Category: Mindfulness

Live from the Wake Up Festival!

Dear friends,

We’ve arrived in Estes Park and are preparing the ground for this year’s Wake Up Festival! We get started in just a few hours with an opening ceremony where we’ll be welcoming a few hundred friends from around the world who will be participating in one of our pre-Festival workshops. The main Festival begins on Wednesday which will feature a concert with Snatam Kaur. As a reminder, we’ll be live streaming Snatam’s concert at no cost for those of you who would like to tune in! We’re expecting upwards of 1000 people to share in the Festival with us, and are so happy to be in this field with you all!

This year’s pre-Festival workshops, which we’re quite excited about, include:

Into the Heart of Chanting with Snatam Kaur

Qigong Empowerment – Awaken the 4 Golden Wheels with Robert Peng

Energy Medicine: A Hands-On Experience with Donna Eden and David Feinstein

The Deepest Acceptance: Discovering an Effortless “Yes” to Life with Jeff Foster

Journey with No End: Writing and Spiritual Growth with Mark Nepo

Experiencing the Shamanic Journey: A Direct Path of Revelation with Sandra Ingerman

Leaving you here with a photo live from Wake Up central… sending our love to all our friends around the world.


When Pain is the Doorway – with Pema Chödrön

Friends, I wanted to let you know about a new audio program we just released from our dear friend Pema Chödrön. In my experience, Pema has a real gift at skillfully guiding a person into the heart of their immediate embodied experience, which is often right into those scary places that are so easily avoided. This work of embodied immediacy is so simple, really, yet not easy; in fact it actually requires everything we have… and a bit more.

Listen to a free audio sample/ learn more about our lovely new audio program with Pema, entitled When Pain is the Doorway.

What if the full sense of our aliveness were only to be found amidst our most challenging times and difficult experiences? In pain and crisis, teaches Pema, there lies a hidden doorway to freedom that appears to us only when we’re sure that there is no way out.

In these intimate audio learning sessions, Pema helps us distinguish the triggers or external events that we blame for our suffering from the deeper habitual patterns that feed our anger, fear, or sadness. From this understanding, we learn how to free ourselves from our propensity to suffer through the transformative awareness of impermanence—the dynamic and ever-shifting nature of both joy and suffering, self and selflessness—and the absolute and eternal flow from which all of it arises.

What is causing my pain? What will happen if I simply lean in, keep company with it, hold it with tenderness? Moment by moment, Pema supports and encourages listeners to bring an openhearted sense of curiosity and welcoming to our apparently impossible situations or unbearable relationships—to discover the deeper freedom available just beneath the surface.

For those experiencing emotional crisis, When Pain Is the Doorway provides expert guidance to help us stop, stay present, and enter into a more welcoming, spacious place of being that is our true home.



Love would never ask you to hold it all together

There is a movement within you to hold it all together
To know how the journey will unfold
To know what the unknown will bring
But love was never designed to provide these things
Love is out of control and wants to show you everything
It wants your ordinariness, your humility, your broken-openness, so that it may finally reach you
Love would never ask you to hold it all together, for it wants only to take you apart, to show you what is waiting to be born within you


The Purpose of Life is to Love

Within all of the great wisdom traditions we find an emphasis on love, kindness, and opening our heart to others. It is quite natural to open in this way to our family and friends, but what the great traditions teach is that this reservoir of love inside us is unlimited, extends to all living beings, and even to the universe itself. This reality of love is not an abstract experience, notes respected meditation teacher Reggie Ray, but something that is alive the core of who and what we are. One way to envision the spiritual journey is as a pathway which unlocks the love in our hearts, thereby enabling us to become fully human.

Please enjoy this short video from Reggie on the unfolding of love.


There is no “there” there

Of course, like most people with even a rudimentary exposure to spiritual teachings, I have heard that the only moment is the present moment. I thought I understood this. But I have to tell myself the truth: I might understand this theoretically and even deeply in certain moments of heightened aliveness, but all of me doesn’t live this way. I know this because I have just uprooted a portion of my being that has been orienting toward a future “Promised Land”, a promised land that turns out is totally fictitious (I even have a new motto, “There is no promised land”).

Here’s how I discovered this: We have a new leadership team at ST and some part of me has believed that this new team was like “heavenly super stars” or a basketball team destined to win the championship and set all types of new world records in the process. And the fact is we do have a powerful new team that will bring the company forward in all kinds of new ways. But this new team is made up of HUMANS not heaven-dwellers. And there is no end to difficult business challenges and the complexities of human dynamics.

There are people in my mediation community who often take an attitude “don’t you know nothing ever really works out?”  And I have had a response inside that goes something like, “that is such a negative attitude….maybe it doesn’t work out for you because you are so negative in the first place.” But I think I understand now what is being pointed to in a statement like “nothing ever really works out” — not that wonderful things don’t happen but that our fantasies of some perfect future are just that – fantasies.

I was sharing all of this with my partner Julie before we were going to sleep the other night, sitting up in bed together on our new bright turquoise silk sheets. And I said “There is no promised land”. And she said to me “The promised land is right here.” And at that moment, our eyes met and the space of the room opened up, and it felt like we were melting into eternity. The edges of Julie’s body started dissolving into the space of the room and she looked like a deity to me, sitting on a bed of turquoise silk with pink and gold curtains behind her. And I knew she was right about the promised land, that if it exists at all, it is only because it is right here, relaxing into the beauty, brightness and space of the moment.

So now I am asking myself these types of questions: When I build up some vision of a promised land, why am I doing this? What ego need am I trying to have met by this or that fantasy? What is it about the present moment that I just can’t bear such that I need to create a vision of some idealized future? Why do I continue to invest in “there” when there is no “there” there?

I remember listening to Thich Nhat Hanh teach walking meditation. He offered the teaching that with each footstep touching the ground we could say silently to ourselves “I have arrived.” He pointed out how most people are always rushing ahead to some future moment, and he said, let’s look at this logically, the future moment you are rushing to will eventually be your grave. What’s the big hurry?

And what amazes me about the dharma is how endlessly deep it is (I heard Thich Nhat Hanh teach on this almost two decades ago and I thought “arriving in the present moment” was something I understood). I feel humbled (from the root word “humus” or earth) to have a fantasy bubble popped in such an obvious way, and to be returned to the earth, arriving right here in the groundless space of this moment, in the only promised land there is.


A wildness that wishes to be resurrected through you

Love is inviting you in every moment to undress, to remove your clothing and stand naked in this world. But to accept this invitation you must leave the known. You must set aside your hopes and fears, your quest for safety, and your fantasies of awakening and resolution. And allow love to dismantle you. You will never find ground, security, certainty, or surety in the fires of love, but there is something much more majestic being offered. There are billions of unique cells which have assembled to form your one, untamed heart. It is not a resting place you are after but for a wildness to be resurrected through you.