Alcohol is an important part of life for so many people.  Courtney E. Martin wrote a brilliant and honest post about it in the online magazine On Being.   Having worked with people whose lives have been devastated by alcohol and drugs, the article –  real as it is – was heartbreaking. There are better ways to:

Bhaktifest 2013

Bhaktifest 2013

calm your mind,
“suspend the self,”
experience flow and
find community.

Better ways than using alcohol.

It’s not spirits you’re looking for, it’s Spirit.  It’s not disappearing you’re looking for, it’s transformation.  Transcendance without detachment, presence without attachment, belonging – unguarded, unpolished, raw, wild, and sweet.

There are better ways to feel connected…to the eternal, to one another, to the center around which all the flying pieces of your self revolve. To the place where heaven and earth come together – in you.  To a brief moment that expands into a lifetime, and then expands ever further than that.

It’s no secret that we don’t drink alcohol.  Not at all.  The last time I can remember us having a drink was the glass of champagne, on our wedding day, 25 years ago.  And we also don’t use drugs.  I stopped smoking pot and using hallucinogens when I was 16.  Didn’t like pot.  My relationship with hallucinogens was complicated.  Let’s just say I respected them, but I found other, safer, ways in.  Charles never used drugs.  He did get drunk once – when he was about 6 years old and broke into the eggnog that his grandmother was cooking in the snow.  Never did that again.

pregnancyThe number one reason we don’t drink or use drugs is because we want to be present.

We want to be present to Life.  To experience the richness, passion, and messy vibrance of Life.  We want to be present with each other, for each other, with other people, and with ourselves.  On behalf of ourselves – because when you aren’t present, you can’t feel fully.  You can’t sense the nuances of safety and danger in the environment.  You can’t avoid risks because you’re not there to notice them.  You can’t love fully, because you’re not fully here.

Alcohol doesn’t pierce the veil.  It makes it fluffy. An artificial lift that evaporates when you come down.  And have to face all the stuff you were avoiding.  The anxiety. The conflict.

I’m not saying being present is easy.  Feelings don’t always tickle.  Who doesn’t want to make a quick escape now and then?  But we hold to checking in rather than checking out. We want to know how we feel – so we can adjust our course when we’ve wandered into territory that doesn’t feel good.  And it doesn’t matter whether that territory is geographical or social or mental or financial or whatever.  We can adjust our course.  But first we’ve got to be present.  You’ve got to be present to make a choice.

And when it’s our own thinking that’s causing us pain, like dwelling on hurts of the past or worries about the future, being present is like a deep breath that finally gets some oxygen to our starving cells.  Being present, in this moment. Here and now.  Here.  And now.  That’s where the solution lies.

Charles and I want to be together.  And we’ve got to be present, to both be present, to be together.  We want to show our daughter, to model for her, that you can live life awake.  Head on, full force.  Without deadening or numbing yourself to any of it.  The beauty and the sorrow. You can even find the tender beauty inside the sorrow.

How do we cope with the stuff that overwhelms or hurts us from our human perspective?

When the pain is truly too great, we check in deeper. To the source of who we are, the pure energy of Life.  That’s our ultimate reality.  The safe. The timeless. Soul that lives within. I am that I am.  We stay present here and now and invite the presence of our Divine self too.  The expanded self.  The one that sees the big picture.  The part of us that is present in everything.  The part of ourselves that is not dictated or determined by circumstances.

Kai Chi Do at Bhaktifest

Kai Chi Do at Bhaktifest

And by the way, we think drinking or using drugs when you call yourself a spiritual teacher is just hypocrisy.  We don’t love those teachers any less, but we can’t trust them.  I love Chogyam Trungpa, but his teachings are a little more hollow, now that I know he died (at the age of 48) from complications of alcoholism.

Yes, we have friends and family who drink alcohol or use drugs.  Some of them say they just like the taste.  Some say it helps them deal with stress. Some say it’s entertainment.  Well, there are lots of things that taste good without being toxic.  And suppressing boredom with substances is just a waste of nature’s push towards creativity.  Make the most of it!  As far as stress management goes, if you need to use drink or drugs to relax, you’ve got a bigger problem than you think you do.  And besides that, there are better ways to find altered states of consciousness.  Ways that fill you with appreciation and awe, ways that bring you more Life, more energy, more insight and inspiration. And keep you present.  Here and now. Connected with those you love and those who love you. With the soul of the Universe.  With your self.  Ways that aren’t so thin.


Kai Chi Do Instructor Francine Brown has been leading a group of teenagers in a series of Kai Chi Do classes.  I think Kai Chi Do gives them the experience of getting above some very tough circumstances and taking their power back, deciding for themselves how they want to feel.  Kai Chi Do gives them a tool to find their center.  Here’s what Francine said:

3rd Class with the teens:
I woke up with love and purpose in my heart Wednesday morning, all the fears from the week before had dropped away. As I come back each week I learn how important it is to live in integrity and show up and do what you are called to do. I may not know their names but I know their faces, I know their struggles, and I help them find their smiles and just let go, even if for just a moment. For some a moment of peace is enough to keep them going and rejuvenating their faith, reminding them they are not what they are going through and it too shall pass.

An added surprise at this week’s class there were two little girls about age 3-4 who where at the picnic tables with their mom. As soon as we started they were at the edge of the circle doing the movements with us. Even after the mom took them over to the play ground the 4yr old came back over to the edge and was rocking her chi! I ask what age is too young for this work!? Can you imagine generations growing up with Kai Chi Do in their life from the start?

Also, after class I had one of the kids come up and ask for my playlist, (ego boost galore, what a wonderful compliment. For as I have expressed before, creating the playlists are my most challenging and rewarding part of this work) That being said, the more I do it the easier it has become.

At the end of this circle I was able to go around the circle and have each of them share their message, that wanted to , they were messages of: Never give up hope, may everyone be blessed, sleep, keep your head up, everyone is beautiful…

I love being a vessel to share this work, thank you Divine for using me.


The Value of Upset - Dancing on the VolcanoHow can you use a conflict or upset as something that will benefit your own healing process?  Use the strength of your emotion to fuel change.  You can feel the power in your emotion.   Use that power for good.

Everything that we’re projecting as far as the way people are, the way situations are, is based on our previous experiences and the conclusions we’ve drawn about how life is. It’s all based on how it’s been, how it was before.  We really never get the opportunity to fully appreciate and experience how it is.

Your beliefs influence your experiences.  Your beliefs create expectations.  You brought your beliefs into your upset or conflict.  They may even have contributed to the upset.   They influence how you behave. They influence how you interpret the behavior of others.  They define the limits of what you believe is possible.

But in the present moment, you get to choose. Knowing what you don’t want gives you the chance to decide what you want, to declare it clearly – to yell it at the Universe if you have to.  I’ve had this experience in the past and now I know, I don’t want that! I want this instead. I want this!

You know you’re stuck in the past when your beliefs are interfering with what you want and desire. Your beliefs are so very real to you.  But even when you’ve formed beliefs that take you out of alignment with what you want, even when your past experiences weren’t what you hoped for, even when you wander, you can still find your way home – you can still find your way into a clean new perspective in the present moment. You have beliefs – They don’t have you.

No matter how bad the upset, you can find a thought that will move you in the direction of what you want – move you in the direction of the life you hope for.  No matter how bad the upset you can find a meaning that serves you.

Quiet your mind for a moment.  Withdraw your attention from how things are. And imagine how you want them to be.

Create a belief that is in alignment with that vision.

A belief is just a thought that feels true to you.  Reach for a thought that feels true to you and is ALSO in alignment with what you want.  A thought that moves you forward instead of taking you back.  A thought that feels better, that gives you relief, that allows you to take a deep breath.  A NEW THOUGHT.

Finding a new set of beliefs is not the same as being hopeful.  It’s not making wishes and hoping they’ll come true.

Finding a new belief is a statement of your truth – without contradiction, without doubt, without justification.  Choose it wisely.  Invest your energy in beliefs that open new possibilities.

You decide.  No one else.  You decide your worth.  No one else, no force outside you, holds that power. Your beliefs are your declaration to the Universe.  Your thoughts, your beliefs, define your intentions.

Take action. But bring your beliefs into alignment with your goals first.  Then you take action from a place of inspiration, not desperation.

The value of upset is twofold – That upset is generating pure raw emotional power and you’ve also got absolute clarity about what you want.  The bigger the upset, the bigger the clarity and the more intense the emotion!  You decide how you want to use that power.  You can feed old beliefs, the same beliefs that brought you here.  Or you can use that power to fuel your new creation.

Special thanks to by Angela Marie  for her “Dancing on the Volcano” illustration on Flickr.
Shared under Creative Commons BY-ND.



Wedding Ceremony for Reconnection with the Soul

Wedding Ceremony For Reconnection with the Soul

The Healing community of Kai Chi Do extends a positive warm welcome to all who have come to witness this sacred union between the Psyche and the Soul.

Please Silence your cell phones and pagers during the wedding process.

Call For the Soul
On this 6th Day of March 2012. “(Your Name) please bring your precious Soul to the Altar of Divine Union.”

Welcome, family and friends to the sacred Marital Ceremony of the Soul and the Psyche. This is a very auspicious moment in time where the vibrant and eternal soul embraces the psyche, and the Spirit and the Mind vow to live as One. The marital ceremony is a special celebration where the illusion of separateness dissolves into the truth of Oneness.

This is a very special time for the coming together of our Being.  I would like to extend a warm positive intention for long life, health and good fortune to all of the members of this sacred union.  May you all live long and experience endless moments of true joy and happiness.

It is a great responsibility to give and receive a vow of eternal love and a life-long commitment to live in a unified way. The Four Agreements for Intimate Relationships is a guide and model for creating balance and harmony within the sacred union of Soul and Psyche.  This is a loving way to establish balance in your relationship with the world.

The Four Agreements
The first agreement is that The Relationship Comes First, which means that we value this union and assure it is nurtured before we pursue other ambitions.  We are willing to listen to the needs and wants of both Soul and Psyche, Spirit and Mind.  The goal of this first agreement is to reconcile any disharmony between Psyche and Soul, to find answers and balance in the middle road, where all aspects of our being are considered when making vital life decisions.  We begin the First Agreement by sitting quietly and listening to the still quiet messenger.

The second agreement is that Nothing comes between us, which means that a clear boundary is set with the attitudes, beliefs and desires of other people. The goal of this agreement is to create a clean and safe sanctuary where life decisions can be made.  Support and counsel is therefore sought from both the Psyche and the Soul, to keep the sacred bond harmonized.

The third agreement is that Everything we have, we have Together, which means that we take complete ownership our physical, mental emotional and spiritual natures.  We take ownership for our experiences.  The goal of this agreement is to embrace all aspects of our Self, both the Divine and the human natures, without sacrificing  either Soul or Psyche, without rejecting any aspect of ourselves.

The fourth and final agreement is that Leaving is not an option.  As a unified and blended being we have a commitment to stay present physically and emotionally in this sacred relationship. The goal of this agreement is to stay connected from a place of love and compassion through the endless movements of time.

Based on these four Agreements for Intimate Relationships, (Your Name) what is your declaration to your Soul?

Exchange of Vows
Eternal and Infinite Spirit, we are gathered here today to join this Psyche and this Soul in a sacred bond of marriage.
(Your Name) are you willing to open your mind and heart in a moment of liberation and truth?
(Answer, “I DO”).

Right of Passage
Please repeat after me: On this 6th day of March, I (Your Name) now completely accept that I am willing to embrace the essence of my being in a sacred union throughout all time, space and dimension.

Please connect with your heart.
“By virtue of the authority vested in me under the laws of the Universe I now pronounce you a unified being”.
(Your Name) “You may now embrace your Truth.”

Many Blessings.

Twin Buddhas photo © Unclesam –


Camera phone photo, Fire Meditation 12/18/10

“I talk to my inner lover, and I say, why such rush?
We sense that there is some sort of spirit that loves
birds and animals and the ants–
perhaps the same one who gave a radiance to you
in your mother’s womb.
Is it logical you would be walking around entirely orphaned now?
The truth is you turned away yourself,
and decided to go into the dark alone.

Now you are tangled up in others, and have forgotten
what you once knew,
and that’s why everything you do has some weird sense of failure in it.

— Kabir (1440-1518)

Once you have awareness, you can make decisions that take your life in a new direction.  You can begin to give to yourself what you have longed for.

The past can haunt us, if we let it.  Events that happened.  Things said.  Beliefs we took on or formed in the moment of an upset.  Whose voice is that?  Is it useful?

If you’re not happy along the way, then how did you succeed?

You’ve been in a certain pattern and even though you may have an understanding that you want things to be different, you haven’t really come to a conclusion about how to have things be different in a way that is satisfying.  You keep going back to the need to bring things to another level of satisfaction. You have understanding but you haven’t decided to do it differently.  And then deciding HOW to do things differently.

There’s a part of us that is constantly giving us information about what action to take.  The question is whether we are fighting with that aspect of ourselves, that’s trying to provide us with feedback about the situation or circumstance that we find ourselves in, or whether we are listening and allowing that feeling that’s trying to get across a message, to communicate to us in a way that is effective.