Effortless Meditation Outdoors

Meditating outdoors (when feasible) can bring an effortlessness to the process for some of us. Technique: For 5 to 10 minutes (or more) let your mind focus on the FEELING of the sun on your body, the sounds of nature around you, the fragrances. Feel the air around your skin. Feel the air entering your nostrils and lungs. Let go of effort and feel.
Chances are you will feel more centered and refreshed when you open your eyes. Sometimes answers will come to things you were previously over-thinking.


Image of Ganesha in yoga represents the force in the universe that removes obstacles and transforms our ego and pride back into love.

Did your parents teach you about how to be successful in a committed relationship? Did they demonstrate the tools in their own life? You may be one of the lucky ones, but for most of us the answer to these questions is probably a resounding, “no.”

It is my experience that we humans need all the help we can get on our journey into marriage, committed relationships, and deep human connections.

When we allow ourselves to love fully, or fall in love, our hearts are so wide open and vulnerable that if we don’t set our intention to see the “truth” behind our actions we can easily begin to blame our partner for our pain and discomfort.

Our unconscious patterns are sneaky, and before we know it our partner can be a catalyst for us, and trigger our unconscious wounds. Put another way: they help reveal our “shadow” side to us.

My Hakomi therapist friend said to me, “If we didn’t have the wound in the first place, it could not be triggered by our significant others!”

Dr. Robert Augustus Masters says it this way, in his audio program, Knowing Your Shadow.

What I mean by our “shadow” is whatever in us we are disconnected from or out of touch with, whatever we have disowned in ourselves, whatever we have not illuminated or will not illuminate in ourselves, whatever in us we are keeping out of sight.

So our shadow is that zone of us which houses what we have not faced or can’t/ won’t face about ourselves. To the extent that our conditioning (especially that originating in our childhood) is allowed to run us, it is our shadow. Or put another way, to the extent that our conditioning is kept in the dark, it is our shadow.

If we are to truly evolve, we need to know our shadow, and know it very well; if we don’t, our shadow will direct our lives on every level.

In the yoga practices we have many techniques to bring ourselves back to love, to the moment, and to truth by focusing on our bodies and breath as a focal point of meditation.

We also use mantras to focus our minds and set our intentions. A mantra is a sacred utterance, numinous sound, or a syllable, word, phonemes, or group of words believed by some to have psychological and spiritual power. Mantra may or may not be syntactic nor have literal meaning; the spiritual value of mantra comes when it is audible, visible or present in thought.

The Sanskrit word mantra- (m.; also n. mantram) consists of the root man- “to think” (also in manas “mind”) and the suffix -tra, designating tools or instruments, hence a literal translation would be “instrument of thought.”

A simple and powerful mantra to invoke the spirit energy of removing obstacles to love is the Ganesha chant.

“Ganesha” is the Hindu deity in a human form, but with the head of an elephant  which represents the power of the Supreme Being that removes obstacles and ensures success in human endeavors. Ganesha is also the destroyer of vanity, selfishness and pride. He is the personification of material universe in all its various magnificent manifestations.

One chant to Ganesha is, “Ganesha Sharanam, Sharanam Ganesha,” which simply means: praises to that force in the universe that can help me remove these obstacles!

I want to BE and experience the love that I am made of, and remember to return to it as much as possible for the rest of my life.

Uh-oh, watch out shadow!

Befriend the Opposite

Befriend the Opposite

Or put in more psychological terms: making the unconscious, conscious.

Or said in more spiritual terms: shining the light on our darkness or shadow side.

So, if we don’t know that we are acting or reacting to circumstances and people in our life out of some unconscious patterning from our past or childhood, how do we then become aware of it?

Here are things that give me a clue that I have gone into an unconscious pattern response:

1. I feel numb and my life energy shuts down
2. My mind seeks to blame when I hurt
3. My partner will tell me or point it out! (not easy, but a quick reminder!)
4. I don’t smile, dance, or listen to music as much
5. My voice sounds irritated
6. I get defensive
7. I get very independent
8. My partner will notice that I am not being my true Self!

What do YOU do when you are hurt or reactive?
Do you see any correlation to what you may have done in response to dysfunctional family patterns?

Bless those that mirror us even though it is so painful!

Dancing on the Edges of my Perfect Imperfections

Dancing on the Edges of my Perfect Imperfections

Dancing on the edges of my perfect imperfections, with each sweeping step I slough off a little more of the dusty, caked on layers of experience from my past to love and see my partner and my self more clearly.

Love brings up all that is in its way to clear the path back to love.

An intimate relationship with our partner, children, or family members is a perfect place to get a good look at the unconscious soot that has covered our hearts and clouded our thinking.

“Dancing on the edges of my perfect imperfections.” It sounds so poetic, doesn’t it? Yet in those brief, chaotic moments of experiencing my judgements, heart closing down, or projection of my fears on my partner, I am far from feeling elegant or Rumi-like.

Love brings up all that is in its way to clear the path back to love.

Where else could I get such a quick and thorough dose of my own medicine?

Our nervous system is hijacked (fight, flight, freeze) when we’re triggered by something deeply unconscious, or mildly or severely traumatic (I recommend books and videos by Dr. Peter Levine PhD http://www.traumahealing.com/somatic-experiencing/peter-levine.html, trauma recovery through Somatic Experiencing). It is like being pulled out to sea in an undertow. We long for the safety of the shoreline, but there we stay thrashing about for what is usually a little while, but may feel like an eternity.

Self awareness is key to coming back to shore. We can feel and sense into part of our body that feels grounded and peaceful – a technique to stay present to what is real and what is happening to us. Attention to the breath is often a wonderful place to anchor ourselves to the moment, but at these times of heightened reactivity our erratic breath may not be the best anchor.

Conscious relationship IS a daring path to enlightenment for some of us. I think it is a warrior’s path to enlightenment – not for the meek or weak-hearted.

I am grateful for all the master teachers out there that put themselves through hell to share tools for working with ourselves (Robert Augustus Masters http://www.RobertMasters.com, Dr. Peter Levine, Lorin Roche, jsut to name a few.)
I am grateful that in this lifetime, I am naturally committed to taking responsiblity for my reactions through deep reflection, meditation, or consulting with friends or therapists.

I will end with a poem by Lorin Roche (http://www.LorinRoche.com)…

“You don’t have to change yourself.
You don’t have to sit still.
You don’t have to sit cross-legged.
You don’t have to make your mind blank.
You don’t have to calm down.”

We are such relational and social creatures-wired to connect with each other. W can experience extreme stress when we perceive  or feel disconnection from those we love, and in our intimate relationships.

My friend who practices Hakomi Therapy and Somatic Experiencing said to me today, “it is a totally normal response to get triggered when someone withdraws their loving attention.”

Please watch this short video experiment by Dr. Edward Tronick…


Do you recognize this feeling when your partner pulls away from or appears to withdraw love or attention?

A friend of mine commented yesterday on a pleasurable pastime of mine – having a glass or two of nice wine at dinner.

She said, “white wine is empty calories. At least red wine has bioflavonoids!” I sat there slightlyblackbasslunch2013 dumbfounded. I knew, without a doubt, I had never even considered this in my choice to drink wine at all, or when I have had to choose between white wine or red wine.

I don’t think I said anything. I knew at that moment that our perceptions were so totally different, and that any further discussion should be left for another time. The topic could get deep.

So tonight on the way home, after I enjoyed a glass of my favorite Organic (no detectable sulfites) Pacific Redwood Syrah at dinner at Rick’s in Lambertville, NJ, I carefully considered my relationship to wine, and food in general. But before I go into my insights, I’ll just give you some background info about me: I am a Libra sun sign. I love things in moderation. I most often see both sides of an issue. I love balance. I rarely, if ever, overdo anything. I enjoy simple pleasures in moderation. I am daring, yet cautious.

If given the choice between ingesting a periodic glass of wine, which to me is pure pleasure in the form of flavor, or thinking about my caloric intake, I would choose the former (in yoga energetics, pleasure is the “right” of chakra two – location is pelvic region of the body). I do like the light “take the edge off” effect wine has on my brain too.

I realized tonight, that for this friend, not having the wine was just as intensely pleasurable for her because she was doing something she perceived was physically and practically beneficial for her body. Her choice was as natural and obvious to her as my choice was to savor my beloved beverage.

Encountering another person’s reality can at first throw us off and often our minds will judge them. But variety is the spice of life! I love when I can honor people’s preferences and perceptions of life, and at the same time, my own.

My large world view is the spice of my life! I am grateful for my open-minded mind.

As I finish this blog, I raise my glass to my mouth and notice the light reflecting on the bottom of the glass. Ummmm, that was a delicious last sip.

Love = YOGA. This intense, loving, new relationship has me waking up with a “Christmas morning” kind of magic I felt as a kid. Fluttery sensations tickle me around my heart area, and the world just seems more friendly. The deep sense of belonging and connection I feel with him spreads out to everything and everyone in my world and beyond. My body feels comforted and cradled like surrendering to the sway of my jungle hammock.

Yet the nudge of fear elbows me unexpectedly from time to time. Those momentary old mind interrogations block the flow of bliss. “Is this for real? How are we doing? Will he pull away? What happens next?” mind asks.

Thankfully, I don’t pay much attention to the content anymore, and I have learned through yoga and meditation practice to let my mind settle down and focus on my body’s sensations. Okay, so let’s feel it Stefani… so there is some edginess of uncertainty (waiting for shoe to drop syndrome)… some restless longing to merge again… some fatigue from the fun-filled nights. Patience. Patience.  I accept it. I feel it. I cultivate a feeling of kindness toward myself for plunging into the unknown waters of profound love. I integrate my experience. I move on.

“It’s all good. Te amo,” he thoughtfully texts, and I once again I bathe in the warm relief of our love connection.

“I will love you a minimum of forever, and take responsibility for whatever appears to get in love’s way,” I tell him before I traveled abroad last week. I have never said that to anyone before. I know that I know it is true, and it is scary! I am all in. No turning back now!

My friend Dori reminded me a few weeks ago that finding balance in a relationship is like balancing an egg on a spoon.

And yes, I agree with him. It is all good. The good of growth.