Thursday, November 27, 2014

A gratitude and touching and liking game for Thanksgiving

Something to do with someone you like. You love. You are hanging out with. You barely know.

Sit near to them.
Look each other in the eyes.

Say this. For three minutes, with a timer.
Go through these five statements, over and over.

"I notice this about me...

“I notice this about you…
“This is what I'm grateful  about life..
“I like this about me…
“ I appreciate this about you…”
 Repeat this for three minutes
“I notice this about me...“
“I notice this about you…
“This is what I'm grateful for about life..
“I like this about me…
“ I like appreciate about you…”

After the three minutes. Pause. Look at each other. Enjoy this.
Then the listener shares back, as long as it takes, what they heard and what they "got" about the other person from this sharing/

Then going the other way: tell it back the other way around. 
First noticing yourself, as a person in the moment. 
Notice the other in the moment.
Like... life
Like .. yourself
Like.. the other

Liking and gratitude and love and appreciation, all swirling around in the Thanksgiving of this amazing gift called life.

In the present of the present,
and liking
and love
and gratitude
and appreciation

For three minutes: massage the other person’s foot. Paying attention to :
What you like about it.
What it feels like to your fingers.
What specific parts of them you are touching.
What you imagine they are liking about it.

For two four one massages the other's foot, and then switch it the other way.

Then one minute feedback each, How it was giving? How it was getting?

Either the massage, or the liking life, self and the other.

AS many times as you wish.

It's your life.

Connection feels good.

Have you noticed?

Friday, November 21, 2014

Better talk and touch, and love and sex.... part 4 of 60

Not really 60 days straight, but in a program of ten days of work each other, that gets cycled through three times.

day four
This is going to be fun.
Every day is going to be fun, and yes, yes, there is going to be even more blow back from the habitual world, because, believe it or not, there is a big chunk of your inner programming that doesn’t want you to be happy and the busy/ kids/ tired/ sick/ whatever whatever excuses are going to rear their ugly ( and false, if you look carefully at the real problem to be solved and not the FEELING that things can’t be any different) heads.

So, keep it up.
Half an hour a day.
Preferably before dinner.

And here goes:


Sit close and look at each other for a minute. Just connect in silence.
Then a minute while holding hands.
The talking today is going to be an every other sentence loop back to the “gurdjieff meditation” I mentioned yesterday.
In that, you start first thing in the morning, and sense your right toes, and bit by bit sense up through foot ankle shin knee thigh to your right hip.
Then sense the entire right leg and hang out there a while.
Then, keeping that in awareness, add on, right finger tips, fingers, hand, wrist, forearm, elbow, upper arm and right shoulder socket. Then sense the two, right arm and right leg.
Breathe. Enjoy giving yourself real attention.
And the complete and unequivocal being “present” that this is.
As experience. Word free. Now, now, now, now.
And then, keeping the right arm and leg ( and fingers and toes) in sensing attention, go to the left shoulder and work your way down to the left fingertips.
Then hang out in those three: right leg and arm, left arm.
Then add on, keeping going around the circle, left hip, down thru thigh, knee, shin, ankle, foot, out to all the toe tips.
Then sense all four.
There is more to the “Gurdjieff meditation” and this much can be revealed today:  this is something for all day and all activities.

And so, for today’s talk, we’ll go around the circle every other statement, and you can sense up the right side and down the left, or just zap into the whole limb at once, and it’s going to bring you present, now, present, now, present, now.

Person A, goes like this for 3 minutes:
“Sensing my right leg and toes, I notice….”
“This is what I like about me…”
“Sensing my right arm and fingers, I notice…”
“This is what I like about you….”
“Sensing my left arm and fingers, I notice…”
“This is what I like about me….”
“Sensing my left leg and toes, I notice…”
“This is what I like about you….”
“Sensing my right leg and toes, I notice….”
“This is what I like about me…”

And so on.
Then, person B, for one minute, feeds back to highlights of what they heard.

Switch, the other way.

Do it again, so 16 minutes is taken up being present to ten fingers and ten toes and to liking of oneself and to liking of the other.

5 minute massages of one of your partner’s feet. They can make requests. But not too many. Sense your arms and legs as you give the massage. Especially sense in your foot whatever you are massaging in their foot.
And sense the fingers you are using, and the using of your arms and whole self to move your massaging hands.
One minute each to say how that was for you.

Seven minutes the other way around.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

be present, even in grief, it's the doorway to God


If I’m present I’m really alive.
It’s not the only game in town, and (AND) it’s necessary to at least two of the other great games of this overall game called “being alive.”
-- love

Another essay could be written ( and has been, search through the blog) on the impossibility of happiness and love without being present. Discover this for yourself, or transmit any time of un-happiness or un-love to a time to happiness or love by becoming present.)

And there’s one game that can be played from not being present, and often is, and it’s a big and fun game in life. It’s this one:
--making money.
Lots of people have discovered that it’s a lot more fun and lot easier and lot happier ( and….full of love) game if played from being present. And it appears that a messy version can be played, and even played well from what I’d call, copying Gurdjieff and many others, a state of “sleep.”

And then the last great game…
--Service. Helping others. Making a difference.

Ah, me oh my. You can be of service and be asleep, and it can work, but it’s a perilous situation. If surrounded by peaceful and almost saintlike people, who are also good at self care, you / one can get away with being asleep.
And, on the other hand, burn out, and grumpiness and feeling ripped off, can be so prevalent. There is a great passage in Brothers Karamozov, where a gal admits that she has a hard time give to the poor because they aren’t sufficiently grateful.
Lots of prayer and quiet time, which is often close to being present, can help people get away with being of service without a practice of being present, but usually, the people you are serving will suck you dry, since there is really no you there to be around them, just your good deeds.

And that’s that.
There is one more great reason to be present and it’s almost as if it’s your way to salute the universe for the wonder of being alive. Which is kind of like happiness, but on a quieter and more reverent sort.
And being alive is the gift and the glory.

And here we shift to the second half of this discussion, a “harder” part, and it is about his: how to be present when someone we love dies.
They are gone.
No longer in our lives.
We are still alive.
They aren’t.

This can hurt.
This can wound so deeply our whole lives are turned inside out.
Rumi’s endless poems of love, which he didn’t write, but shouted out while whirling and his disciples wrote down, came from his grief at this beloved mentor and enlightenment friend, Shams, being gone. The suspicion is the jealous disciples and even some of his own children murdered Shams.
And in that grief, plunged to the depths, he found a love and poetry that has nourished our souls throughout the ages.

And if we aren’t Rumi ( yet!), what to do?

Be present.
To reality.
Reality is what we see right now. What we hear right now. What we are sensing in our bodies.
In our bodies the grief may be surging in great ferocity, and we can always meet that with awareness. What ever we are sensing, we can be aware of those sensations in the moment.
Moment by moment.
Breath by breath.

And this too, be can be aware, that we are alive, that we are aware, as we sense this sensation of grief inside us. Balancing that with awareness of gravity and light and breath and sound, as per yesterday’s blog on Ten Fingers, Ten Toes, Belly, Eyes, Ears and Nose, might make it “easier,” and no matter.
We are alive.
We are in love with these sensations, or we could be, as this is the way to honor our life exactly now.

And then, there can be suffering. Pain is one thing, suffering another.

The suffering is not real, but always sets of words, always of the sort that “This should be different,”  or “That should have been different.”

That is, we are demanding that Reality change to suit our wishes.
The elephant should be a card table. Impossible.
The rabbit should be a dog. Impossible.

This past event should never have happened. Impossible.

To fight reality brings suffering which is different than pain. Last weeks essay on the four questions and the turn around can always get us out of the suffering.
The pain remains as long as it remains.
And when we are present, we are riding the surf of reality, no matter how rugged.
Something is being ripped open, and in the stillness of not filling our minds with all the words that create suffering, and in the hot furnace of sensing the actual grief in the moment, something new can be born.

What it will be can’t be predicted.
The present can point to and wish for a certain future, but reality can play funny and beautiful and mystical games with us.

That’s it’s job.
Our job.
To be present and love what is.

This is either too many words, or not enough, and words are all a bit of a lie, and maybe they can point to the rose garden. Maybe we will walk there. Maybe the thorn will prick us deeply and we can be aware of our wound.
Maybe we can look at the sun reflecting in the drop of blood and see the meaning of our love and our lives.
Who knows?

If we are present, we’ll be there to find out as we discover.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Now, really? LIke this now?

Slightly before the Power of Now came out and it was suddenly cool to be in the moment, I am leading a small workshop on being present in the hills above Sonoma.

People are given the simple assignment of talking a half hour walk, alone, and hanging out in the present and seeing what that was like.

What it was like was great.

Everyone came back rip roaring excited about the peacefulness and the intense moment by moment vitality of their bodies walking through the woods with their minds mainly focused on being present.

All was well.

We parted.

I was pleased, and then I realized an odd thing, thinking back on the sharing about their walks, a noticing I'd had while they were talking but kept submerged.

They hadn't been present when they were busy, happy and excited to share about their walk in the present.

Perhaps even more shocking: I hadn't been that present either.

Ah, shit... What do we have here?

Well... reading these words. writing these words... are we present in this now, now.

Maybe yes.

Maybe no.

It's a trick, it's a veil, it's a huge dilemma: how to be using words, which are never in the present, to describe anything, first of all, and then to be present while we are in word land.

There is a reason why most meditation retreats are silent.

Talking almost always equals going back to sleep.

There is a way out of this, specific to talking and being present, but for now, let me just introduce a game, and you can try it, if you want, while you are talking.

And walking.

And riding a car, driving a car, riding a bike, eating, or even reading and writing.

while you are talking to someone.
And listening to someone.

On the phone.
In person.

It's "hard," but its a way out of the ongoing sleep of most of humanity, most of the time.

So, maybe it's worth a try.

Goes like this;;

Ten fingers

Ten toes





And that's the attention game. The being present game. While eating or reading or talking or walking or dancing or making love, or writing, or working:'

Put attention on all ten fingers, and both arms. Sense their entirety, from shoulders to fingers tips.

Put attention on all ten toes, as a reminder to add in both legs, sensing all, the flesh, the bones, tendons, nerves, flesh, blood, all of it, from hip joint to the tippy tip of all ten toes.

That's a lot.

Belly and Nose are the two ends of breathing. The joy of this being alive thing. Now, now, now, we can feel the air that is keeping us alive, feel the air itself coming into our nose, feel the belly expanding as the diaphragm pushes down to make more room in our lungs.

Feel it all.
Breathing in.
Breathing out.

And the belly is near the tan tien, the center of our body, two inches in and one down, or something. Doesn't matter.

Just sense your middle and sense your spine along with the two arms and two legs.

Arms, legs, spine, breathing, fingers, toes, air in and out the nose.

And now,
eyes: what light is coming in?

What do you see?


What sound is coming in?


and that could keep you pretty damn present in case you want to be while yammering, or thinking about being present or talking about being present or talking about your deep wishes or talking about your trivial complaints.

Can you have all that now now nowness:

ten fingers

ten toes





----try it.

You've nothing to lose but the misery of believing your thinking or someone else's.


Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Transforming bitterness into love: Forgiveness as Realization

Once when it was cold, and I was all alone and bitter and in despair, I got myself a pen and a notebook.

Time to write my way out of this suffering.

Judge your neighbor.
Write it down.
Ask four Questions.
Turn it around.

The happiest person I'd ever met suggested that as a way out of suffering.

I was suffering. The girlfriend of 7 years had left me for Tom.

Not fair, poor me, sad bitter and so on.

Being bitter, thinking bitter thoughts, complaining, get others to agree with me, hadn't done the trick.

So, Judge my ex gal:

"She should not have left me."

Of course not. He was good looking and smart and charming and had an English accent to seem even more charming and smart and he drank coffee and she worked in a coffee shop.

We'd met, this gal an I, when she was in Berkeley, getting her degree in Landscape architecture. We talked design, gardens, roamed Berkeley together, feel in love, had the usual fun of that, drank coffee.

She finished her degree and we visualized the perfect cottage in Sonoma, after scoping out about six towns in the country. We wanted to grow. We wanted out of Berkeley. We found Sonoma, with it's 10,000 population, and nine acre plaza and only an hour from the bay area.

And we "manifested" the white cottage, on land, with oak trees on one side, a meadow in front, a creek on the side, only seasonal, but still, 4 months of gurgle gurgle is pretty grand. And not visualized, but cool, a quarter mile driveway lined with walnut trees and olive trees.

Heaven, and we gardened, heaven and a strange thing happened in paradise.

We fought.
Ah, what did we argue about?
Who knows?

And here, let me clue you in to the generic argument:

Person A:  "I'm right and you're wrong."

Person B:  "No. You have it backwards, I'm right and you're wrong."

Person A: "No. You have it backwards, I'm right and you're wrong."

forever and eve, louder and louder with the context hardly mattering and EVER so important.

Anyway, we argued, and then at the end I DO know what we argue about.

I was right and she was wrong to be spending so much time with Tom.

Here's a hint, on how to make jealousy a self-fulfilling prophecy: spend a lot of time hassling the person for liking someone else.

So we argue and the choice for her got clearer and clearer:
Stick around me and be argued with that she's wrong.

Hang around and be charmed by a man with an English accent who thinks she's the brightest rose in the morning dew.

And so she chose.

And I'm alone.

And I have my paper and pen, and it's time to write my way out of suffering.


Let's see.

Judge the one you are blaming from your suffering: And write it down.

"She should love me more."

Ask four questions.


Hell yeah. I'm suffering. She should love me more and stick around. ( Ha! Selfish malarky, but the answers have to be honest)

As, in the Universe needs this to function. As in, I can be absolutely certain that for her life and my life and blah blah blah, she should "love me more," whatever that means.

And the answer, sigh, is no.

Hell no.

Which means, darn, the statement, "She should love me more," is a thought, and opinion, and like most thoughts and opinions, is not true.


Question Three:

Wow. Well, that's pretty clear. Miserable. Sad. Angry. Bitter. Betrayed. Poor me. Victim.
On and on.

And that's the kicker:  It's the thought setting me up for all this. Not her.

How do I know?

Question Four:

And, I'm just me, here now. Or me, there then, in a garden, in a beautiful town, alive, seeing the skies and the trees and without the thought:  no suffering.

Can it be that easy?


But wait, there's more:
Judge your neighbor.
Write it down.
Ask four questions.
Turn it around.

The turn around is to eat your own medicine,
You should listen to me more becomes:
I should listen to YOU more.
I should listen to ME more.

You should appreciate me more, becomes
I should appreciate YOU more
I should appreciate ME more.

So, with Tom's new gal, my new X:

"She should love me more,"
I should love HER more.
I should love ME more.

Yeah, okay. I write that, think that , and then ZAP.


 I still do love her, and most of my suffering had been from stopping that love, and when I do the turn around and "love her more," what do I want:

I want her to be happy.

And she is happy.
With Tom.

Great. Loving her more means wanting her to have what she wants.

She wants Tom.
I can love her and be happy she has what she wants.

This isn't theory. This is almost teary,
teary eyed relief and how good the world has suddenly become: someone I love is getting what they want.

And loving me more?

Ah, it means doing the work, the writing down, the questions the turn around on the next thoughts that come up once I let her go, as if I had a choice:

"I won't ever find anyone as great as her."

I did that work.
What happened is another story, a sweet story, but let's just say this work, the work of judge your neighbor, write it down, ask for questions, turn it around, turned my life around.

You have any suffering?

Give it a try.

A pen. Some paper. Looking within. You might find freedom, too.

Good luck.
Bon adventure.

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Pseudo Wisdom on a Wednesday: Love What Is..... or SUFFER

A young friend of mine was recently murdered.

My favorite moment with him, well second favorite to a bike ride we took together, was hearing him give a talk on how he'd used his time in prison to seek and find spiritual wisdom.

One of his key sharings was the "7 Page Project," wherein you took seven pieces of paper ( the number that could be mailed in an envelope with one stamp) and wrote your beliefs, and learnings down and send them to someone.

In honor of him, I'm going to journal for seven pages ( handwriting is the only way to really get close to your soul in writing) each Wednesday, and then type it into this blog.

I'll also print up this typed version and mail it off to his mother, who can might want to friend on facebook, Denise Roussell.

And here, in honor of Cory Roussell and today's gift to Denise and myself and all of life, and especially anyone reading this, is today's seven pages....

Here's the honey: Life is Good.

Yesterday I heard that my second grand daughter had been born just before midnight the day before, at the very tail end of November 3, 2014. I'd been hoping she would be born then, since that was the birthday of an amazing woman, Marlie Wesner, now Marlie Collins, who had been my girlfriend for 8 years in Sonoma, California.  ( Not Sedona, Arizona. Think grapes, not vortex).

Marlie was a wonder of simplicity and love of life and acute connection with simple physical pleasure. My son, who knew her fairly well, said she was the kind of person who should be riding a unicorn. She and I spend night after night sleeping under the stars, in town, but either at a garden we were creating or on our deck. We helped create one huge and beautiful garden, and one large and beautiful garden. I hear she's still gardening, and yoga-ing to life's great delight.

She was a gift, and I feel I contributed her way and then it was life to part paths.

Life is good. When the love is here, and we can share the same cottage and garden and bed, that is good.

When it is time for love to take another form, that is good.

Unless I want to suffer, then I could have begrudged the ending, but I didn't. She didn't. Life moved on.

Gardening teaches this: plants spring from little seeds, get huge, give great gifts, reach their end, die, become food for the compost.

We were both content, and even more in love in a certain way was we spent five months still together and knowing we were parting.

And I was happy that my grand daughter would probably have this birthday, for on the day of November 3 this was up in the air.

And during this up in the air time, I called my sister to tell her of the birth on the way. That part went well.

But when I told her I was excited that this girl ( they knew it was a girl) would be born on Marlie's birthday, my sister reverted to being my sister. When I told her I'd really loved Marlie, and hoped that child would share some of her amazing qualities, she pushed back with why wasn't I still with Marlie is it had been so good.

And when I began to explain the reasons that Marlie and I found for an agreeable and loving separation, she told me they were stupid.

Ah, here's when I lost my understanding of how to be happy.

Instead of listening to her ideas and reasons and feelings about this, I took this as an insult and hung up.

Poor Sis. People hang up on her all the time, since she has a firm habit of telling people they are stupid and wrong and expecting them to be grateful for the insight.

And I could have been present to my sting, and not taken it personally, and it would just have been her being the way she can't help being

But I blew it.

I hung up.

I believed in my story, that she shouldn't call my reasons stupid, instead of the reality that she had.

And so, I hung up and closed things down.

Now, sticking around, I might have found out what was going well and what was not going well in her 35 year marriage, but I didn't.

I chose to disagree with a disagreeable sister, and hence, fighting fire with fire, closed off a chance for something new and interesting to happen.

My loss.

The price I failed to pay to stay in happiness and "life is good," is this price:  Wake up to NOW and when in pain, look within and discover where I am fighting with "What Is," which is another name for Reality.

The secret to ongoing contentment:  "Loving What Is."

My favorite spiritual teacher, Adyashanti, defines enlightenment as "Loving What Is."

My favorite enlightened being calls herself Byron Katie, and does not call herself enlightened, that's a story, nor a teacher, since it's about un-learning rather than learning ( at least in the spiritual realm.... in movement, about which maybe I'll write next Wednesday, learning is real, but not book learning, the kind of learning that a child discovers when going from not being able to crawl, to being able to crawl)

She called her first book, "Loving What Is."

Not as a belief of hers, but as the purest statement of how she found life had to be lived for her to end, completely the immense amount of suffering she was undergoing as a chain smoking obese ranting-at-her-family alcoholic.

Like all of us, she was
In rage and suffering.... when she believed her thoughts.

At Peace,
when she gave up trying to demand that Reality be what her thoughts wanted it to be.

And that's the easy/ hard/ obscure/ obvious route for us all: Let go of our argument with Reality.
Then life is good and we are happy.

And so it was with me, on November 3.
My suffering on top of my sister's suffering. She told me I was wrong for ending a relationship. I told her... by hanging up... that she was wrong for telling me that I was wrong.

And so it goes.

And sometimes we are lucky.
I have another sister who pointed out to me that I seemed to be caught up in a story that the critical sister should have been other wise.

That was it!

I woke up.

I'd been trapped in my thinking.

And this seems to be one of the main reasons to be present:

In the present we can wake up to
Am I happy?
Am I suffering?

And then, we can be present to the thoughts that are fueling our unhappiness.

And being present we can feel our bodies, our arms out to the fingertips, and our legs out to the toes, and our spine with the pelvis and our head.

Our breathing.

We are alive.

We can be present.

And sounds, sights, color, light:  we can feel and notice all that, in the present.

So, that's the way we can live: present to our idiocy when we decide to believe our thoughts and suffer.

Present to the aliveness of ourselves now.

Present to the beauty of the world.

And present to this:  what do we want our life to be headed toward.

That's "not the present," but it's the way we want to move, and that's part of the game to: we get to chose, from happiness, from the present of love of life, from the present of knowing what our life feels like right now, what now, do we want our life to become.

And right now, this is happy.


Because life is good.