Everywhere I go lately, this is what I hear, “I am so busy.” Underneath this statement seems to linger some veiled expectation on the part of the other that I should understand that because we are so overly occupied as a people that we should therefore be exempt from being responsible for certain things; like taking care of ourselves, like noticing, like making time for others, like living in balance, like paying attention to our kids. Observe this for yourself. How often do you feel, say or hear, “I am too busy to…” (Fill in the blank).

What is happening to us? When did “busy” become the very highest in what to go for in this Life? Even though most people would chuckle and say that is not what they actually think, not what they actually believe, it is actually how we are living.

In the yogic tradition there are two aspects of the Universe; that which is still and steady, and that which is flowing and moving. These energies move through us and through all of Creation. Unfortunately, we are too often weighted in movement that is extreme, chaotic, tense and blind. And too often, the stillness that we inhabit comes in the form of collapse and zoning out. At its best stillness informs movement and flow originates out of the steadiness. They contain one other. They seek one other. That is why these energies are depicted as Shakti and Shiva; the goddess and the god, the pairs of opposites, longing for the embrace of Union.

We have lost track of the necessity in our lives for balance. And we do this at great cost to what we love most. I will tell you that the very best and most important things that have ever happened to me have been born out of the space and the room for what really matters. No easy feat in a world that values speed and busyness and doing way too much. All the time. Even in our leisure pursuits.

On some level we know this, and yet too often it does not change our behavior. Change requires more than words or guilt or empty promises. It demands understanding what your actions mean to you. Why it is that you do what you do. So, what does being busy mean to you? What do you think it means about you? Why do you do it?

P.S. Change also requires including into the equation what it is that you lose out on when you do what you always do. In other words, at the very end of all of this busyness, beyond the reasons we tell ourselves for why we do what we do, what will you have lost that you cannot get back? Looked at in this light, what do you suppose our eulogies or tomb stones would read like? “Here lies so and so. Too busy to…”

Why Can’t We Stop Ourselves?


You know, it is one thing to know all the reasons why something is happening, and it is quite another thing to actually experience it. That is why, in this day and age, when we have more information and more “reasons” than we can possibly make use of, there is nothing like a direct experience. There is nothing like watching yourself go through something. There is nothing like an embodied experience where all of you is present and included in what is happening serving as the platform that sees through the rationalizations, denials, intellectualizations, and justifications of the conditioned and habituated mind.

I flew down to visit my mother this past week and had three experiences with the screen technologies that still leaves me stunned and uneasy. On the flight down, I sat in front of the standard issue little screen embedded in the back of the chair in front of me. Looking around and seeing that every single screen was going makes it seem like they can only be in the “on” position. No choice. So, when I traveled last and discovered that despite there being no “off” position, if I dimmed the brightness all the way down, it felt like nothing short of a miracle when the screen finally went blank. Such relief washed over me.  I figured, well that’s that. Only, as it turned out, that was not that for this time because beside me and in front of me as far as I could see, the screens were on all around me. And for some reason I could not stop tuning into them. Even though my thoughts were trying to be on my own thoughts, or on my own breath, or what I was reading, my eyes kept finding their way back. It was as though I could not, not look.

When I got to my mother’s house, even though I do not watch TV and have not had TV for many years and actually never, ever think about it, suddenly with one in the bedroom with me, I thought about it quite a lot. I kept wondering what might be on. One night I even ended the day a little earlier so that I could have time to watch something. And even though on the first night of my arriving I was totally exhausted, and really just wanted to sleep, I turned it on. After passing through about 500 hundred channels and still finding nothing on, I settled for a movie I had seen before. A movie, by the way, that now was being interrupted with an obscene amount of commercials and that had scenes that had been deleted out. And even though I could feel the exhaustion, and was so annoyed with the experience I was having, I kept going.

Later in the week, while at the movies with my mother, a particularly disturbing trailer came on. I turned my eyes so as to not take in what I most definitely did not want to ingest, and I will tell you, it took all of my will power not to look back. I felt like the mythological character who goes into the underworld and who upon being released is told do not look back. Under any circumstances. And then does, because she just can’t stop herself. Even though she knows it will be really, really bad for her. And it is. She is turned to stone.

I know the research that talks about how when there is a screen around everyone’s attention goes right there. I know about the links made between dopamine, the feel good chemical, and our need to respond to anything and at any time that comes out of a screen. But I will tell you, when you are watching yourself committed and wanting something else, and still finding it virtually impossible to do anything else, that is a most disturbing and potent piece of information. And while it could be easy or tempting to reduce these experiences down to some personal failing on my part, I think I won’t. I think I will be with what I know to be true; this is beyond me.



I am in a yoga class where the teacher is emphasizing twists. She is encouraging us to initiate the twist by sensing into our backs, and then using that connection to press into action, as opposed to pulling or yanking ourselves around. Over and over again these instructions drop me into Something far greater than a yoga posture.

How many times a day do we twist and turn away from what is? From what is Real. So much of our daily living can be about pulling, yanking and forcing. Too often, without our even knowing what we are doing, we behave as if we can overpower Life itself and make it conform to our desires. We force and we fix. We push and we pull. We attempt to bend things to our individual will. And through it all, we regularly lose touch with the truth; It is not all up to us.

There is another way; a way that involves opening to a supportive hand at our back. Opening to Something we can lean into. Something that holds us. These days I am taking every opportunity I can to sense into the physical support available to me whenever my back touches something, or is being held by something. We can use the body as a doorway into Truth. But it requires our awareness. It requires our ability to be with the body beyond a reflection in the mirror, beyond our fears, and beyond the beliefs we carry about what the body should be doing or looking like. This way of being with the body has the potential of holding a central and sacred place in our lives that no outside “truth” can even begin to touch.



I am doing more sitting these days. Literally, just sitting. I am not meditating, making lists or planning anything. I am not writing, reading or praying. As years of engaging in a daily practice have passed before me, more often than not, sitting is serving as the entry point; a doorway into places that either sets the practice up, or takes me to where my formal practice does not. It regularly demonstrates to me the deep and essential importance of doing nothing, absolutely nothing. And even though there is nothing in particular I am searching for, or aiming for, a most organic and surprising platform for good health, a clear mind, and right relationship with self, others and Spirit continues to arise each and every time I submit to this thing called “nothing.”

Like gale force winds the outer world whips around me clearing and destroying. In the midst of this, my little corner of the world goes through its own tectonic shifts as next fall both of my kids will be out of the house putting me in the position, for the first time in over twenty years, of not being responsible daily for the care and well-being of human beings dependent upon me. And then, oh by the way, we are building our new home, and I am on the brink of sending a long-labored book out into the world. These shifts and opportunities are pressing me to grow up somehow in order to become the person that all of this both asks and demands of me. And while my first inclination typically would be to start running harder and faster, it is, in fact, just the opposite. It is the doing nothing that is allowing me to not only keep up, but to actually flourish.

Personally, I can see that despite decades of meditation, mindfulness, prayer and yoga, I too often find myself trying to get somewhere, as opposed to being somewhere. I do not even know where I am trying to get to. It is as if there is some infinite, cosmic check list, and if I can just get through enough of it, some day it will be done, and that will mean… I don’t actually know what that would mean. Lately I see that even if and when, for arguments sake, I actually could get through that list–my life would be done. Knowing that makes me feel like I am not in so much of a rush anymore. Because that is the truth; we will never be done. As some of my favorite teachings describe, we are the embodiment of Consciousness/Spirit/Life itself which is infinitely and always looking to create through us. It never ends.

It seems to me that our minds have somehow confused the infinite creativity of Life itself coursing through us with busyness and endless lists of things to do. It puts me in mind of the accounts I have read of indigenous cultures who had to work daily for the necessities of life like food, water, shelter and protection, and yet still had hours each and every day for doing nothing. How might we do the same? How much of our running around is in fact, some kind of a defense against living? What exactly would happen if we all just sat  down, and not in front of a screen? Our lives are all moving so fast. Too fast. In our speed there is much that cannot be seen. Or felt. Or experienced. Gandhi once aptly said, “There is more to life than increasing its speed.”

That is exactly what I am aiming for these days; a discovery of what that something more is. What does it feel like? How do you get there? What’s it all about? And while we may all get glimpses at times, mostly we relegate the “something more” to a small section of our lives. If at all.





The sun is out when I wake up. Within minutes dark clouds have covered the sky. Minutes later rain and snow pelt the ground. The wind gusts. Trees are groaning and cracking. There is so much happening in Nature this morning. There is so much aliveness coursing through the woods. As I step out into all of  this, I too, am brought alive. Well, maybe not at first. At first, my thoughts are anywhere but on the path beneath my feet; my mind skittering here and there. Watching my thoughts, I discover a pattern. Everything I am doing with my mind at this point is so absolutely un-alive. It is old, worn out, and it is dead. I keep coming back to something my teacher would have asked; what does the aliveness in me want? Does it want to replay old stuff for the umpteenth time? Or obsessively anticipate what is to come? Is this what it means to be alive?

We are the only species who can choose not to express our truest nature. By that I mean, we are the only ones who, intentionally or unintentionally, can suppress the aliveness that courses through us. We are the only mammal that can squash the life force itself. We do not start out this way. We do not plan this. But somehow, through the ways of the world, we can end up believing that our aliveness is found in the buzz we get from sugar, caffeine, alcohol, reality TV and the dramas of social media. What wild animal, tree, or weed, suppresses its vitality? Can you imagine a deer or a wolf purposely doing something to limit its energy? Can you imagine a flower suppressing its bloom?

I teach college students and every week I am both deeply concerned and flabbergasted by how many of them walk around like characters from The Dawn of the Living Dead; eyes shrouded and vacant, faces hidden underneath a baseball cap or sullen expression, physical vibrancy noticeably MIA. They tell me they are exhausted, hungry, stressed, sick and overwhelmed. I have come to label this phenomenon in my mind as “the wall;” a difficult to move and difficult energy to penetrate. Where has their aliveness gone? They did not start out this way.

Everything in Nature, except us, keeps expressing every single ounce of its aliveness until it is all gone. Without hesitation. Without explanation. And without apology. You will never see a bear offering a guilty explanation for why he ripped down your bird feeder. And no matter how often you rail against the weeds, not one of them, ever, will  back down. Aliveness does not care about the past or the future. It is not beholding to your fears, your plans or time. It only wants to be expressed. Through you.

At some point, being truly alive becomes a choice. Despite what they showed you, or told you. Despite what those around you are doing. Despite your habits, addictions, mind sets and what is being modeled in the culture. What would it be like to be as vibrant and alive as a small child or wild animal? What would you have to give up? What would you have to open to?

“The great danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it.”