I recently read someone making the point that when we are lacking in self-respect, we will find ourselves agreeing to things we know are not good for us. This lines up well with a Lakota teaching about the evil spirit Iktomi whose nefarious power is to not only get you to believe the wrong thing, but to act on it.

Seems this human frailty to be led astray has been around for a very long time. A long history, if you will, of  the ways in which we can be duped, taken advantage of, lied to even, and how we will take up that intentional obfuscation of reality as a basis for how we choose to act in the world. Even when we know it is neither true nor good for us.

From what I can see, it seems this predicament has never been more prevalent. More ubiquitous. More threatening to our very existence when it comes to who we take ourselves to be, and how it is best to be using our limited time here.

I am, of course talking directly, but not exclusively, about the screen technologies and all of its offshoots. Given that we have not been able to wisely and humanely integrate the current technologies into our lives, truly making our life here better, how do we imagine we will be able to handle the likes of 5G and AI?

If you doubt the negative impact, or believe this is just how it is now, you need look no further than the skyrocketing rates of loneliness, depression, anxiety, obesity, increased societal drop-out levels amongst our young and wide spread polarization to see but a fraction of the harmful effects that have been caused through how we use the current technological iterations.

Given how we struggle with what we have now, just what do we imagine we will do when all the lines between virtual and actual reality have been totally blurred? How will we make our way when every minute of every day we are being convinced to engage in activities that somewhere deep in our human hearts, minds and bodies we know is not good for us, but feel compelled to do anyway?

We focus on developing greater self-respect as the very bedrock of our existence.

To respect one’s self is to value one’s life. No. Matter. What. If this makes sense that this quality can serve as an antidote to what we are facing, believing and doing, it becomes necessary to ask yourself a few questions. What does self-respect even mean to me? Have you ever thought about it? Do you know when you are choosing to violate it?

To live grounded in self-respect is to refuse to believe in or participate with anything that devalues you. Anything that dings the preciousness of your own life. And you cannot look outside of you as a reference point. While this has always been so, it has never been more so because the culture at large has fallen under the spell of Iktomi. Fallen into believing the wrong things about what it means to be alive. Fallen into a very abnormal abyss when it comes to what we accept as just the way it is now.

This is a solo mission. An inside job where we begin to walk back the “little” daily choices we make that undermines our value. Maybe it’s the endless scrolling and envy you feel while on social media. Maybe it’s gossiping or thinking mean things about yourself. Maybe it’s ingesting substances or over scheduling yourself in ways that dull your life force.

Whatever it is, you will know it by its telltale sign: Self-Destruction. A kind of slow drip killing off of your very magnificence. Of your life-giving capacity to act on your best behalf. So when you find yourself engaged in that telltale sign of believing the wrong thing and acting on it, get out of it as quickly as you can.

A Dicey Love Affair


This past weekend I was traveling by plane; putting me in airports and in contact with a lot more people than I usually am. I always take these opportunities to get a handle on the pulse of our world. To get a sense of how we are doing and what we are making important.

At my first airport, when I walked up to the gate and looked around, every single person (except for an older gentleman reading a book) was face down in their phone. This included the young and the old, people eating, people traveling solo, friends and families.

It is sometimes all I can do to not start screaming or sobbing. Maybe even both at the same time. I just want to yell out, “Stop it! Look up. You’re missing it. You’re missing other people. You’re missing yourself.”

Our love affair with all things screens is destroying us. Curled around our phones as we would a lover, our constant need to bond to something non-human is eroding our connection to Life. To what it feels like to be alive. To what is required, offered and given in relationship. It is poisoning what we believe we need and falsely conditioning us to put our attention, constantly, on the wrong things. As we pay homage to these shiny objects of ours, something non-living by the way, we too, become less than the living.

Perhaps, worst of all the atrocities when it comes to our cell phone use, is how our fascination/obsession/addiction has annihilated what it means to love. What it takes to create a bond with another being; whether for a momentary exchange with a stranger or a lifetime of living together with someone you love.

Our love used to be reserved for things that are alive. People and animals that we were in direct relationship to, and that gave to us as we gave to them. Bonds that were forged through all the moments of life; times you wanted to be there and times you didn’t. Times when it was hard and times when it was glorious. Times when it was boring, awkward and inconvenient.

And while we will shake our heads when we hear of the statistics around what is happening to our children in this regard, of the mental illness and the all around despair linked to their cell phone use, still, we do nothing but give lip service to what is happening. Unwilling as we are to take a bold and definitive stance that says our children and their capacity to relate is precious enough that we will take a stand. That we will fight for what it is they come to see as worthy of their love and attention.

It has struck me many times over the years how we really do not fully comprehend the way that we are crippling ourselves and our children by making something non-human the center of our lives. And while most of us would say it’s not my phone that I am most committed to, when you look around, that is not at all the message that is being conveyed to the rest of us.

Boundaries For Staying Human


This past weekend, I did something I rarely do: I got in front of a screen when I first woke up. It all started innocently enough. I was trying to meet a deadline, and I figured I could use the time before my husband got up to get some work done.

Very logical. Very productive. Only…I know better.

And what I know is this. When I start my day in front of a screen, I am a different person, and not for the better. Important fundamentals of my day, like my morning practice, gets left out. The pacing and rhythm of my internal states gets revved up to match the speed of a machine; leaving me impatient with myself and those around me. My emotional satisfaction suffers. Meaning nothing, other than a screen, quite does it for me.

All in all, I am not myself. Not the self I most want to be anyway.

Years ago, we didn’t know the impact of the screens. Didn’t know the levels of disconnect and addiction that would come with these new toys of ours. But now we do know. Which begs the question, Now what?

It’s going to take some very intentional choices on our part to not let our humanity be gobbled up by the machines. To not allow something that has no soul to dictate to us how we will live our lives. To not become the causalities of our own creative hubris.

How do we do this?

It won’t be through more information. We’ve got more than enough (and have for years) research, antidotes and personal observations to support the downside and the continued erosion of our humanity when it comes to how we use these devices of ours. We see it in the increased levels of depression, anxiety, breakdowns in common decency, the cancel culture, and the overall epidemic of being more interested in a screen than in the living of our lives.

What we need instead is a commitment to ourselves. A devotion to what is most important. A vow to each other to never let an inanimate object come between us. This will take guts and perseverance. It will take doing things differently than those around you. It will take breaking addictive cycles in your life.

Try this simple gesture to yourself each morning as a direct way to get started reclaiming more of your humanity. When you get up in the morning, do something, anything, except get on a device first thing. Perhaps you step outside for a breath of fresh air. Maybe you have an in-person conversation. Maybe you stretch or go for a walk. Perhaps you sip your morning coffee while looking out a window.

It really doesn’t matter what you do. Only that you check in with real human needs before inserting a screen into your morning. Set a boundary somewhere in the first moments of your day, stick to it and pay attention to what happens. Let the sheer satisfaction of giving yourself something you really need be the guiding force in all your decisions when it comes to your life.

This as opposed to letting a machine tell you what you need and what is most important.

Wanting & The Modern Age


I am regularly wondering how it is that we are going to be in the world of Instantaneous, Effortless, and Disposable Everything, and still remain Aware, Grateful, and Conscientious.

Still remain Humans Connected to the True Source of Everything.

We all know that in a matter of mere seconds we can locate something online and in one easy click find it on our doorstep. Sometimes even the very next day. No trip to the store required. No experience of going to get something, and it being sold out. How wonderful to get something we want so effortlessly!

Simultaneously, how very, very problematic. As we have quicker and quicker access to the stuff we want, it reshapes our experience to wanting itself. What it is we think we need to have. What it is we believe we deserve.

As the effort, the wait, and the weighing of options gets taken out of the equation of the stuff we want, while the impulse to “want what we want when we want it” takes over via the technologies, we create a world of impulse buying. With all of the detrimental consequences that impulse buying brings to not only the planet, but to our very sense of what it is that we actually need.

Of what it is that is most important.

Yesterday I got one of those notes from the post office that said I had an envelope waiting for me to be picked up that needed to be signed for. I literally had no idea what it was. It was from France of all places!?? When I got it, it was so light that I thought this must be a joke. Or a hoax. There’s nothing in this.

When I opened it up, it was seeds. In a moment of feeling a deep connection to the plant Desert Rose several weeks earlier, I had gone online and purchased seeds to plant in my medicine garden. In that impulsive moment of buying I had not noticed how ridiculously far this would travel to get to me. Worse than that, I forgot about it as soon as I was done.

If those seeds had not arrived, I would not have remembered ordering them. That’s a problem.

It hurt my soul to be standing in the parking lot of the post office looking at those seeds. It felt like such a dishonoring of the very essence of what seeds represent: Life. Pure potential. A connection to not only the earth, but to the very Source of Life itself.

It leaves me wondering: How are we going to do this? How are we going to be with our wants as they get more and more accelerated through the technologies, and still remain true to what is most essential in Life?

How are we going to be with this seemingly bottomless pit of human wanting as it meets up with the instant gratification of The Modern Age? How are we going to remember that while to want is human, the amplification of that very same wanting, as encouraged by the technologies, is absolutely disastrous when it comes to what we make most important in Life.

The Antidote To Selfie World


Years ago, during a yoga training that brought up a lot for me around how I felt about myself, the teacher suggested I do a ceremony. Basically, to place a mirror on my alter at home, and to spend part of my daily meditation looking at my reflection as a way to get to know and honor myself.

I balked. Part of me freaked out at the thought. I mean, who knew what I might see? Did I even want to know? I thought I kept my reaction inside, but he must have felt my response because he smiled, and said, “That’s a hard one for you, huh?”

As you might imagine, the suggestion fell on deaf ears. I literally “forgot” about it. Completely.

Cut to a current training I’m in where the homework was to spend 5 minutes gazing at yourself in the mirror. I put it off for as long as I could. It just felt too close. Too intimate. Too filled with the possibility of seeing something I didn’t want to know.

But surprise, surprise, after spending just a few seconds evaluating myself, I looked into my eyes. Beyond the skin, beyond any “imperfections,” I really, really, looked. And there I was! I could see a tiny reflection of me in my own eyes. How cool.

It made me wonder: How often is that thing we don’t want to know about ourselves not dark or ugly, but actually cool? 

What I’m referring to here is not the mega-absorption of selfie world where out of desperation and a false sense of ourselves, we seek, demand even, accolades for our appearance and other curated and contrived activities. Ever on the hunt for “likes’ to validate our existence.

This is not an honoring, it’s a diminishment. Selfie world is for the amateurs among us. For the desperate. For those too afraid to take a real look. For those who have forgotten their value and seek to get it back in the most destructive and unsatisfying of ways.

As harsh as this sounds (and feels to be writing it), it’s true. And somewhere, down deep inside, we all know it. If this makes any sense to you, throw away your selfie stick, and find some time in front of a mirror, with just you.

Let all the noise, the judgment, the evaluations and the criticisms fade into the background. Don’t worry if they don’t completely leave, that takes practice. Instead,  watch what happens when you give yourself the time to really see yourself.

Who Are You Following?


It’s so easy to get lost these days in other people’s lives. Lost in what they’re doing, thinking and saying. Lost in the fantasy of how much better (happier, healthier, more fulfilling) their lives are than our own.

Many of us are spending inordinate amounts of time “following” other people and calling it a life. Our precious energy and attention bound up in other people’s carefully constructed antics; endlessly scrolling and thinking about another person’s so-called “life.” Too often, to the detriment of our own do we believe that these curated and caricature-like representations depict something real. Something we have convinced ourselves we can have by association.

Something so worth following because…

I’ll tell you what’s worth following: YOU. Your life. All of it. What’s noteworthy, and what’s not working. Why? Because it’s real. Because by being with it, all of it, is the only way that you will ever know whether or not what you’re doing is working for you.

By following another, we miss ourselves. Our thoughts. Our dreams. Our needs. And we run the risk of following the wrong things. Duped into believing in that old adage “The grass is always greener…,” we become hypnotized by the pretty lights and pretty pictures; abandoning our own lives in favor of someone else’s.

But the Truth is, you have your own unique patch of grass that needs tending to. Your own mind to cultivate and body to care for. Your own soul to nourish. Without which, they atrophy and die on the barren ground of believing someone else’s grass is preferable to yours. Poisoned by aligning with the collective envy and orientation that says, someone else is doing better than you. Someone else knows better than you. Someone else’s life is more desirable than yours.

I think part of the reason we do this is because it’s easier to be enamored or envious of another life, then it is to take stock of our own. Easier to fill our days with the comings and goings of other’s presentational lives than it is to be with ourselves. While it gives us a momentary thrill, that ubiquitous hit of dopamine, the cost is high to medicate ourselves in this way.

Each time we turn towards yet another post, deep down we know something is not actually right here. And it haunts us. Like the ghost of Christmas Past and Future, outlining for us what we are losing in our obsession by tracking other people’s lives at the expense of our own.

What if you began to swap out how often you follow, and chose instead to be the leader in your own life? What might you discover about yourself by making your life as noteworthy as those you follow? By choosing the full reality of your life as opposed to the illusory one as delivered by a two-dimensional, screen-version of what it means to be alive.


Body, Mind & Soul Domination


“Dominated.” This is the word a student uses to describe the relationship he has to his screen devices.

Even though we are on Zoom, and everyone is muted, I can feel the silent heaviness that comes over the “room.” We are all stunned into silence as the enormity of this one word settles over all of us. It’s all so powerful. All so sobering. And all so very, very devastating.

Where do we go from here? How do I even begin to help these students untangle from what we have gotten ourselves into?

No matter how many times I gather with others around the impact the technologies are having in our lives, I am always taken aback. One way or another. I am always left knowing that the technologies are beyond us. That despite the fact that we are not even close to having a handle on what we currently have, we continue to create more and more of something that is taking us farther and farther away from ourselves. And each other.

Farther and farther away from what it is to be human.

At this point, we all know it. Whether we cop to it or not, we all know it. We know that our use ruins a good night’s sleep. We know that we do it to the detriment of really living. We know that it is destroying our mental and physical health. We know that it is eroding our capacity to be in relationship in satisfying ways.

And we know that it is destroying the health and well-being of generations to come.

If all of this is not the makings of a world-wide addiction, I do not know what is. But because “everyone else is doing it,” it feels normal. We are literally living out now every dystopian sci-fi story ever told. Every prescient warning we ever got from those before us. And did not heed.

Enter the “Metaverse,” Mark Zuckerberg’s latest brain child. According to him, we will do everything via a virtual environment. Everything. And it’s going to be so great! So advanced. And he is so enthusiastic in the telling that it’s got to be great, right?

Now is our chance, my friends. As with everything that is happening in the world, now is the moment. Does it make sense to you to travel even further from yourself than you already have? Does it make sense to allow something non-human to further dominate you?

This is not someone else’s to do, and it is time we all got over “what everyone else is doing.” Time we all got over abdicating responsibility to those making money off of us.

Weighing In


For more than a year, I have been taking a very deep, at times painful and at times empowering, journey into my own unconscious. Specifically, being with old, long-standing beliefs around who I feel I need to be for others. It has been eye-opening and humbling. And it has been sad. Deeply sad. It has been downright grief-filled in a way that bypasses any thoughts or stories I might have about what is going on, and instead, expresses itself throughout my entire body in a way that feels like every single cell in my being is relentlessly sobbing.

I have come to know this experience as a state of mourning. A state that I now know intimately, having grown accustomed to its presence such that when it shows up I no longer fight it. Instead, I let it wash through me when I can. I cry it out when I need to. And I give myself lots of TLC in between. Sometimes it stays for days. My last go around was for more than a week. It feels like someone I love has died, but that now I must go on. Some days are better than others. But always, either near or far, it is running in the background.

What has brought me to the place of such heart-break? Witnessing within myself, while watching it unfold in the world, a belief system that says, “Do everything you can to make sure you are never wrong in the mind of another.”

I will never be able to explain here all of the nuances, all of the devastation, all of the ways I have distorted who I am to make sure no one thinks I am doing anything wrong. Suffice to say, it goes deep, and it is pervasive. It is soul-crushing and it is life-wasting. It is maddening and it is deadening. And it is something we are doing now to each other en mass.

I suppose I should not be surprised. For years, we have been being primed for this. For years we have been creating a model of weighing in on each others “wrongness” and “rightness” across social media platforms. We have made it desirable, acceptable, and even required, that we weigh in on each others lives. That we rate one another. That we desperately put ourselves out there looking for others to tell us how we are doing. Begging for the answer to Am I right or am I wrong in your eyes? Do you approve or disapprove of me?

Please, please weigh in on how I am doing, and I will change myself accordingly.

Likely there has always, or at least for a very long time (probably when we acquired language), been opinions offered up by other people about us. Been fears inside each of us around being accused of wrong doing by another. Judgment, gossip and criticism used to mold and manipulate us to conform. Ways that we have been overtly and covertly coerced and shamed into doing things according to someone else’s agenda. Or else. But up until this time period in history, there was always a limitation to the scope, reach, power, pervasiveness and level of pressure that could be applied against us.

No more. There is virtually no end now in terms of how we can make each other wrong. How we can use the technologies to bend people to our will. Sadly, we have been going willingly. As a matter of fact, even though social media leaves us depressed, lonely, disconnected and suicidal, we can’t seem to get enough of looking outside of ourselves to determine who we are, and whether or not we are okay. Whether or not we get to be here. Whether or not we are an asset or a liability to the world.

Enter 2020. A year that not only sacred us all to death-but one that has both accelerated and birthed the narrative that says, “I have the right to weigh in on what you do. And if you do not subscribe to my version, you are less than, wrong, a danger.” Having grown accustomed, expectant even, of having our lives weighed in on by another through the platforms of social media, we are primed now to believe that we owe it to one another to be told what to do and how to feel.

This is a dark and troubling road to walk down. One that traps us in a never-ending hell where we believe that it is only by the approval of another that we are valuable, and “allowed” to safely be here. I will you from first hand experience, if you walk down this road unaware, you will not only waste your life by agreeing to all of the wrongs things, you will have created the path to the most wrong you will ever go on to create in our world.

Watch your mind. Listen closely to the explanations you are giving about yourself and your behavior. You may notice this in real conversations or in the imagined ones you have in your own mind when you are defending yourself. Listen to, and feel for, the narrative you have about your own wrongness. Watch the way you shift yourself in conversations when you sense, or imagine, another’s disapproval.

We are wired to herd together. To belong to one another. This sets us up to bond over what others expect of us. But that should never, ever, come at the expense of your healthy expression or your innate, felt sense of your own goodness and value. Nor should you ever acquiesce to a demand that comes from a sick herd. This is a tricky one and can only be ascertained by experiencing yourself beyond the demands of the group. This one place alone may be the hardest thing you will ever do. But in so doing, you will live and experience joy in who you are, instead of mourning what you have allowed yourself to become.

The Real. The Imagined. The Distorted.


We have becomes addicted to, and obsessed with, bad news. The scarier and the more alarming, the better. We are hooked on the adrenaline rush; unable to pull away from the charge that revs us up. The over-stimulation that makes us feel so frenetically and uncomfortably alive. Without which we feel bored, numb, out of the loop and disinterested. Obsessed with the erroneous assumption and false belief that if we have anything less than every last detail, in every moment, in real time, somehow, somehow, we will be unsafe.

In the meantime, we miss that in any given moment, we are not in imminent danger. Death is not in the air. Peril is not contained in the person who stands before us. Because our perceptions have become so distorted, we miss that the body does not know the difference between the real, the imagined, and the distorted. That our survival system will get turned on and stay on based on an image, a story, a repeated piece of information. Ironically enough, the very thing we believe will help to keep us safe (the news, more numbers and maps), becoming the very problem itself. Why? Because a chronically hyper-aroused nervous system becomes the culprit of poor health, death, and lack of well-being and safety in a far more widespread and detrimental way than not knowing what is on the news ever will.

This is within our control. This is a choice we can make each and every time we decide what to turn to. It is a commitment to knowing what works in our lives, and what it is that makes us sick.

One way to begin to understand ourselves better is to become aware that as human beings, we are hard-wired with something many refer to as “the negativity bias.” A proclivity, if you will, of our species to favor paying attention to what is not working. To where the danger is coming from. This is a real asset when assuming for the worst kind of winter when focusing on how much food to store in times when there were no grocery stores. A survival essential when overestimating the likelihood of an attack from a warring neighbor. A must-have when speeding away from wild fires covering the ground quicker than you can run.

But, an absolute disaster in a world being run on fear-based messaging 24/7 in the form of “news” and “entertainment.” Marketing strategies, PR firms, and persuasively designed devices are all intimately aware of, and making use of, our deepest needs. Wants. And fears. Our own biological, personal and social “triggers” being used against us to keep us watching; knowingly and intentionally stimulating and manipulating the wrong things in us for profit.

What is a person to do?

Begin by deciding that you deserve better than to walk around terrified all the time. Create space in your life where you absolutely refuse to be yanked around by external messages that frighten and depress you. Turn away from using the screens in ways that leave you overrun with other people’s thoughts and beliefs to the exclusion of your own. Begin to contemplate some thought-provoking questions. “Is this choice making my life better or worse? Is the sheer volume and repetition of information distorting and exaggerating an issue beyond what is real and true?”

You might even try a thought experiment. “What if there were no screens?” How would that change how things play out? Would we have a different level of understanding, fear, or hope without the constant input of something outside of us?

While some minds may go to the place that says we need all this information to stay informed and safe, is that actually true? And even if it were, when does the “cure” becomes worse than the disease?

Be The Cream


When I first started really paying attention to how my mind worked, including the beliefs I held, I read “The Only Dance There Is” by the spiritual teacher Ram Dass. A funky little book that gathered together some transcripts from a number of talks he had given at the time. While I remember the overall feeling and gist of these teachings, what continues to stay with me was the passage where he spoke about being open to what life had to bring. He said what we want to aim for is allowing everything in. Without resisting anything. That the Truth would rise to the surface like cream rising to the top, and that everything else would naturally get spewed out.

He also said it would be a very scary thing to do. No kidding. It is. And yet, it is exactly what we need more of in the world today. An ability to be with things without closing down, denying, excommunicating, or mandating.

Interestingly enough, we have literally never had more access to enormous and seemingly endless amounts of information through the technologies we possess. Simultaneously, dare I say, we have never been so closed off to anything that does not fit with the existing buckets of information we have amassed and come to call our own. Deeply identifying who we are with the information we have accumulated, while becoming increasingly intolerant of anything outside of the boxes of our own making. That intolerance is alarmingly being verbalized in ever-aggressive ways. And it is not, what many of us feel assured in believing, outside of us. It is not someone else. It is not someone else’s doing. It is happening in and with each and every one of us.

Are our viewpoints so absolute and brittle in nature that they cannot tolerate a dissenting opinion? Do we have so little faith in our own beliefs that we have to legislate them in another? I know this place personally. The place where if someone felt differently than I did about me, what I was doing, or believing in, it felt emotionally and psychically dangerous. It felt like an attack on me. Or that, even if the other person was off base, that what they were saying or feeling had to be true. This left me exerting a lot of energy trying to get others to see things as I saw them.

More than anything else I have come to see it was a survival strategy. It was my attempt to keep from feeling annihilated by another and their opinions. As if my very existence depended on the viewpoint another held of me or what I valued. Instead of realizing what needed tending to was me and my own sense of self, I spent my energy focused on another’s beliefs. It was only when I began to recognize that my sense of self was separate from outside opinions that I was able to feel more tolerant of what others chose to think and believe.

And that is the key. Not only is your sense of self an inside job, it is by far the very best thing you will ever do to increase the level of tolerance and respectful discourse you are able to engage in, and therefore offer the world. We will always have it wrong when we believe it is about getting the other side to see it the way we do. The only real game here is, can you see yourself clearly enough to be able to hold space for how another shows up in front of you?

We are at so many crossroads right now. While it can feel daunting to know this, I think a large part of that overwhelm comes from believing we must get others to line up with our version for us to be OK. The Truth is, it is only you that you need to address. It is only your enduring sense of who you are. It is only your beliefs that say you cannot be safe or valued or included if others believe differently than you, that need looking at.

If we cannot begin to get a handle on this one, not only will we miss out on the Truth of who we are, we will most certainly be ineffectual in coming to a greater good for all of us; choosing instead to demand a kind of totalitarian allegiance to agendas not in keeping with the rich and necessary wrestling with dissenting, alternative, out-of-the-box ideas that are needed in this moment, and that have always been what has called us forward. By one another and for one another.