Open Windows

Become Who You Always Were

“I want to get out of here! This is the 70’s all over again!” The year was 2004 and I was at a healing retreat, but it was a reprise of everything I had not liked in the 1970’s. In the 70’s, Esalen in Big Sur on the California coast, was becoming famous as a retreat center continuing in the tradition of Fritz Perls, the great psychiatrist and founder of Esalen. Groups promising emotional release were springing up everywhere and personal growth was in the air, but I, divorced with a full time job and four children, was having none of it. Read More…

Jozai Senjo, Always Ready!

Last month I talked about growing new leaves on our Soul-tree. But growing new leaves isn’t always easy, and sometimes our painstakingly tended branches may be clipped off our tree by unforeseen events. The Divine Gardener may have a different plan about how our Soul-tree will flourish.

Bonsai with flowersOften we do not see the great Pruning Shears in the Sky coming. Our secure job may suddenly be eliminated, our spouse may decide that he or she will be happier with someone else, a new technology may come along which makes us obsolete. These are worst case scenarios, which we don’t like to think about, much less prepare for! My mentor used to comment on some new plan of mine, “That is fine, but what is the worst case scenario?”

The Master Gardener is shaping our Soul-tree into a magnificent bonsai by cutting and trimming and tying and twisting, We cannot know the outcome, but what we can do is Be Ready for the worst case scenario. Read More…

Growing New Leaves

“I’m so vulnerable. I have no self-confidence and I cry all the time for no reason.” Tears filled the eyes of the young woman with long brown hair and plastic-rimmed glasses hiding her child-like blue eyes. We were at a retreat in Marin County in Northern California, where we were exploring “Transparent Communication.”

This person wanted to know what to do so as not to feel so exposed in her vulnerability. Yet she was a psychotherapist and her ability to access her own emotions was an asset to her in working with her clients. However, she needed to protect herself from her feelings. She wanted to be able to switch off her vulnerability.

Tree sprout with watering can“Grow new leaves,” I said without thinking. Read More…

Dorothy and the Wizard

yellow brick roadLast night I was watching a special program about Judy Garland on public television. Judy’s role as Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, which has become the myth of our time, was the introduction to the program.

Whether Dorothy of the Wizard of Oz or Dorothy Seeger, or some other Dorothy, it doesn’t matter. The story of “Dorothy” has become embedded in America’s collective unconscious as a tale of loss, search, and empowerment.

So I will tell you my Dorothy story. Some of you will find that it is very similar to your own. That is why I am telling it. Read More…

There’s No Place Like Home

Last month we suggested that, instead of Occupying Wall Street or Hong Kong, we focus on occupying ourselves. What does “Occupy Yourself” mean? It means to live inside your own body, to live in your heart. To connect with others from the heart, and to listen to what your own Internal Guidance System is saying.

Ten years ago, I was living in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where I had moved from California to study Ayurveda. I thought it wouldn’t matter where I was living as long as I was learning something new.

It mattered.

rainbowCalifornia was my Home. From my Midwestern childhood I had dreamed of California. It was like the Emerald City in “The Wizard of Oz”. California was Over the Rainbow for me. When I was given a scholarship to go there to college, it was the fulfillment of a dream. Read More…

Occupy Yourself

We have had “Occupy Wall Street” and “Occupy Washington”, but we have never had “Occupy Yourself.” Instead, we are the ones who are occupied – by worries about money, relationships, children, work, and by the News. These worries are the terrorists who hold us hostage.

Occupy your heartWhat ransom can we pay to free ourselves? Read More…

Seize the Bubbles!

Where are your bubbles?

seize the bubblesAs we go about our daily life, there are bubbles all around us, but do we see them? Do we experience their bubbleness? Or are we too rushed, too busy thinking, too occupied with our worries, our responsibilities, our have-nots to notice them?

Fleeting moments cross our path – a black crow waddles across the road, a purple rose in a neighbor’s front yard says, “Smell me,” a cat meditates quietly on a front step, his feet curled under him, so calm, so contented. They are all bubbles floating around us. Read More…

Take Off the Blinders!

“It is so dark here.” -It was my 16 year old son speaking to me…
We were standing in front of our modest 4-bedroom home in Manhattan Beach in sunny Southern California. Across the street the oleanders lining the old railway embankment were in full bloom, a brilliant hedge of bright pink and white extending all the way to downtown. The air was cool and mild, and a gentle breeze from the ocean, only six blocks away, brought the scent of salt air and roses. We were surrounded by blue sky… We were standing in paradise!

blinders“Look around you,” I said, but he could not see the Beauty all around him. He was like a horse wearing blinders who could only see what was directly in front of his nose.

We “see” with more than our eyes. We see with our feelings. We see, hear, taste, touch and smell with so much more than our physical organs of perception. Read More…

How to Uncover Emotional Charges from the Past

When you open a window to your heart, you may be surprised at what you see inside.

KyudoA few days ago I was participating in a Kyudo (Japanese archery) seminar. In Kyudo the idea is not so much to hit the outer target, as it is to realize the inner target, the Soul. At dinner time I was sitting with my teacher, a wise and humble student of Zen Buddhism, and three other students, all of whom were former Catholics. After so much intense practice of Kyudo, we were all in a space where we could share our feelings with trust.

The conversation turned to why they had left the Church. For all three of the students, birth control had been an issue. I had also been a Catholic during my child-bearing years, but I had never told anyone why I left the Catholic Church.

Read More…

More on the Light Switch

Yesterday I was driving down Solano Avenue, a two-lane boulevard, the Main Street of Albany, California. Lined with prosperous specialty shops and restaurants of every description, it stretches in a straight line from the hills at the top to the ocean at the end. I was with two friends, fellow students of Kyudo, Japanese archery, on our way to have breakfast before class.

Cherry treesWe had squeezed the car into a parking spot, and were walking toward our charming, French-style restaurant to have crepes for breakfast. The street was lined on both sides with cherry trees in full bloom. The deep pink color as far down the road as we could see, carried me into another realm. The town of Albany had invested in more than exotic food and shops. It had invested in something more important, as if to say, “The shops are nice, but here is the important thing– beauty.”

Read More…