Category: Mindfulness

The Remedy We Are Excited To Try in the New Year: Flow...

What are flower essences?

The goals of flower essence therapy include: ease in accessing higher vibratory states like joy and gratitude; enhanced mind-body-spirit balance, presence, acceptance of emotions and integration of difficult vibratory states; encouraging flow states like creativity; manifesting; supporting balance; expanding awareness of self and the Universe, ancestral connection and healing; and helping us to be of greater service to ourselves, others, and the Earth.

Flower essences work by way of the following:

  • synchronicities—helping us connect seemingly unrelated or previously unseen opportunities or happenings
  • indirect occurrences—positively affecting different environments and interpersonal dynamics
  • insights—supporting mental, emotional, physical, and/or astral awakening; new ideas, solutions, or information may present
  • physical changes—bringing up new sensations, shifts in organ/system functioning or in symptoms
  • emotional responses—bringing up new feelings or memories; stabilizing or releasing them
  • expression—inspiring artistic, verbal, and kinesthetic expression
  • dreamtime—bringing about new or recurring dreams, insights, and subconscious resolution
  • invoking intention—the more time and space you can offer, the more likely you’ll be able to feel flower essences. For example, taking them with a light meditation, a visualization, while doing yoga or some other kind of bodywork or prayer  

flower essence illustration

How to Select a Flower Essence

Flower essences can be purchased from a quality producer, or you can make your own. Here, I will discuss how to select and apply ready-made flower essence remedies. You can learn how to wildcraft your own flower essences with me in this video.

When you’re starting out with flower essences, it can be overwhelming—so many producers and so many essences! I like to encourage people to remember that it’s your relationship with the plant that is the most important thing in selection. Your relationship with the remedy is the co-creation with that plant. The more you work with flowers, the more you will be able to feel and trust this part of the process.

 

The following are some ways to begin exploring flower essences:

  • Depending on what issue(s) you’d like to address, begin by taking one to three essences that resonate with you. Many producers offer sets of remedies that have a particular focus. You may want to purchase a set to experiment with, such as the FES’s Range of Light, Delta Gardens’ Protection Set, Alaskan Essences, or the Bach Essences.
  • Consider flower essences that invite presence, relaxation, protection, and grounding.
  • If you want to study the essences more carefully, consider making flashcards or purchasing the flower cards (Alaskan Essences, FES, and Bach make sets).
  • If you’re curious to learn more about how a plant might connect with your ancestry, consider doing some research on how it was used historically.
  • Perhaps there’s a flower you’re curious about, or have seen in nature. Ask this plant if it would like to work with you.

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Here are five basic ways to select a flower essence:

  • Intuitively: A flower essence might come to you by way of revealing itself in nature, or appearing in a dream.
  • By dowsing: Using a tool of resonance, such a pendulum, to test for essences.
  • Through muscle testing: A simple way to muscle test is to make a ring with the index finger and thumb of your nondominant hand. If you would like to test for a yes for an essence, say the name of the plant and flick the circle with your dominant hand. If the circle holds, that’s a yes. If it breaks open, that is a no.
  • By consulting reference literature: Books, repertories, or flower affirmation cards.
  • Through blind testing: By drawing a card or randomly selecting an essence from a set. This method works well with children.

Any of these methods can be integrated into your ritual. Before making remedies for other people, it’s a good idea to spend some time with the flower essences yourself. The flowers will have much to share with you. Also, the more experience you have with the essences yourself, the better you will understand how the essences will work for others.

This is an excerpt from The Bloom Book: A Flower Essence Guide to Cosmic Balance by Heidi Smith.

 

Heidi Smith, MA, RH (AHG), is a psychosomatic therapist, registered herbalist, and flower essence practitioner. Within her private practice, Moon & Bloom, Heidi works collaboratively with her clients to empower greater balance, actualization, and soul-level healing within themselves. She is passionate about engaging both the spiritual and scientific dimensions of the plant kingdom, and sees plant medicine and ritual as radical ways to promote individual, collective, and planetary healing. She lives in Brooklyn, New York, with her partner and two cats. For more, visit moonandbloom.com.

 

 

 

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Building the Bridge Between the Heart and the Mind

How can we drop what we are holding on to, if we do not first look for the hand that is grasping so tightly?

Have you ever noticed that you have two distinctly different personae and tend to vacillate between them?

One is very rigid and concerned with the outcome of everything. It worries and frets, its gaze mostly downcast. It doesn’t rest easily, even keeps you up at night sometimes. It acts almost like a dog chasing its tail. It circles obsessively over every detail and unknowable outcome, chasing the same things in a constant repeated pattern. It is cunning, convincing, and tyrannical in nature. It is feverish and ungrounded. Changing, morphing, and flopping from one story or idea to the next. This is your unharnessed mind. The persona you take on when your mind is not connected to the compass of the heart.

For most of us, that’s the dominant persona. But the other aspect of you, as if by some divine intervention, will from time to time slip past the censor of the mind and cheerfully take over your being with its boundless and uninhibited spirit. This personality doesn’t worry. Its face is often lifted, looking in wonder at the shifting sky and swollen moon. Lips curled into a slight smile. It is fluid and flowing, as if it’s on a river of unending joy. It acts like water and reflects light. You feel buoyant. This is your heart-centered self, your true self.

Because most of us moved into our mind long, long ago as a way of protecting our hearts, we now live most of our time in that rigid, concerned first persona. Without even realizing it, we allow our minds to stand between us and our true nature. We have no (conscious) idea how much our minds are acting as a defensive block against our soft and tender core, constantly at work trying to find ways to keep us from feeling, from hurt, from heartache. The price we are paying, however, is that we are also kept from accessing source.

In order to be heart minded, we need to bring the heart and mind into harmony and partnership with one another. For this to happen, we have to train the mind not to fear and close off from the heart, and instead, serve our heart and implement its wishes. In order to do this, we have to undo our mind’s association of feelings of the heart with hurt and harm. In situations that would ordinarily have us retreat or retaliate, we need to remain conscious of what’s happening and choose to soften and lean into our heart’s center. Each time we practice this softening, we send a new message to the mind that signals that we are safe, willing, and wanting to live in this more open, more sensitive way.

Over time, if we are resolute in our intention to step into our heart, our mind will become less rigid in its defenses against feelings and tenderness, and gradually we will become more heart centered.

Remember, we are not trying to pit the heart and mind against one another; we are trying to marry their aptitudes.

Let’s say a wave of anxiety washes through you. You notice your mind begin to race and attach to fearful thoughts. The anxiety then morphs into panic, which courses through you and makes you feel like jumping out of your skin. You begin reaching for an escape, resorting to some form of substance or distraction that can act as a numbing balm.

What just happened? Because you avoided your distress, you are only slightly comforted. A part of you remains braced under the distraction, in fear of the next time this could happen. Your mind’s instinct to protect and defend has been confirmed.

Your heart is neglected and still aching.

But let’s say a wave of anxiety washes through you and instead of looking for an escape route, you go to a quiet room to confront the feeling. You let go of the notion that something is wrong and respond as if something very right is taking place. You know some part of you is calling out for your love and attention.

Let’s say you close your eyes and open your heart to the bigness of the feeling. You create space around it simply by looking without resistance at its contours. You know the only antidote is self-love and hospitality. The mind stops racing away from the distress, which makes room for the heart to begin healing and soothing the body. Your mind learns a new route. You are gifted with courage and resilience.

The only difference between these scenarios was one simple choice: to remain a bystander as the mind continues to ignore the call of the body and heart or to act in ways that support leading from the heart, so the mind can follow.

The two can be wonderful allies if we let them.

As we become heart minded, we begin transforming our human experience from something out of our hands to something very much in them. We begin to cultivate joy instead of haphazardly stumbling upon it when we are willing.

Each moment, our bodies are counseling us to make choices that bring us closer to love. The wisdom of the heart and body is there for us, always, if we listen and let it lead.

For a guided practice in learning to stay in our hearts during difficult times, follow along with Sarah in this video.

 

This is an adapted excerpt from Heart Minded: How to Hold Yourself and Others in Love by Sarah Blondin.

 

Sarah Blondin

Sarah Blondin is an internationally beloved spiritual teacher. Her guided meditations on the app InsightTimer have received nearly 10 million plays. She hosts the popular podcast Live Awake, as well as the online course Coming Home to Yourself. Her work has been translated into many languages and is in use in prison, recovery, and wellness programs. For more, visit sarahblondin.com.

 

 

 

 

 

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Let the Dark Places Be Teachers

FIND THE SOURCE

This is a tender exercise, a tracing of pain, the path back to the deepest wound. For myself, a huge hurt that I carry is often the source of great realizations and growth. I’ve worked with many different types of therapy for years to figure out where my pain stems from, and my curiosity has been my greatest guide in this effort. I want to know why I am the way I am, and my trauma informs so much of my mindset. Do you know where your pain comes from? Does it point back to a certain occurrence? Do you have only a vague idea, a slight memory, that seems to be the source? What do you do to familiarize yourself with the hurt you carry?

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There are countless, well-trusted methodologies to help us become acquainted with our pain, and when we dig into this work, the cave of our understanding becomes incredibly deep.

I like to turn my pain into a guide. I follow its directions, meditating on where it all began. It’s at these starting points where I find the most potent feelings. My heartbreak from a failed relationship will often give me a chance to let out my sadness in verse, but not before I try to unpack the whole story. Only when I attempt to understand the many aspects of this failed relationship can I fully feel it and pay tribute to it. I begin this kind of investigation by rambling in my journal. Then, if I feel inclined, I might pull the heart of my understanding into poetic form. I recently wrote a book of poetry called Help in the Dark Season, which focuses on my childhood trauma, the way it affects my adult relationships, and the modes of healing that have helped me grow. Writing this book was extremely hard, but after I finished, I felt like I’d turned coal into gold. I pulled back the curtain inside myself and let light do its thing. Now I not only get to feel the inner effects of my work but I’m also able to witness the importance of sharing this book with others, the way my words act as a key to unlock their personal process of healing. The result of this revealing has been an honesty and a newness that I couldn’t have reached without the alchemy of writing poetry.

I urge you to do this hard work with your trauma, if you’re able. Give yourself permission to move into the realm of blame. Maybe move beyond it toward forgiveness.

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Our traumas create our fears, and our responses to these fears can be as poetic and beautiful as we make them. Let your pain be a source of inspiration, turn this heavy load into poetry, own it, use it, and take as much from it now as it has taken from you in the past.

Close your eyes and meditate on the hidden ache you carry. I like to start with my childhood because that’s what makes sense for me, but you can start anywhere along your timeline. Do you see any images attached to your discomfort? Can you try and put words to your grief and your loss? Who hurt you? What was their childhood like? Why did they do what they did? Make use of the pain of being alive. See the universality in whatever caused you harm, and focus on the connection to others who have survived similar experiences. When I sit with my wounds, I find my resilience, and that makes me want to linger there, gather up the lessons left in the aftermath, and use them for my own creation. Writing about my pain enables me to claim it as my own, and this ownership is empowering.

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How can you show your reader your personal methods of self-care in a poetic way? Maybe start by writing a list of poems or even song lyrics that have been healing for you in the past. I have poems dog-eared and underlined in every book on my shelf, and I’ll pull them out in a moment of need. They’re my reminders that yes, it is indeed hard to be alive for everyone.

This is an excerpt from Every Day Is A Poem: Find Clarity, Feel Relief, and See Beauty in Every Moment by Jacqueline Suskin.

jacqueline suskin

Jacqueline Suskin has composed over forty thousand poems with her ongoing improvisational writing project, Poem Store. She is the author of six books, including Help in the Dark Season. Her work has been featured in the New York Times, the Atlantic, and Yes! magazine. She lives in Northern California. For more, see jacquelinesuskin.com.

 

 

 

 

 

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Black Tara Who Destroys All Negativities

In the fall of 2010, our monthly Tara practice began at sundown at the end of Rosh Hashanah, the beginning of the Jewish new year, 5771. The days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are known as the Days of Awe. During these ten days, observant practitioners reflect on the past year to repair harm they may have inflicted on friends, family, or members of the greater family of the planet. They apologize to others and seek to do t’shuvah to make amends if possible. People work consciously to repair and let go of past negativity and set intentions for the coming year to prevent further mischief.

Black Tara Who Destroys All Negativities was on the calendar for that night. We appreciated the synchronistic timing of the two events. I noted that Tara protects us from negativity, internal and external, and helps us release the effects of negative energies we’ve encountered or generated. This protection occurs in part from remembering our connection to the Whole—that we are nurtured and contained by a multilayered universe. When we help another, we are helped. If we harm another, we harm ourselves. Perhaps harder to grasp—if we harm ourselves, we harm the whole universe.

The teaching centered around the meaning of the mantra, which refers explicitly to ingrained behaviors operating outside of consciousness that wreak havoc in interpersonal relationships. Negative energies transferred from one individual to another are potent and destructive, and often have lasting effects.

Tara’s Appearance

Black Tara appears with her mouth wide open in a fierce expression. Like all the wrathful emanations, she sits on a fiery sun disc, which rests in the center of her lotus throne. The sun disc replaces the usual soothing moon disc. She holds a black vase, which contains the power to overcome even the most destructive and negative powers. In this aspect, Tara is known as the Destroyer of All Negativities.

The Mantra

Om Tare Tuttare Ture Sarva Vidya Avarana Ye Bhye Phat Soha!

“Ohm Tahray Tootahray Tooray Sarwah Veedyah Ahvahrahnah Yay Bay Peyt Soha!”

This mantra sheds more light on the meaning of the practice, when you might need to use it, and how to align your own intentions with those of Tara. It insists that Tara remove mental obstacles that block insight into your complexes or the emotional forces that obscure your understanding. Avarana refers to the causes underlying negative tendencies in yourself or others. These instincts, imprints, or potencies are ingrained, influencing behavior outside of awareness. They are unconscious, unquestioned, and unprocessed. They have been denied, repressed, or avoided. You or others around you might struggle to bring them to consciousness or have no wish to do that whatsoever.

As with many words in Sanskrit, vidya has multiple meanings depending on the context. Vidya often means “wisdom”; in this instance, it means “intentions,” particularly negative intentions. Bhye phat urges Tara to destroy these obstacles or difficulties!

The mantra asks Tara to overcome the negative intentions of the enemy. Use it when you want her complete protection in order to fully grasp the difficulties in your situation. Watch for signs that you are being infected or possessed by internal negativity, which would be a natural response to the energy coming at you. Don’t be naive about actual outer dangers you might be facing; you have to remove yourself from harmful situations.

The Practice

Visualize the entire mandala of the twenty-one Taras arising out of vast space in front of you. Green Tara appears in the center in her radiant body of green light. Imagine your teachers surrounding her and all her other emanations in the background behind them. Finally, invite your friends and supporters and all beings you wish to receive the blessings of your practice. Recite the preliminary prayers. Then imagine that Black Tara Who Destroys All Negativities moves into the foreground, seated on her lotus throne with a sun disc in the center. She holds a black vase, which contains the power to destroy even the most virulent forces in the universe. See light streaming out of her heart and from her seed syllable Tam (“Tahm”) standing on a moon disc inside the vase. Just as a seed contains the entire essence of the plant it will become, the seed syllable Tam contains the entire essence of Tara’s infinite powers.

tam

If visualizing a Tibetan syllable proves difficult initially, simply visualize light streaming out instead. The light destroys all malice and negativity.

Invite Black Tara to protect you from the negative intentions and actions of others. Set your own intentions to release the shock of the impact of such energies on your body, psyche, and spirit. Ofer Tara all of your dark emotions; ask her to protect you inside and out as you engage with our imperfect world in which aggression and hatred are too easily encountered.

Recite the mantra, Om Tare Tuttare Ture Sarva Vidya Avarana Ye Bhye Phat Soha, at least 21 times or 108 times whenever possible. Then rest in the subtle vibration created by the mantra recitation. Notice the qualities of the energy around you. Remember and be grateful for the inherent goodness in the universe that is continuously giving birth to positive impulses inside of you and other beings in the world.

Black Tara brings you back to the radiant spaciousness at the core of your being. As she dissolves obstacles created by negativity, try to identify the signs of true knowing versus the cynical and damaging commentary of the complex. Learn to distinguish what’s coming from inside, what’s coming at you from outside, and how the two are related. Reach out to the cosmic Mother Protector in the form of Tara. Reach inward to her indwelling presence and open yourself to access wisdom and compassion, which offers the greatest protection no matter the circumstances.

As you bring the meditation to a close, visualize Black Tara receding into the background among all the other emanations. See the light streaming out of the entire mandala and then allow the mandala with all its beings to dissolve into space. The light flows into your body and heart, vivifying and stabilizing the essence of Tara within you, and then disperses into the universe. Dedicate the positive potential of the practice to the healing and awakening of all beings everywhere, with no exceptions.

This is an adapted excerpt from Tara: The Liberating Power of the Female Buddha by Dr. Rachael Wooten.

rachael wooten

Rachael Wooten, PhD, is a Zürich—trained Jungian analyst and psychologist who has been in private practice as a therapist for more than 40 years. An enthusiastic interfaith activist, she has studied and practiced in Buddhist, Jewish, Christian, and indigenous traditions throughout her adult life.

Rachael has been mentored by spiritual teachers such as her Tibetan root guru Lodrö Tulku Rinpoche and Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi. She has taught Tara practices under the authorization of Lodrö Rinpoche for more than 20 years. Rachael has offered Tara workshops through the Resource Center for Women and Ministry in the South, ALEPH: Alliance for Jewish Renewal, and C. G. Jung Society of the Triangle. She currently teaches a monthly Tara meditation group at Pullen Memorial Baptist Church in her hometown of Raleigh, North Carolina. To learn more, visit rachaelwootenauthor.com.

 

 

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From Our Shadow and Into the Light

In its role as protector, the Shadow of the Mind instills fear when adversity strikes or when we try to grow beyond what we are used to, even if we are stepping into something we have long dreamed of. To the Shadow of the Mind, expansion means risking harm and hurt. In its great valor, it tries to override our aspirations by berating and belittling us or by keeping us caught up in anxiety-producing thoughts. It does this in an attempt to keep us safe. It will try to stop us from evolving and changing. It will do whatever it can to prevent us from following through with our deepest calls and dreams.

When we are not aware of the shadow’s ways, we can become its captive and find it hard to move freely in our lives. Kim, a student of mine, told me that when lying on the floor for meditation, she would often feel overwhelmingly vulnerable. Being undefended, open, and receptive was so difficult. She recognized all the ways her body was contracting in “an effort at self-defense.”

The revelation both startled and humbled her. Before this moment, she hadn’t seen how her shadow was holding dominance over her body, but once aware, she was able to release it. This brought her to tears. Kim, like so many of us, was operating under the force of this shadow, and did not even realize its grip. We do not realize we are in an almost constant state of bracing ourselves, rather than opening up to our life.

When something in our life falls, ruptures, or shifts; when challenge or change sprawls forward; when a condition isn’t met; or our perceived safety and comforts are threatened, the Shadow of the Mind rises up and assumes dominance. It rises up when grief knocks on our door. When we sit down to meditate and breathe and feel fear coming to the surface as we begin to meet ourselves. When life says that the ground you are standing on is not as solid as you thought. When a lover leaves, or a trust is betrayed; when an angry or harsh word guts us. Even when a love is realized, when dreams manifest, the Shadow of the Mind shows up to maintain safety and order. It tries to divert us from touching down in these places. It is what we hide behind most days and what stops us from living an emboldened life.

But here’s the thing: you have the ultimate say. You get to say no, I am ready to face all the risks in order to live a more fully embodied and alive life.

It’s worth pausing here to recognize that you have always held this power. The Body of Light has been there all along. But you need to relieve the shadow of its duty before you can give the wheel to your Body of Light and let it steer the ship.

Join Sarah in a guided practice to find your Body of Light in this video, From Shadow to Light.

This is an adapted excerpt from Heart Minded: How to Hold Yourself and Others in Love by Sarah Blondin.

Sarah BlondinSarah Blondin is an internationally beloved spiritual teacher. Her guided meditations on the app InsightTimer have received nearly 10 million plays. She hosts the popular podcast Live Awake, as well as the online course Coming Home to Yourself. Her work has been translated into many languages and is in use in prison, recovery, and wellness programs. For more, visit sarahblondin.com.

 

 

 

 

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How Does Meditation Liberate Us?

MATTHIEU RICARD: In the beginning, our mind is very turbulent, so it is very difficult to complete an analytical meditation and to cultivate compassion, and it’s still more difficult to observe the nature of awareness. We just have to deal with a whirligig of thoughts. The first step, therefore, as we have seen, is to achieve a certain level of calm. We don’t do this by knocking out the mind the way we would knock somebody out with a stick; rather we give it a chance to become a little clearer, a little more stable.

That’s why most meditations begin with observation of the breath. It is at the same time practical (the breath is always there), simple (a constant movement of coming and going), and subtle (it’s invisible, and if we don’t pay attention, it disappears instantly from our perceptual field). It is, therefore, an excellent object for refining our attentional faculty. This simple training is not necessarily easy, however. We can even be discouraged at the beginning by seeing that “I have more thoughts now than I had before; meditation is not for me.” There are not necessarily more of the thoughts; rather we have begun to perceive what is going on, to be able to gauge the extent of the damages. However, like a waterfall turning into a mountain torrent, and then into a river, and finally a still lake, the mind calms down with time.

After a few weeks or even a few months, I can pass on to the next stage: “Now that I have a more flexible and accessible mind and can direct it like a well-trained horse, I can say to it: ‘Apply yourself to compassion.’” This sequence of progression should be respected, and it is of no use trying to skip ahead. If you try to meditate on compassion when your mind still won’t hold still, you won’t cultivate compassion; you’ll simply be distracted.

I can also ask myself, “In the end, who is meditating? The ego? Awareness?” I can analyze the nature of all that. In a more contemplative and direct fashion, I can deepen my questioning: “What is behind all these thoughts? Is it not awakened presence, the quality of pure awareness that is behind all mental events?” At that point, I begin to glimpse that which, underlying all thoughts, is always there like the unmoving sky behind the clouds. I can then let the mind rest in this pure awareness.

 

A Toolbox for Meditation

CHRISTOPHE ANDRÉ:

Meditation is not only a religious or spiritual practice; it is also a form of mind training. It can help us cultivate attention, detachment, understanding, and emotional balance. It can also help us to develop our basic human virtues, which otherwise might lie dormant deep within us and not express themselves. I’m talking about kindness, compassion, generosity, and so on.

Meditation is simple. It only requires us to regularly pause and observe the nature of our experience—our breathing, sensations, emotions, thoughts. Everything starts with that.

Starting with very simple kinds of exercises like those recommended in mindfulness meditation (the kind of meditation we use in health care and education), there are many meditative traditions that are much more demanding and complex. As with the piano, we can very quickly learn to play a few little pleasant tunes; then we can go on to cultivate virtuosity for the rest of our lives.

 

ALEXANDRE JOLLIEN:

Let things pass. If I had to sum up the practice in three words, without hesitation, I’d go for “Let things pass.” In the midst of chaos or deep in one’s inner battlefields, dare to make the experiment of not controlling, of dropping the self. It’s mayhem, but there’s no problem! Far from giving up and far from resignation, letting things pass means distinguishing between the psychodramas (the problems created by conceptual mind) and the genuine tragedies of existence, which call for solidarity, commit- ment, and perseverance.

Meditating is stripping down, daring to live nakedly in order to give oneself, contributing to the welfare of the world, giving one’s share. Why don’t we look at the day that lies ahead of us not as a store where we can acquire things, but as a clinic, a dispensary of the soul, where together we can recover and advance?

 

MATTHIEU RICARD:

Meditation requires diligence, which should be nourished by enthusiasm, by joy in the virtues, by inner peace, by compassion, and by the feeling of having a clear direction in life.

Meditation, in itself, does not have harmful effects. Meditation is not contraindicated unless it is not properly understood or properly used—used in the wrong conditions or at the wrong time. Whether we like it or not, from morning till night we are dealing with our mind. Who wouldn’t want their mind to be functioning in the optimal fashion and to be providing them with inner freedom rather than playing rotten tricks on them?

This is an adapted excerpted from the newest book from Matthieu Ricard, Christophe André, and Alexandre Jollien, Freedom For All Of Us: A Monk, A Philosopher, and a Psychiatrist on Finding Inner Freedom.

Copy of MatthieuRicard-AlexandreJollien-ChristopheAndré©PhilippeDanais2017

Matthieu Ricard is a Buddhist monk, a photographer, and a molecular geneticist who has served as an interpreter for the Dalai Lama. 

Christophe André is a psychiatrist and one of the primary French specialists in the psychology of emotions and feelings.

Alexandre Jollien is a philosopher and a writer whose work has been attracting an ever-growing readership. Together, they are the authors of In Search of Wisdom and Freedom For All of Us.

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