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The Boulder Floods

Thank you so much to all of you who have written in (and otherwise sent) your thoughts, prayers, and love to us here at Sounds True, and to all our friends throughout Colorado during this very difficult time. It has been a very trying week for all of us and many here have lost their homes, businesses, towns, and even lives. Like any tragedy, though, it has brought individuals and the community together in new ways, and shown us what is truly important at the end of the day.

Fortunately, the sun was out all day yesterday, and today is also looking sunny and dry. We are praying that the worst is behind. While some of the roads near Sounds True have been damaged quite extensively, we were able to re-open yesterday, and were grateful that most of our employees are doing okay. We are for the most part safe, but many of us are in touch with others who are not faring so well – friends who have lost their homes, have been air vac’d out by the National Guard, cannot find loved ones, and are experiencing great fear and despair. Many dozens are still unaccounted for in Boulder.

Here are some photos to give you a visual sense of how the flood is impacting local communities.

And here is some video footage of Longmont, a town just next to Boulder where a number of our employees live.

Finally, a rather shocking amateur video of the flood as it moves through Boulder Canyon.

If you’re interested in helping via making a donation, information may be found here.

Thank you again for thinking of us and we join you in sending our thoughts, love, and prayers to our brothers and sisters throughout the state as we move through this very challenging time.

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The light within the darkness

In speaking with a friend this morning, I was reminded of the great bias in our culture toward the light and away from the darkness. When we meet with a friend who is depressed, introverted, shut down, or otherwise not beaming and joyful, we become quite convinced, quite quickly, that something is wrong. We scramble to put them back together, to remind them of all the gifts in their life, to let them know everything will be better soon. Of course this is natural. But much of this also arises out of our own discomfort and anxiety around the darkness, and all that is unresolved within us. Perhaps as little ones it was not safe to feel these feelings, not to mention express them.

It is possible the kindest thing we can offer to our precious friend is to sit in the darkness with them, so that they know that we are fully here with them; we do not need to remove them from the darkness, we do not need them to “heal,” “transform,” be happy or awaken – we will love them as they are. We resist the temptation to project our unlived life upon them.

Love is the totality, it is whole, it is raging and alive in the darkness, shining brightly in its own way. Within this darkness, this sadness, this grief, this existential aloneness is something very real, breaking through the dream of partiality. There is a richness here, something is happening, but what that is does not support conventional egoic process; nor does it support our cultural fantasy of a life of invulnerability. Here, everything is alive, everything is path, everything is God. God is not only the joy and sweetness, but comes at times as Kali to reorder your world. We can hold hands with our friend and look at Kali together and finally see what she has to say.

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Confessions of an “Aha Moment” Junkie

Perhaps the most priceless moments of our lives are when we get the big “aha!”—when we hear for the first time a radical truth that allows us to experience and be in the world in a completely new and freer way. For me, it’s the ultimate high.

Halfway through my second decade at Sounds True, I’ve listened to hundreds of hours of teachings, and with each season’s offerings I am always excited about the next “aha” that might be around the corner. Here are a few of my favorites from over the years:

1. The universe is big, and I am old.

Scientists estimate that our universe includes a trillion galaxies. (That’s 1,000,000,000,000 if you’re into zeroes.) Depending on which way you look at the night sky, the light reaching your eyes may have been traveling for millions of years … completing a journey that began long before any of our opposable-thumb-blessed ancestors decided to trade the treetops for caves. Even more astounding is the fact that the cosmic dust in the form of the “you” perceiving that light is even older—as ancient as the universe itself, or an estimated 20 billion years old. Remember that the next time you get one of those “over the hill” birthday cards. (I encountered these “aha” moments while listening to Brian Swimme’s classic audio program Canticle to the Cosmos.)

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2. I can change my mind…and my brain.

Many Sounds True programs talk about our beautiful and mysterious brains, from how much we’ve learned in the past twenty-plus years to how little we may really understand about this amazing organ. I’ve lost track of the “aha” moments I’ve enjoyed listening to teachers like Dr. Rick Hanson, whose practice of “taking in the good” can literally rewire our neural pathways to help us experience more joy and less stress — or to Dr. Kelly McGonigal, with her empowering wisdom on making changes in alignment with our values — or Jon Kabat-Zinn, whose mindfulness meditations for pain relief have helped me manage migraine headaches.

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3. The heart knows best and we’re all in this together. For me, the teachings of Jack Kornfield are like rich nutrients and cool, clean water for the soil of the garden of the heart. Although we might think of “aha” moments as a mental phenomenon, the heart can certainly have its share of “aha” moments that leave one utterly speechless. Jack’s program The Jewel of Liberation has many such moments, reminding us of our fundamental interconnection and our boundless capacity for love, wisdom, and compassion.

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Maybe the essence of spiritual awakening is the “aha” moment—or whatever it is that we experience that finally and utterly shifts our perspective beyond any individual limits once and for all. Do you have any memorable “aha” moments you’d like to share? I’d love to hear about them!

Daniel Pinchbeck: The Many Angles of 2012

Tami Simon interviews journalist Daniel Pinchbeck, the author of 2012: The Return of Quetzalcoatl, in an exploration of the various views on the meaning of 2012 and examine their validity. By doing so we dive into the broad array of different perspectives, held across the world, on the importance of this quickly approaching date. (49 minutes)

Financial Independence—A Redefinition

Tami Simon speaks with Vicki Robin, coauthor of the national bestseller Your Money or Your Life. Called the prophet of “consumption downsizers” by the New York Times, Vicki has lectured worldwide on achieving financial independence. Vicki discusses how spending limits relate to freedom, what constitutes genuine fulfillment, and what financial independence really means. Visit www.yourmoneyoryourlife.info. (60 minutes)

Mark Thornton: Meditation at Work

Tami Simon speaks to Mark Thornton. Mark has over 20 years of experience in meditation, and has become one of the world’s leading executive meditation coaches, specializing in finding the best techniques for busy people. He’s the author of the Sounds True audio learning program and the book Meditation in a New York Minute. Mark discusses his personal journey from being an investment banker to being a meditation coach, and the ways that he helps his clients find both a sense of purpose and a sense of meaningful connection with the people that matter most to them. Mark also offers several practices to create calm even in the midst of the chaos of our busy lives. (54 minutes)

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