One way to define love is “sustained, compassionate attention”. These words came from John Muir Laws, a naturalist, educator, and artist who inspires stewardship of the land by sharing his practice of nature sketching. When I read these words, I began to see the importance of my own art practice in developing sustained, compassionate attention for myself. I have noticed, in just a few years of deliberately making art daily, that my well of self-compassion has grown wider and deeper. And gradually, my capacity for compassion toward others — even the ones it would be easy to judge or dismiss quickly — has become more of a habit. Continue reading
Inspired by the success of the E-Squared Book Club, The Energy Gardeners’ Club will continue the practice of energy experiments to cultivate the seeds of magic in your life, while connecting in nature, and creating a circle of support to empower your actions.
We will revisit certain experiments from the E-Squared book – and the magic wands! – and we’ll go beyond the book into the everyday practice of energy experimentation in our own lives.
Sessions and experiments will reflect the themes of planting, growing, and harvesting the fruits of our intentions, with an emphasis on practical aspects of energy work.
*Bring a sketchbook with blank (not lined) pages, your favorite sketching tools (pens, pencils, crayons, markers, etc), and a blanket or chair to sit on. Wear layers and sunscreen.
Recommended Reading: E-Squared: Nine Do-It-Yourself Energy Experiments That Prove Your Thoughts Create Your Reality by Pam Grout
Tuesdays, 2pm to 4pm
$100 each session of four classes paid in advance, or $30 drop-in each class
Cash or check (payable to “The Music Within Us”) accepted for drop-in payments.
Limited income: $20 drop-in per class. Supporter: $160 session of four classes
Three sessions will be offered in 2014:
Session 1: Planting & Tending the Seeds
at Fitzgerald Marine Reserve, Moss Beach (rain location: Here Comes The Sun Coffee House, 8455 Cabrillo Hwy, Montara, (650) 455-4308)
We will meet at the stunning coastal gem, Fitzgerald Marine Reserve. Beginning with a short hike in silence, we will gather our circle in the shelter of the cypress grove, with views of the sky, the ocean, and the resting seals.
*If you have not read E-Squared before, please read from beginning through the end of Experiment #1 before the first meeting.
Session 2: Growing & Ripening
at Quarry Park, El Granada
Our gathering place will be next to a labyrinth in a eucalyptus grove at the peaceful Quarry Park. We will begin with a short hike in silence, arriving at the labyrinth to create our circle.
*If you have not read E-Squared before, please complete reading from the beginning through the end of Experiment #5 before the first meeting.
Session 3: Harvesting & Sharing
*Please complete reading the E-Squared book in its entirety before the first meeting.
at Maverick’s Beach, Pillar Point, El Granada
Under the open sky of this protected cove, we will gather near another labyrinth. Birds and sea mammals may pay us a visit. A short hike from the parking lot begins our journey as we harvest and share the fruits of our intentions, and gather the seeds for next season’s planting.
**WE WILL MEET IN THE PARKING LOT at 2:00, and walk together to our meeting place.**
It’s freezing. All I know is it’s 11 miles out and back. The description on the website had said, “Participants must be in good cardiovascular condition. No single track/technical work. Climbing for sure.”
I should have known when I saw the fat tires on everyone else’s bikes.
Oh, how we wish that learning would take place in the comfort of our familiar homes! A cozy blanket, a warm cup of tea, our favorite music playing, and the knowing that everything as we have chosen and arranged it now surrounds us.
Learning for me always looked like showing up in a classroom, or privately in front of a teacher, and demonstrating what I knew. I would then get feedback in the form of a critique, the next challenge chosen by the teacher, or a score on a test that told me how much what I thought I learned matched what I was expected to have learned.
What I learned on my first mountain bike ride this weekend is that learning – the fresh, raw experience of aha!wow! that’s new! – can be extremely uncomfortable. It can happen when we are placed (or we find ourselves) in a situation we did not know we chose (but we did) and that every fiber of our being is wanting to fix, alter, escape, or resist. But there we are. In my case, “there” was a guided 11-mile ride on a closed access trail. Turning back was not an option without taking the entire group with me.
For the past seven Wednesdays, I have shown up at 10am at Quarry Park, and at 5:15pm on the phone, ready to explore the latest energy experiment from Pam Grout’s book, E-Squared, with the participants in E-Squared Book Club.
For six of the seven mornings we were blessed with warmth, sunshine, and perfect conditions for sitting outside to marvel at the goodness and beauty available to us at all times. On our final Wednesday, it was looking like we might need a “Plan B”. The first winter storm of the year had arrived and stayed the entire two days before. I sent out emails announcing an alternative indoor location. But on the morning of our scheduled meeting, it was clear. Not quite sunny, but definitely not raining.
We gathered at the usual spot, each wearing our rain gear, just in case.
Tammy brought her young sunflower sprouts (from Experiment #5) to plant in the clearing where we had gathered for our meetings.
Our plan was to hike about a mile up to a lookout above the labyrinth. As we began to plant the seedlings, it started to rain gently. I managed to get a few pictures before my iPad had to go back in my pack.
In The Wisdom of No Escape, there’s a chapter where Pema Chodron talks about three useful qualities for life and for meditation: precision, gentleness, and letting go.
I’ve been consciously living with the nine principles of Breema lately, and I’ve noticed how precision, gentleness, and letting go are a useful way to greet any practice, old or new.
For example, one of the Breema principles is “No Judgment.”
When you begin to study and practice “No Judgment”, the first thing you notice is how much judgment is in your mind already.
“No Judgment” brings your attention first to the judgment that’s there. Which means, you begin to identify judgment as judgment. That’s precision. You may notice as a new student of something, you like to be very precise. So every time you see your mind judging, you say to yourself, “Damn it, I’m judging again! Why am I so judgmental? I need to stop judging so much.” And you feel the assault on yourself beginning to happen.
This is the moment when gentleness can enter in. You have an opportunity to practice gentleness, or to continue the assault. Gentleness gives you the opportunity to take a different attitude toward yourself, even as you see, with precision, what is going on. Gentleness encourages you to just see, without extra attacks or criticism or labeling. In other words, no need to judge your judgment. Be gentle with yourself as you begin to see clearly. Just see what is, with no extra.
Letting go is the final practice, and it is the result of practicing both precision and gentleness. Letting go is not something to achieve or do, but is a natural unfolding of both precision and gentleness practiced together. When you play with these qualities of precision and gentleness, dance with them back and forth, and then gradually see that they are both happening all at once, there is a feeling of letting go. Neither precision nor gentleness has to “win”. There is no final state to achieve. There is no superior way to be.
Letting go is a sensation of relief. That it’s not all such a big deal. That we definitely need to practice, but part of the practice is also to let it all go. Letting go is not a “Forget about trying, I’ll just give up” kind of feeling, but rather a smiling recognition that no one needs to win or lose, not even the more or less enlightened parts of your own mind. It’s a kind of relaxation into the present, a return to what is, and a feeling that our attached thoughts are not who we are. A knowing that our true essence is something much lighter, and also more timeless than any thought or practice.
THIS was not a photo on my vision board. I was perfectly content to be performing, showing what I was able to do comfortably, easily, and predictably. I thought I was getting “good” at playing freely, improvising, and creating in the moment. The sound of Chinese Melodrama that matches the stacks of CDs we bring to every gig.
Then THIS had to happen.
By “THIS” I mean: We are at LunarBurn, a three-day outdoor festival and experiment in community living. In my mind, it’s a chance to show up and spread the love. We play our first set at the PermaPub, an intimate venue with couches, a bar, and all the impromptu live music one could ask for. We aren’t even finished with a song (Led Zeppelin’s “Over the Hills and Far Away”) near the end of our set, and a guy appears onstage. He has furry white chaps over his jeans, and a grey hoody. He appears to be maybe under the influence of some substances. But what do I even know about these things? I just thought he was a jerk for interrupting our set.
Here’s my, “Get off the stage, jerk!” look:
Yep, what you’re seeing is a whole lotta judgment flowing freely from me in that moment. First he wanted to play my violin. I’d rehearsed this response before, so it was easy to say, “Sorry, I don’t let anyone touch my violin.” Continue reading
Have you ever wanted to move from overwhelm to ease?
To move out of confusion and into clarity?
Or to move from idea to action?
Each of these transformations is a form of healing of the soul, the body, and the mind.
I combine these three realms into one word – SoulBodyMind – because I believe when we impact one, we impact all.
Becoming fluent in the languages of your own SoulBodyMind will connect you with an internal guidance system that is always working for you.
I’m pleased to announce that I’ll be hosting this first series of SoulBodyMind Salons in my home in Half Moon Bay.
In this SoulBodyMind Salon series, I invite you to join me in the spirit of generosity as I share stories and teach practical tools that will deepen your fluency in SoulBodyMind language – a language you were born with, but perhaps were never encouraged to listen to. The information and tools are grounded in the intersection of ancient wisdom traditions and cutting-edge neuroscience research.
We will practice the tools together, and you will leave with the knowledge to bring this new literacy into your life.
Each session has a theme and will include access to further resources if you would like to learn more.
What We’ll Do:
We’ll open the salon with everyone in the room introducing themselves to the group.
I’ll introduce the theme with a brief presentation (I promise to tell lots of stories and use lots of metaphors!).
We’ll practice the tools together and discuss our experiences – you’ll make new connections within yourself and with others in the room.
A few lucky, brave volunteers may even get coached in front of the group.
Everyone will leave with something new to begin practicing in your own life!
I will also share resources and reading list for further learning.
Guaranteed learning, play, and connection!
Donation-based event. This means it is offered with generosity and is supported by the generosity of all participants. Please consider what your personal offer will be to support this event.
Four Tuesdays – 7:30pm to 9:30pm
In my home, Half Moon Bay, California. Address provided when you RSVP.
You can attend any salon individually OR the entire series.
Dec. 11 – Your Body’s Truth
Learn to make friends with your body and start trusting the messages it’s sending you. Discover a whole new way to make decisions, check your gut instinct, trim your “To Do” list, and access more energy.
Jan. 15 – The Garden in Your Mind
Move the dirt and plant the seeds for what you really want to grow in your life. It all starts with the thoughts you believe. Get ready to roll up your sleeves, start digging, and selecting the varietals of your dreams that you will cultivate and harvest after the growing season.
Feb. 12 – The Art of Soul-Care
Learn the art of nourishing and honoring your soul, in small daily doses or at lavish feasts. No matter what your circumstances, you can feed your soul and experience completeness right now.
Mar. 12 – Listening With Your Whole SoulBodyMind
Expand your experience of daily life by tuning in to the SoulBodyMind. Envision your SoulBodyMind’s most truthful expression, and take actions from that place of knowing.
How To RSVP
You may attend any of the salons on a drop-in basis. Attendance at all four salons will provide a powerful foundation in your own SoulBodyMind language.
Please call (650) 325-2194 or email me for more information or to register.
Address will be provided when you RSVP by phone or email.
About two weeks ago I bought a bike. Brand new, cute as can be, even with a name, “Fiona”. I also got the cutest panier ever, with a lime green flower and orange straps.
On my very first ride, I got a flat tire. A complete blow out, requiring me to walk it home for about two miles. Luckily it was a particularly beautiful sunset on the ocean, and I got to look up, twisting my head slowly to savor the powder blue sky and cotton candy pink clouds spreading in all directions around me.
Still, I was a little shaken by the fact that the road looked so innocent – no broken glass or bed of nails in sight. Just smooth blacktop for as far as the eye could see. Except for whatever jumped into my back tire that evening.
It turned into a perfect opportunity to have one of my coworkers show me how to change a flat. Somewhere around step 9 of the process, my eyes started to glaze over, but I kept taking notes as he explained and demonstrated patiently. He taught me about tire protectors and now I own some. If you don’t have them, go get some!
I’ve been riding almost every day since. On the sunny ones, I’m riding chin up, smiling from ear to ear, and taking in the sounds of the rolling waves and the expansiveness of the ocean stretching out to the horizon. I note the particular shade of blue in the sky and on the water each day, because they are never repeated exactly.
Riding my bike has transformed a routine errand – hopping in my car to drive two miles to the local market for food each day – into a celebration of life. I breathe in the scent of cypress, I feel the warm sunshine on my cheeks, and I experience my own body propelling this amazing machine beneath me.
I wonder, “How the bicycle must have transformed human experience when it first appeared on this planet!”
And then I think, “What made us dream of a bigger machine that would multiply our speed of transit even more, but not require us to move our bodies at all?”
When I’m sitting on my bike, gliding along the paved path near the ocean, I think about these things. I am relaxed and confident, because this is a bike’s territory. Pedestrians and dogs must yield.
A different story begins the minute I cross from the path to the road. The very last stretch of ride between my house and the market involves crossing a major intersection with a stoplight. Four lanes of traffic, three strip malls, a gas station, a high school, all converge at one point. I have two streets to cross each time I reach this intersection. I walk across one way, and ride across the other, my body often tense with resolve to “get through” without any close encounters with cars or mishaps with my own machine beneath me.
One day last week, I was feeling particularly vulnerable. It was drizzling lightly. I liked being alone on the path, feeling the cool breeze in my ears, and the tiny fuzzy droplets of mist gathering on my eyelashes. I was cautious, using the brakes a bit more on the turns, controlling my speed, as I had no idea how Fiona would respond in wet conditions. Continue reading
Last year I made a vision board for who I am and how I feel when I express my creativity. I had devoted 2010 to my Core of Peace, and I was setting a new intention for 2011.
I didn’t know exactly HOW my creativity would be expressed. But by making the vision board I connected with images and words that captured how I knew it would FEEL to be in that place of expression.
I let go of the HOW, because I didn’t – and couldn’t – know at the time what the exact steps would be.
I breathed deeply into the feelings of my own creativity, and allowed images to attract me without needing an explanation or a meaning or a concept. They were just images that I loved, for no “reason” at all.
Here is the vision board I made:
I have it as the wallpaper image on my laptop, so every time I open my computer, the images enter my consciousness. Most days, I don’t sit and deliberately stare at every image on my screen, but I know they are there.
I haven’t thought about that vision board in many months. I have gone about the business of living, of staying in my Core of Peace, of letting some things go, and picking up other things, of planting seeds and watching them grow, all the while noticing that I cannot force growth to happen any faster than it already is.
Last night I looked at it again.
It was with a sense of amazement that I noticed how many of the images had actually come into my reality during 2011. In other words, my visions had come true! Continue reading
Is your creativity dead?
I honestly believe that few of us – regardless of whether we work as “creatives” or not – intentionally set out to kill our own creativity.
We may just gently turn our backs on it, dismissing it as something reserved for children, or as something only “irresponsible” adults indulge in, or as a waste of time that could never serve a purpose in society (ie, getting paid money for it), or as something only “talented people” get to do.
I’m here to say that none of those is absolutely true.
Creativity is not limited to art…
So, let’s say you’re longing for a more creative life. That could mean anything from having more freedom and flexibility in your current job, to finding a way to support yourself while expressing your own creativity.
I don’t define creativity as being limited to “artistic” activities like painting, dancing, singing, or sculpting pottery. I define creativity as our innate human ability to connect with the unseen. By this definition, I see every human being as creative, by virtue of our brain’s ability to spontaneously form images that are only seen in our mind’s eye.
How you choose to use your creativity is a different story.
And this is where many of us have killed our own creativity, or least left it for dead. Continue reading