Customer Favorites

Spiritual friendship

What if the leading energy in our lives were to be our heart and our heart’s cry? What if living a “spiritual life” was actually synonymous with living a “heart-centered life”? These are some of the questions I have been asking myself—and the answers have pushed me more and more into prioritizing what I am calling “spiritual friendship.” What is spiritual friendship to me? It is the genuine meeting of two people who are vulnerable and open and truth-telling and available for actual contact and communion at the feeling level.

For the past eight years, I have been working closely with a Hakomi therapist (Hakomi is a type of therapy that works with mindfulness in a body-centered way). One of the principles of Hakomi is that the interpersonal wounds we have experienced in our life (for example, early wounds from childhood in relationship to our parents … sound familiar?) can only be healed in relationship with others. What this means is that interpersonal challenges can’t be healed on the meditation cushion or in solitary retreat.

Wounds from relationship require the context of relationship for healing. This seems pretty obvious, huh? But as someone who has been a meditator now for almost three decades, this was not something that was obvious to me in the early stages of my journey. Somehow I thought I was going to open completely to the universe and all of its mystery without ever needing to relate closely and vulnerably with others.

What I am actually finding is that connecting with other people in a heart-centered way is not just about healing. It is actually the most rewarding and fulfilling part of my life. Period. There is something about being fully received by another person and fully receiving another person, without the need for any part to be edited or left out, that feels to me like the giving and receiving of the greatest soul nourishment that there is.

blossom

Recently, I found myself in a room alone with a renowned scientist who specializes in the field of perception. We were at a conference and were sitting with each other in a room that had been set aside for presenters at the event. Finding ourselves alone in the room together, we both seemed a bit awkward at first. What would we talk about? I decided to bring up the topic of uncertainty as I knew that he taught quite a bit about uncertainty in the context of perception (for example, how we never know if what we are perceiving is the same as what someone else is perceiving, even when we are looking at the same thing).

Right at the beginning of what I feared would be an awkward conversation, this scientist said to me, “When you really start investigating how uncertain everything is, it’s enough to make you feel totally insane. There is only one thing that has kept me even the least bit sane, and that is loving relationships.” When he said this, I leaned over and said, “Would it be okay if I kissed you now?” He looked quite shocked. I gave him a big kiss on the cheek and said, “I never thought I would hear a scientist say such a thing. I have come to the same conclusion, but I thought that was just because I was some kind of a mushy-mush person.”

That moment in the green room was a moment for me of spiritual friendship, a moment of genuine connection where the heart breaks through any awkwardness or fear or holding back. I am finding those moments occurring more and more in my life, often in unexpected ways, and it is those types of moments that I hope will fill the Wake Up Festival from start to finish. We need each other so much. We need each other’s acceptance and reflection. We need each other’s unhurried presence. We need our love to break through. We need “community” in the sense of knowing that we are connected to others who are on a similar journey, where the vulnerability and tenderness of our hearts are leading the way.

The Wake Up Festival 2013!

Dear friends, I want to invite all of you to come spend a week with us in the gorgeous Rocky Mountains this summer where we will create a holding environment of the most radical love and healing together. I’d love to see you this summer and to spend this precious time with you and our dear friends Adyashanti, Tara Brach, Jack Kornfield, Snatam Kaur, David Whyte, Anne Lamott, Jeff Foster, Shiva Rea, Reggie Ray – and many others.

Learn more about The Wake Up Festival 2013

The world’s spiritual traditions agree with the poets, artists, and healers: we can live with a heart that is fully open to the singular beauty of each moment. The Wake Up Festival is your opportunity to join more than 30 authors and teachers in community with hundreds of fellow travelers on the path to celebrate the heart’s unfolding—and the very real possibility of spiritual awakening in the here and now.

When we touch a limitless sense of being – vast, open, undivided – we paradoxically become more uniquely ourselves, more empowered and on fire to bring forward our unique gifts. We wake up to our courage, to our authenticity, and to claiming our own value in the world. The Wake Up Festival explores this awakening from a wide range of different perspectives, and is an event like no other. Our focus is on opening our hearts to an all-encompassing embrace and doing so in a supportive retreat-like environment.

Learn more about The Wake Up Festival 2013

What is awakening? The Wake Up Festival presenters res...

Last August, in the beautiful Rocky Mountains, over 800 people gathered together to explore the nature of spiritual awakening, and the mysteries of opening the human heart. Shot on location during our first annual Wake Up Festival, the following video features 16 of our dear presenters and collaborators sharing what awakening means to them.

We invite you to join in the dialogue, as we have come to see that there are seven billion unique perspectives and doorways into awakening – one for each human soul. So, please, let us hear your voice, and your heart. What is spiritual awakening for you?

Love under the surface

One of the things I have been starting to notice is the “secret language of love” that can be felt under the surface of what is happening. I am noticing it with friends, with Sounds True authors, and with co-workers and with all kinds of people. I am calling it “secret” because it is not spoken about or acknowledged; I find myself noticing the feelings of love but not voicing them for fear that I will seem inappropriate or out of context or that there is no basis for me to be having the types of feelings that I am having, so better to just keep it to myself.

I can give a concrete example: Recently, I traveled with two co-workers to California to video record a lecture series. We met at the airport and spent 5 days basically glued together working on this project. One person in our group is a producer who has worked at ST for 13 years. The other is an audio-video technician who has worked at the company for 10+ years (interestingly, before this trip together, I knew both of these people had worked at ST for quite some time, but it was all a blur to me. I only found out their actual longevity at the company during this trip). And during this trip, we all found out a lot about each other, about each other’s personal lives and families and early upbringing. The curious thing to me was at the end of 5 days I felt so connected and bonded with these two men who work at Sounds True. Previously, I had been in short conversations with both of these people, in the hallways, in meetings, at Sounds True parties.  But we had never spent any real time together, let alone three meals a day for 5 days, traveling and working as a closely-knit team.

The experience made me reflect on what it must be like for people who play on sports teams together or even people in the armed forces or other groups of people who work closely with each other in intense, collaborative settings. I felt in my core how “tribal” I am by nature, how instinctively I become part of a group or pod. And most importantly, the huge amount of love that is potentially present right below the surface between me and other people if I am willing to take some time away from the “task orientation” that I usually bring to work and instead simply listen and tune to what could be called “the relational field.”

Holder_Timeless_Change

And what I am finding is that whether it is through dreams (night dreams as well as day dreams) or spontaneous love eruptions that I feel in my being, there is so much love under the surface in so many of my interactions with other people, interactions which on the surface appear fairly tame and functionally-oriented. Underneath, there is a wild, upwelling of heart. It feels risky to say so, but how strange that what so many of us value the most – love—has become something that needs to be whispered or only voiced in socially appropriate ways. I want to sing about it from the rooftops. But since I can’t sing, I am writing this blog post instead.

Why does the love we feel under the surface for so many different kinds of people need to be kept secret and not voiced?  Because we are afraid that someone will think we are being sexually inappropriate or crossing a boundary? What if we could make our sexual boundaries so clear and reliable and trust-worthy that our voicing of the love we feel would not be misunderstood or misconstrued, but instead simply received as the heart’s outpouring of the recognition of how our souls are touching and co-creating. That is the type of wild love I wish to voice.

Buzz on, buzz off

While visiting a friend in Denver last summer, I was amazed to see in her front garden hundreds of honey bees dancing in the perfect dusk light. Luckily, I had my awesome new high-tech pro digital SLR camera with me.

“Ha!” I thought, “Finally a chance to use this baby’s rapid-fire, super auto-focus, image-optimizing, mega-sensor, anti-shake, bla-bla BADass-ness!”

Among photographers, the sure sign of an amateur is a behavior called “chimping”—bobbing your head obsessively from viewfinder to LCD screen to see if you got the shot. Well, I was chimpin’ like a National Geographic fanboy (oh wait, I AM a NatGeo fanboy). Anyway, half an hour and about 200 shots later, I did not have the perfect apiary masterwork. I had a camera full of blurry and out-of-frame bugs.

When I visited my friend again the next week, all the bees were gone, except for a few late summer stragglers. And it was gloomy overcast. And all I had in my bag this time was an old film camera—the kind that you have to focus and crank by hand and then apply “percussive maintenance” (i.e., smack hard) just to get the light meter working.

And there were exactly three shots left on the roll.

“Forget it,” I thought, “nature photography is for wussies.”

But the next thing I knew, the ancient Nikon was in my hand.

clickity click click!

Cut to one month later. I’m standing at the drugstore photo counter, and in ye olde-school stack of 4-by-6’s (remember “prints?”), this appeared:

Andrew Young Photography

If you’re not impressed, okay fine. But I was. Not by any proof of my artistic prowess, but by what I learned.

Am I about to wax scholastic about master street photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson’s “decisive moment?” Or reflect on the Tibetan teacher Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche’s love for miksang, photography as dharma art? Nope, though both luminaries came to mind. What did in fact leave an impression were these thoughts:

1. When I realize that each frame in my camera—or day in my life—is precious, I get MUCH more out of each one.

2. All those restless hours of meditation practice and shoeboxfuls of crappy contact sheets may have led to a mastery that shows up, when it matters, as effortless flow.

3. Between the two poles that I call “intense concentration” and “effortless awareness” lies the vast majority of my life’s geography, and that I might want to enjoy the scenery regardless of the mode I’m in.

4. I am SO done with insect photography. No, really. Bugs are disgusting.

Okay, your turn. Was there a time when your years of practice paid off, effortlessly and unexpectedly? If so, do post a comment, I’d love to hear about it.

Meet a Coauthor of . . . Freedom for All of Us

The Author

Alexandre Jollien is a philosopher and writer who spent 17 years in a home for the physically disabled. His books include In Praise of Weakness. He lives in Switzerland. For more, visit alexandre-jollien.ch.

Freedom for All of Us Cover

The Book

With their acclaimed book In Search of Wisdom, three gifted friends—a monk, a philosopher, and a psychiatrist—shed light on our universal quest for meaning, purpose, and understanding. Now, in this new in-depth offering, they invite us to tend to the garden of our true nature: freedom.

Filled with unexpected insights and specific strategies, Freedom for All of Us presents an inspiring guide for breaking free of the unconscious walls that confine us.

 

Translated from the original responses in French.

What is one unexpected thing or habit that inspires your writing practice? Is there a

playlist or album you listen to?

Sils Maria

Meditation really opens me up to write. Walking too. Above is a photo of me walking in Sils Maria, Switzerland, where Friedrich Nietzsche lived at one time. However, in my eyes, writing is never systematic [or methodical]. It’s not a [mere] technique. A writer has to render themself available to messages that come—in some sense—from beyond. Conversations with friends, explorations into the mundane, family life, the readings of the great thinkers, the practice of Zazen … all these things feed my desire to pick up my pen again. I write, or rather I dictate my writings, in silence. However, sometimes I do enjoy techno music, which keeps me going and wards off anything that could poison an idea I have; “the sad passions” as the philosopher, Baruch Spinoza, called them.

Send us a photo of you and your pet (and let us know if your pet had any role in helping you write your book)!

Grisette

We have a little hamster at home, Grisette, who is our children’s little darling. For me, he embodies peace and a certain serenity. When I look at him, I see a being that isn’t deep in denial and agitated. [Although] sometimes, when he frolics on his hamster wheel, I have the impression that he’s reminding me that my mind, too, can often run in [unnecessary] circles …

 

 

 

If there is a book that started your spiritual journey, what was it? How old were you, and

how did you discover it? How would you describe its impact?

When I was a child, I didn’t enjoy reading and I thought that wisdom was reserved for the elite. I considered culture to be so far removed from everyday problems that I avoided it completely. One day, I accompanied a friend into a bookstore. While I was waiting for her, I flipped through pages from books by Plato and Aristotle. The book [that made an impact] was L’étonnement philosophique [“Philosophic Wonder”] by Jeanne Hersch, which traces the history of Western thought. In my adolescence, that book gave me a great foundation, a benchmark, a marker, a starting point. It’s an admirable book. Afterwards, I really fell into reading the greats, like Plato, Spinoza, Nietzsche, Epictetus, all of which still inspire me today. I was 14 years old then, and reading had changed my life.

Below are portraits [of some of my favorite philosophers and spiritual teachers] painted by my son, Augustin.

portraits

 

 

 

Learn More

Sounds True | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Bookshop | IndieBound

 

>
Copy link
Powered by Social Snap