Modern Day Confusions Around Productivity


I step outside at the end of the day to bring the laundry in when I catch my mind wondering how “productive” I’ve been on this supposed day of rest. The thought stops me cold.

And not because the thought is so off base given that I have hung laundry, made ghee, meatballs and sauce, planted garlic, closed the yurt for the winter, brought in wood for the week, and submitted an article for publication. But because it is such a modern day ailment/indulgence/obsession/anxiety to even be having a thought such as this.

At another time in history, or even now in another place on the planet, the idea of being productive enough would have been something real; an actual matter of life and death even. Needlessly making up ideas around whether or not I had done enough would not have been something I would have had the time, luxury or inclination to do.

I would have been far too involved in doing what I actually needed to do to keep myself and my family alive, warm, fed and protected. In other words, surviving. And maybe in some seasons, even thriving.

These days, we use the idea of productivity as proof of our worth, as something we judge ourselves by. As some kind of endless justification treadmill we get on to prove to others and ourselves that we are worthy of our existence. This as opposed to ensuring our existence.

And while there is only the difference of one word between these two phrases, they could not in reality be further apart.

At another time, we would have needed no proof that we were productive. We would just be doing what we needed to do. No prizes. No “likes.” No neurotic comparisons. No bragging rights. No fretting in some self-indulgent way. No “adulting.”

What am I saying here?

I guess I’m wondering if it is possible to live with all the conveniences of a modern day existence, while remaining simple and true to the reality of life on the planet in a human body. Grounded in what is actually necessary in the midst of all the pushing around what our “best lives” look like.

Detached enough to recognize when and where we are incessantly trying to live up to some standard that says we must prove and establish our worth by being recklessly and continuously busy.


Clarity Found

I’m up early. I am still adjusting to the time change from the week before. When I look out the window and see everything covered in frost, how it all glimmers in the light of the rising sun, I know why I was called out of bed so persistently.

The excitement builds and I can’t get outside fast enough. Everything is sparkling. And the air, oh the air, is so crystal clear. I take deeper and deeper breaths, feeling the medicine on each and every inhale. The unadulterated medicine of pure clarity. I breathe it way down deep; into every nook and cranny of myself.

The experience is life-changing; taking me beyond my confused mind and the muddle of the world. I see in this moment that despite what we might believe about life in the midst of so much chaos and confusion, there is clarity to be had. Right smack dab in the middle of so much destruction and obfuscation.

It originates in the quiet stillness of the air and the way it smells. It is reflected in the change that comes over me as I take this all in; what is outside of me taking up a place inside of me. Rearranging me. Becoming me.

I can see further and I can hear more. Yes, I know partly it’s because of the leaves being down, but it’s also something more. Much, much more. It is something beyond words, but it can be felt. And known. If only we would make ourselves available to It. On this particular morning, It has made itself available to me because I allowed myself to step outside of my routine. Because I was willing to see the power of availing myself to something much grander than the man-made world.

No smartphone will ever do this for you. I don’t care how “smart” we think they are. They do not, and will not, ever compare to a perfectly crystalline morning. To believe otherwise shows just how far we have fallen from the Truth of existence. For no news cycle, exciting new app, more “likes,” what’s trending or another stupid cat video will ever quell the disquiet that lives within.

Will ever return us to ourselves and what it is we most yearn for.

What I am with on this morning is the greatest Source of anything I will ever need. The clearest guidance I could ever use. The deepest reflection of what it is that’s true. Why? Because it is real. And because it is beyond beyond the made-up fears, the hang-ups, the mixed agendas and the incessant worrying of man. Pure and agenda-free in its origin, delivery and intention.

To align with this is to know oneself. It is to step beyond the noise. It is to choose for something real. It is to make a sane choice in an insane world.

The Hidden Gift of Betrayal


You don’t need me to point out that things have gotten more intense in the world as the years roll on. Or that life here has gotten more confusing, fear-based and confrontative. And now, through the “advancing” capabilities of the technologies, we can add dishonesty and betrayal to the growing list of what undermines a fundamental and necessary sense of trust in Life itself; leaving us not knowing who or what to believe anymore.

Is the social media post a real representation of someone’s life, or has it been heavily curated? Is the news you’re watching accurate, or is there the heavy hand of corporate money driving the flow of information? Is the customer representative you are speaking to a real human, or a robot?

While many of us would say, yeah, yeah, it’s awful, but that’s the way it is now. Or maybe, we hate it or are outraged or anxious because of it, but we don’t think there is anything we can do about it.  And while this and more may be true, I find it misses the point of what is actually available to us at this moment in time. For though we live in a day like no other when it comes to the levels of false appearances and widespread deceit making its way into our day to day living, there is actually another way to see this.

That being, seeing all of the curation, the dishonesty, the confusion, the outright lies and the betrayals as one of the greatest blessings you will ever receive. I know it sounds ludicrous on the surface, but give me a moment.

When any of us has the good and great fortune (not misfortune) of being betrayed by a system we felt protected by, the pain we feel is one of the greatest wounds we will ever experience for it shreds our beliefs about the world, ourselves and what it is we can count on. When the rug gets pulled out from under us in this way, whether with one big pull or through a series of little pulls, the faith we have in Life itself can get blown right out of us.

And in its wake, it can leave an inner devastation so great that it seems like we can never come back from the betrayal; even as we scramble to make sense of something there is no making sense of. To be led astray, intentionally or not, by those people and institutions we put our deepest trust in can feel like the highest form of treachery and deceit. Can feel like a tear so great, there is no repair.

But, and this is a big but, if you can see betrayal as something to learn from, it becomes a gift. That gift being the chance for your feet to be placed, knowingly or not, on the road to greater self-trust. A chance to turn your faith back into yourself and to Where Else it has always truly belonged. This gift then becomes something you can share with a world deeply confused about what to believe in, as well as whose hands that belief is meant to reside in.

Then, in times of universal deceit where telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act as George Orwell once wrote, you are in the needed position of holding something others cannot yet hold for themselves. A perspective that sees the rampant universality of not knowing what to believe in as the directest route to an abiding self-trust, whose truest power can only be forged in the fires of betrayal.

Find Your Way Back


I’m out driving and I turn the radio on. This is something I rarely do, but I was in my husband’s truck and he has all these stations that carry the soundtrack of my childhood, so I decided to see what was there.

At the same moment I’m tuning to the station I want to listen to, I’m thinking about us as a people. What it is we make important, the fears we have, the ways we make the wrong things matter more than they should. All the thoughts and wonderings that are often on my mind, but that over the years, and especially of late, are taking on an accelerated position in my life, and an ever-growing clarity in my heart and mind.

At the exact moment all this is occurring, a song comes on that begins with how long the road has been, how heavy the load has felt, and how this person is just trying to get back home to their heart. At this point, I’m already crying. Moved by the synchronicity of the message coming through the lyrics; reflecting what was just on my mind and in my heart.

By the time the song is into the chorus, I am weeping as they sing “Find your way back. Find your way back. To your heart.”  The emotion is not sadness as much as it is more of a deep longing. An inherent yearning for me to live like this. For all of us to live like this. A kind of organic knowing, beyond all the wounding, that this is not only possible, but why we are here.

I believe this longing is one we all feel. Way down deep inside. A hunger to get back to who we really are. And a deep desire to return to the Truth of what we are meant to be for one another.

I know this runs contrary to either how we feel inside at times or what we see when it comes to other people’s words and behaviors. But I think that all the stuff we do to hurt ourselves and one another is an expression of soul sickness. I think we ache so bad to know who we are and how to be with one another, that when we can’t get there, for all of our reasons, we default to hurting. Either ourselves or one another.

But if we could take that hurting and see it as something that needs healing, instead of creating more armor, more blame, more separation, we would find our way back. To Our Heart. And in that place, we would know what the heart knows, and what the mind does not. That it was never personal, we were never abandoned, and we have always mattered.

It is from that knowing that we find our way back to our true home: The Heart.

Which Role Will You Play In The World?


This week I taught a yoga class based on the Sanskrit word “sama.” It translates into “same or equal,” and is experienced as the ability to emulate the Divine whose Presence is equal in all matters concerning the world. What it looks like for us is described in one of the central yogic texts that guides us to be “even” in our ways of dealing with life. To be the same through pleasure or pain, good fortune or misfortune, praise or blame.

There are no clearer, nor more liberating instructions, for the times we are living in, than this.

For to be at the mercy of the rise and fall of the ways of the world, is to suffer. It is to never know lasting peace because there will always be another tragedy, another horror, another injustice. And it is to play out one of the three big dominant roles we choose in our interactions with others. That of the victim, the persecutor and the savior.

The victim is the energy of being harmed, overpowered and without agency in the face of greater forces. The energy of the persecutor is that of dominance, aggression and oppression. And finally, the energy of the savior is that of the rescuer, the fixer, the one that everyone comes to to solve their problems.

Depending on the day and the circumstances, we can play any and all of the three depending on what’s being triggered in us. You are in victim whenever you are in the role of the overwhelmed and bullied child who needs saving. The perpetrator, when you are forcing and coercing another to your own will. And the savior when you are being the one who makes things better for others because it seems like they can’t do it for themselves.

But there is another way. That of the Sovereign: One who is free of external control and therefore the up and down nature of the world. The one who charts their own course, choosing to meet the world as it is. The one who decides how she will be moved by the world, and who consciously chooses to be grown and hewn by all the experiences of Life. No questions asked.

The Sovereign is the one who allows that everyone deserves the right to live out their life as they see fit, without being forced into something or rescued from something. And is the one who is even enough within herself to bear witness to the world, without choosing for or against. Instead, choosing to be with.

This can be felt and known by all those around her. For instance, there is growing research demonstrating that we can feel the electromagnetic energy of the heart’s field. And now Quantum Biology is demonstrating how our physiology is experienced by others. In other words, when we are at peace, when we are “even,” it is a palpable experience for all those around us. This is vastly different than being part of the big drama game of suffering we all like to play. One that activates a deadness or a hardening of the heart, while ramping up the physiology of stress that then emanates into the world.

If this resonates, practice where it is easy. Try being more neutral when it comes to the small things in your day like the weather, the seasons, or the traffic. Or how about practicing a kind of internal same-ness whether you get the recognition or not, win the lottery or not, have an argument go your way or not.

Your opportunities to work with this are endless as you go through your day, and are presented to you each time you feel yourself in a less than “even” emotional place.

What If Nothing Was Wrong?


I sit looking out the window at the dawn of a new day wondering, “What if nothing was wrong? What if what I’m feeling isn’t a problem?” This wondering drops in after a night of troubled sleep filled with apprehension, doubt and second guessing.

Is this even possible? Or desirable. To choose to live without needing to make something or someone, wrong. Would this be a sane approach to life? Or incredibly naive? Would it leave me unprepared or ill-suited for the world? Vulnerable to being caught off guard and open to something horrible happening?

When something feels wrong to us that’s all we can see. That and the compulsion to make it stop. Make it go away. Assign blame. Be clutched with fear. Fight it. Demonize it. And then of course, create the teams of “right” and “wrong.” But what if nothing was wrong, what then? What would we see? What would we know?

What would become possible?

This is an incredibly courageous step to take, trained as we all are in who the good and bad guys are. Conditioned as we are to default to believing we know what is right and wrong. And while yes, we need a code of honor to live by when it comes to our words and deeds, it is far more complex than the black and white nature of choosing for and against based on party lines, political affiliations, religious beliefs and more.

We can favor a clear sky over a cloudy one. And yet, the presence of the clouds is what makes for the most sublime sunrise because of how the clouds help to create a multidimensional light show on the eastern horizon. There are traditions that liken the beliefs and thoughts we hold to be like clouds passing through an expansive open field of greater awareness. That part of us that knows beyond “the taking of sides.”

So when the clouds of “wrong” pass over your mind, see them for what they are; a fleeting opportunity to decide what you most want to see and create in the world. Recognizing that the clouds offer the very contrast necessary to help us decide whether we will see the beauty emerging at the dawn of a new day, or…

Every day, we get to choose how to perceive what it is that life offers us. Right and wrong are easy. Child’s play actually. But to contemplate beyond wrong is the realm of participating in a new dream for our world. One that says, I will challenge my ideas of right and wrong in the service of something far Greater.

So just for today, what if nothing was wrong with the weather, or the traffic, or what someone else does? What if for just one breath you could wonder, “If I wasn’t making this wrong, what would I see?”

Wake-Up Calls


In the past week, I have either fallen or stumbled and almost fallen, three separate times. They all happened while I was out running in the woods. And they all coordinated perfectly to my mind being stuck on an endless loop of negativity.

A fake argument with someone inside my own mind. Indulging old protective mechanisms against an anticipated attack. Feeling responsible for another’s choices. On and on it went. Until bam! Down I went. A startling but effective way to get me off the well worn, beaten path of a mind stuck on negative thought loops.

It’s been a powerful awareness for me in these moments because habits of the mind are not always easy to notice. Especially if the various themes of our thinking have been going on for years and years. Meaning, that what we’re thinking about can go undetected for long stretches. A lifetime even. And without something a little, or a lot, jarring to the system, we just won’t change.

Which is why I don’t mind the wake-up calls because what I know to be true is this: Negative thinking unchecked erodes my experience of what it feels like to be me. And it’s not a feeling I enjoy. That’s why I have come to appreciate these physical stumbles in the woods and see them as welcomed harbingers. Lightening bolts from my own soul saying “Knock it off. You deserve better than that. You have more important things to tend to.”

The call of the soul cares not for our comfort. Nor will it indulge us in our habits of mind based on our fears, the past or any other pieces of old conditioning. It’s only aim? For us to express ourselves fully and uniquely all in the service of remembering the Truth, with a capital “T,” of who and what we are.

So while I have never found my soul to be controlling or forceful, it can be very, very persuasive with the nudges it gives me, large and small, through the circumstances of my day to day life. I believe that’s the way it works. Little nudges offering us an opportunity to course correct how it is that we are living.

Maybe it happens through the experience of a health issue, a breakup, an argument. Perhaps you’ll get fired, your house will flood, or you’ll be betrayed. The soul can show up as an unsettled yearning, a depression, or a regret. Really, any of the things in life we wish with all our hearts would not happen and that we spend a lot of time and thinking trying to keep from happening.

But what if you saw every unwanted “happenstance” as a wake-up call? As a message from beyond and within. What then? Would you say yes to the stumbles and the falls that allowed you to see the beautiful forest of Life that you are passing through? Would you say yes to the chance to grow beyond the self-imposed limitations that keep you stuck in the wrong habits?

If so, be on the lookout for what is not working, for what breaks and for what just feels way past its prime in your life.

To Trust Your Body Is To Trust Yourself


I talk and teach a lot about trusting your body. Sounds nice. But the truth is, given how we have been conditioned over the last decades to do anything but trust our bodies, this can be a hard sell in a world encouraging the abdication of this sacred connection to the technologies and the experts we have come to put more of our faith in than these bodies of ours.

This is problematic on many levels. But perhaps the most problematic of all, is that if we don’t trust our very own body, we will not be able to trust ourselves, and we will not be able to trust life itself. Without a steady belief in what we are experiencing and knowing through our own body, we will be adrift in terms of how to navigate the changing waters of the world. And without a reliance on how life flows through these bodies, we will be at odds with ourselves over what we can expect day to day in terms of a greater support and guidance that is available to all of us.

It’s such a strange thing to be talking about trusting your body. As if it is somehow separate from your very existence and how you live. And yet, this is where we are: So horribly removed and disconnected from what is innate that we find ourselves having to do some kind of rehab to remind us of what is not just built in, but that forms the very basis of who we are.

We are mammals, and there is not a mammal out there, other than us, that does not exist without complete and utter trust in what it is experiencing, and what it means to be in a body. The good news is, this is an authentic and powerful place to go to to re-learn where to take our cues from. What I mean by this is that just by turning our attention to that which is most inherent and most basic about being in a body is the way back to trusting your body, yourself, and all of life.

Best of all, it’s not fancy, expensive, complicated or beyond your reach. It is quite literally, as close to you as your next breath. As close to you as the next time you sense thirst, hunger or exhaustion. What I am talking about here is a kind of reacquaintance to your body’s most basic and non-negotiable needs. Those things you could not do without and still survive. Those things that a newborn baby must have in order to live.

The very things modern life has taught us to put on the back burner, but that still remains alive and well inside of us and can be found by wondering to yourself, “What could I absolutely not be able to live without?”

It’s not your cell phone, Netflix or social media. It’s not a new pair of shoes, a fancy trip or a new car. It is quite literally your breath and your ability to feed yourself. I know most of us would say we already know how to do this. But do we? Do we actually quench our thirst with life-giving water or do we flood ourselves with caffeinated drinks? Do we feed ourselves what our body really needs to be well or do we consume lots of processed, fake, and ever more bizarre substances masquerading as food? Do we get the rest we need or are we more interested in staying up late to watch the latest bit of noise coming out of a screen?

To bring this right down into the body and out of the machinations of the mind, try this: Once a day pause and take a full deep breath in as you feel some sensation in your body. Then ask yourself, “What do I need right now?” If you can get in the habit of starting there, I will guarantee you something; over time as you turn more and more back to your most basic needs, a fundamental trust will form with your body which will then extend out to how well you trust yourself. And life as well.

How Are You Creating The World?


There is an old expression that I believe comes from the Talmud. It goes like this, “We don’t see things as they are. We see things as we are.” Take a moment to really, really let that sink in.

If this is so, how committed are you to spending the time to recognize that who you are, impacts your perceptions of life?

We live in a very, very sick society. I know that on some level, we all know this. How could we not? It’s everywhere. But because it’s everywhere, it begins to take on a kind of background hum and a sense of fait accompli. But if you’re willing to see how things are, you can see it in the poisons sprayed on our foods that we give to our children. You can see it in the collective worship at the alter of the screens, and the ways we refuse to keep ourselves from what is devaluing our lives. You can see it in the ways that we have begun to mandate which medicine people must use in order to be part of society. And you can see it in all the ways that we have never been more ill in body, mind and soul.

There is more. Much more. More that we have come to accept as normal. Even as it visibly sickens us.

But it’s not true. This isn’t normal. And somewhere deep inside we all know this. I believe it comes down then to what someone recently said to me about “calling the ghost by name.” A willingness on our part to name what is messed up and broken.

Because here’s the truth, who you are is not separate from the sickness of the world. You are merely one aspect of the way things are. Because when you add it all up, what’s out there is based on the sum total of each and every one of us. Of all the messed up and broken aspects of ourselves that we will not be with.

This is not a New Age cliche. It is Truth. For as we change our inner perceptions, and change what it is that we ourselves are being, the world reflects that. How could it be otherwise?

For instance, how do you contribute to the harmful food supply out there in terms of what you consider food and feed yourself with? Where do you place a screen above all else and even engage in that which is less than what you actually need and deserve? Where do you hold that others should do as you do when it comes to how people live and take care of themselves? And where have you been less than willing to address what ails you?

When you recognize that you are out of alignment with your values, you shift the ethics that run the world. When you change the way you feed yourself, you shift what nurturance is available to all of us. When you decide to stop all the scrolling and make the people in your life a priority, the world begins to prioritize people over machines. And when you decide to finally commit to something you need to do for your own health, the world begins to heal.

Today I read something that feels like the antidote to all the sickness. An author was making the point that in certain traditions, beauty was less about the physical appearance of a person, and everything about how well you knew yourself. That’s the guide. How well you know yourself. How well you know the “are” of you.

I know it seems like a lot, and maybe you are even wondering how what’s out there is connected to what’s in here. But if you see this as a lifelong exploration of getting to know yourself and what it is that makes you tick, you are halfway there. And then, if you’re willing to simply consider that what you’re seeing out there, is in here, you will be all the way there.

The Broken Unicorns In All Of Us


When I was a kid and had accumulated a little pocket change of my own, I would walk down to a place called Cushing Square to visit a tiny store that sold glass figurines. I can’t remember the name of the store, but I can still recall the display window that faced out to the sidewalk and what it felt like for me to go inside.

It was absolutely magical to be in this space and to be in the company of all those glass animals. They felt so mysterious and powerful to me. I wanted them all. But because the figurines weren’t cheap for a kid, I would have to save up for what I wanted. In the meantime, I would go into the store to visit with all those little creatures I felt such a connection to.

At some point, I acquired a three-level tiered stand where I could arrange these little friends of mine into different scenarios and configurations. No matter what I did in this regard, there was always one that stood out for me: The Unicorn. I felt moved by her golden horn and the clear see-through nature of her body. I looked at her every day and every night. She was the one I loved most of all.

So you might imagine how I felt when I came home one day to find her horn broken off. It was devastating. But worse than the devastation of something so important to me being broken, was that no one would admit to doing it. And no one saw that justice prevailed.

That day, something precious and innocent broke in me. I stopped going to the store and I don’t remember what happened to all the other glass animals.

Heartbreak and innocence lost is something every one of us will pass through. Not one of us will come to the Earth and leave unscathed in this regard. We all have had our “broken Unicorn” experiences and for many of us it will follow us around for the rest of our lives. It will color how we see the world. What we believe is possible. How safe or dangerous the world feels to us. What we believe will happen to us if we love open-heartedly.

As that old song goes, “the first cut is the deepest.” Very understandable then to go through life making damn sure it doesn’t ever happen again.

This is one way to live and it makes sense given how devastating it can be to learn as children what a cruel place the world can be at times. Unfortunately, when we hold onto this through life, not only do you lose out, so does everyone around you.

There is another way. But it’s a big ask to the child inside of us who got so hurt when we didn’t even know that kind of pain or disillusionment was possible. What is that “big ask?” To reclaim your innocence. To take back your wonder and sense of possibility. The road to get there is certainly long and arduous. And it will require that you feel what you never wanted to feel again. Ever.

But in the feeling you get to heal, and then you get to decide how armored up you want to be. And when. Because to live for our entire lives waiting to be hurt again is to live as a victim. And to live as a victim is to live shut down to the magic, wonder and possibility that lives in the world.

Want to give it a try? Think back into the past. Do you have a sense of where the mentality of the broken Unicorn began for you? That place where you felt wronged, betrayed or violated. Then observe with great kindness how that plays out now for you. Where and when it shows up. You don’t have to do anything for a very long time other than to just begin to make that connection.