Season of the Fallen Flower

It’s the season of the fallen flower. It’s the season of heat when the rising temperatures cause the petals, so vibrant and alive just a few weeks ago, to wilt. It’s the season of paradox: we bask in summer light and longer days yet the hands of darkness are stealing away the light minute by minute; we revel in the heat yet when it reaches a crescendo and breaking point we seek shelter indoors. The winter of summer. The emotional paradox of this season is that when there’s heat there’s an expectation of joy – beer and BBQs, swimming pools and parties – and yet there’s an undercurrent of sadness because we sense, especially the highly sensitive ones, the loss of light that begins after the summer solstice, and we feel in our bones the interplay of life and death.

We live in a culture that desperately seeks to avoid … Click here to continue reading...

A 24-Hour Challenge

In 2008, shortly after we moved from Los Angeles to Denver with our two-year old son, I adopted a weekly ritual in honor of the Jewish sabbath: to shut down my computer for twenty-four hours. This was before the era of smartphones and before I was pouring my energy into my online business daily, but even back then it was a weekly challenge to rip myself from the seductive distraction of the computer and literally shut it down. Now, with my increasing business demands and feeling chained to a second computer (my phone), it’s even more challenging to divest myself of the opportunity to check, scroll, write, text, and search but, with the exception of a few Saturdays a year when I start a new round of a course, I shut down from sundown on Friday to sundown on Saturday. And, without fail, every time I shut down I feel … Click here to continue reading...

Moment By Moment

Life is a series of micro-moments. Most of the time, we’re floating along in the fast-paced current without self-reflection. But inevitably, at some point, we will get snagged on a branch of anxiety or intrusive thoughts, an uncomfortable feeling, an illness, an argument with a loved one, or a season of depression. The habitual responses to these gifts-disguised-as-snags are to protect in some way: to attack outwardly through blame or withdraw into stony silence. We also gravitate toward habitual mental defenses as a way to protect against the soft feelings that live in the underbelly of the heart: we worry, we ruminate, we distract, we check, we watch television, we surf the internet, we shop.

We aren’t taught this anywhere in our early life, but the conscious path is largely about slowing down those micro-moments so that we can observe our habitual response, ask if it’s a response that serves … Click here to continue reading...

No Escape Hatch From Life

We are not taught to meet life on life’s terms. Left to ourselves, we have this nifty little defense mechanism called an ego that will shift and move and invent and convince in order to remove us from meeting life square in the eye. All of the ego’s intrusive thoughts and fear-based schemes are, in fact, finely crafted and often convincing escape hatches designed to remove us from touching the raw places that define being human: our loneliness, pain, fear, uncertainty, and transcendence.

I work with pregnant women who have the thought “I don’t care about this new life.” I work with people in loving relationships who are dragged down the rabbit hole of anxiety by the thought, “I don’t love him/her.” I work with new mothers who become terrified by the thought directed toward their baby, “I hate you.” Because we’re not taught how to work with our thoughts … Click here to continue reading...

The Escape Hatch from Anxiety

Life is uncomfortable; there is no escaping that reality. From the time we emerge from the perfect, symbiotic state of the womb and enter the world, we’re confronted with the fact that the external environment doesn’t always meet our needs and our internal state fluctuates from equilibrium to disequilibrium, often a dozen times or more in the course of a single day. I remember when my son was a baby and he was suffering from digestion difficulties. I tried everything in my power to ease his pain – including limiting my diet to three foods – but nothing helped. I clearly recall looking at him one day in his tiny four month old body and thinking, “It’s uncomfortable being in a body and there’s nothing I can do to change that.” It was my first of many motherhood lessons about letting go and realizing that part of our lot as … Click here to continue reading...