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"


We continue to hear how we are in a time of shifting paradigms. A time in which we are recognizing our intrinsic connection to the Earth, each other, and all Life.  I believe that we are collectively on a course to answer the most important question of our lives; "who am I?"  How we answer this question is the basis for every choice we make; for every thought we have.

Although we may not be conscious of how at the most fundamental level of our being, we answer this question, it still determines every thought we have. Beneath the level of thought is what I call the "petri dish" of our existence. At this primal level of our being, we hold the existential belief of who we are. Out of this belief  we determine every choice we make.

Setting Our Course

As very young children we made significant decisions in relationship to the main authorities in our lives (generally, our parents). These decisions were based on the degree to which we were loved and accepted as the unique, naturally gifted and beautiful beings we are. Each decision was a "brush stroke" in the creation of a "picture" that we painted. This "picture"  became our own self image.

With parents who were in conflict we may have made decisions about how to behave in order to be safe. These decisions lead us away from our natural state of authenticity and spontaneity, to believing that we had to determine our life's course  based on perceived  circumstances. We shifted from an internally, freedom-based, pro-active reality to an externally based, re-active existence. Our natural state is experienced as "us as Life" or "us with Life", our reactive state is experienced as "us as separate from Life"; an existence of struggle, which is how most of  us live.

How to return to the freedom and spontaneity of our True Self?

Beyond (or behind) the perceived struggle there is an awareness that has always watched our thoughts and the drama of our lives. It's like a movie screen in a theater upon which the movie is projected. Although the movie is cast upon it, it remains free from what is projected upon it. The drama has all kinds of characters, activities and perspectives, yet the "screen" is none of these. This "witness" (as it is called in Eastern Mysticism) watches our thoughts, emotions and even our dreams.  I consider this "witness" our doorway to The Infinite Life

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, beyond this still witness. 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 Joy that had no bounds. 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 that experience is called "Satchitananda".  "Sat" means Existence Absolute. "Chit" means awareness of this Existence. "Ananda" is infinite bliss. Great! I now had a name for what I had identified as my truest Self.

How do we return to that experience?

I love to quote Joseph Campbell's pithy, poignant, phrase; "Follow Your Bliss". Like the bumper sticker says: "If it ain't fun, don't do it".  Following our bliss invites us to recognize what we love to do.
It invites us to reflect on where we're struggling in our lives and why we're perpetuating struggle.
Having this phrase as a  guiding light, my entire life has changed. I do work that I love, I live with people that I love, and have learned how to return to love when I have entered conflict.
Follow your bliss long enough, and your life becomes filled with inspiration and passion.

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

                                                             What's Your Bliss?

By the way, I'm hosting an evening of chanting at my home/studio tomorrow evening and 
will be playing with Jaya Lakshmi next Tuesday evening (8/20), at The Dhyana Center. Peace.

Life After Car Ownership

Four years ago, my truck was totaled in an accident. The insurance company said the accident was my fault.  I was convinced that I was "innocent."  I've spent much of my life trying to convince myself that I'm innocent.

With the "death" of my beloved truck came the intuition that I was not going to "re-up" on the car ownership thang. That Life had something else in store for me.  This was to be the first time in 26 years (1/2 my years on the planet!) that I would not own a car!  And I have'nt gone back. 

A  freeing experience. 

As I let go of my attachment to my truck, I was able to listen more to Life's calling. I relaxed into the work that called to me, waaay more than about 1/2 of the work I had been engaged in at that time. Not having the truck (a symbol of my previous work) actually freed me up to lean more into my counseling practice, my music, and the groups that I facilitate. My real joys.

I just had to let go of being in the "driver seat" to recognize it.

I see how identified we are with our cars. The thought of being without our car can be quite scary. It's like loosing a limb. It's a huge symbol for freedom. The thought that we can go anywhere anytime we like is a sweet one. The car is a symbol of safety. If we need to get away from someone, we've got our car. An emergency? We're good. Homeless, we've got a roof.

Yet like relying only on the contents of a book to tell us about the Great Mystery, when we rely on "our" car as our "vehicle" for freedom and safety we can easily miss the direction Life is inviting us into. Letting go of my car was one of the most freeing invitations from Life that I've ever stepped into.

Opening to the Mystery

Just the other day, a friend of mine, who was heading to Santa Rosa, gave me a lift to an appointment I had.

I felt excitement at the mystery of how Life would carry me home. After my appointment, I had a wonderful, brisk walk for a couple miles. While on a route I had taken hundreds of times, who do I find on the side of the path but a djembe drummer, jamming with great passion, while listening to a metronome. As a djembe drummer myself, I was enthralled, listening to his great groove.
Now, I had never crossed path's with a drummer on this route, but what followed was a very inspired conversation and a ride in his comfy car to Sebastopol. Magical. If I had fallen back into the "known" of car ownership, I would not have been open to the Magical Mystery Tour.

Before letting go of my truck, when  planning a trip, I never considered the journey ("flower-smelling" and the like). The car was in the driveway. That was the journey. Done. Now, when I have somewhere to go, just by the very nature of not having the car in the driveway, I get excited as to how Life will provide, which in turn, opens me to recognizing when and how Life is inviting me to it's "Tour".

It's always a Grande Adventure!!!

In this day when we are becoming ever more aware of how we isolate ourselves, I see just how much car ownership can be another way that we do this. We're in a box, most often by ourselves.
I'm not promoting the end of cars. I'm inviting you to look at how your attachment to your car actually limits the thing that you identify it with; FREEDOM.

There are multitudinous ways to get around. I love carpooling. We save money (big time!), pollute less (way less), share costs (give a few bucks to the driver), hang out with friends (old or new), & help with directions. Remarkable, how when there is nothing else but you, the road, and a friend, just what can be shared.

I live near a bike path.  I ride a recumbent bike; it's more comfortable, faster, and safer than upright bikes. Believe it! I occasionally take a bus. I walk a lot. I do much of my work out of my home. All of this contributes to a slower, more peaceful life.

If you want to talk about the being car-free, give me a shout. My window's open.  Let's go for a walk.