Letting The Mud Settle


Each morning, I begin my daily practice in exactly the same way. I sit. I literally just sit. I breathe. I look out the window. I might sip hot water. But basically, I sit and do nothing as I allow myself to be exactly as I am. Whatever that might be. Sad. Unwell. Frustrated. Inspired. None of it matters as I do the most profound thing I will do all day; sit and do nothing.

What would possess a person to do nothing? 

The discovery that when all the mud settles, the mud being the difficult and troubling thoughts, emotions, and bodily sensations threatening to take over, a sense of spaciousness washes over me; creating enough space for me to see, clearly and effortlessly, what is real and what is true.  

From this spaciousness, a greater connection to my body and its truths becomes available to me. This means that any problem I have, any solution I am seeking, or any balm needed for my broken heart or suffering body, is there. Always.

I first discovered this practice when my mind would kick into high gear in an absolute frenzy over everything I needed and wanted to get done after my kids had gone off to school. My mind hounded me about how much I had to do and in what order, how fast, and how well. It was maddening. So much so that I couldn’t settle into yoga or meditation because the demands of my mind were that intense.

Initially I sat, doing nothing, in protest. It was my way of saying to the thoughts, I want out. I am not playing anymore. I will not negotiate with you. 

And then, at some point, what began as an exasperated refusal to participate with an agitated mind, turned into a portal transporting me to a whole new universe I didn’t even know was accessible with so little effort. It turns out, I didn’t need to hack my way into the ease and peace I was seeking. It was already there.

Letting the mud settle does take time and some getting used to. Some days, it only takes a few minutes for everything to settle down. Other days, it takes a lot longer. But even on the days my mind pushes me to get going, to do something for god’s sake, I know better now. I know that in doing nothing, everything I have ever hoped for will show up when given the space it needs.

So sit back. Keep your feet on the Earth. Feel the warmth of the sun or the coolness of the air. Let your breath be where you put your attention. Breathe in a way that allows your body to be big enough to include all of what you are experiencing in this moment. 

Think of a candle melting and allow yourself to flow down in the same way. Follow that image over and over and over again until you feel weighted in a pleasant and settled way. When you feel like the mud has settled, even a little bit, notice what reveals itself to you by way of what is real and true in your body in this moment.

A little caveat. To the busy, stressed out, divided, and fear-based mind this practice can feel like a death. It is. But it’s only the death of things that needs to go anyway. The death of anything you would be better off without; like all the ways that your mind is unfair and unkind to your body as you unnecessarily fret over imagined problems. So when the mind screams and screams and starts rolling out all the heavy artillery around what a slacker-loser you are for not doing more, nod your head and continue to sit, knowing that when all the mud settles out, you will be left at home in your own body.

This blog was excerpted from my book Trusting Your Body: The Embodied Journey of Claiming Sacred Responsibility for Your Health & Well-Being 

If you are interested in purchasing the book from a site that donates to local book stores, please go to: Bookshop.org

Otherwise, it can also be purchased on Amazon

The Things In Life That Are Too Big For Us


This week, I heard someone use the phrase, “Too big to address and too big to walk away from,” in reference to one of the big issues we as a people are facing. I had never heard that expression before, but boy did it land for me; so aptly describing an experience many of us are having when we look out into the destruction and chaos of a world gone mad.

Too big to address and too big to walk away from.

At first glance, it may feel like being between a rock and a hard place. Nowhere to go. Nothing you can do. I think this is where many of us live these days. Stuck in limbo. Recognizing that a lot needs to be addressed, challenged and changed, but feeling like it is far too big for us to have an impact.

So we fall into despair. Apathy. Frustration. Cynicism.

Or maybe we throw all of ourselves at an issue. Working overtime. Dedicating ourselves to some external cause that we pour our heart and soul into. Doing more than our share and sometimes feeling resentful that others don’t care as much. Or are not pulling their weight.

In the face of the world’s “issues” it can be so easy to fall into “this is just the way things are now” or to kick into high gear and start trying to fix everything. But what if the issues that are too big to address and too big to walk away from are actually a visioning opportunity, a call from our very own soul? One that requires we go into our very own lives and handle our big issues, before we turn our attention to the world.

This inner anchoring in the face of world overwhelm grounds us and give us access to deeper ways of knowing beyond the knee-jerk reactions so typical of us when we confront big, scary issues. We need some kind of inner referencing because the truth is, neither apathy nor overwork are the path of wisdom. The way of thoughtful action. The way of understanding that always, and in all ways, anything out there big enough to be a problem, needs to be known in here, inside each one of us, first.

Otherwise, we add to the chaos and the confusion as we bring our own blind spots, fears and agendas to the situation at hand. To go into the bigness of your very own issues is to understand, in seed form, the big issues the world currently faces.

If this is so, it begs the question, “What in your life feels too big to ignore, and simultaneously too big to handle? We’ve all got one. That core issue that just won’t go away. The one that seems to be at the root of everything else. The one we work really hard to cover up.

Do you know what yours is?

I guarantee you something: Figure out what yours is, along with all of its ins and outs, and you will have a gold standard template for addressing the biggest and most intractable world issues. The ones we can’t seem to solve. The ones that overwhelm and frighten us the most.

Try it. Look to your own life. What are you pretending not to know?

Use this question whenever you meet up with your big life issues and watch how not only your life begins to change, but you start to have a much clearer sense of how to be with what is too big to address and too big to walk away from when it comes to the world at large.


A World Running On Empty


I had something happen recently that sums up what I often experience in our world of “convenience” with its emphasis on ease and the perfection of appearance. For my father-in-law’s birthday dinner, we had purchased a cake from Whole Foods. I was looking forward to it. But after eating a meal I felt deeply nourished by, I can only say I felt starved by the perfect looking little cake.

So starved, in fact, that I went back for seconds. Some part of me desperately believing that more of nothing would somehow magically bring me something.

It took me days to figure out what had happened. Despite the cake’s perfectly formed shape and the bullet proof container it came in… Despite the perfect little edging and the personalized lettering… Despite the “convenience” of not needing to bake it myself… It was empty. Empty of a taste that satisfied. Empty of sustenance. Empty of care.

That “little”cake has become a recent and poignant symbol for me of the emptiness that has crept into our daily existence.

Here’s what I mean:

Despite the rich assortment of ways we can be in touch with one another, the full and satisfying feeling of being in connection with others is ever absent and in its stead, a ghostly emptiness between us has grown as we draw back from the reality of relationships in real time.

Despite all the “choices” we have now when it comes to what we can eat, we have never had more food-like substances that leave us both over-fed in our attempts to make up for what is lacking, while simultaneously being under-nourished by all the empty calories.

Despite all the “advances” medicine is daily bringing to us in terms of the technologies, our interactions with our healing practitioners are too often characterized by an emptiness of care, time and attention.

Despite all the information we now have at our fingertips, our capacity for original thought is increasingly empty of critical thinking, tempered opinions and a desire to interact in lively and necessary debate.

Despite all the ways that AI can help us write an email, edit copy, write an article or (god forbid) a book, we have never been emptier when it comes to the  power of the word to heal, communicate, transform and inform.

Beyond the empty nature of the cake itself was the contrast I felt that night between it and the meal I had eaten. So much thought and planning had gone into the dinner. And because the family is blessed with many skilled cooks who can also work together quite well in one kitchen, there was a spirit of collaboration and love built into the food. Along with lots and lots of care.

That’s it. Both care and love were decidedly absent from the perfect little Whole Foods cake.

I have decided the supposed convenience of that perfect little cake is not worth the price of an empty experience. That it doesn’t even deserve to be in the same room as a well tended to meal. Going forward, I think I am going to learn how to bake birthday cakes. The kind that takes into consideration not just the preference for what kind of cake and frosting the person wants, but also for all of the dietary restrictions in the family.

Maybe it will be a bust. Maybe the frosting will get dinged up in transit without that perfect little container. Maybe it will be lop-sided and messy. But at least it won’t be empty of what matters most. Lots of care and love.

Because here’s the thing. What’s going to happen when we no longer have the substantial, essential and nourishing things in life still around to offer us a comparison of what empty looks and feels like. Will the generations to come, and even the ones here now, do what I did? Continue to go back to what is empty, hoping that somehow they will feel fed?

Is Caring For Yourself A Burden?


It occurred to me recently how easy it is to see needing to take care of ourselves as a burden. As something unwanted or unfair. Overwhelming or an inconvenience. How we can see the little (and big) things that arise in the body as a problem. A sure sign of danger. Proof that the body is broken, a hassle and doesn’t know what it is doing.

But on one particular day recently, it really dawned on me in a moment what an incredible opportunity it can be to choose to tend to something. To decide that it is a blessing to be able to turn towards your own life and care for it. This is not something we are taught. Nor is it a way of being that is supported in the “take a pill and be done with it” culture.

What brought this on for me was the strange and somewhat numbing sensation I have been experiencing at the end of one of my big toes. At first I was ignoring it, hoping it would just go away on its own. So far, it hasn’t. Which then prompted my mind to begin turning towards naming it as a way to get control of what was going on. The only thing that came to mind was “Neuropathy.” Not because I knew it to be that, but because I had heard others talk about it.

My response? Nope. Don’t want that.

Given what I’ve heard about this “condition” it only brings up fear as it feels like some of the things I love to do most, running, walking, hiking, being physical, would be negatively impacted. Which is why a little mind battle showed up next as I tried to find that balance between actually being with the sensation I was experiencing right now and the need of my fear-based mind to layer on a diagnosis and prognosis based on what other people say or have been through.

The point I want to make here is that it is never a good recipe for creating a satisfying relationship with your own body, one where you are in it first and foremost, to take up what you have been told about the body. Yes, there can be “comfort” in the “knowing.” But there can also be a deep short-changing of a way of being that honors the truth of what is possible in a body; beyond diagnosis and prognosis.

Paying homage to the kind of relationship I want with my body, I sat down, literally, with my toe and began to wonder what it needed. What I got was it needed to be warmer more often. OK. I can do that. I can keep you warm with socks. I can massage you. I can rub ginger oil into you.

Will this “cure” what is going on? I have no idea. But to my point, a “cure” may not even be what is most in order. The real point being, when I’ve got something going on with my body, can I see it as an opportunity to get closer to myself? To be with myself. To tend to myself as only I can.

This is vastly different than blaming it on age, the frostbite I got in my early twenties, or something nefarious lurking beneath the surface. Different than jumping to a diagnosis. Or doing the opposite, by denying what is going on. Different than going so quickly and fearfully to that place of needing to know a name for what I am experiencing.

Can a name help? It can. But in our information-saturated, fear-driven health culture, in our obsession to know everything and figure everything out, when does naming something create obfuscation? When does a name demand that we bypass something vital?

That “Something Vital” being the direct experience of being in and being with our bodies in a tender, open and trusting way. A way that allows us to see that learning to care for ourselves at this level is the greatest gift we will ever offer not only to ourselves, but also to a world in dire need of some open, trusting tenderness.