Feelings Are Messy

As humans in an uncertain world, we seek certainty in a variety of ways. We ask questions that are fundamentally unanswerable. We ruminate and obsess on a single thought (otherwise known as intrusive thoughts). We Google and text and seek reassurance in a variety of increasingly technologically oriented ways. When I see someone falling into these common mental habits, the first question I encourage them to ask themselves is, “What are these thoughts/actions protecting me from feeling?”

We’re so identified with spending thousands of hours in the realm of thought that oftentimes this question doesn’t make any sense. What do you mean “protecting” me from feeling? What I mean is that somewhere along the road of growing up, somewhere between the innately healthy relationship that babies have to their emotional life and the disconnected relationship that most adults have, we learned that one way to manage the messy, amorphous, … Click here to continue reading...

An Interview with a Course Member

Lake Phoksumdo, Dolpo, Nepal

Over and over again, the feedback I receive from my 30-day course participants is that one of the most impactful and life-changing aspects of my courses is hearing from and connecting with other people who are going through the exact same struggles. Despite the worldwide web, we live more isolated than we’ve ever lived, which leads to the sense that we’re the only one struggling with our particular brand of challenge. Because of the role I hold, I swim daily in the common notes that compose the pain of the human song, and I write about those themes as much as I can on this blog. But there’s something about hearing people’s stories on the live, group, weekly calls that transcends even the power of the written word.

Along these lines, I’d like to share an email interview I conducted with a Trust Yourself graduate a … Click here to continue reading...

The Life You're Meant to Live

Somewhere along the road of childhood into adolescence, a belief is transmitted that says: Follow the roadmap that culture presents and you will find a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. This roadmap looks like: Graduate from a 4-year university, land a corporate job then climb the ladder, get married, buy a house, then have a couple of kids (in that order). There are a thousand other assumptions along the way: Marry someone of the opposite sex (who is also “the love of your life”); marry someone of similar background; don’t move too far away from your parents or your hometown; have your babies in the hospital; send your kids to school; don’t do your own thing; don’t have your own life, I could go on and on.

Very few people question this assumed path. Instead, they follow its implicit formula and then, years down the road, … Click here to continue reading...

Compassion or Comparison

My yoga teacher has said this phrase dozens of times, but one morning it went in differently and landed in the places where breath meets bone, where sinew aches with loss and the water in the pelvic bowl of my hips shimmered like a moonlit lake. The words traveled along ancient blood-lines to the place where ancestral memory digs a spade into foreign soil, where the grandmothers and great-grandmothers hummed the melodies of their lineage while baking the day’s bread and folded their pain in the flour.

Compassion rather than comparison. Connect to what’s needed in this moment instead of to what everyone else is doing or what you think you “should” be doing.

She cued a pose and I did something else. She cued another pose and I remained where I was, following my breath into the places that needed attention. The beginning of a poem filtered into … Click here to continue reading...

The Escape Hatch of Perfection

There are so many ways that we can avoid pain. We can choose denial. We can self-medicate with drugs and alcohol. We can fall prey to fear/ego’s insidiously convincing beliefs that to turn inward is “selfish, indulgent, and will get you nowhere.” We avoid pain because we live in a culture that teaches us to avoid pain. We avoid pain because we don’t know that turning toward pain (and I use pain as an umbrella term for anything uncomfortable that we wish to avoid feeling) is one of the secret pathways to joy.

If you’ve found your way to my site, one of your default methods of avoiding pain is likely to travel up to the safe regions of your mind where pain can’t find you. There you sit at the Great Loom of Intrusive Thoughts and spin your web of “what-ifs” and “if-onlys”, each thread keeping you stuck in … Click here to continue reading...