argument and wonder how it spun so far out of control?
In this article, I offer some simple steps to assist in moving from the suffering we experience in conflict to the peace and gratitude of understanding and compassion.  These guidelines apply to all communication, whether your companion is a business partner or friend. Take some relaxed time with them to come to agreement as to how you can best apply these guidelines.

Take A "Time Out "

Agree on a time out signal, You may choose a signal unique to you, while your partner may choose one unique to them. This signal can be a peace sign or the time out sign used in sports.
Use whatever signal is easiest for you to remember. One that has no charge for either of you.

As soon as you recognize that you are feeling tense, defensive, or hurt, show the "time out" signal.
During this time out, allow yourself to recognize how your upset was not caused by them, but your reaction to them. This is a very important step. No one is the cause of our emotional and mental suffering, but us. Others may say and do things that trigger our reaction, but how we react is totally of our choosing.

Identify The "Software"

As you sit for this time out, become aware of the tension in your body and the emotions you're experiencing. Identifying just what you are experiencing physically and emotionally, is a significant step in the process of identifying that your reaction stems from an old belief you have likely carried much of your life. I call these old beliefs "software", because they are "programming" that is not part of our "hard drive" or who we really are

Notice the location of the tension in your body. This is important because we hold the tension from our "software' in specific places in our body  (termed "cellular memory").
Sensing this tension, we have a pointer to just which program we are "running".

Although there are myriad variations on emotions, they boil down to 4 basic emotions, making it much easier to identify what we are feeling. These 4 are sad, mad, glad, and scared. By remembering these, we can have a basic navigation of this inner watery realm of emotion.
We often confuse emotions with action words. We say things like " I feel betrayed" or "I feel abandoned". Betrayal and abandonment are actions, not feelings. These terms imply that we have been victimized. Next week I'll elaborate on communicating emotions.
When you have some clarity on your physical sensations and emotions you have taken a significant step away from blame and victim-hood to Self awareness and freedom.

The Talking Stick

Have an object available that will act as the talking stick. It can be anything; a pen, a comb, a key; any item within reach. Again, nothing that has a charge for either of you. When you return to talk, determine who is to talk first. Each person talks as long as they like while holding the "talking stick" as a reminder that they have the "floor".

Even though you have taken time apart, you may feel so heated about an issue that you find it difficult to listen while the other person speaks. When this is the case, consider the following.
When I talk to my wife about an issue I have with her, she may have an immediate emotional reaction, resulting in her focusing more on her reaction than being present with me. In this case, it actually works to my advantage to put my issue aside for the moment and listen to her, allowing her to express whatever she needs. Remember, you want your partner present with you and if s(he)'s clouded by his/her reaction, how present are they really gonna be for you?

Added benefits of this are that when you return to your issue, s(he) will be more present with you and  you may find that the intensity you felt earlier has lessened and been replaced with peace and gratitude. Why? I submit that it's because you have given them what you set out to get from them in the first place. You applied the Golden Rule.

"Be the example you want to see in the world" ~ Mahatma Gandhi

Creating a bridge

I think of the Golden Rule as a"bridge"to others. Become aware of what you want from others and as long as you offer it, you'll experience it.
All the reasons that we enter relationship (ie getting certain needs met, being understood, being accepted, receiving compassion, friendship,), can be boiled down to one one easy to remember reflection; "Have I built a bridge to this person"? Have I walked in their "shoes"? Do I have compassion for them?   Have I applied the Golden Rule?" Give to others what you want to receive from them.

This bridge is available to us in every relationship and is a tool that deepens our ability  to understand, have empathy, and compassion for others. The more we create bridges, the less conflict we experience. Eventually, creating bridges  becomes our natural approach to relationship.

Next week, I'll continue the theme of conflict resolution. I'll also share with you an amazing tool that tanscends the limitations of talking about issues. A tool to get immediately to the heart of the matter, to express it and quickly return to Love.

The Elixir Of Chanting

The Elixir Of Chanting

 Wed, Oct. 30th, 7-8:30pm

The Center For Spiritual Living, 2075 Occidental Rd. Santa Rosa

(707)546-4543. A by-donation event.
Join Sufi Dance leader Tui, chant leader Jens, Sahar on tablas, with Linda Weber (vocals), Bruce Haushuldt (gongs), & poet Neal Grace.

"Through chanting, love arises. If love arises, it means that you have attained God, because God’s true nature is love. By chanting the Name of God everything becomes pure and auspicious. The atmosphere becomes pure, even the earth and sky become pure. To chant the auspicious name of God is to make the tongue, the ears, and the heart auspicious and pure:"
~ Swami Muktananda

Celestial music in a beautiful sanctuary, with the lights down low;   a p.a. system that brings out the subtlest nuance, while creating a beautiful balance of voice and instrument; chanting with hundreds of fellow bliss seekers, this is a sublime venue.


On Privacy

"The world is as you see it" ~ Swami Muktananda

We now know that our government has been serveilling virtually every form of communication.
When someone is convinced that the world is filled with people who want to hurt them, they'll look under every stone and in every home to find them. They'll even create self-fulfilling prophecy scenarios that ineveitably give people reasons to oppose them.

While this may be a misdirected use of time and energy, it offers us an opportunity to explore our need for privacy?   What it is about our lives and our behaviors that we don't want seen and why?

What are we hiding?

I asked a dear friend this question on a walk the other morning. This friend shall remain anonymous and from this point on, shall only be referred to as "my wife". I asked her what she thought and felt regarding her/our need for privacy. She said "I'm not afraid of the government. I have done nothing wrong. I'm not important to them. I have no money anyways". She just said a "mouthfull!  To the degree that she could find no wrongdoing in her life was she relaxed.

When we can find nothing wrong with our behavior and no reason why another would want something from us, we tell ourselves that its ok to relax. But what if we have done something that we are ashamed of or embarrassed about? Should we then hide this information? There are things in our life that we tell ourselves noone will understand and everyone will judge; possibly condemn us for.

Two years into my first marriage I had an affair. I lied outright to my wife. This was very painful! I was thinking that I had done something so shameful that it needed to be hidden from her. I told her lies that just perpetuated this pain. Our relationship eroded and erupted until I could'nt handle it any longer. Telling her the truth was the most freeing thing I could have done. When I finally confronted my fear and shared openly, I felt great relief and freedom.
Another gift of sharing openly was that I learned from the depth of pain of having had an affair that I didn't want to do that again.

"What you think of me is none of my business."

Live large. Share your life with others. Share you stories and your withholds. Because as long as you keep them locked up you wont know freedom. As you continue living openly, you'll realized that there is nothing within you (or anyone) that is worthy of our shrinking from life.

"Security is mostly a superstition.
It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it.
Avoiding dange is no safer in the long run than outright exposure.
Life is either a daring advenure of nothing." ~Helen Keller

"What I think of me is none of my business."

When we hide any aspect of our lives, whether it's behaviors, our past, or our beliefs, vital energy is utilized in it's repression.This steals away from our physical and emotional well being and our clarity of thought. While living trasnparently is true intimacy. We look to others to love us, but when we live freely, we are loving ourselves. Think of intimacy as "into me you see". When we live openly we feel a deep satisfaction, a sweet gratitude, and a sublime peace. May we all know this Peace.

My friend Neal Grace has written eloquently on this subject. Here are some of his thoughts.

"I understand that no one wants his or her personal life to be laid bare for all to know the nuances of what goes on behind walls, I am not sure what all the fuss is about when it comes to being seen without the facades we show the outside world.  What are we hiding? What is so private and so secretive that we need to fight desperately to protect? And from whom? What are we guarding as if the exposure of it will render us doomed?

"Being authentic requires us to remove the layers of protection and invulnerability from our selves. There is power in transparency. There is a life-force in being unencumbered that connects us with the juice of the universe! When we live in fear, we surround ourselves with a complex cloak of caution that will only make us a slave to a possible perceived threat. This weakens our resolve to live freely and to thrust ourselves into each moment with all of our passion and gusto.

"The more we can allow our layers of protection to dissolve for lack of need to feed our insecurities, the wilder life becomes. Life does not want us all tied up in a package, reducing our capacity to breathe. No matter how hard we push to find security, we will fail. We fail because there is no security that can assuage the insatiable need of the fragile egos ruling us. Mastering the ego is a simple thing to achieve. All you have to do is honor your entire self! Then no one and no thing—certainly not the huge slug of the government—can have dominion over you!

"You say it is impossible to worship your entire self because of all the hurts, pain, suffering, disillusionment, and piercing rejections you have had to endure since you were a baby. No doubt it is impossible to measure the weight of these crippling traumas to your body, mind, heart and soul! You and I and everyone else have survived unspeakable wounds.

"But what else is there in life than to be so wildly brave you drop to your knees and offer a benediction to the cherished being that you are? What freedom to live will accept anything less than this, anything that resembles a compromise? Either you live by loving the very existence you are, or you stumble through the canyons and deserts and jungles of life with one eye closed and your tongue kept shut in your mouth for fear of condemnation for the words you may utter. Either you stand up as a mighty temple made of the timbers of your virtues and the fibers of your beliefs or you crawl through the brackish waters with a heavy weight tied to your legs.

"What has all this got to do with privacy? Everything! Don’t cower before the world, protecting your little secrets when these very things are leeches that drain you of your life-force. Stand up! Fear no person! The more you offer what lives inside you, the more the world can celebrate the legacy you leave in every waking moment! Playing half dead is no fun. If you want to act half asleep then hang out in a mortuary.

 "Let us all become champions of a transparent self. Let each of us unfurl the banner of who we are so that it blows freely in the winds of life. Let us shout our joy and passion and love so the whole world reverberates in the thunder of our voices! When we do this, we become the instruments playing the music of God!".
I end with a quote of Marrianne Williamson's, read by Nelson Mandela during his inauguration.
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” ~ Marrian Wiliamson.

Meetings With Multidimensional Beings

Searching for our "place" in the universe

As we let go of our prejudice, as we let go of our separateness, we accept all people as our family, we step beyond the belief that we are alone and open to other possibilities. To this end, I invite all of us who have experienced paranormal or metaphysical phenomenon to come on "out of the closet".
I invite you to consider this to be a forum where we can share and open the door to more parallel worlds.

 If you have not experienced anything like what I'm about to describe, may this be a pivotal moment in which you open a door to new possibilities. So, strap yourself in as you're in for a ride.

One evening, as my wife Rebecka and I were enjoying the sunset along the Lost Coast, we noticed a very stange phenomenon above our heads. About 12' up we saw something that I likened to a freeway of transparent brown, little creatures, zooming along in both directions, some from the ocean, heading in and some from the woods heading to the ocean.  We stood dumbfounded. I reached up to see if I could feel them, communicate with them, anything. I couldn't. We wondered "who, what, how, why"?!!!  To this day we don't have answers to these questions.

I believe that we have all experienced phenomenon that didn't relate to anything that we had known before. Perhaps you were too spooked by it to tell another soul. Perhaps you were afraid of how you would be percieved by those with whom you might share your experiences. Yet, as we open ourselves to this phenomena we expand our consciousness. The laws of physics, the tenets of religion, even what some would call "logic"  melt away.

And now I'd like to share some more stories of events that have blown my mind:

One evening while Rebecka and I were sitting in our cabin watching t.v., we noticed a kind of white mist rising from behind the wood stove and floating acros the room to the closet. We were speechless and awed by this. Experiences like these continue to remind us of the vastness of the unknown.

In 1995, a few days after Valentime's Day, as Rebecka and I were returning to love after an argument, the Mylar Valentines Day heart shaped balloon that I had given her, began to float across the room. It floated directly all 20' across the cabin to right above Rebecka's head and then it dropped to directly in front of her heart!!!    She believed that her deceased mother (of 21 years) was expressing her love for her through this phenomenon.

Back in 1989, my first wife and I lived on Orcas Island. We had a beautiful home overlooking Puget Sound.  Up until this particular event, I had always slept through the night. Although, I awoke about 3am, and went downstairs to the deck. As I stood there, I was drawn to look out across the Sound towards Victoria B.C., to a beautiful, warm, and very colorful light.  I knew that this light was conscious, alive. In a split second, it was over my head!!! It had just traveled what I guestimated to be about 40 miles in a split second! I stood there in a deep peace, enraptured by the beauty of this "being". I was aware that it was aware of me and that it was a highly evolved being.  After a few minutes it disappeared. It wasn't a slow flying away, it just literally disappeared; "poof"!   This was a very evocative and intimate experience.

Once in an exquisite drum circle, I experienced myself and all of us as thought free; as One Mind, which by itself was a very profound experience; quite intense. In the middle of the circle, I saw a warm green light. I knew this light to be an integral part of the high frequency we had reached in our alignment of consciousness. I knew this light to be conscious. Once we stopped, I spoke to the woman next to me about this light. She had seen it as well. Waay Cool!
One day, while hiking with a friend at Point Reyes, we left the trail and headed up a hillside. We sat in a grassy field, enjoying the Sun's warmth. Sitting there, I was filled with a profound sweetness and love. Looking down to the field across the trail, I saw a very tall, somewhat transparent Jesus, standing, arms out, loving us. My friend immediately said "Look, there's Jesus"! I experienced what I had heard other's describe as being a "child of God". I felt completely at peace, knowing that every thought, every word, even every breath were in perfect accord with all Life.

The very next day, she and I were at her place, sitting in her yard. We were still basking in the "after glow" of being in Jesus' presence. I looked across her yard, only to see The Buddha!!! He was sitting in lotus position in a tree. He looked different than Jesus had in that I saw no body. I saw a tracing of what I deemed to be his body. I felt a great power surge through my being.

The next few days, I walked on heavenly clouds. I felt that I was completely loved and  that every nuance of my being was in perfect order with Life. Every step...every thought!  Truly, it was Heaven.

I end this by recalling the bumper sticker that was on my truck. The one that when she saw it, my new girlfriend (who later became my wife) had the validation that I was "the one". The bumper sticker read; "Allow For The Possibility". May we all melt the "boxes" in which we have placed ourselves and be Free.

What Redwoods Have To Teach Us

In our search for a long, healthy and harmonious life, the redwood provides a nearly  perfect example..

The Redwood tree has been around longer than any other tree on the planet. They existed as long as 160 million years ago, during the Jurassic period. These trees, while growing to a diameter of 22' grow to as much as 367' tall, with a life span between 600 and 2000 years!
The redwood is the only known species in which some of them have exactly the same DNA today as redwoods that existed 150 million years ago! Every other species has changes in its DNA from generation to generation. Perhaps the redwood reached a near perfect way of existing in harmony, needing little more evolution.

Health, Stability, and Community
The root system, although descending only 8'-13', travels laterally as much as 150'. It combines with the surrounding redwood root systems to create a kind of mesh network. This network is a remarkable system that creates a strong foundation for the trees. They literally support each other. The nutrients sucked up by the roots of one redwood are shared with all the trees throughout the network. No tree is without food.
When a redwood dies, the roots from the dead tree continue to provide nutrition and foundational support for the community. Usefulness beyond death. Because of the tannins in their bark, disease and insect damage are virtually unknown to redwoods and only the hottest of fires can damage them.

Redwoods have a remarkable ability to regenerate and multiply. While most species regenerate through sexual reproduction, the redwood also reproduces from stumps, downed root systems, and redwood burls.
Traveling up these giants, you find that the redwood sustains many micro-climates, or communities of animals and birds. Since many of these species never leave their chosen elevation, we are often unaware of their existence..

Just being in the presence of these giants inspires awe. The knowledge of how incredibly efficient they are while living so harmoniously, inspires me to reflect on our human existence and how we can learn from their example.  I find it  ironic that while redwoods go nowhere and seem to do nothing at all, they accomplish so much. We on the other hand, are busy all the time. Busy with what?  I believe that we all want to feel a sense of belonging; of "family" or "tribe". We spend our lives in search of our place in this world. A place where we can contribute in a creative and deeply satisfying way, while feeling loved and appreciated.

Yet, we live very isolated lives. We sleep apart, we live apart, we travel apart. Although we have neighbors, we may not know them and for the most part, we don't share our lives with them. Although we travel in huge groups, we're all in our own metal boxes, in our own little world.

Living in Harmony
In the late 70's I lived in an ashram. I had discovered an idyllic community. We didn't need large homes with lots of stuff, because we shared everything ( a huge divergence from a culture where "possession is 9/10's of the law").  We shared meals. This made the shopping, the preparation, and the clean up quite easy. Our meals, although fresh and organic, came to about .80 per meal! It was an environment where for little buck, we got a huge bang. There was a free box, where items were left when no longer needed for the next person. A stellar example of environmental stewardship, this life style left a very small environmental footprint, while making a very positive impact on it's community.

I lived quite happily. I got three squares a day. I lived with my friends. The activities that I enjoyed were right there and always free. I had nothing in my way to clutter what was really important for me. I lived on a stipend of $100/ month and was able to save money!  I lived a slower, deeply fulfilling life.
An idyllic life. Although, one that not many Americans might embrace today. So, how can we translate this to our present day lifestyle?

Fruit Gleaning
 Some years ago, I created a support network in my neighborhood for fruit sharing. I documented all the fruit trees and when the fruit ripened, I contacted my neighbors to arrange a day and time when they could pick the fruit. I discovered a huge bounty. From this experience, I believe that within any given neighborhood, there may well be enough fruit trees to supply most of the communities fruit needs. Added benefits being that we get to know our neighbors, utilize the local bounty (rather than having it go to waste), along with providing a very sustainable service for our planet.

Disaster Preparedness
 A few years back I organized a few "Map Your Neighborhood" evenings. This is a very effective disaster preparedness program that is free to communities across America. The fire department gave me flyers to give to my neighbors, with a date and time. I supplied the place and popped in a DVD. People arrived with the intention of collaborating around disaster preparedness. Yet while discussing the material, a beautiful thing happened. We got to know each other and actually enjoyed each others company.
We exchanged contact info, and agreed on locations where people would go in case of a disaster.
We made a list of those folks who have skills to assist in a disaster. We listed all the tools and equipment that might be necessary along with it's location. We coalesced into a team. Now I know these folks and feel so much safer and grateful for them. Many of them are now my friends. Through these experiences, my sense of belonging, and my satisfaction as a contributing member of our community deepened.
( If you want further information on this program just contact your local fire department.)

Sharing the "stuff of life"
Imagine, nearly every house has a book and video library. On any given block, there's probably enough to last one heck of a long time! The same goes for tools. In any given neighborhood, there are enough tools to fill a hardware store.

I recognize that all neighborhoods may have many of the services and goods that we often drive elsewhere to get. The benefits of this "localizing" is that we can spend less money, reuse products rather than purchase new ones, utilize local services, thereby supporting our very local economy, and give ourselves more leisure time as we have goods and services available within walking distance. Localizing in this way can further deepen our feelings of belonging and safety. Once established, we would be surrounded with people we know, associate with, and possibly have friendships with.

Through all these means we have the potential to slow our lives way down and deepen our "roots", while making a huge impact on our planets well being.
Peace, Sahar

On 9/11; The "State" Of Affairs

As we witness our government consider going to war, people the world over are questioning the value and morality of this, and if this is who we are.  As a way of holding this stunning moment, I'd like to share a story.

Humans Growing Up

In the 50's we were like children. We lived with "Father Knows Best", both in our lives and on t.v. The male authority was God and we accepted that. We might have felt angry, scared, or alone. But, for the most part, we tried to put on a happy face, to give the impression that all was always fine. In the 60's we grew into our "teenage years" and rebelled. No way were we going to go along like sheep and say "yes" to our governments desire to kill and oppress. It was a time of acting out our anger and fear that had been building throughout our "childhood".  During the 70s and 80s, we grew into "adulthood"; we were waking up. We started questioning others motives. Reality t.v. became a hit, along with talk shows that dug deep into peoples personal lives. Gossip had come out of the closet. We took a long look at people we thought were different from us and realized that they're not so different. They have the same feelings as us, the same needs as us.

As we grew up, we went from blaming others to questioning our choices and our very existence. For decades we had avoided politics, accepting that all politicians were corrupt and since we told ourselves that we were not, we let them do the "dirty work". But we realized that we had abandoned ourselves by letting others legislate our lives. Because we did not hold them accountable, the politicians enjoyed the freedom to legislate as they saw fit. Not needing to listen to "the people" they were in bed with those who would further their agenda, while receiving lots of $ to further their insider friends agendas.

In the 90s and early 2000s, we brought what had been expressed in the streets in the 60's to politics and corporate America. Today, we continue our search "down the rabbit hole". We are digging deeply to understand just how far we have gone in relinquishing our own freedom of choice. We see the deceit and oppression of those to whom we have abandoned our free will and we don't like it.

As we dig deeper into our search for Truth, we see just how complacent and in denial we have become.  We now are taking a good look at who we are. We are hearing "not in our name" bandied about these days. We are reclaiming the power that we had relinquished so many years (if not millennium) ago.

We are reviewing every aspect of life, with the underlying themes of justice and equality. Every aspect of our existence is being examined as never before. From equality to environmental stewardship, to the birth rite of each person to choose their path. Every issue that had been in the "closet" is now center stage. So, of course, we are in serious reflection over our governments desire to attack Syria, Is that who we are?

I believe that we have chosen to recognize that we are one people, one family, in truth, one mind. We have chosen to awaken to this truth at this time, concordant with the massive changes we see everywhere on the planet.

The Catalyst For Change

The times in my life when I have awakened the most are the times when my survival was most at risk. In fact, to the degree that I was on the "edge" was to the degree that I recognized the beautiful gift that is my life, this world, and the people in it.

Beyond war, deceit, oppression, and our perceived differences is the very environment in which we live. The balance of our planets air, water, and soil has been trashed as we have abandoned ourselves. We are in a process of returning fully to being the stewards of our planet. As we are aligning in this one focus, greater creativity is being released. As we move seemingly closer to the "precipice" of environmental destruction. we are stepping out of our fear and isolation into Love. The call to return to our Oneness has never been louder and our aligning in Oneness has never been faster.

We are realizing our deepest dreams on the canvas of our planet.

In the "big picture", even our bodies and this planet are transitory. This will all cease to be at some point. That we are One in Consciousness; this is eternal. I believe that we are here to return to that awareness. I believe that we have chosen to use this "play field" of Earth to come Home. Welcome Home.

Still we see our human sisters, brothers, and our children being brutalized. This brings us to our knees. It breaks our hearts. What can we do, how can we "deal" with this reality?  Take every situation that occurs whether to someone close to you or with people elsewhere and make it personal to your life. Put your self in their shoes; both the perpetrators and the victims. "Walking" in their shoes, imagine what they may be experiencing and become clear as to what needs they are trying to get met. No matter which side of any conflict someone is on, in the end, they want love. The sooner we understand what is motivating them to their fight or flight stance, the sooner we have compassion for them.

Consider these lines from "The Rose";

"It's the heart afraid of breaking that never learns to dance.
It's the dream afraid of waking that never takes a chance.
It's the one who won't be taken who can not seem to give.
And the soul afraid of dying that never learns to live."

Walking in the shoes of another, we understand their needs. The beauty of this is that by assisting them in getting their needs met, we find our needs met as well. If you want to receive compassion, offer it. Wherever and whomever they may be, walk in the shoes of all people. Discover the needs they are trying to get met and then go offer that very thing to someone near you.  This is one way to interpret "think globally, act locally".

 "Be the example you want to see in the world."
 ~Mahatma Gandhi

Sonoma's Hidden Gems; Gorgeous Creek Trails In The Middle Of Everything

Do you ever drive past those side paths with the yellow posts at their entrance, and wonder "What's down that-a-way"?  As it turns out, they are "Yellow Brick Roads" to some of the prettiest waterways around!

Seven years ago, a friend and I set out to explore a different creek trail each week. What we discovered was yet another reason why Sonoma County is considered one of the seven "must rides" that every cyclist should have on his/her bucket list, by Bicycling Magazine. As we explored, we noticed these trails alive with an abundance of birds. Many species make their homes along these waterways. We noticed the trails dense with foliage. We stopped often to sit and enjoy the immense beauty and sweet gurgling of the creeks (an activity that had previously been reserved for distant parks). We had found a local goldmine!

I love just how natural these trails are. Since many of them have not been maintained, they are very woodsy.

Previously, if I had wanted to visit a natural place with water and wild life, I thought that I would have to get in my car and drive for quite some time. Not necessary. These trails exist throughout Sonoma County, probably much closer than you think. From my house in Sebastopol, I can  find a bike path within a few blocks and reach a creek within a few minutes. If you live in Santa Rosa, you are also likely very close to one of these trails. Santa Rosa alone, has 35 miles of these creek trails. Rohnert Park has about 15 miles. In fact over the last few years, all cities in Sonoma County have been making their creek trails accessible.

As an alternate to cycling the roads, these trails (combined with the bike paths), create a whole new way of gettin' around. They don't follow roads; they often don't even parallel them. They crisscross in such a way as to allow cyclists and pedestrians many opportunities to include the creek's back-country feel on their daily commute, while potentially shortening their distance traveled! And surprisingly, these creek trails are in some of the most populous parts of our county! These alternate routes may be just the thing to more frequently get you out of your cars.

The Sonoma County creek trails are maintained by the Sonoma County Water Agency. Here's a link to their maps.  As for those yellow bars that block the trails entrance's, The SoCo Water Agency has been replacing them and has plans to continue. But, no need to wait, even where the horizontal bars remain, there is usually access around the fence.

So, instead of leaving the area for a vacation, give yourself the gift of heading out your door and discovering more of the local county bounty.Contact Sahar at (707)824-1796 or

Check out my website at


If you want a relationship to succeed, you must be willing to let it completely fall apart.  

For a deeply satisfying relationship, we need to abandon all investment in our codependent ways. We limit our innate freedom by trying to be more appealing to others, so they will like/love us. We engage in  "strategies" so we don't have to feel our fear of rejection.
The closer we are to people, the more pain-filled our relationships tend to be. While in reality, what we want most for these people is their happiness. Just what we want for ourselves.  Ironic, ain't it?!
Usually, the closer we are to people the more emotionally invested in what they think and say about us.

Where are your "emotional hooks"?

Do any of the following statements apply to you?
"S/he'll never leave me because I pay the bills".
"If I reveal how much money I make, s/he'll want more".
"The kids need us to be together".
"I know his/her secrets. S/he'll stay with me because s/he can't bear the thought that I would reveal them".
"If I tell him/her the truth about (fill in the blank) she'll leave me".
"If I told him/her what I do with my free time,  I'd lose my freedom".
"Without me, s/he couldn't function".
If so, in which area of their life do you believe this to be the case?

Which statement do you identify with most? Write about recent times when you have had this thought; what you felt, thought, said and did. This may reveal to you how you limit your freedom in relationship.
Ironically, the strategies we believe will lead to a greater sense of security are the very ones that limit our freedom!!!
"Security is mostly a superstition.
It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it.
Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure.
Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing."

False Security

We invest sooo much in what others think and say about us! I love the quote "What you think of me is none of my business". To not take personally how others perceive us is one of the biggest steps we take in being free. Ultimately, we need to take this a step further to "What I think of myself is none of my business". Many of the thoughts that we have about ourselves drive us to be small, to let others determine our choices, to be on guard; to strategize just to survive.

Yet, all thoughts can be seen as clouds in the sky. You see the clouds floating by and recognize that they may be all kinds of shapes. They may be dark and filled with storms. They may be beautiful; heavenly in fact. Although, they are just floating by. They are not you.

Before we were aware of thoughts in this way, they were subjective. We never questioned their validity or whether we could choose differently. Our thoughts dictated our words and actions. Yet, the more aware of them we become, the more objective they are, and the less control they have. Eventually they become "Like farts in a distant galaxy". A teacher of mine said this. He also said; "As you become aware of thoughts, don't try to change them, don't even try to minimize them. Just let them be."

We constantly resist our thoughts. We create all kinds of programs and religions to change our thoughts. Remember that what you resist, has power over you. Just let your thoughts be. Become aware of them and their motivation. As you do this you'll free yourself from their sway.

I think of this practice of developing an awareness of our thoughts as one of the two wings that allow the "bird of relationship" to fly. Have an open, relaxed awareness of your thoughts, while placing your focus on what you truly want; your bliss, what you love. This is the other wing

Creating a bridge

I think of Love as a bridge that can be built, extending from you to other people. Whatever you want from them, as long as you offer it, you'll experience it.
All the reasons that we enter relationship (ie getting certain needs met, being understood, being accepted, receiving compassion, friendship,), can  be boiled down to one one easy to remember reflection; "Have I built a bridge to this person"?  Have I walked in their "shoes"? Do I have compassion for them? Have I offered them compassion and empathy?  In other words, "Have I applied the Golden Rule?" Give unto others what you want to receive from them. 

These two wings (having awareness of how I am motivated by fear and leaning into what I want (love)) define the basic choice in relationship; to live from Love or fear. As we develop our "loving muscles" we choose fear less and less. Eventually we no longer choose fear.

My teacher Swami Muktananda said; "we recognize that there is only one choice, to love or fear. So we choose love because it feels better. We choose love enough that we no longer choose fear. We no longer consider fear as an option. At this point, we experience the 'choiceless choice' of choosing only Love."

"Through intense, deep meditation, you should get into that state which is beyond
thought, beyond change, beyond imagination, beyond differences and duality. Once you
have begun to get into that state and can stay there…you will see your own Self in
everyone around you. Then the flow of love from within you will be constant and
unbroken."    –Swami Muktananda"