I am up in the middle of the night and feeling so desperately uncomfortable. The bedroom has gone unbearably hot and humid since the electricity went out. It is this awful combination of a stifling and suffocating physical experience smashing right up against an oppressive inner dialogue that just won’t quit.

At one point, “I’m so uncomfortable!!!” bursts out of me. Tears come. And like a good thunderstorm clearing out the heavy, muggy, “oppressive” weather, something breaks. Something clears. Just that simple. And in that moment, beyond the physical and emotional suffering, I recognize that my biggest pain stems from the belief that I do not think this should be happening. I do not want to feel the way I am feeling. I cannot stand the fact that I cannot get it to be otherwise. And I cannot stop my mind from anticipating how my nighttime struggle is going to ruin the next day for me.

One of the things that we can absolutely be guaranteed of as human beings is that discomfort is part of the experience of being alive. Regularly. Daily. Sometimes even moment by moment there is a good chance that something just won’t feel right. Maybe it will be sensations of hunger or thirst. The need to eliminate. Temperature changes. Emotional ups and downs. Fatigue. Physical or mental pain. Tension. On and on it goes. All throughout the day. Every day.

It seems only natural to want to get away from what doesn’t feel good. To push hard either into effort or denial to try and make what is bothering us, stop. Likely for as long as we have been around and conscious, we have tried to come up with ways to alleviate the experiences too uncomfortable for us to be with. And while there has absolutely been an upside to this in our attempts to bring more ease to the experience of being alive (think indoor plumbing, heated homes, transportation, grocery stores, etc), it is not without its costs to try and re-make whatever it is that is bothering us.

Why not just try and get out of it somehow? What would be wrong with that? What’s the problem with trying to get away from what brings us misery? In a nutshell, the problem is, we often do not have the slightest idea of what it is that is actually causing us to suffer. No sense of the very root of our struggle. Instead, we focus on wherever our tendency to blame goes. It is the equivalent of shaking an angry fist at the weather as opposed to pumping out your basement. It is energy, focus, and attention misplaced, and misused.

If the weather would just be cooler. If the power would come back on. If my husband would stop snoring. If my mind would settle down. If I’d stop being such a baby and just get over it. If I could just rise above it. If those utility people would make us a priority instead of last in line.

I am not suggesting here a kind of martyrdom or masochism. Instead, what I am suggesting is that being with life, all of life, including the things we do not want, is a skill set best developed. More to the point, it is an absolute reality best accepted and honored. For no matter how crafty, skilled, rich, resourceful, or creative we might be, there is no getting rid of everything that makes us upset, uneasy, or uncomfortable.

The best instructions I ever heard on this one are: “Make all of the adjustments you know to make. Do all of the things you can do.  And then, surrender.” 

This is so very easy to say and often so very seemingly impossible to do. We think doing what we can do means being in control; having it our way. And we think that surrender means defeat, weakness, or giving up. It is none of this. Doing what you can do requires making an accurate assessment of both the reality that stands before you, and your skill set. But because so many of us deny what the existing reality is, and either underestimate or overestimate our sense of agency in the world, we are left unprepared to be with life as it shows up in the ways that do not validate the versions we have created.

As for surrender, that would require not only admitting our limits, but appealing to, and leaning into, something more than just our own individual wants.

What if instead of trying to create the world as we need it to be, we made the commitment to develop a skill set that included a clear sense of what was happening, coupled with our actual ability to meet it, and an understanding that there are larger forces at play than our own individual will?

The best way that I know how to do this is when in the midst of the discomfort, learn to notice your agitation. Then, practice asking yourself; What is really bothering me about this moment? What is it that I really cannot tolerate? Finally, ask for help. Open to a larger version than your own personal story of how the world should turn.

The only way to be with Life, including discomfort, is to actually be with it. This cannot just be thought about. It must be experienced. It must become a commitment, a kind of daily practice, to notice yourself when things are not going the way you want them to. It is about opening to a larger perspective that includes seeing that without discomfort, there would be no incentive to grow. And that if reality went the way we wanted it to go, we would not only shortchange ourselves, we would create a perfect storm for the exact wrong things to come our way.




The space to do nothing. The space to be bored. The space to learn about yourself and the world without time lines, marketing agendas, or too much outside influence. The space to be on your own or with others without a lot to do. The space to get comfortable with yourself, by yourself, without the need for externals to make you OK. The space to feel. The space to just be. As is.

This is one face of childhood. And it is life-giving in its offerings of inner resourcefulness, ease within your own skin, the ability to know your own mind, the capacity to be with the up and down rhythms of Life, and so much more.

This is not an easy thing to find in a world that is suspicious and intolerant of nothing to do. Or having too much time on your hands. Or allowing for quiet. Or for welcoming stillness and solitude. Not to mention the epidemic of fear around feeling. Yet, when I look back and remember the unfounded concerns that I had that my children were not scheduled into enough things, or were missing out because they were not on Facebook, or learning about the world through the computer, I would tell that young mama, and all the ones like her, to rest easy. Why? Because this older and more seasoned mother knows some things as reflected by the way her young adult children are moving through the world now. The ways that they can keep their own company and be with life without trying to get out of it. The ways that they do not make themselves so busy that they cannot feel what they are feeling, or know what they are knowing.

In a week where I read that almost half of our children now will suffer from a mood disorder, a behavioral problem, or substance abuse, I am struck by the contradiction in this statistic with the conversation I had with one of my own children currently in the midst of a difficult romantic break-up. In our conversation, they spoke over and over again of letting themselves be with the process, giving themselves time, letting the hurt be there while knowing simultaneously that some day it would end. In sum, an awareness of, and an ability to be with, what is difficult. Space created to be with and feel what is there without looking for an escape route.

We live in a time when our children never have to feel anything they do not want to, nor develop a skill set to be with those very same unwanted feelings. In a time where because of the seemingly infinite ways of the modern world to keep them busy, entertained, distracted and checked out, they never get the experience of spaciousness in childhood. And it shows.

It shows in how they are more interested in what is coming across a screen than what is right in front of them. It shows in all of their fears and in their inability to be with themselves.Through the devices, there are far too many ways for our children to numb out and distract themselves when they hurt, bored, lonely, sad, angry, or disappointed. There are far too many avenues to never have to feel, or be alone, or to come up against yourself in any kind of a meaningful way.

Does it strike you at all that in a time of increased exposure to screens and all that that opens our children to, we have increasing levels of mood disorders, addiction, and behavioral problems? And while we can never point the finger at any one thing, do you see the possibility of a connection here?

What do you know to be true around the ways that the screens occupy, medicate, distract, and distort the beauty, necessity, and innocence of childhood itself?

As parents, if we can give our children a foundation of spaciousness, allowing for their childhood life to organically reveal and resolve itself, we give them the gift of knowing not only that feelings come and go, but that they have the capacity to meet what comes their way. This will never be possible in a world where keeping your children busy, over-scheduled, and glued to a screen is often seen as the best way to prepare them for life.

Find Your Hunger


Today, I was looking over notes from the time I spent in the desert fasting. What really stuck out for me this time around was, “Find your hunger.”  What that meant back then was to be with everything that I was hungry for. It was scary to feel that level of need because of how exposed, and therefore vulnerable, it left me.

It was also heartening because of how real, and how very true it all was. To admit what we are hungry for is both an exposure, and a possibility. And while most often we associate hunger with food, what I am referring to here is the whole human experience of want and need. An experience that holds the potent possibility of taking us all the way from deprivation and desperation to fulfillment and assurance. And then, back again.

For the past three years I have been teaching a form of sacred, conscious dance. Every single time I teach this, enormous waves of fear and resistance flood my being. My mind goes absolutely nuts with all kinds of thoughts. This is the last time I am doing this. I don’t want to do this anymore. Nobody wants this. This is a waste of my time. You’re putting too much into this without enough of a return. On and on it goes. This despite the fact that I feel so alive when teaching. This despite the fact that I feel deeply connected to self, other, and Spirit during this time. This despite what an amazingly creative and satisfying outlet this is for me.

After reading “Find your hunger” something around the resistance I feel to teaching this form got cleared up for me. You see, one of the things I am most hungry for is to be in community while I am deeply established in my own experience and connected to Spirit. I yearn for a palpable and visible interconnection of self, other, and All That Is. I long to be with others in a deep, present, soulful, real, and raw way. This is what I am hungry for. And when I teach this dance form, it opens me to the possibility of receiving what I most want. Which in turn, exposes me to the possibility that I may not get it.

I think that in the psyche of every human being our deepest needs stand right next to our deepest fears. And often we get them so tangled up that it seems that maybe it would be preferable to not put ourselves in the position of saying what we most desire and need. That somehow it would be better, safer, to listen to the fears around the impossibility of us getting what we want. The fears of rejection or humiliation. The fears of us not being worthy of getting what we need. The fears that what we most need and value may not be available, or honored.

Personally, I am seeing that one of the things that our world needs most is for all of the starving people to step forward, without blame or shame, and reveal to all what they are most deprived of. To stand fully and openly in their longing, so much so that the power of raw, real human need becomes an undeniable call to be heard. And responded to. Can you imagine how our world might change if real human needs became the guiding force for what we put our attention and resources to?

If you see yourself as starved for something vital to your well-being, could you be courageous enough to name it? Could you be daring enough to ask for it? Could you be bold enough to know that you deserved it? Could you be wise enough to see that with your deepest desires met, the world gets fed?



When people ask me what it was like to spend four days and nights on my own in the desert, I sense from both them, and myself, a kind of expectation around providing a story; some start to finish tale of adventure and peril. Surprisingly enough, while there are lots of “stories” to be told, not only am I not inclined, I see that any story that I could tell would not come close to the most astonishing parts of the experience; that being the way it changed me. More to the point, returned me; to myself and to the permission to just be.

What continues to surprise (while simultaneously carrying such a natural and familiar feel to it all) are the invisible, yet palpable, inner shifts that often defy words or explanations. As a matter of fact, none of the most noteworthy of changes seems to require recognition, validation, or proof from either others or myself. And while I can feel tectonic-level shifts within, there is this quality of nothing to do, or work on, in the midst of quite a lot happening.

This is new to me. As someone who loves to articulate the inner landscape and work on it, as well as being subject to the historical belief that she needs to write a dissertation to prove that she gets to be here and know what she knows, this new way of being brings with it a sense of ease that miraculously happens without the usual effortings on my part.

Looking back on the desert experience, I know where it came from. It came from doing nothing. Literally. For hours and days on end. And while not easy, out of the “nothing” came the gift of knowing that I have a right to just be; without explanation, apology, or trying to convince myself or anyone else of anything. This is every human being’s birth right. The right to just be without needing to earn it or prove it. This is something built in by Existence itself, and it is ours for the taking.

This completely flies in the face of so much of what we believe, what we have been taught, and how we live. Nonetheless, it is true.

Look to your life. Where do you busy yourself as a way of earning your place here? Notice where you think you have to keep up a certain way of presenting yourself or doing so that you will be OK, accepted, safe, guaranteed something, or included. What would it be like if you regularly allowed yourself to do nothing? For starters, and a very rich start at that, you could watch what comes up in your mind to even entertain the idea of doing nothing.