Friday, September 6, 2013

When you get really desperate.. meditation?

I've spent the past 20 years trying to "unlearn" a bunch of stuff I picked up in the first 20 years that was not serving me very well. I was taught to be self sufficient, to strive, accomplish and achieve. I was taught that I'd be happy if I got educated, a good job, found the right man and bought a home. The formula for happiness was about building up a life and striving for success in the world. Well it worked for a while but in end I found that my fulfillment did not last. I felt empty inside and started on the road of spiritual study and therapy.

Who would have thought that perhaps the most important thing I can "do" to be happy and fulfilled is to sit quietly everyday. It was a real revelation that lasting fulfillment was not in seeking and acquiring in the world but rather in stopping and sitting and getting in touch with my very own "being".

I think we are born with a lot of clarity and awareness and slowly it's "educated" right out of us and by the time we are 11 or 12 maybe we've been completely programmed and forgotten who we "really" are.

Lucky for me I started meditating in my 20's, I was desperate, no amount of money, success, entertainment, education was doing it for me.. everything stopped working and despite the fact that I had a great job, owned my own condo, was making 100K a year, gotten my degree and done what "they" told me to do to be happy - I wasn't!

I prayed with such earnestness, ok God whatever you want me to do to find some peace, I'll do it. Within a few days I was sitting with a teacher asking him to help me develop a meditation practice. This is what the still small voice whispered to me, if you don't start meditating you are going to die.

When you go to Burning Man they say "Welcome Home", I've had spiritual teachers say this too, a spiritual awakening is like coming home to yourSelf. It's a return or remembering what you essentially are. Sitting in the silence is like coming home.

It did not appeal to me for a long time because I was schooled to achieve and acquire to find my sense of wholeness and well being. My training and education and striving for knowledge and material success was all backwards and the more I looked for my happiness in the world and in my relationships, the more I was disappointed and confused.

When I prayed for clarity, I was pointed back inward, back to what I fundamentally already am, to my very own inner stillness. I had to find my center, what I always and already am and this journey of discovery has involved a lot of falling away of who I thought I was, what fed me and ultimately leads to lasting peace and contentment. Sitting in the silence is like "taking the medicine" for the mental anguish of being run by my thoughts and chasing contentment or believing I could acquire it in a certain set of circumstances.

Wisdom gained from tuning in to one’s own center is not at all like going to school, where the goal is to learn. Meditation is a process of unlearning. I don’t mean that we should try to forget all the knowledge we acquired at school. That knowledge has its place, and its own usefulness. Meditation, moreover, is not a path to intellectual ineptitude: Quite the contrary, it greatly sharpens the intellect. What we must "unlearn," instead, are the limitations of delusion imposed on us by our worldly conditioning.

Rest as awareness itself, notice thoughts and whatever arises and leave it be.. No need to get rid of it, hide from it (as if it has power over you), suppress it (as if it's something to be afraid of) or do anything at all, simply relax and eventually you'll notice that clarity, peace, wholeness and well being are right here right now, always available whatever else is arising, whatever the circumstances.

Of course there is nothing wrong with whatever we feel called to "do" in the world, build businesses, get degrees, get  married, have kids, whatever.. But to do whatever you do as an expression of your fullness rather than believing that your well being is tied to having a certain outcome or experience this is the essential shift. Lasting contentment and well being is our natural state and this is revealed when we are still and resting as awareness itself.

Friday, August 9, 2013

What do you want most for your kids and how to help them get it?

Children (and adults) get asked often, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" But how often to we ask ourselves in a sincere and contemplative way, what do I really want in my life? What kind of person do I want to be, how do I want to be remembered, what do I want my life to stand for, what are my core values
I remember taking a class in Non Violent Communication when my first son was very young. They asked our group to speak out our core values and when we had a big list compiled, we were asked to identify what behaviors we had (with our children) that reflected these core values. It was eye opening to say the least. 

Later I read a book by Wayne Dyer called What Do You Really Want for Your Children?  In this book he interviewed thousands of people and asked this question and presents the most common responses. He then goes into great detail what specific behaviors, attitudes and outlooks are most likely to contribute to these outcomes and which behaviors and attitudes will bring about the opposite results. 

These are awareness exercises that are intended to make one more conscious of what we are modeling for our kids, are we walking our talk, are our behaviors aligned with our values and are we truly helping our children to learn that they have this incredible capacity naturally to enjoy life whatever the circumstances may be by modeling it ourselves. 
Focusing on what you really want may be less about achieving or accomplishing a certain goal or status, it may be less about how you look or what you have which can bring satisfaction for a time. There is nothing wrong with goals but I'm speaking here about modeling sovereignty, to have freedom from suffering and in touch with your innate well being and natural contentment in all of life's experiences. 

 Discovering your Sovereignty, finding your Center, your True Empowered Essential Self is at the core of becoming conscious, aware, present and shifting out of reactivity. Presence is our true nature, when we recognize that we know we have a choice, we are empowered, we have discernment and we naturally live and move from our center rather than from reactivity and feeling victimized by life. This is what I want most for my kids and what I strive to model for them. 

Monday, March 4, 2013

"the solution" is the same no matter what the "situation"is

It's amazing how "the solution" is the same no matter what the "situation"is..

Just thinking about all the calls and texts this I got this week.

Here's the summary - how do I deal with all my resentments about my mother, they are hurting me? How do I connect with my daughter so she will talk to me, I want to offer her greater support? What can I do to deal with this fear I have about my finances? What can I do about how closed I feel sexually, how can I be more open? How can I be more confident, my business and relationships are suffering because of my self doubt and lack of self confidence? What can I do to reconnect with my spouse, we are bickering constantly and it's driving my crazy.                          

It's the same response to all of these.. stop thinking for a moment, relax and come into your body. notice what is here now, allow what is here to be here fully and meet it with love, acceptance, & tenderness, over and over and over again....  

In dropping into the body, noticing sensations, we drop out of the busy busy mind with all of it's opinions.. you can Find Your Center, find your ground.                                            

The solution is to NOT to think more, talk about our thoughts  more, analyze or try to figure it out. The solution is to rest as awareness, come back to your Self, this ground of being, really present with ourselves, this is where we find our wisdom, our clarity, our sanity.

To live from your center, grounded in yourself, in the dedication to this practice of bringing our awareness back to this moment and relaxing. Committing oneself to radical approval of what is.... is the way to go, noticing that we are the openness and relaxing more and more into this.. in this practice we find contentment with life as it is.. AND the inspiration to live from our fullness, in our highest expression, of the highest benefit to ourselves and others!

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Hitting Bottom.. it's a gift!

One of the greatest tools I've received from a few different spiritual teachings I've been involved with is to be willing to take my "own inventory" and disregard the "other" person's flaws or wrong doing entirely. To put my full attention on what is arising in me and to take full responsibility for my own experience.
I got the same message from Non Violent Communication training and many other empowering communication teachings. Practice making "I" statements, look at "my" part, what am I doing specifically that is contributing to my own pain, misery and suffering. 
This "shift" to focus on myself is a process and something I've had to commit to fully over and over. It's a complete 180 from what I learned growing up which was to blame, point the finger, indulge stories of how others were falling short and therefore deflect and ultimately "manage" the disappointment and pain I felt around not being loved, valued, met, seen or cherished by others.
I know that for me, the judgments I've had about "others" (especially those that I've most wanted to love me, accept me, approve of me, include me) come from this very young part of me, the part that feels that it "needs" this love, approval, care taking in order to survive. The hurt and at times devastation I have felt when I've felt rejected, unloved, not taken care of, etc. has seemed to take me over and I've developed a pattern of moving away from, trying to numb out, avoiding this pain at all costs. 
At some point I got really clear that the ways I tried to avoid the pain did not work anymore, I could not drink it away, smoke it away, eat it away, shop it away, blame it away. I may have been able to bury the hurt for a time, but it always arose again, and I began to see that my avoidance of these afflictions actually seemed to fuel them.
I experienced this as "unmanageability" in my life and it showed up everywhere, in my relationships, finances, with my family, in intimacy, with my kids and with myself. I was at war with myself, resisting what I felt I could not handle, seeking my well being and contentment in my relationships and always being let down and disappointed. Afflictive thoughts, painful feelings, and challenging experiences and my inability to "manage" these when they arose brought me to a desperate state.  
I've actually found myself in this place many times over the past 22 years. I'd call it "hitting bottom", physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Each of these "bottoms" has opened me up in different ways, cracked me open, helped me to see things and given me clarity. Ultimately I've needed to face myself, to face everything, to take full responsibility and to "open myself up fully" to life and ultimately to discover that the "opening" is how I discover the depth and fullness that I am. 
Eventually I could see that "all the experiences of life" are gifts (even the most afflictive) in disguise, they are "for" me, in that they are here to open me to mySelf, to help me to discover my own ground, my innate stability that is always available but I'd not known before.
Facing the greatest challenges in my own life has given me the ability to have an unshakable serenity in the face of any calamity. 
This is an invitation to face yourself, discover yourself, meet yourSelf, show up for yourself. I've walked this path and I can provide guidance and encouragement for you to do the same. Where ever you are in your journey to discover your wholeness, your ground, your peace, your life satisfaction. I'm here to illuminate the next few steps, to offer clarity and perspective, to point your back to your power, to reinforce your capacity to face what's here, to cheer you along and offer you the direct benefit of my own experience. 
So I'm wondering, what's up for you now, what specifically you are struggling with, where do you feel stuck, and if you know, what's the story you are running. What are you struggling with, what is a major judgment (story) you have about "someone" who you think has hurt you? What's a pattern in your life that is not serving you? What would you like to let go of?
You can post here or email me at and I'll address questions at
You can also find out about how to find your own liberation here

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Find your contentment here.. here... here..

I took my kids to the Boulder Film Festival today and we saw the firm "Little World". It's a true story about 20 year old Albert who travels the world with no money in a wheel chair,. He's been traveling for 5 years since he was 15, following his passion to travel and roam in the biggest adventure he can imagine by meeting people along the way who offer rides, food, lodging and companionship. Every day he explores just what he can do with no money of his own. It's remarkable how he is provided for and he is always content with what shows up. He is always naturally finding something to be grateful for! My experience is that this appreciation is both a practice as well as the natural expression of being aligned with your truth, your hearts desire, reality itself.

Alberts life message is that you've got to do what you love, do what makes you happy and be happy with what you do!  His commitment and perseverance to take each next step of the journey and enjoy it all is inspiring.  He is fearless and never complaining, criticizing, blaming or making anyone or anything wrong!

This is the exact commitment I've made and it's transformed my life.

I came to this commitment because I had deeply explored blame, criticism, making others wrong and the result was that I felt awful, like a victim of life and totally disempowered. These ways that I was resisting life ( blame, criticism and making others wrong) and not taking responsibility for my own well being (in my belief that others could bring me well being or take it from me) became a habit that I felt trapped by.

Gratefully we come to reality or realization through desperation or through inspiration, and I seem to have this incredible commitment to truth and growth which is forever clarifying and illuminating my misunderstandings.

Reality seems to keep coming back for itself, truth is unrelenting in clarifying what's actually happening and what actually works. In a moment of clarity, I made this commitment to remember who I am, to find my center and to live from that center rather than complaining and criticizing and indulging the story about what's wrong.

It's like I just got into the habit of driving down blame lane, cruising along complaint corner, focused on  "what I thought was wrong" highway. Through the practice of remembering who I really am, acknowledging my true nature, consciously keeping myself in the flow of what is by not resisting, I just naturally spent less time with these habits until I felt released.

I started to notice that i was just "accepting life" more, fighting less, resisting less, going with the flow and enjoying myself and naturally feeling more empowered and of greater service to myself and those around me. When my kids would "act up"(refuse to cooperate), I felt this growing capacity to see them for who they really are and I saw that I had so many options to respond with love and tenderness. When disturbing thoughts or feelings arose, I could just relax and feel this stable ground under me and I noticed that I did not have to be swept away by my stories and create drama about what I was thinking of feeling. I could pause, relax and notice what was here when I was still and not distracted by thoughts.

I discovered that by allowing what is, by bringing myself into agreement with what was happening, I continued to be in the flow of life. By not resisting what was arising, both internally and externally I found that I had a greater capacity to stay open to the infinite creative and wise responses and ability to contribute in a kind, loving and respectful way.

Kids are really quick at moving through things, they may have really big surges of feelings, but 10 min later it's gone with no residue. They can have a fight, hit each other, call each other awful names and 10 minutes later, run off and play together with no residue of what transpired just minutes before. They live in now, they feel what they feel and if allowed express what's up for them, it releases and they move on. They are much more easily in the flow of life, less conditioned, more present, less encumbered.

We all have access to this for the "unconditioned" presence as it is actually what we all are at our essence. This neutral open ground that underlies all of the descriptions that we normally layer on what we are is where we find our natural contentment. Not content because we are getting what we want, or have what we think we need or we like our circumstances, but content because we are in awareness of who we really are, what our actual capacities are. This contentment is available in all circumstances, however we feel, what ever thoughts are arising, whatever circumstances are present. This is the ground of being and it's here, here, here..

Love to hear how you are recognizing this..

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Opening to what is already always here.. the end of seeking for well being

The search for freedom, it can be a long and arduous road indeed. Most of us are sold a bill of goods from the time we are very young about what we need to "do" to have a happy and fulfilled life. My story was something like this, go to school and get good grades, go to college, get a career making a lot of money, buy a house and find a man, then you'll be happy. 

I've spent a lot of time and energy seeking fulfillment, chasing after my dream, accomplishing and achieving, making money and seeking acknowledgment from those I respected. Of course sometimes it came and other times not so much, what became more and more clear was that I could not create a lasting fulfillment and well being for myself. I was not free, I was in deep bondage, I was seeking my well being in relationships, substances, experiences, acquiring, education and it was spotty at best. Being on the search for fulfillment, thinking that it is "out there" and "only in these circumstances and not in others" is exhausting and endless! That's the "search" that goes on forever because there is no end to the seeking, there is always more to seek and never a finding that really lasts. All relationships change over time, careers change, totally fulfilling experiences change, what was at one time satisfying can become boring, no matter how much money, education, acknowledgment you get there is something in us that is insatiable, always wants more or different so the seeking never ends.. 

In the midst of this very ambitious drive to squeeze all the vibrancy out of life that I could, I also thankfully had this spiritual thirst wake up in me. As a child I felt very connected to life, guided, inspired, very alive inside of myself. This still small voice inside of me started whispering to me, reminding me of this rich resource that later I discovered within my very own being. Many years later I am still discovering this endless supply of brilliant aliveness that is actually the life that I am. The animating life force that is this life called JoAnne, it's me, I'm the one I've been looking for. 

It's been an amazing discovery that I don't have to look for what I already am, I'm already that! I've just been asleep to this open intelligence that is within me and in awakening to this clarity that I am, the search for well being is over. 

What if this total freedom and well being is right here right now and all one has to "do" is to relax and let everything be as it is. No need to avoid or indulge any particular thoughts, feelings or experiences, rather we can just relax as awareness and let it all be. In that relaxation we can open up to the fullness that we already are.  This is "the work" to develop a daily practice of taking short moments to simply rest and remember, to find my center and then to live from this place of clarity and well being.  

Saturday, November 3, 2012

What to do instead of diving into the story..

When is the last time you were excited about spending time with your friend or lover and they were either unavailable to distracted or just not showing up the way you had hoped? What's the result? You feel hurt, disappointed, angry? This happened to me last night, I showed up, made myself available and the other person was not available, apparently they did not get my internal memo and there I was left with my expectation. Well I felt the disappointment that's for sure, but I did not sulk, I did not dive into a story about how I wanted or needed the other person to stop what they were doing and make time for me, I did not get a resentment, I took a breath instead and took care of myself. Wow! 
I've spent so much of my life trying to get what I want, trying to get others to do what I wanted, go where I wanted, act like I wanted, give me what I wanted. It's exhausting I tell ya.. 

To develop this practice of relaxing when you get triggered and pause and go within to that quiet inner space of contentment and well being that is always available if only we can take 100% responsibility for our own experience. To have total clarity that we can empower ourselves by relying on our own inner presence of love whenever we can remember to do so. This is liberation!

What a revelation.. to have this clarity over and over.. My hurt, disappointment and resentments result directly from my expectations and not from what happens or does not happen. This is so liberating and allows me to drop all blame and habits of thinking that others need to be different for me to be happy. I can be peaceful and content in my realization of the presence of God, presence, love. When I can realize this loving presence is always here than truly I am not in lack. Then I can relax and let things be as they are, however I feel or whatever I think, the well being is always on. This is the key taking 100% responsibility for my own well being, no one can give it to me and no one can take it away. It's a big bonus too if I can remember to not take things personally, people do what they do, they show up or they don't, they are available for love and connection or they are not, they are sensitive and caring or they are not, but irregardless of what others do or don't do I can find my own ground, my own stability, my own well being.. then I'm truly free!