Fear of Transformation

When the energies of spiritual awakening arise very often so do the energies of fear. Awakened living is supported by the heartfelt release of this fear.

images-4If you are a serious meditator, longing for awakening, you may someday feel odd sensations like the body quivering, or the head spinning, or the brain feeling it is being rewired.  You may have sudden out-of-body sensations, or hear an inner sound or wake in the middle of the night with the body moving into an unfamiliar yogic posture. You may have  inexplicable emotional upheavals that seem out of character, or hear a sudden psychic message or inner voice. You may be confronted by recognizing  the need for major changes in their life.  When you go deeply into inner stillness change happens. And it is not always the quiet strength, stillness and centering that meditation typically offers.

It is in these odd moments when the body feels invaded and out of conscious control that the experiences of transformation becomes real, and the illusion that we can jump out of all of our personal conditioning into a permanent stay of transcendence is shattered. Our body, mind, emotions and spirit are in a process of radical change.

Our bodies are fields of energy — living, changing and vibrating with the life force. Awareness moves through these energy flows connecting us with many experiences.Yogic science describes 72,000 lines of energy in this grid, connected by chakras. The prana or chi in this grid carries thoughts, emotions and sensate experience, and facilitates our movements and responses including breath, coughing, sneezing, blinking, digestion, elimination, the heart pumping and every other condition we experience as living beings. Without energy we are inert and lifeless.

When Kundalini energy activates it unlocks our vital energy at the source and intensifies the experiences we have, as it moves through the body and into the brain, connecting us ultimately with universal energies. What I have seen over the years of listening to many who have awakened kundalini energy is that this is essentially a clearing process, shaking loose old patterns, memories, blockages or knots in our energy field so that the body can become open and present without contraction or habitual reactivity. It makes it possible for a more impersonal quality of presence to impact how we move in the world. It opens new abilities and possibilities.

When people write about negative experiences with kundalini on the web they are describing their own challenges with letting go, either at the physical or emotional level. The “letting go” is trying to facilitate the release of identifications with our body, mind and feelings. Deep unconscious material may arise, or archetypal visions related to the collective unconscious. Kundalini is not dangerous, as some contend, but it is threatening to those unwilling to face the personal work that it demands, and who are not open to the shifting worldview that it generates. It can amplify hidden or suppressed emotions and illnesses so that they will be seen and addressed. It can trigger unfamiliar phenomena. It requires flexibility and integrity if the activation is going to facilitate spiritual realization.

There is a place of deep stillness and presence available when we are not identified with the history and beliefs stored within us, personally and collectively – rather like the deep sleep we have when we are not for the moment aware of our personal self. Awakening is awakening to this consciousness/awareness that is alive in us prior to association with all these attachments. The letting go that comes with awakening is not under our control, but is a deep transformative process that is taking us into this unknown or unremembered realization and it can be very frightening for the little “me”, the holder of a separate sense of unique perspective and history we each collect as human beings.

There are many experiences in this journey to awakened living, and discovering the deeper Self, the Oneness of consciousness shared by all. Some of them are exquisite and expansive and overflowing with love. Some of them feel invasive, out-of-control, disruptive of our lives and self-image. Many of them are unfamiliar and some feel overwhelming. To the extent you can see the fear as energy, a reaction of the little “me” who prefers control and predictability, and release yourself to explore with curiosity and openness, or become willing to just let go and let be whatever is, you will be leaning into a more awakened life and discover wonder and grace in this evolutionary process.

As awakening becomes more stable it does not mean the end of all feelings.  But as we learn acceptance of whatever arises the energies can help the feelings release more smoothly and quickly, because there is no longer a need to hold on to the stories they represent. Awareness notices the feelings with compassion, and holds them in a more broad perspective of the nature of consciousness manifest as humanity. They are just energies moving through, perhaps as a personal release, perhaps for the universal good of the species.

If you need to know more about kundalini please look for “The Kundalini Guide” on Amazon, based on the stories of many experiencers and offering practical advice. You can get on my email list for webinars through http://www.kundaliniguide.com.

Energies of Transformation

The energies  that come with spiritual awakening are a mystery to most people who do spiritual practices, and even for those who do energy practices like Tantra, Reiki, breath work, or martial arts, expecting only bliss and healing. Many practices and circumstances can ignite a range of more challenging phenomena as a clearing and transformative energy process begins.images-4

             I was  interviewed yesterday about the kundalini experience by Ingrid in Germany who is setting up an internet forum on energy called the Kundalini Congress (kundalinikongress)  that should be available in a couple of months in the US and Germany.  We talked about my work with kundalini, and my understanding of ways to deal with the challenges it can bring.

            Once you begin to see the body as a molecular structure, an energy grid that carries thoughts,  emotions, and sensations from one point to another, and stores patterns and memories  within its structure, it becomes easier to understand the phenomena that arises when kundalini is activated.  All beings live with both conscious awareness and energy flow.  This energy flow is called prana in the yogic model, chi or qi in Chinese systems, and ki in Japan.  In the west a few have termed it “bioenergy” but it’s full potential is little understood.  Yogis say that it activates the body at conception, and after the development of the infant the residual is wrapped in a coil at the base of our spine and holds our field in stasis until we die.  Then it uncoils and leaves the body.

            Kundalini can begin to uncoil itself as a result of energy or meditation practices, in response to a trauma, or through a variety of other causes.  Initially it can feel overwhelming as it rushes through the body from the base of the spine, or it can unwind gradually like a snake, and then feel blocked or concentrated on one area of the body.   When this activation happens the entire energy field is amplified   Many phenomena may arise, depending on the lifestyle, history, proclivities and practices of the person so affected.  There can be shaking, vibration, heat, emotional upheavals, changes in perspective, odd physical symptoms, shifts in eating habits, difficulty sleeping , waves of bliss and clarity, waves of fear and discomfort, brain fog, psychic moments – many passing experiences.  This is because your entire structure is reorganizing itself and consciousness itself is changing, clearing itself of what is not necessary if you are going to live more present in the moment, more authentically here and now.

            Very few schools of meditation or energy or healing speak of all these changes directly and most schools of psychology or medicine have no paradigm with which to address these experiences.  Somatics programs are an exception as they include the body in their studies but often those who understand the need for energy release do not understand the spiritual implications.   We live in a culture based on Christian perspectives that for the most part deny the connection between spirit and body, probably because of the repression  by the early church founders of pagan practices , mystery schools and indigenous rituals that opened the body to allow altered states of consciousness.

            But we are clearly moved through the flow of energy, healed or transformed by the flow of energy, and only alive as spirit when energy is flowing. When spirit leaves it rides on the energy that leaves when we pass on.  Probably it is these energies that account for evolutionary adjustments in our species. Hopefully as we in the west begin talking  about this and more people encounter their own inner transformation we will discover the gifts of kundalini and learn more ways to support our spiritual awakening processes.

            If this is a topic impacting your life or work you may be interested in my website www.kundaliniguide.com or my books “The Kundalini Guide” and “The Awakening Guide.” I also do occasional workshops and webinars for people in this awakening process.

 

Webinars & Retreat for People Awakening

KG IMG_4832 sml copyI now enjoy offering webinars to bring together people from diverse states and countries who would support in their spiritual awakening process. These are the upcoming webinars and programs I plan to offer between August and November through www.zoom.us.  Here are my upcoming programs.Contact me for fees and other information through email: shantiriver@gmail.com

 Awakening and Embodiment – session 2 –  4 weeks, Thursdays, August 11,25  Sept 8, 22 ( 12 noon—1:30  Pacific time )    

This is an on-line satsang and sharing for those intending to deepen their spiritual practice, support others interested in awakening to our true nature, and explore how to live from a new perspective of awakened intuition and inner autonomy.

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Living with Kundalini —  weekly for 6 weeks – Fridays Aug. 19 — Sept. 23  a.m. PST)                         

This program and supportive group is designed for people who are going through a kundalini awakening process and wish to meet others having this experience while learning classical and modern perspectives of Kundalini, the kinds of experiences and challenges this process brings, and methods of living more comfortably with it while awakening to the transformation it offers.

 Therapist and Teacher training for Kundalini Awakening – 4 Sessions Fridays Oct 14, 28, Nov, 11 and 18 (12noon – 2 p.m. PST)

 If you have taken The Living with Kundalini program at any time you are eligible for the therapist/teacher training which will focus more on identifying the kundalini process in a client or student. You will learn how to use the preliminary questionnaire to assess and understand where to focus in a consultation, the impact of the background and spiritual practices on the experience and how to support this process.  There will be time to discuss cases and learn from one another’s experience.

 A FALL RETREAT IN OREGON —  PRESENCE AT THE CENTER  -Sept 2-5, 2016

This 4-day/3-night non-dual silent meditation retreat will be held Sept 2-5 at St Rita’s Retreat Center in Gold Hill, Oregon, a few miles from the Medford OR airport. It is an opportunity for meditation and reflection on awakening, experiencing silence,  guided meditations and teachings related to awakening to the presence of our true nature, You may also hike in a beautiful  60-acre setting with a labyrinth and waterfall. Journal, or participate in Qigong and sound meditations. Retreat is designed to support your deepest intention for awakening to the Truth of your own Being, and bringing that awareness into your everyday life. We will meet at 4 p.m. Friday (arrive 2-4) and close at 2 Monday.  The fee is $275 is paid by August 15.  This includes a comfortable double room with a bath, vegetarian meals, and all expense

ACISTE CONFERENCE IN PALM DESERT, CA                                           Oct 20-22

I will be speaking on Therapeutic Issues of Spiritually Transformative Experiences at this conference  of an organization related to Spiritually Transformative Experiences at the Doubletree Inn is scheduled Oct 20-22.  Go to www.aciste.org for details.  I am considering doing a kundalini and awakening workshop following the conference in Palm Desert while I am there.  If you would be interesting in attending a program with me at that time and place – Oct. 23-24 – please let me know by sending me an email.

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Presence and Embodiment

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Presence is a full body experience of awareness. We feel it fully when we bring awareness below the neck and open the senses to this moment, this place where we stand in all of its dimensions. Awareness is present through all the senses, available to sound, touch, taste, smell and vision before you even think about it. It is the ground of all experience and when you feel it without an interpretation or thought you may feel deeply awake and connected, or even blissful and expansive, as if all the cells in the body are lighting up.

 If you have had an awakening of consciousness or energy your senses may be heightened, because awareness is more dominant, more available. Some people who awaken also feel highly sensitized to the consciousness and energy of other people, as if there are no boundaries, and for a time they need to rest more in nature, avoid intense environments and learn ways to consciously return to their body’s autonomy without losing the ability to be awake and present.

            Before awakening our attention is repeatedly diverted by thought or emotion. Our reactivity to what is happening clouds our capacity to fully be aware and respond spontaneously to what is. When the separate self feels threatened, either physically or verbally, it jumps to the forefront and begins planning a defense. When this happens presence is overcome by reactivity. Awareness is so distracted by thoughts that the senses are deadened and we may not even see what is around us.

Presence is awareness, an aware-ing not only of the mind but of the cells and the senses before the interpretations of thought. Beingness. It happens before labels, before acceptance or resistance, before the “me” takes a position. Most of the time we experience it as a flash before the thoughts enter to form an interpretation, decision or response. The brain is wired to hold concepts and memories and make judgments and choices based on past experience. This is a useful human function that supports physical survival in the world. But it also keeps us trapped in the container of our past that is flavored by misinformation, misinterpretation, the pain of rejection, loss and disappointment, and the self-image that was taken on very early in our life. All of these things form a belief in an “I” that needs to be alert all the time in order to be protected. This arises automatically and unconsciously.

Awakening cracks open this conditioning, brings all of our innate reactions and patterns to the surface to be seen clearly. This is one of the challenges of spiritual awakening — it is not comfortable to recognize those aspects of oneself that are not congruent with Truth, love and compassion and are inauthentic to how the deepest essence would live our lives. It can even feel frightening and lonely when old familiar interests and patterns fall away spontaneously, as they tend to do after a true awakening to the natural Self.

Often people who experience the freedom that arises with an awakening of energy/consciousness feel wonderful for a few hours, days and even weeks. During this time they are living as presence, openness, and a connection with the natural life force in the body. The heart may open. They feel separated from the false and misinformed little self, and instead feel part of the vast unbounded universal Self, that is always present, accepting, open and loving.

But the body and mind of the apparently separate “me” needs to become clear of conditioning so that the individual can become free to embody the wisdom and love of this universal Self. So at some point the residual conditioning that has not completely released is triggered and arises so it can be seen and awakened into the whole of life. This is part of the transformation that occurs in spiritual awakening.

We can’t just reject old habits, beliefs, memories and suffering. As the ancients pointed out “What we resist, persists,” so fighting against or ignoring what appears does not resolve the need for freedom. It becomes necessary to accept that our humanness distracted us from knowing Truth. Realizing this teaches us compassion for others entangled in their own conditioning. The old ego structure is not bad or evil, it just is not true or real in the way we assumed it was. From one perspective our foibles and failures can be met with compassionate humor, because the one who was manipulated by them was nothing substantial that needed defending. (This seeing is one reason some who awaken are said to burst out in uncontrollable laughter!) It is understood it was all a misunderstanding about who “I” am, the activity of an illusionary self.

Here are a few ways these arising shadows of self can be encouraged to move on:

In some cases they are seen through as untrue, based on assumptions made with limited understanding, and it is seen they are not related to the real Truth of who one is. Seeing clearly can release an illusion, just as we know when a fictional movie ends we were seeing illusions on a blank screen, spun out of the imagination of a writer. It helps to question if a thought is true, and sense who you might be without that thought. The spiritual teacher Byron Katie has developed a set of questions for clearing these untrue beliefs from our minds, that she calls The Work.

In some situations the person must meet the part or character inside that feels wounded and let it express itself and be met with love and compassion, so it can heal and free itself. It cautiously appears so that it too can wake up. Some therapists work from this assumption, which can help clients move past their pain.

I have observed at retreats that there are times old patterns are felt simply as energy and heat and they burn through as one is sitting in meditation. In some cases images of apparent other lives appear as well, in order to address some incompletion. A few people may see the story, but often it is only energy releasing.

I have also found that when a wave of emotion like anger or grief arises if I sit and meet it more and more fully and deeply, not as thought but as a knowing in the heart and the body, at some point it will break open and spaciousness, even love, lies underneath. Awareness returns to itself.

Presence may arise spontaneously in those moments when we have released a difficult pattern or trauma from the body. It feels like a profound relaxation into the Now — into this moment, no longer blocked by the confused lens of the past. It often is accompanied by joy, or peace, or a physical sense of love emanating from the heart. It is here and was always here in every moment — the energy of the life force and the consciousness in the body are always present until they leave the body when they pass into another dimension of being. Always trust they are there beneath the confusion, complications, and challenges of ordinary life. Spiritual realization is accompanied by a healing process not just of the personal, but of the collective unconsciousness. I believe this is what Buddha meant when he said “When I awakened, the world awakened.” If one does not enter this healing stage the awakening is truncated, and this is when you see apparently awakened people who take advantage of or cause harm to their students and communities, or who appear distant and too detached from the world, unwilling to be present with other human experiences.

The embodiment of presence, including an open heart into life, and respect for all beings, is the hallmark of an embodied, awakened spirit. Despite the rumors of a sudden and complete enlightenment, most humans get there only a step at a time, as the residue of their history falls away.

(I will be holding a silent non-dual meditation retreat Sept 2-5, 2016 in southern Oregon, and also host webinars on Living with Kundalini.  To be on an email list for my  quarterly Shanti River newsletter please contact me through http://www.awakeningguide.com)

Awakening Energy & Consciousness

imagesSpiritual awakening involves shifts in both energy and consciousness. If you think about this you can see that is the essence of our existence. We are a molecular structure moving and acting through the flow of energy, and aware because of consciousness. Our brains function like receiving stations and organizing systems where we receive and store information that determine our thoughts and behaviors. So the energy in our bodies makes adjustments to release old wiring and patterns whenever a major shift in consciousness takes place, and spiritual awakening is a major shift in the recognition of who and what we are.

And yet we all know there are also significant movements and perceptions that arise from the heart as well– love, compassion, tenderness, longing, expansiveness. When we are traumatized, neglected or abused we tend to block these emotions and the heart feels contracted or even armored against these life-affirming experiences. The heart also must awaken itself in a spiritual process, bringing up extreme vulnerability and anxiety.

Spiritual awakening can be challenging because the spirit or true nature longs to express all our potential, to feel free of the limitations created by separateness from life or from other people. All of our conditioned responses, reactivity and beliefs are being released from the energy field so that consciousness can operate free of them.

It is as if awareness has been filtered most of our life through our past experiences and future desires and anxieties, the concepts in our heads and the blocks in our heart.  These are like lens that distort clear perception. The changes a person is subjected to happen so that these lens may be removed from the sense of “I” or “me” and experience can become more immediate, unfiltered, and open to what is. It is a struggle for the sense of a separate “me” who lives in a mind constructed for survival, protection, and identification with its roles and history. Holding on to a personal identity feels like a survival need.

The true nature is free of these concerns and instead feels presence, wonder and relationship with all things. For many people this is not a comfortable journey. An awakening of consciousness can bring beautiful vast insights and an awakening of energy can bring bliss. But for a person to feel free in the world they must release attachments to their cherished beliefs about who they are and what they need, and allow their body to do the rewiring that is needed.  Awareness within us needs to find an internal thread that takes it back to source.  One way this happens is through questioning any belief or feeling or thought that arises from conditioning and asking just who it is that is aware of these beliefs, feelings and thoughts. Who is this “I” that notices and believes all these assumptions.  None of these beliefs were present on the day you were born. Who would “I” be if they all fell away?  What is the essence within you that has never changed? This thought of “I” is the lynch pin that holds our story together and keeps us in separation.

Opening to this remembering is not the obliteration of knowledge, but the opening to a more broad context and universal wisdom about life. It is not the end of uniqueness: just as every snowflake is unique, so are human expressions. But it is the end of attachment to this uniqueness and the opening to the realization of Oneness.

My books “The Kundalini Guide”, related to the energies of transformation and “The Awakening Guide”, exploring the shifts in consciousnss, are available  on amazon as guides for those who are taking this inner journey

Emptiness, Spaciousness and Love

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Frances Bennett, a former Trappist monk and now an awakened teacher who blends Christian mysticism, Buddhism and Advaita Vedanta in his teachings, put a quote on Facebook that points directly to the potential of spiritual awakening, in any tradition.

“Another way of describing the spacious awareness that is sometimes called ’emptiness’ is to refer to it as ‘unconditional openness…I have taken to calling it that because, this phrase of ‘unconditional openness’ seems to point a bit better to its essence which, for me, is LOVE.”

It happened that on the same day I saw this quote someone contacted me who was concerned about the fact whenever he closed his eyes to meditate he experienced spaciousness, and he was alarmed about this.

Our human mind is used to being busy, to sorting, dividing, judging, maintaining our separate identity and staying within the social constructs with which it has identified. We panic during a spiritual emergence because experiences are arising that do not fit our belief system about what is normal and acceptable in our lives.

Sometimes we panic about energy buzzing and shaking in our body. Sometimes we are struck with unfamiliar moods and rushes of emotion long repressed in our guts and hearts. For a few people a vision or dream arises that seems inexplicable and frightening. For others the feeling of consciousness free of the body, or the moments of consciousness having no boundary, seems evidence of “losing my mind”.

Why do these things arise in a spiritual awakening? Because despite what we have heard in our culture and spiritual traditions, this is what an awakening is. It is not what the mind wants it to be — a perfect bliss and freedom from all the traps of depression and anxiety and feeling inadequate that plague many people in the world. It is not a sweet and easy escape from life. While meditation brings an inner strength and calm, a sense of a center, if spiritual realization is to arise, turmoil will usually come along with it, at least for a while.

To understand our true nature, consciousness must take a journey that reveals all that we are not. For a few rare souls this happens suddenly — consciousness arises or expands rapidly and breaks forth into the vastness of no-self — no personal self — or One Self — the realization there is One consciousness penetrating all existence. This feels like God to many people, and resolves the desire to search further. But inevitably, unless the journey to this moment already covered the territory, there will be a return of body-identification, and movements that reveal all the old conditioning and blocks that cloud this realization and its expression.

For most people who long to know God or to know what is true, this search has been a long inner journey, and thus their shadow side, stuck points of view, emotional traumas and contractions gradually appeared to be met and released. Even overwhelming energies of the collective unconscious may arise. This usually happens over months and years before the final moment when consciousness is experienced as free and is realized as the ever present now,or encountered as unconditional love when it opens the heart.

Yes there is bliss in some moments, especially as the heart releases the burden of carrying old pain and resentment, or as energy opens long blocked flows in our bodies. There can also be great moments of insight, glimpses of other lives, or visions of deities (I think of these as transitional objects that stand between our mundane lives and the radiant unboundaried source of life). There may be an emergence of psychic, precognitive or healing possibilities. Many phenomena may arise along this journey as each chakra opens and clears, or latent brain centers in the head begin to come alive. It is easy to get stalled along the way — in the same way an intriguing or particularly challenging part of traveling the world would delay our completion of the journey.

Why would all this happen, only to dump the psyche into “emptiness”, “vastness” or what Bennett has called “unconditional openness”?

Is it to clear us of all illusion of separateness, empty the mind of the need to compare and divide, offer a taste of presence without limit, or discover that what has created us feels like love and has no demand? Is “nothing” the end of the journey? What would be the point of this?

One needs to rest in this unconditional openness and allow it to permeate the cells of the body and fall into the heart so true presence, love and intuitive wisdom can permeate the life. Then it is said you will be free. You will feel your divinity in your center. It may happen that some life circumstance will pull you back into personal identification from time to time, but you will be resting in openness and return to it. The flavor of who you are, and some of the cultural conditioning will remain but these will feel more like the clothes that consciousness is wearing that will someday be discarded. The thoughts and feelings that flow through you will just be part of the landscape of your life, neither to be accepted or rejected.

One of the favorite quotes I have carried throughout my life, long before I knew the fullness of their meaning was from Longchempa. It is a pointer toward Truth. “Since everything is only an illusion, perfect in being what it is, having nothing to do with good or bad, acceptance or rejection, one might as well burst out laughing!”

Be willing to rest in the vastness, this unconditional openness, and invite it to show you what it will. Be at peace.

Awakening to the Sun

            I awaken as the sun pours through my east-facing windows every morning and I am drenched in light. I return to my body and stretch, and feel gratitude for the beauty I enjoy as I look out the window over my small town ringed by mountains. I awaken with quietness and openness inside, wondering what the day will bring.

            Awakening spiritually is much the same — coming into a sense of lightness, openness, spaciousness, where thoughts do not interfere with the simple beingness of life — the I am is experienced as a felt sense rather than a belief, the entering of this moment.   As the mind lets go of expectations, desires, and the need to judge oneself and others, all the billions of neurons bouncing around in our head become calm, aware, responsive to the amazing experience of right now. Our senses brighten. As the heart awakens the body becomes soft and relaxed, melting sometimes into wonder at the beauty all around us, the miracle of existing at all. We know our self to be an expansive spirit in a body, using this form to dance and move in the play of life. As the gut awakens the knot in the belly that wants control unravels itself and we are available to change our fear to curiousity, and notice that life unfolds outside of our control, and we are capable of meeting it as it is.

            I am 72 now . When I was 20, 30 even 40 and 50 I could not imagine being happy at this age. Old people looked — well, old. I thought it would be very depressing to give up feeling pretty, being part of the movement and adventure of life that absorbs us when we are young, having lots of energy and moving through the world as if I was “somebody”. And it is true there are challenges in aging. Sometimes my feet are unstable. I fell flat on my face off a ledge a couple of week ago and looked for a few days as if I had been in a bar-room brawl. (Frankly, I felt mainly intense gratitude that nothing was broken or permanently damaged.) All of my family in the generations above mine have passed on and many friends as well. Nearly every week someone I care for is reported in a battle with cancer or a heart problem. There is always the knowing that at any time the axe will fall for myself or my husband. But somehow all of this is just absorbed into the weave of living, and in its tragedy there is a beauty, just as in the bright day there is a compensatory dark night with its stillness and solitude. I can be sorrowful for what is not here now or grateful that I am still here now. Which will bring me peace and happiness?

            So much of a life today is driven by the demands of an intense and commercial society. Energy is pulled in many directions and the longing to have not only what we need, but everything we want, consumes the majority of westerners, while the struggle in much of the world is simply to stay alive. Humans are in constant turmoil internally, trying to change things, acquire something, gain recognition or achieve goals. And then they are surprised to find they are not happy and the world is not at peace. This is the drivenness of thought, of the part of mind that fears to relax, to let go, to explore just being. We have lost the grace of simply being alive, the appreciation of the natural beauty and wonder in the world that can only be seen when we “Stop”. Millions of us cannot even enter the stillness of sleep anymore because the mind will never stop.

            If you are seeking peace and beauty in your life create a way intuitively to heal yourself. Put something beautiful in every room to remind you to be present, or find a spot where you can sit in stillness or walk in beauty. Learn true meditation, a simple sitting without efforting and letting things be as they are. Play music that distracts and sooths your spirit. Do something you love each day. Let go of toxic situations in your life and then do not carry them around in your thoughts once they are gone. Create your own series of koans or inner questions that cannot be answered with mind but take you to a deeper place, a place of Truth, i..e “Isn’t this only a thought — a random neuron firing? Is it true?” “What is wholeness?” “Who am I without thought?” “Can I love without attachment?” “What do I know that no one ever taught me?” Find your own, because the portal to awakening is deeply within you. And along this path you will discover peace, joy and appreciation in the very simplicity of living itself.