Evolution isn’t just possible, it’s mandatory

When we make a New Year’s resolution, we are asking ourselves to evolve. Sometimes the agents driving this desire for change are shame, guilt, and remorse. Although understandable, these change drivers are seldom effective, and are usually counter-productive.

Sometimes we wish to be more desirable as a sexual partner, so we seek to improve ourselves physically. Sometimes we wish to shed “bad” habits, to lessen self-suffering, to become better people. These wishes are not in and of themselves wrong, they are usually motivated by the ego, childishly wishing for some instant change of identity, often emulating a media figure with a manufactured image. When we inevitably fall short, we feel worse, and believe ourselves (erroneously) incapable of evolution. We give up.

Suppose our goal is to have a meditation practice. We have heard others praise the virtues of consistent meditation. We may get the idea in our heads that we already know how meditation is done, so we sit down on a hard mat, or on the floor itself, back unsupported, and try to imitate a lotus posture. We close our eyes and try to think deep “spiritual” thoughts. We can’t keep it up long, before irreverent and worldly concerns interrupt our reverie with loud and relentless chatter. We have failed. We have once again proven ourselves beyond redemption. This meditation idea is definitely not for us. Shame, guilt, and remorse have won again.

If we keep seeking, we may eventually be fortunate enough to discover that meditation techniques are not magic, they are natural and easy, when entered into with a sincere and humble spirit. All we need to admit is that we don’t know. We become teachable. Then a sufficient teacher will appear.

Repetition of the mantra helps you disconnect from the thoughts filling your mind so that perhaps you may slip into the gap between thoughts. The mantra is a tool to support your meditation practice. Mantras can be viewed as ancient power words with subtle intentions that help us connect to spirit, the source of everything in the universe.

Deepak Chopra


The Gentle art of Consistency

Try again, and again, and again

When we learned meditation, our teacher said something like: "There is only one thing about this practice that is non-negotiable. Twenty minutes, twice a day, get to the chair. Whatever happens, happens for good." 

In that moment, our teachers were stressing that we are not encouraged to judge the quality of our meditations. The emphasis was to be taken off of achievement. We were to simply sit with the intention to effortlessly repeat the mantra.

Inevitably though, a student will forget these simple instructions and try to complicate things. This is when repeated interaction with one's teacher is of most use. This can be in a group setting, at a Vedic knowledge meeting, or one-on-one meeting with the teacher, even by telephone or skype. It is recommended to check in with others that meditate and compare notes.

As a teacher of Vedic meditation, I have made a commitment to each of my students to be available for life. They can call at any time, and I will address their questions or concerns. It is my pleasure and my dharma to do so.

If you have learned to meditate and feel that you need a restart, don't feel ashamed. Just call, and your teacher will give you some gentle but insistent instruction on how to get going again. We all fall short at times; we would hardly be human if we didn't. When this happens we simply try again.

We refer to meditation as a practice, not a perfect.

“It's not what we do once in a while that shapes our lives. It's what we do consistently.” 
― Anthony Robbins

Self Forgiveness

Southwest view of the Siskiyou Mountains, Rogue Valley, Southern Oregon.

Southwest view of the Siskiyou Mountains, Rogue Valley, Southern Oregon.

Why I took four months off

I recently made the non-decision to abandon my duties as a blogger and newsletter writer. This can happen to us humans. I wanted to offer my readers real and tangible help and inspiration in the wake of a divisive and polarizing political election. I chose to let my ego hijack a worthy endeavor instead of reaching out to my friends and students. The reasons are these: perfectionism and procrastination.

The illusion of perfection is seductive and pervasive. This is the slippery slope upon which the perfect becomes the enemy of the good. This is the reason some of us abandon our creative goals and duties and engage in unhealthy wallowing and self-recrimination.

If I don't acknowledge fully that a situation exists, I get the dubious benefit of stasis. I enter into the ever-repeating known, putting off even the slightest progress toward a desired outcome. If I try, I might fail. What does this say about me? Why do I waste time justifying my own behavior?

The Apology
Here it is. I really do appreciate anyone who takes the time to read these newsletters. It is my commitment going forward to knock them out on a regular basis. I fell off the horse. Now I am riding again. I extend my most sincere apologies and pledge to make amends by taking corrective action.

When we fall short, as humans do, we try again. The only sins we are guilty of are lack of forgiveness and the punishment of inertia.

“Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life, and it is the main obstacle between you and a shitty first draft. I think perfectionism is based on the obsessive belief that if you run carefully enough, hitting each stepping-stone just right, you won't have to die. The truth is that you will die anyway and that a lot of people who aren't even looking at their feet are going to do a whole lot better than you, and have a lot more fun while they're doing it.” 
― Anne LamottBird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life

The Mosaic House, Venice, California

The Mosaic House, Venice, California