Thank you to my body

I started with the basic Taoist inner yoga practices again, including the inner smile. These were important for me in my late teens and early twenties and may have been one reason I got much better from CFS during that time.

When I do the inner smile these days, I notice that it naturally moves to saying thank you to my body. Thank you to my body as a whole, to the cells, mitochondria, the organs one at a time, and so on.

Thank you for being here for me. Thank you for your work. Thank you for keeping me alive. Thank you for doing your best. Thank you for your love and care for me.

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What comes together falls apart

What comes together falls apart. That’s how this world is. That’s how existence is. It’s not wrong. It’s not a mistake. It’s what allows anything to be at all. It’s what creates space for something new.

Seeing this makes it all heartbreakingly beautiful. It helps me more fully appreciate what’s here. I can find gratitude for what’s here as it is, just because it’s part of life, it’s transient, it is something that came together and will fall apart. It’s only here now.

The photo is of Cañon del Chicamocha, taken two years ago. It’s a moment that will never come again – both the clouds and the view and my life as it was then. (Ale, Merlina, and I stayed at the house of friends in the neighborhood we are still in.) What’s here will never come again.

All-inclusive gratitude practice

I am doing an all-inclusive gratitude practice again these days. It’s based on Make Miracles in 40 Days by Melody Beattie, and I am doing it with a friend in Oregon. (We don’t know each other that well but we have a similar orientation, so it’s a good match for this.) I have done this a few times before with other people, and it’s always been meaningful and rewarding.

It’s quite simple. Each day, we write a list and send it to each other. Each item starts with “I am grateful for..” and then something in my life my personality easily is grateful for or not. Everything is included.

Why would I write “I am grateful for…” and then something my personality doesn’t like? Because it opens my mind. It opens my mind and heart to the possibility that there is something there to find genuine gratitude for. It opens my heart and mind to look for genuine gifts in it.

I love the simplicity of it. I love that I can include everything, including what’s most difficult for me in my life. I love that I don’t need to try to figure out what I am supposed to be grateful for or not…! I love that the lists can be short or long depending on what comes up as I write. I love the shifts that happen over time through this daily practice. I love I have the opportunity to do this with others in an unfiltered way.

Image created by me and Midjourney

Helpful contexts for my life

I find I have a few contexts for my life that seem helpful

I can also call them pointers or reminders.

Here are some of them, as they look to me now.


I don’t know anything for certain, and mental representations are questions about the world.

The nature of thoughts is that they help me navigate and orient in the world. They cannot hold any final, full, or absolute truth. That’s not their function. They are questions about the world.

The map is not the terrain. Stories are different in kind from what they point to, unless they happen to point to other thoughts. The world is always more than and different from any stories about it, and also less than any story.

To explore: The Work of Byron Katie. Philosophy of science.


In one sense, I am this human self in the world, just like my passport and how most people see me.

And I find I am more fundamentally something else. I am what the world, to me, happens within and as. I am what the field of experience – this human self, others, the wider world – happens within and as.

I am what a thought may call consciousness, and the world to me happens within and as this consciousness. The consciousness I am forms itself into all these experiences.

To explore: Big Mind process. Headless experiments. Basic meditation (over time!).


I can’t speak for all other beings, but I have found some things I – and the different parts of me – more fundamentally want. It’s variations of love, acceptance, connection, safety, belonging, coming home, and so on. If I take a surface desire for anything at all and trace it back to something more essential, I tend to arrive at one of these.

These seem essential and I suspect they are quite universal, based on what I see in the world and what others say.

There is something even more fundamental, and that’s a wish to find our nature, to consciously come home to what we already are. That gives us, in one sense, all the things we look for.

And that doesn’t mean that our human self doesn’t have wants and wishes that we can find the essence of and find ways to fulfill – mainly by giving it to ourselves here and now, and also in life.

To explore: Inquiry, tracing our wishes back to their essentials. What do I hope to get out of it? What do I hope to get out of that? And so on.


The world is my mirror. Whatever characteristics and dynamics I see out there in others and the world is also here. I can take any statement about anyone or anything, turn it to myself, and find more than one genuine example of how it’s true. (Including true at the moment I have the thought about someone or something else.)

This is wonderful in several ways. It means I can use my thoughts about others and the world to discover more about myself. It means I can find more of my own richness in myself and in how I live my life. I can explore outside of what I thought were my limits and boundaries, created by identities and ideas about myself. I can more easily recognize myself in others. And so on.

To explore: Projection and shadow work. The Work of Byron Katie.


Our civilization is in overshoot. We are using far more resources than the planet can generate, and we are putting way more waste and toxins into the planet’s circulation than it evolved to deal with.

We would need two planets to provide for the resource use of humanity as a whole, and five or more to provide for the resource use of the Westernized and industrialized world.

This cannot continue.

That’s serious enough in itself, but there is something more serious. This is like spending money from our savings without replenishing it sufficiently. It looks fine for a while, until it’s empty and our lifestyle comes crashing down.

In our case, it’s not only our lifestyle that comes crashing down. It’s likely our whole civilization.

Will we be able to transition into a new and more ecologically sound civilization? How will the crash impact us? How many will die? How many species and ecosystems will die in the process?

We don’t know but it will likely be very challenging for us and any other species.

To explore: Articles and books on overshoot and the ecological footprint.


What comes together falls apart.

That goes for this universe, this living planet, our current civilization, humanity, each of us, and everything we know.

Our mammalian psyche may have a problem with that, but it’s actually wonderful.

It’s how anything is here in the first place. It’s how we are here.

We are here because all the states the universe has gone through have come and gone. Stars died and provided most of the matter making up this amazing planet and us. Species died and made space for us. Individuals died and made space for us.

Death opens up space for something new. Death is how we are here. Death is how anything is here.

Impermanence is even how we can experience anything at all. Each moment is gone and opens space for a new one.

Our civilization will be gone, perhaps opening space for a new one. Humanity will be gone, opening space for other species to perhaps eventually create their own civilization. This universe will likely be gone, opening space for a new one.

It’s all a kind of a dream. What’s here is gone, opening the space for something else.

To explore: The Universe story, the Great Story, Epic of Evolution, Big History.


Happiness comes and goes. Often, what creates happiness are small things in daily life. Holding someone’s hand. A hug. A kind word. Ice cream. A good meal. A beautiful sunrise. And so on. We can set up our life to create moments that spark happiness.

Contentment can come in different ways. We may live a life in integrity and be in relative peace with ourselves. We may relate to ourselves – and especially our distressed parts – with kindness. We may find our nature, our more fundamental home, and find contentment there. We may have been lucky with our parents and upbringing, naturally relate to ourselves and live our life with kindness and wisdom, and find contentment that way.

Meaning is again something else. We can find meaningful activities in our life, and those are often about creativity and expression, being of service to others and the larger whole, or a combination of the two.

Finding gratitude can contribute to each of these. I can find gratitude for the things my personality naturally is inclined to find gratitude for. (I have shelter, water, food, family, friends, a beautiful day, the song of birds, a kind word, and so on.) I can also do a more radical gratitude practice where I find gratitude for everything in my life, whether my personality tends to like it or not. This can bring about even more profound shifts.

To explore: Psychology that addresses these topics. See also this book.


Some of the essentials I seek are love, understanding, safety, and so on.

I can give those to myself. I notice a distressed part of me, and I can meet it as a kind and wise parent would a child.

If our parents didn’t consistently do this for us, we likely didn’t learn to consistently do it for ourselves, so this can take intention, attention, and practice. It can be a lifelong process and more than worth it.

To explore: Resources on reparenting ourselves. Heart-centered practices like Ho’oponopono and tonglen directed toward ourselves. Self-compassion. The Befriend and Wake up process I have written about in other articles.


I like to see behavior in an evolutionary contest. It helps me find useful and kind stories to understand myself, others, and other species.

We just traveled with our cat to a new place, and she was hesitant to drink the water. That too makes sense from an evolutionary perspective. In a new place, it’s important to be careful with the water. Don’t drink if it’s not moving or if you don’t see others drink from it. I filled a glass with water, slurped some with delight while she was looking, and she happily drank (a lot!) from the same glass. (This is likely also why cats often like to drink water from the same glass as their humans. They trust it’s safe to drink if they see others drink it.)

I don’t have to beat myself up for having sugar cravings now and then. I understand why. It’s because my ancestors evolved to crave sugar because it helped them and their offspring survive. Sugar was found in rare and nutrient-rich foods like fruits, and the cravings helped them prioritize seeking out and eating these foods. In our modern world, this impulse has been hijacked by the food industry to sell products. I don’t have to be too hard on myself for having these cravings or even following them now and then, these cravings helped my ancestors survive. (And I can find practical strategies for dealing with them. For instance, only buying what’s on my shopping list, and having someone to be accountable to.)

When I am sick, I know that most (nearly all?) of my symptoms evolved to help me heal. The general fatigue and illness feeling motivates me to rest, which helps my body heal itself. Fever – increased temperature – helps my body kill pathogens. Diarrhea flushes out pathogens or undesirable food. And so on. This shifts how I relate to what’s happening when I am sick. I find more appreciation and even gratitude for my symptoms. (It also highlights one of the strange things some do in our culture, which is to try to counter or stop the natural self-healing processes of the body like fever, diarrhea, and so on.)

I have a fear of heights. That too is very understandable from an evolutionary perspective. My ancestors likely survived partly because they had some fear of heights, and the ones who did not were more likely to die young and not pass on their genetics. I can still work on this fear so it doesn’t stop me from doing the things I want.

To explore: Evolutionary psychology.


How am I connected with the larger whole? Am I a separate being or is something else more true?

When I find my more fundamental nature, I find that the world – as it appears to me – happens within and as what I am. Already there, the ideas of separation break down, at least in how it all appears to me.

Through science, we also find stories of oneness and connection, and these inform our perception, choices, and life in the world.

As Carl Sagan said, we are the local eyes, ears, thoughts, and feelings of the universe. We are the universe bringing itself into consciousness.

The universe is one seamless system. It has evolved and temporarily formed itself into you and me and our experiences and everything we know. It will continue to evolve and change itself into something new. (And that may not always conform to our ideas of “progress”!)

Our planet is one living system. Our health and well-being is dependent on the health and well-being of this larger living system.

This helps me feel more connected as a human being, see myself as an expression of the larger whole, and behave in ways that (are more likely to) take care of this larger living system I am a part of.

To explore: Systems views, Universe Story, Great Story, Epic of Evolution, Big History, Deep Ecology.

Image by me and Midjourney.

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Our brains and this world are not made to make us happy

In evolutionary psychology, it’s common to point out that our organism and nervous system is not made primarily for lasting happiness. It’s made to help us survive.

Of course, we experience happiness in periods, and some seem to have a higher set-point for happiness than others. Also, we can certainly experience a more stable contentment or a sense of gratitude, and that may be as good or better than happiness.

Perhaps this also goes for the world in general. It’s not created to make us happy.

If anything, it’s made for adventure. This world is the universe, existence, or life expressing, exploring, and experiencing itself in always new ways.

And, if we have a spiritual orientation, we can say that this world – this universe and all of existence – is the divine expressing, exploring, and experiencing itself in always new ways. Some call this lila.

Personally, I would take survival and adventure over happiness any day. If our human organism and brain were not made for survival, none of us would be here. To me, adventure is far more interesting than happiness. And as icing on the cake, we can still find contentment and gratitude, and even receive periods of happiness.

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Keeping our life in perspective

I remember a conversation with a friend in high school. He said: My family isn’t very wealthy. I understood what he meant, but was also baffled. They had a beautiful house in a beautiful area of Norway. They had a car. They had all the food they needed. They didn’t lack anything of the basics and none of what makes life comfortable.

In a Norwegian context, they were perhaps quite average. (Very similar to my family and most of the others in my school.) But from a global and historic perspective, they lived in the lap of comfort and luxury.

For me, it’s always been important to keep this in perspective. Most of us in the western world’s middle class live in luxury. We have comfortable houses. We have cars to get around in. We have access to public transportation and planes. We can travel around the world in a day or two. We have clean running water. We have indoor smell-free and sanitary toilets. We have showers with warm water. We can cook our food by turning a switch. We can go to the grocery store and get fresh food from around the world at any season. We have more clothes than we need. We have the internet which connects us with people around the world. We have mobile phones.

We live in a society that values sanitation. We live in a mostly peaceful society. We have access to amazing modern healthcare. We have good education for everyone.

All of this would seem wildly utopian even just a few generations back.

In most respects, we live far beyond how even royalty lived in the past.

Thanking my past self

I sometimes find myself thank my past self.

I am at the cabin, so I thank myself for the firewood. Having cleaned up the kitchen the day before. Bringing food I enjoy. And so on.

It can seem a little silly, but there is a method to the madness.

It’s a way to express gratitude in general.

And it’s a way to connect my different selves – past, future, and present. It helps me now to do kind and thoughtful things for my future self, partly because that future self will be grateful for it.

Yes, I know this is all in my mind. These selves – the past, future, and present – all exist in my mind. They are images and mental representations happening here and now. And that doesn’t really matter. I can still express gratitude, and still do kind things for my future self.

The many things to be grateful for that makes what’s annoying possible

I sometimes allow myself to be bothered by noise, and I sometimes get annoyed by life for other reasons. In these situations, I notice what’s happening and may later work on whatever painful beliefs, emotional issues, and energetic contractions are behind it.

And in the moment, I sometimes use some emergency measures, and the more these are grounded in reality, the better.

One of these is to remind me of all the things I am genuinely grateful for that allow the annoying situation to even exist.

I am at the cabin, and the neighbor is making construction noise. This bothers me since it “ruins” the peace and silence here. There are a lot of conditions that make this possible, and many I am genuinely grateful for. I have ears to hear the sounds. I have time and opportunity to be at the cabin. I have access to this cabin. The cabin is still in good enough condition for me to be here. I have food here. I am a human being. I live in a country that allows for this situation with nature and a cabin. I have parents who were able to buy this cabin several years ago. There are other people in the world, including my neighbor. My neighbor is improving his cabin, he is not letting it fall apart. If I need help, my neighbor is here. Right now, this noise is the most annoying and troublesome thing in my life. And so on.

There are innumerable very real and tangible things I am genuinely grateful for that make this annoying situation possible.

So what about more serious situations?

This question can still be helpful, along with some related ones.

I have CFS, which I sometimes see as limiting and troublesome. What things make this possible that I am genuinely grateful for? I am alive. I have this body. My mind is clear enough to sometimes be bothered by it.

If I sit with it longer, I can likely find more answers.

I can also find more if I ground it in my current situation, and ask a related question: What I can still do, here and now, in spite of the CFS?

Right now, I am bothered by the CFS because I can’t do as much as I would want. (Maintenance, explorations.) I can still write here. I can still enjoy the weather, nature, and the view of the lake. I can still enjoy the food. I can still enjoy the candle. I can still talk with family and friends. And so on. There are many things I am genuinely grateful for that I can do and experience.

It’s good to have a few different questions for these situations and see what comes up when I ask myself each of them. This is not really about “positive thinking”. It’s about finding what’s real and ground myself in reality and a bigger picture.

Yes, there is something to the troublesome thoughts. And at the same time, there are many things I am genuinely grateful for.

This is an example of light and dark in the same sky.

Shams Tabrizi: A Sufi is thankful not only for what he has been given

A Sufi is thankful not only for what he has been given but also for all that he has been denied.

– Shams Tabrizi

How is it possible to be thankful for what we have been denied?

I am far from always and immediately grateful for what I have been denied, especially if I have – understandably and unwisely – invested an idea of future happiness in it and assumed it would happen.

When I look at it for myself, I find three angles into exploring this:

Aligning with reality, finding trust, and making it my own.


Do I know that what I want is what I need or what is good for me?

Not really. I cannot know anything for certain. I cannot know how my life would have been different.

I have several examples of where I got something I wanted, and it came with a big shadow side. And I also have several examples where I didn’t get what I wanted, and something else came in that perhaps was better.

This is what the story of the Chinese farmer points to. And it’s undeniably true, even if some parts of us don’t like to admit it.

Who decides what’s better or worse?

On the same topic, we see that our ideas of what’s better and worse are our ideas. It’s not something we can find outside of our ideas. It’s not inherent in reality.

Our ideas come from our conditioning – as a human being, as a child in a family, as a member of a culture, and so on. This conditioning is not the final word, and although it may reflect conventional wisdom, it does not reflect deeper wisdom.

Focus on what we have and not what we don’t have

If we are denied something we didn’t already have, it just means we are where we were. In reality, not much has happened.

In general, a part of good mental hygiene is to focus on what we have and not what we don’t have, and see that what we have – life, food, shelter, family, friends etc. – is a blessing and not a given.

What’s the upside of the loss?

This is partly dependent of the situation. In most or any situation, and with a more open mind and heart, we can find genuine examples of the upsides of what happened.

There is also something universal here. When we don’t get what we (thought we) wanted, we get to see what’s unhealed and unexamined in us. We get to see what emotional issues are triggered, what beliefs and identifications the loss rubs up against, and so on.

If we take it as an opportunity to befriend these parts of us, it’s an obvious blessing. We can listen to these parts of us. Be a good friend to them and ourselves. Examine the stressful stories behind them. Find love for them.

Finding what we are

When we find what we are, we see that all our experiences happen within and as what we are. Although we have our very human preferences, it all also has one taste. The more we recognize this, the more we’ll meet situations with some equanimity. And the more our center of gravity is in what we are, and not only who we are, we’ll easier find not only peace with what is but appreciation.


Another side to this is trusting the divine or life.

How do we find this trust?

We can inquire generally into some of the topics mentioned here. Can I know anything for certain? Do I really know what’s best for me? Do I know that getting what I wanted would have been best for me?

We can inquire into our most fearful beliefs and identities, see what’s already more true for us, and support these in softening and healing.

We can befriend and find love for our fears and hangups.

We can reorient to life in general through heart-centered practices, and find love for life as it is and ourselves as we are.

We can find trust of the divine through devotional practices.

We can find a sense of centeredness, grounding, and trust through body-centered practices – tai chi, chigong, yoga, TRE, Breema, and so on.

It helps a lot to heal central emotional issues and traumas in our system. The fear that’s stored in our system makes it more difficult to trust life.

We can see perfection in all as it is through discovering and becoming more familiar with what we are.

Over time, we may also find trust in that life and the divine always gives us exactly what we need – to heal, grown, and continue exploring the divine.


It’s not enough to read about this or understand it in a conventional sense. And what I have written about here is very incomplete and from my own bias and limited experience.

We have to investigate it for ourselves. We have to test it out. See what we find. See what approaches work for us. See what’s honest for us, and have the courage to follow truth rather than our conditioning and unloved fears.

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It will all be gone

All will be gone. This human self. Everyone I know. Everyone who knew me. This culture. Humanity. This planet. This solar system. This universe. Given enough time, it will all be gone.

It can seem tragic. And we may have to grieve taking it in. But it also opens up for a lot. Here is what I notice for myself.

It opens for an immense gratitude for life itself. That this all exists. This amazing universe. This beautiful and complex living planet. Humanity. Civilization. Culture.

It opens for an immense gratitude for what I have. For my experiences as they are in all its richness. For breath. Friends. Family. Nature. Daily life.

I realize even more deeply that I cannot take any of this for granted. Nothing needed to exist at all. None of this needed exist. That any exists at all is a miracle. And that this exists is a miracle.

It helps me let go. When I experience discomfort and distress, it helps me see that this and all will go, and it reminds me of the magic of this existence. If something feels right to me, and a part of me worry what others will think or say, it helps to remember that we will all be gone and everything will be gone.

It helps me appreciate the little things. Even the smallest things in daily life is a miracle. This is only here for a brief moment and will be gone along with everything else.

It helps me notice and allow what’s here in my experience, as it is. It’s amazing it’s here at all. It and everything else will be gone. Its presence is pure magic. So who am I to say it shouldn’t be here?

And if I forget all of this, as I do, that’s OK too. That too is part of this amazing, fleeting, and magical existence.

Brené Brown: We’re hungry for more joy because we are starving from a lack of gratitude

We’re a nation hungry for more joy: Because we’re starving from a lack of gratitude.

– Brené Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are

Yes, this is very true in my experience. Gratitude fills me up. It makes me content. And when there is less gratitude and contentment, I crave a variety of things including joy. 

I think this is craving is widespread in contemporary societies, and perhaps especially in the US. Modern media and advertisement intentionally instill a sense of lack and entitlement. I don’t have what I need, and I am entitled to it. And this creates a hole that needs to be filled with products, status, and experiences – including joy. Gratitude is the antidote. And not only an antidote, it’s what we really wish for. It’s what creates a more satisfying and real sense of contentment and being filled up. 

We can’t fake gratitude, and we can’t tell ourselves to be grateful. But it’s close by, and we can invite it in and more in the foreground of our experience. Some of my favorite ways are ho’oponopono, tonglen, and all-inclusive gratitude practices. Natural rest or basic meditation is another way to invite in gratitude, and really… we are “just” noticing the gratitude that’s already here and that we are. (Which is huge.) 

Ariana Grande: thank u, next

I know they say I move on too fast
But this one gon’ last
‘Cause her name is Ari
And I’m so good with that (so good with that)
She taught me love (love)
She taught me patience (patience)
How she handles pain (pain)
That shit’s amazing (yeah, she’s amazing)
I’ve loved and I’ve lost (yeah, yeah)
But that’s not what I see (yeah, yeah)
‘Cause look what I’ve found (yeah, yeah)

There isn’t too much to say about this song because it’s all there in the lyrics.

It’s about gratitude, impermanence, and self-love. 

Everything passes – all our relationships to anything in the world, to people, things, situations. And all we can do is learn from it and say thank u, next. 

Except, one relationship doesn’t pass and that’s to myself. I can find a good relationship to myself. I can treat myself as I would want to be treated by someone important in my life. I can treat myself – and anything coming up in me, all my experiences – with love, kindness, respect, as a good friend or lover. 

It’s an important pointer. In some ways, it’s the secret to life. And it’s beautiful to see it in pop culture, and especially when aimed at younger women as I assume this one is. Although the pointer is equally valid and essential independent of our gender or age. 

This song is completely aligned with the insights we find through The Work. I won’t be surprised if this will be a regular song at future Schools. 

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The gifts of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)

Yet another revisited topic:

For me, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) has come with many genuine gifts.

Of course, it’s important to acknowledge all the challenges that come with it. CFS and any chronic condition can bring up grief, anger, struggle, threatened identities, and unresolved issues. And it can lead to loss of work, relationships, money, status, and so on.

But we also have to acknowledge the genuine gifts that can come with CFS to get a fuller picture. These are gifts we may intentionally notice, explore, and even pursue (at least in periods where we have some energy besides what’s needed for basic daily tasks).

Here are some I have found for myself:

It has helped me with my spiritual practice.

From putting effort into my practice, I have found ways that are far less effortful. For instance, even when I did Shikantaza practice (“just sitting”), I put more effort into it than I needed. Now, I am happy to just notice, allow, and rest with what’s here. And that’s a more genuine way of doing this most basic meditation or noticing practice.

Also, since I have been more raw in periods, due to the CFS, I have been able to notice, meet, and inquire into unloved and unexamined parts of me that previously didn’t come as much to the surface.

Earlier, even if I saw all as Spirit, at a more visceral level I tended to associate Spirit – or at least awakening – with certain feelings and states (even if I knew that wasn’t the case). Now, I am able to more viscerally experience what’s here as Spirit including what’s challenging and uncomfortable. (This is still a process, I imagine it will continue to deepen.)

I have explored and delved into a range of new (to me) practices. I have to admit that this has been my tendency my whole adult life, so I probably would have done that anyway. Although the sense of urgency has perhaps been a bit stronger because of the health-related challenges.

It has given me time. And I have used this time to: Rest. Spend time in nature. Explore and investigate the topics I write about here. Explore and investigate other things in life that I tend to not write about or write less about. (Since I want to keep this blog somewhat focused.)  Find deeper healing for my relationships with the world, others, myself, and my life.

It has come with an invitation to drop facades and be more honest with myself and others.

I have learned something about how it is to face challenges in life. In my twenties, I often had the thought that life was too easy. Now, I know something about going through challenging periods of life.

I have learned about a range of new (again, to me) approaches to healing, including some I may have been less interested in otherwise. For instance, herbal medicine, therapeutic tremoring (TRE), and Vortex Healing.

I have found a deeper appreciation for the simple things in life: a cup of tea, resting, friends, family, nature. I always appreciated these, but it’s different now.

I have found a way to often be genuinely content, and with a deep appreciation and gratitude for my life as it is.

Of course, it’s not all a dance on roses. There are still daily challenges. I sometimes get frustrated when my body doesn’t play along as I think it should (most recently today). I sometimes get annoyed and sad when I consider the many losses connected to health challenges. I sometimes get angry when things are not as my mind thinks they should be. I still sometimes have fear or concerns about the future. I sometimes feel embarrassed when I consider how others may see me. I have small flashes of envy when I see someone living the life I did or thought I would at this time in my life. But all of these experiences are part of being human. They are here to protect me, and they come from deep care for me. And they do happen within and as what I am. And there is often deep gratitude for my life as it is, including all the challenges.

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All inclusive practices

I tend to be drawn to all-inclusive practices. For instance, ho’oponopono or tonglen where we open the heart to everyone and everything, gratitude practices where nothing is left out, or inquiry where we “leave no stone unturned”.

It makes sense for two reasons. First, all is Spirit. And second, it allows for a more thorough healing, awakening, and embodiment.

Of course, it’s more an orientation than something we can completely do. But it does seem to be a helpful orientation and guideline.

Mona W: when I started my practice of intentionally finding things to LIKE

Years ago when I started my practice of intentionally finding things to LIKE no matter where I was, who I was with, or what I was doing, the unexpected benefit was that my anxiety decreased. I felt safer and calmer because I realized I was surrounded by wonderful things that I liked and there was nothing to be afraid of or worry about.

– Mona W. on Facebook

It’s often the simplest intentional noticing and activities that helps the most. They may seem so simple that the thoughts says it’s too simple, it’s what a child may do, and that’s a good reminder to give it a go.

Katie: Would you like to know the secret to happiness?

Would you like to know the secret to happiness? Kindness and Gratitude. Nothing else is required.

– Byron Katie

Yes, and that includes kindness and gratitude towards everything in our experience. The whole field of experience. Any image. Any word. Any sensation.

Since most of us are trained to not do this, at least not consistently or universally, it can take time. We are retraining ourselves. We are forming a new habit. A large oil tanker needs time to slow down and turn, and that’s how it often is with us too. But with intention and dedication, it is possible. It can be done.

Thank you

I realized I don’t often mention here something close to my heart.

It’s a very simple mantra or expression of gratitude.

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

I sometimes say it before falling asleep, or after waking up, or during the day while walking or doing things around the house.

And I sometimes bring to mind things in my life while saying thank you. These may be things it’s easy for my surface self to feel gratitude for, and also things I initially don’t like so much.

There is a shift while doing this. I may find genuine gratitude and thankfulness for it. And I also get to see the parts of me that don’t like it, and can say thank you for those parts too. They too are here. They are welcome.

Why me?

I watched The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies last night.

After Laketown has been laid waste by Smaug, there is a scene where Alfrid crawls onto shore among hundreds of other exiled Laketown residents. They are all in the same situation, and yet Alfrid says why me?

It’s not very subtle, but it’s a good illustration of what many of us sometimes does, including me.

We experience what’s universally human. What millions or billions of people have experienced before us, and what billions may experience after us. And yet, we feel we have been singled out. Somehow, life is especially unfair to me.

There are several reasons for this experience.

One is that most people show the lighter and more glossy side of their life to others, even without intending it. Most of us dress nicely, put on a smile, and are selective with whom we share the most difficult things in our lives. So it’s easy to see the lives of others as easier and better than our own, especially since we are – sometimes painfully – aware of the disappointments and challenges in our own life. As Steven Furtick said, the reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel.

Also, since there is identification as a self, including as one or more deficient selves, this self is naturally in the center of our awareness. We overlook or “forget” that others experience many or all of the same things as we do. My life is not necessarily more difficult than that of most others, even if it can seem that way at times.

What is the remedy?

One is to share these things with others, which allows them to share with us. We get to see that our experience is not unique.

Another is to find gratitude for it all, perhaps through an all-inclusive gratitude practice.

We can inquire into identifications and beliefs. And perhaps do ho’oponopono, or tonglen, or loving kindness practice.

We can also pray or ask for these experiences to help us find compassion, humility, gratitude, and a life of service.

And we can live a life of service. Knowing that others experience this too, we can dedicate our life to serve life. This can look like a very ordinary life. And yet it can make a big difference, for ourselves and others.


What if this is the best that could possibly happen?

In the initial awakening – which came “out of the blue” in my teens – it was abundantly clear that whatever happened was the best that could possibly happen. The universe is love and consciousness. What’s happening is love, infinite wisdom, and consciousness.

Then, during the dark night of the soul, this knowing went into the background, and seemed to become just a memory. My mind told itself that something had gone terribly wrong. I was in the wrong place in the wrong situation. I had left my guidance. I continued to leave my guidance. It felt wrong at a deep level. And there was a knowing there too, in the background, that this also is from and is love and consciousness, and perhaps the best that could happen.

Both are valid, in their own way. All is love and consciousness. What’s happening is and expression of – and is – that love and consciousness. And, when I leave my guidance as I did then, things do go “wrong” in an ordinary human sense. And that too is OK. It’s an invitation to notice. To see that it’s misguided to think I can put myself in a situation that goes against my guidance and heart, and think it will be fine at a human level. It won’t. In my case, I needed to learn that through experience.

The initial realization of “the best that could possibly happen” was given with little or no cost. It just came. This time, it seems I have to refind it more intentionally and through some work.

For instance, what if this – this situation, and what happened – is the best that could possibly have happened? How would it be if my mind intentionally shifts and takes on this view? Can I find specific examples for how it’s valid? What are the genuine gifts in what happened? How does my view on my situation, and what happened over the last years, change? How do I live my life?

Another way to explore this is through an all-inclusive gratitude practice. What happens if I thank life, or God, for all that has happened? What happens if I thank for even that which was the most painful? What happens if I write lists each day, saying “I am grateful for…..”, and include anything that comes to mind whether my impulse is to like or dislike it?

These practices will, most likely, bring up (unloved/unquestioned) fears, identifications, and beliefs. So how is it to sit with these in presence? With love? With gentle curiosity? Is it OK?

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Stepping stones to what’s more natural

Many practices I have explored seem to function as stepping stones to what’s more natural. They take me from a disconnected and fragmented state to what’s simpler and more natural. And that includes meditation, yoga (tai chi, chi gong, Breema), inquiry, prayer, loving kindness, gratitude, precepts and shaking (TRE, spontaneous movement, dance), and a variety of other practices.

The mental body is the newest in our human evolution, so it is perhaps natural that it’s been emphasized during the last few thousand years at least. This has led to a temporary over-emphasizing of role of the mental faculties (they are important, but function best in service to the heart), the appearance of our thoughts as more real and solid than they are, and identification with and as thought. So many or most of the practices developed over this time period are aimed at remedy and balance this. They are medicines for a temporary over-emphasis of the mental body. They are a bridge from this to seeing what’s already here, and a simpler and more natural way of being and living.

Some examples:

Precepts highlight what in us – usually fears, shoulds and beliefs – that prevent us from living with a natural and simple kindness towards ourselves and others. As with the other practices, it can feel a bit artificial at first, and then it shifts into a more natural and free living from kindness.

Natural meditation (Shikantaza) is what’s already here, although attention may be drawn to the complexities and drama of the mental and emotional bodies. It’s also how the mind naturally is when it’s less identified.

Yoga helps us connect more consciously with the body and movement, and allows us to experience ourselves as the body-mind whole. The whole is already here, although it’s not always noticed. And an experience of it can be cultivated through various movement practices.

Prayer is a giving of ourselves to God, an offering of our human self to Spirit. Again, it’s already that way, and this helps us notice it. It’s also how we naturally live when mind is less identified.

Loving kindness is again what’s here when mind is less identified. There is a natural and simple love and kindness for whatever is here in myself, others and the world. It’s what I am and life is.

Gratitude is similar. It’s what’s naturally here when mind is less identified. This may be a gratitude for what it’s easy to find gratitude for (friends, family, health, shelter, good food), and also for life itself as it shows up, with warts and calamities and all.

Inquiry is an examination of our thoughts and how it relates to emotions, sensations and our lives. Again, when mind is less identified it is naturally curious and attentive of these dynamics.

Shaking is what any mammal does to relieve stress and tension. It allows the body and mind to restore itself to a more healthy state.

With all of these, it can feel a bit artificial at first. We learn a form and a method, apply it, and it can feel clumsy. It also brings up what’s in us that prevents us from living it in a natural and simple form, it brings us face to face with identifications, wounds, fears, shoulds and more. And over time, as these soften, are held in love, and are seen through, the natural way of living this is gradually revealed. Form gives way to a very natural and simple way of living. These practices is a bridge from a temporary over-emphasizing of the mental body, with accompanying identifications, to a more simple and less identified way of being and living. Read More

All inclusive gratitude, prayer, inquiry

I notice how helpful I find all-inclusive practices.

An all-inclusive gratitude practice helps me shift out of a split perception. I write or say I am grateful for….. [anything in my life, what I initially like and don’t like]. It helps me open up for the grace in it all. It invites me to gently and quietly question my assumptions about what went right and wrong, what’s good and bad fortune. It invites me to find the gold in whatever is here.

An all-inclusive prayer helps me find love for my enemies, whether these are things I at first don’t like in myself or the wider world. I pray for the health and well-being of myself, suffering parts of me, others, all beings in the three times, and the Earth, and especially those I have closed down my heart to. This helps me open my heart to all of me and all of life. It helps me open my heart to my whole field of experience, finding love for it. Loving kindness (metta), tonglen, ho’oponopono, Heart Prayer, placing myself and others in the heart flame, and other practices can also be very helpful here.

An all-inclusive inquiry practice helps me leave no stone unturned. I examine even my most basic and cherished assumptions about myself, the world, life and reality. I can use The Work to question any stressful story in my life. I can use the Living Inquiries to question anything that seems real and solid to me. And there are many other forms of inquiry as well.

The reason these practices can be helpful and powerful is that they reflect reality. Reality is one. It’s Spirit. It’s love. It’s aliveness. It’s life. And all-inclusive practices, such as these, invite this seamless whole that we are to recognize itself more fully. It helps shed assumptions about reality, especially about separation, and notice what’s already here and what we already are.

Note: Whatever these practices brings up of wounds, fear, apparent resistance etc. can be brought into the practice. If a wound or fear comes up during the gratitude practice, include it. If it comes up during prayer, pray for that too. If it comes up during inquiry, look at what it is.

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All-inclusive gratitude practice

I have taken up my all-inclusive gratitude practice again, and it feels good. In a sense, it feels like coming home.

A conventional gratitude practice is – I assume – more accessible to more people, and it can be very helpful. It helps us find love and a sense of abundance. And yet, it also has a limitation, as all practices do. When I filter and separate out what I am grateful for from the rest of my life, I reinforce my ideas of what’s good and bad, and what I can or should be grateful for. It reinforces a split perception of the world.

An all-inclusive gratitude practice also opens up for love and a sense of abundance. In addition, it helps me soften and question my habitual ideas of good and bad, desirable and undesirable, fortunate and unfortunate. It opens me up for gratitude for all of it, and finding the gifts in it. It invites me to meet all that is with love, and perhaps notice it’s all already love.

An all-inclusive gratitude practice will also flush out “what’s left” in me. It helps me see the fears, hopes and beliefs I have about life. I can include these too in the gratitude list, and I can meet it with love and gently explore it in inquiry.

As with any all-inclusive practices or views, it opens up another “layer” for in how we perceive the world. I’ll still – hopefully – be a good steward of my own life. I’ll still aim at acting with kindness to myself, others and the world. I’ll still be engaged. Although now from a slightly different place.

To put it metaphorically, the layer of my human self is much the same. There is still a human self here living as best as he can, and from kindness and clarity when possible. And there is another layer here, a layer that softens the split perception and recognizes all as already grace and love, and perhaps even Spirit.

An example of a conventional gratitude list:

I am grateful for food, clothing and shelter. I am grateful for family and friends. I am grateful for living in a country in peace. I am grateful for being able to rest.

And an all-inclusive gratitude list:

I am grateful for food, clothing and shelter. I am grateful for family and friends. I am grateful for living in a country in peace. I am grateful for being able to rest. I am grateful for brain fog. I am grateful for fatigue. I am grateful for fears about the future. I am grateful for discomfort. I am grateful for the contraction in my throat. I am grateful for wishing I was further ahead.

These lists often include more specific items too.

Purgatory and love

A dark night is a form of purgatory, a cleansing out.

And it’s as much or more about love.

What’s surfacing seeks to be recognized as love, and met with love. It seeks a loving presence.

It seeks to be seen, felt and loved.

It seeks for the believed stories that created it and maintains it to be seen through.

It seeks to be felt as is, and for it’s sensation component to be felt as sensations.

It seeks to be recognized as love, coming from confused love and a wish to protect the apparent separate self, and to be met with love.

It seeks it’s own liberation.

What’s triggering these wounded parts of us also seeks love.

Any situation in the world bringing these parts up in us also seeks love. It seeks to be recognized as love, and met with love.

Any person bringing this up in me comes with an invitation to be met with love.

Any perceived challenging situation is a potential purgatory, in this sense. It comes with an invitation for us to see through our stories about it, feel it, and find love for it.

It comes with an invitation for me to see through any of my stories about it. (Head center.) Recognize it as love, and find love for it. (Heart center.) And feel it. (Belly center.)

And for the heart facet of this, simple practices can be very helpful.

Prayer. Prayer for guidance. Prayer for the well being of myself and others. Prayer for love for me, suffering parts of me, and others. Prayer for receptivity. Prayer for support in meeting what’s here with love.

A simple loving kindness practice. I wish you love. I wish you ease. Said to myself or parts of me (my heart, pain), and others.

Tonglen. Ho’oponopono. (With me, parts of me, others.)

All-inclusive gratitude practice. I am grateful for….. (anything, what’s its easy to be grateful for, and especially what it’s less easy to find gratitude for.)

Seeing myself in the heart flame. Seeing others, and the world, in the heart flame. (Fanning the heart flame with my attention and devotion. Then seeing myself – body and mind – inside of it, allowing it to burn away anything not like itself, anything not real, anything not like clarity and love.)

Christ meditation, visualizing Christ in my heart, above and below me, in front and behind me, and on either side of me.

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All-inclusive gratitude practice

I have returned to my more formal all-inclusive gratitude practice.

A conventional gratitude practice, where I say or write down a list of what I am easily grateful for, such as friends, good health, food, shelter and so on. Here, I may inadvertently reinforce my ideas of good and bad, desirable and undesirable. I make these ideas seem more solid and real to myself.

In contrast, an all-inclusive gratitude practice is where I include anything in my life – including my fears and worries and what I wish wasn’t there. In this, there is an invitation to soften these ideas, and to gently question them to see what already may be more true for me. Is it true that I know what’s good and bad? Is it true I know what’s best for me and the world? Is it true I cannot trust life and Spirit?

Here is an example of items from my all-inclusive gratitude list for today:

I am grateful for friends. I am grateful for food and shelter. I am grateful for the Living Inquiry training. I am grateful for being in nature yesterday. I am grateful for fears of the future. I am grateful for fatigue. I am grateful for brain fog. I am grateful for wishing the fatigue and brain fog wasn’t here. I am grateful for family. I am grateful for living in a peaceful country. I am grateful for fresh air. I am grateful for regrets about situations in my past. [I am normally more specific here….!] I am grateful for a good breakfast. I am grateful for time for rest, inquiry, reading, walks in nature, prayer. I am grateful for my (sometimes) inability to meet emotional pain in a sane way. I am grateful for sometimes acting in an immature way, when the pain is here. I am grateful for wishing I was through the dark night. I am grateful for wishing for an active life. I am grateful for wishing for a life in service. I am grateful for fear that I am unable to surrender (surrender my identifications). I am grateful for wishing my life was more like my twenties (active, engaged, passion). I am grateful for resisting rest. I am grateful for fears of what others may think of me. I am grateful for wishing to meet what’s here with love (including pain, anger, sadness, grief, confusion). I am grateful for wishing for deep healing (of the emotional body, and how I relate to the wounds and pain).

I notice that this practice does shift how I view and experience these things. And I get the sense that it’s an offering of it all over to the divine, as well as a gentle nudge to recognize it all as the divine.

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New Age as stepping stone

We are all drawn to what we need in the moment, and it’s all stepping stones – phases of a continuing process of unfolding.

As so many, I went through an early New Age phase where I was into Shirley Maclaine (!), Shakti Gawain and some others. It was important to me as it opened up my world and gave me permission to be “weird”. The phase didn’t last for very long, but I am grateful for it. I even re-watched Out on a Limb again last year as it made an impression when I first saw it at the beginning of my own exploration (this time it was mildly entertaining).

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All-inclusive gratitude practice

An all-inclusive gratitude practice can be powerful, whether it is saying thank you as a prayer or mantra, writing and sharing all-inclusive gratitude lists, or just allowing experience as is – in appreciation.

This helps me notice resistance and beliefs, and inquire into these. I get to see where I take positions at odds with reality, their consequences, and what’s more true for me.

It is a question. What happens if I find gratitude for this?

It’s a reminder that I can shift into different perspectives, and experience the world from that perspective.

It helps my view, feelings and actions to reorganize and align more with what is.

And it’s an invitation for what I am to notice itself.

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Gratitude update

I have now done the all-inclusive gratitude lists for 32 days, so here is a brief update.

These lists include whatever comes up for me – situations, my own reactions (thoughts, emotions), and what appears as either desirable or undesirable. And while the format is I am grateful for…. it is really a question – how would it be to be grateful for….? How would it be to find an attitude of gratitude for this too?

The main thing I notice is a shift into an easier and more inclusive self-acceptance. I make a point of including situations, thoughts, emotions and impulses I feel some embarrassment about, and by putting it down on paper and asking myself how it would be to find gratitude for it, there is a gradual shift into self-acceptance. Melody Beattie talks about miracles, and self-acceptance is perhaps the greatest miracle.

This practice is also good for finding where I hesitate and what’s still taboo for me, which helps me find and then inquire into the belief(s) behind it.

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Make Miracles in Forty Days: Turning What You Have Into What You Want

I am grateful for having found Make Miracles in Forty Days: Turning What You Have Into What You Want by Melody Beattie.

It outlines a simple practice: Write a daily gratitude list which includes situations, experiences and emotions you have the most difficulty finding gratitude for. And if you want, find a partner to share this with.

The format is Today, I am grateful for…. which is really a question. How would it be to be thankful for….?

This is a variation of the traditional practice found in many traditions of thankfulness for everything that happens, whether we judge it as good or bad. What this variation highlights, and what I find especially helpful, is specificity. When I write the list, I find specific examples of what to be thankful for, including that which I don’t (yet) feel thankful for.

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Gratitude for all

Gratitude and appreciation is a practice, and it is also a natural expression of who we are when less clouded over by beliefs.

It’s rewarding and helpful to find gratitude for what’s obviously good in my life. It helps me shift attention from my complaints to what is pretty good in life.

And it is even more powerful to include all without exception, including and especially that which I at first don’t appreciate. This helps me find the ground below likes and dislikes, and a softening of identification with my own familiar beliefs about what’s good and bad.

The simplest form of gratitude practice is to repeat thank you – to life, God, the Universe.

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Taking care of own desires, and happy for the happiness of others

When I take care of my own needs, it is easy to find happiness for the happiness of others.

I take care of my own needs, and this brings a sense of satisfaction, alignment and of coming home. Whatever resentment and poverty mentality may be here from previously not taking care of my own needs, is released. And instead, there is a natural and spontaneous sense of gratitude and generosity. One of the ways this gratitude and generosity finds expression is as an satisfaction in and desire for the happiness and good fortune of others.

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Appreciation as pointer

Appreciate your life.
– Maezumi Roshi

Many teachers emphasize appreciation and gratitude, and for good reasons.

As a teaching, it is – as other teachings – a pointer and a question.

What happens when there is appreciation? What happens when there is not?

When I find more clarity, does that tend to invite in appreciation or not?

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I spent an interesting night at the ER with kidney stones on the move. (Not out yet.)

And what comes up the most is gratitude… for modern medicine, hospitals, friendly and skilled staff, and being able to get there in just a few minutes from where I live. Very appropriate, since yesterday was Thanksgiving and I had explored what I have to be thankful for. 

I also noticed, and find an easy gratitude for, the pressure valves of pain… When it gets too intensive, the experience of it shifts. It becomes something else. And there are also the temporary and very welcome distractions through movement and sounds. 

And then finding myself with one foot in the world of what I am, and one foot in who I am. It all happened within clarity and a quiet joy. A clarity inherent in what is, independent of its content. A quiet joy inherent in any experience, independent of its content. And then the human self doing its thing, in excellent fashion, including twisting, grunting and moaning in pain. (And discovering that the child’s pose helps alleviate the pain, as does a hot water bottle on the painful area.)

I also got to notice what thought does with this. Coming home, I looked up kidney stones online (Wikipedia, Mayo Clinic, etc.) and realized that I do not fit the profile at all for having kidney stones. I drink lots of water daily. I use my body. There is no history of it in my near family. I have a low protein diet. I do not drink coke or other soft drinks. I am younger than what is typical. 

Up until reading this, I was fine with having kidney stones. It was just another adventure. But after reading it, the thought came up that I shouldn’t have them! Why me? I am doing everything “right” so why did I still get them? 

And then seeing the silliness of it, and a release. Kidney stones are guests, as anything else. Temporary. Inviting me to just experience, and also notice what is happening. 

Finally, the slight hesitation or apprehension coming up. The stone or stones are not out yet, so it is quite possible that I will experience that pain again as they move through or want to move through. And then appreciation for that too, because it is just the human self taking care of itself. It experienced something unpleasant, it may return, so it naturally is apprehensive. And that has a function. In this case, it helps me take the pain medication even if I currently don’t experience much pain.

Appreciation and differentiation

When I differentiate, it can happen within the context of appreciation or not.

If I differentiate – using thought to sort things out – within appreciation, I find that it tends to invite in curiosity and receptivity. I am more free to explore different views and takes on the topic, find the validity in each, and ways these views may fit together into a larger picture. If I am engaging with someone else, there tends to also be more of a sense of us and a recognition of myself in the other. A sense of exploration and partnership, whether the other person is open to that or not.

If I differentiate and it is not within a context of appreciation, it can be quite neutral. But the stage is also set for more easily going in the direction of a rigid view and a closed heart. Instead of a more open exploration, I may go into justifying or defending a particular view. I may go into polarization. I may experience separation to others and the views they happen to use as a guideline.

Either one is of course fine. And the differentiation without appreciation may be an effective tool in some specific situations. (Tough love, but there can be appreciation even there, just not expressed so directly.)

But in general, differentiation within the context of appreciation seems to be more helpful. When the heart comes in and supports the mind, there is more receptivity and curiosity there, and a willingness to explore the validity in a wider range of views. In some ways, there is a certain intelligence that comes from the heart supporting the mind.

Even when the differentiation comes up with the same in both cases, it is at least more enjoyable to do it within the context of appreciation and a deeper sense of us.

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Thank you

I taught a bodywork class tonight, and was about to say a heartfelt thank you to the students when it struck me – in an immediate way – how nothing can be left out.

A thank you to the ones in the room includes a thank you to all of existence.

It is a thank you to everyone in the room, including myself. To the host and her work to make the space available. To those who built the house. To the ones who made and those who imported the rugs. To the food we ate today and those who brought it to us. To the ones who developed this form of bodywork. To the air we breathe. To all our ancestors. To all the ancestors of everyone who contributed to us being here now, even in small and distant ways. To all the plants and animals we have eaten, to whatever they themselves have eaten, and to the ancestors of all of these plants and animals. To the soil, water, air and rocks that has made all of that life possible. To the earth as a whole, as it is now and in its past. To the universe as a whole. To the existence as a whole.

It is a thank you to all of this, exactly as it is right now, and exactly as it has been throughout the evolution of this universe and planet. (Including whatever my personality likes or dislikes.)

Nothing is left out.

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Pointers for relating to the path

As with anything else here, this is basic and almost childishly simple… which most important things are. And it is what I need to explore it seems.

Some pointers for relating to the path that I find useful…

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Guest practice: gratitude, impermanence and disidentification

During our solo practice day, I spent an hour or so (in between the choiceless awareness practice) on a guest practice that has surfaced for me… one of those practices that arises and do themselves, or in this case wants to be done more actively by me.

There is a seeing of any phenomena, of all content, as guests. Living their own life, coming and going on their own, following their own schedule.

First, as a parade of things in my life, past and present. Friends, family, relationships, situations, this human self, this body, this personality with its particular likes and dislikes. They are all temporary guests, living their own life, coming and going on their own schedule. So I thank each one for visiting my life, and send them on.

Then, the larger whole… the culture, civilization, humanity, animal life, ecosystem, the earth, this solar system, this galaxy, this universe, the whole world of form… all temporary guests, living their own life, coming and going on their own. Thanking each one, and sending them on.

Then, experiences and states… the initial awakening, bliss, joy, energy, clarity, memories of happiness in childhood, memories of dread from childhood, dullness, times of fear, times of sadness, times of feeling on and off track, insights, clarifications, confusion… specific times and experiences… all guests, living their own life, coming and going on their own, following their own schedule. Thanks to each one, and sending it on.

(Exactly how this is done can be polished up… maybe first past and present people, relationships, things, and situations… then thoughts, insights, stories, personality, the likes and dislikes of the personality, this body, and this human self… then the larger world of art, music, buildings, places, culture, civilization, ecosystems, earth, solar system, galaxy, universe… all the time keeping it specific, bringing attention to specific people, relationships, and so on.)

And then, as I go about my daily life, noticing particular situations and experiences… seeing how they are all guests, living their own life. Thanking them, and sending them on.

I find it to be a very helpful practice in several different ways…

Gratitude, for anything and everything in my life, including those things the personality is not particularly fond of.

Impermanence, seeing how all content comes and goes, as temporary guests. The leaving is inherent in the arriving.

Disidentification, seeing how all content… all situations, experiences, thoughts, personality, even this human self… live their own life, coming and going on their own, following their own schedule. They do not belong to “me”, and there is not even any “me” left that they can belong to. It all gets swallowed up as what comes and goes, living its own life.

Happiness and appreciation

I have enjoyed reading some of the posts on happiness over at William Harryman’s blog.

As with so much else, it can be look at from a few different perspectives and levels.

Happiness at the belief level

All the ancient wisdom on happiness, now gradually rediscovered in modern psychology, are of course valid. They work… at least for some people some of the time. But it works because the practices themselves work with our belief systems.

For instance, creating a list of things we are genuinely grateful for does, usually, bring a sense of happiness. And it does so because is brings attention to things in our life that makes up happy. Or rather, we have beliefs about what we want and what would make us happy, so when the existence of those things are brought into the foreground, it tends to trigger happiness. Or even more bluntly, gratitude inventories trigger stories which in turn triggers a sense of contentment and happiness.

I believe friendship, reasonable health, shelter, good food, free time, and opportunity to pursue interests, is what I want and would make me happy, so when I bring attention to the presence of all of these, it triggers happiness.

Similarly, acting kindly triggers happiness, at least partly because it gives us a sense of intimacy, connection and supporting life. We believe intimacy and connection would make us happy, our actions bring up a sense of intimacy and connection, so happiness is triggered.

This all works at the level of beliefs.

What this practice, and similar ones, do not do, is help us question the beliefs themselves.

The limits of conventional happiness practice

As useful as conventional happiness practice, as promoted by Seligman and others, can be, it also has its limits. The most obvious one is that it is dependent on circumstances, on content of awareness… and so, is precarious. It also functions at the level of the personality, so is dependent on the personality being happy (which sometimes is a tall order…!)

Happiness beyond beliefs, as appreciation for life as it is

It may sound radical, even cold, when put this way. But there is a far more rich happiness to be found if we question the beliefs themselves. A quiet happiness, an appreciation for life as it is, not dependent on circumstances.

So far, the most effective tool I have found for this is The Work

It releases beliefs from stories, even the most ingrained ones such as happiness depends on…, revealing a free mind receptive to what is, appreciating what is… loving what is, independent of the content of what is, including independent of what the personality is up to.

It reveals the current of quiet bliss that is always there, and some times covered up by dust kicked up by beliefs.


In real life, it is of course good to do both. The gratitude inventory and other tools are great for allowing happiness to surface when we are still caught up in beliefs. And the exploration of the beliefs themselves reveals what is there behind the dust from wrestling with life and stories… the quiet current of bliss, joy, appreciation… the bliss of simply being… experiencing… of life, exactly as it is, independent of circumstances, independent of content…