last month

Does Manifesting Really Work?

You’ve heard of the so-called Law of Attraction. You’ve heard or read about other people “manifesting”. But you’re skeptical.

Does manifesting really work?

As I’ll share with you in this article, the simple answer is “Yes, it really does work”. But to get a better answer, we have to ask a different question: How does manifesting work? And perhaps more importantly, do you have a role to play in manifesting? Can you affect what manifests in your life?

When we understand how manifesting works, we don’t need to be skeptical. Neither do we need to be fearful or superstitious. Instead, we can understand that this is a natural process that is always working – whether we’re aware of it or not.

If we’re unaware of how it is working, we see ourselves as victims in life. We wrongly believe that life is happening to us. And then we are fearful of our circumstances in life. All we can do in that case is hope and scheme for a good future.

But when we truly see how this process is already working in our lives, we cease to see ourselves as victims. When we understand this process, we can begin to choose powerfully in our lives.

In this article I will guide you to discover how manifesting works. I will point you to look for yourself to see how this is true for you. And you will discover how you can begin to consciously make use of this insight.

Manifesting Is Already Happening

The simple and obvious truth is that manifesting is already happening. Every moment in which you are aware, you are witness to manifestation.

Anything we can perceive or conceive is a manifestation. The screen you are looking at, this article – these are manifestations.

An obvious example of this – and one we easily overlook – is that all sounds come out of silence and return to silence. This may seem like an unimportant observation, but it is actually quite useful. We can directly observe that prior to the manifestation of a sound, there is silence. And after the sound there is silence. The sound arises from silence and returns to silence.

When we observe sound arising from silence and returning to silence, we have proof that manifesting is real. It is actually happening.

Although it may seem more difficult to observe, the same is true of all experience. All things we see or feel are also arising from silence or nothing, coming into being, and then dissolving into the silence or nothing from which they came.

Therefore, rather than asking whether manifesting is real, a more useful question is how does manifesting work? What we really want to know is whether we are safe and okay in life. We want to know if we have a participatory role in the manifestation process. Because we may secretly fear that life is just happening to us.

Many of us believe that life is happening to us because things happen that we don’t like. And when these things happen, we may feel that we are victims. We wish we could control our life so that only the things we think we want happen.

Therefore, many of us develop a naive idea about the process of manifesting. We think that for manifesting to be real, it would have to work something like this: I want something -> what I want appears or happens.

If I want something and it doesn’t appear or happen, I might then think that I have no role in manifesting. I may think that I am just a victim.

But this is not true. All this proves is that we don’t have a good enough understanding of the process of manifesting.

Consider an analogy of a radio. Imagine that you don’t understand how a radio works. The radio is on and tuned to a particular station. You don’t like the station. Let’s say it is a classic rock station, and you would rather listen to an experimental jazz station. Because you would like to listen to experimental jazz but the radio is playing classic rock instead, you may think, “Well, I guess I don’t have any role in this whole radio thing. I want experimental jazz, but the radio is playing classic rock.”

If you accept this is true without exploring further, you may then just be “victim” to whatever the radio plays. But that doesn’t mean it is actually true.

However, if instead you carefully observe, you may discover that you can tune the radio to different frequencies. And when you do, you can hear different stations. Maybe you find an experimental jazz station. So now you know that you do have a role to play. You can tune the radio.

On the other hand, you might not immediately find an experimental jazz station. Maybe there are none in range. So you could then give up and again think you only have a very limited role to play.

But if you observe more carefully, you might discover that the radio can pick up broadcasts from anywhere if you have the right means. You might find that with the right technology in place, you are able to tune into an experimental jazz station.

So it is with manifesting. The process is real. And you are playing a role whether you choose to become aware of it or not. If you choose not to become aware of it, you may mistake yourself to be a victim. But through careful observation, you can discover how this process works. And as you become aware of it, you can begin to choose.

The Important Key to Success in Manifesting (What You Want)

As you’ve already hopefully started to see, manifesting is happening. You are manifesting all the time. The question is not one of whether you will manifest, but rather what you will manifest.

If you are unhappy with what you manifest, you will want to become more successful in manifesting what you want instead of what you don’t want.

There are plenty of experts who will tell you their system or formula for manifesting what you want. Many of them are based on the so-called Law of Attraction. (I will suggest to you that the Law of Attraction is a misunderstanding of the actual nature of manifesting. We don’t so much attract as we do express.)

And while formulas are sometimes useful, a much more powerful approach is to have a clear understanding and repeated experience of the actual process. Whereas formulas tend to lead to superstition, having a true understanding (and experience) leads to mastery.

Where formulas alone can actually lead to anxiety, frustration, and depression, a true understanding of the actual process can give confidence and peace of mind.

My Introduction to Manifesting

I grew up with a mother and grandmother who were believers of the teachings of Charles and Myrtle Fillmore, the founders of Unity. Although I can’t say that I really understood their beliefs at the time, I suppose that I was primed by that early exposure to such ideas about manifesting.

I remember books by Deepak Chopra and Wayne Dyer on the bookshelves as a child.

When I was 19 and I had moved out on my own to Los Angeles, I briefly joined a Unity church there. But soon I gravitated toward the Church of Religious Science – an organization founded by Ernest Holmes that drew inspiration from similar sources, including Emma Curtis Hopkins.

For several years I was a practitioner in training within the Church of Religious Science. I learned the organization’s formula for affirmative prayer. And as a practitioner in training I was strongly encouraged to make use of it daily. (And I did!)

Around that same time, I received an initiation in Transcendental Meditation, and I practiced daily. I also attended weekly meetings with my TM teacher in which he would give a talk and we would do a group meditation.

Between these two things – daily affirmative prayer (plus practitioner training) and daily TM practice (and weekly meetings) – I received my formal introduction to manifesting.

I will also add that it was during this same time that a friend loaned me a cassette tape recording of some Taoist meditations recorded by Ken Cohen. (Ken Cohen is a truly wonderful teacher and human being. I feel tremendous gratitude to him.) These meditations also gave me my most profound experience of the nature of reality up to that point.

Prior to this, I had assumed that life was just happening to me. But through these experiences, I began to explore whether that was true.

My TM practice revealed to me that what I had imagined was the entirely of reality is but a small fraction. What I see, taste, smell, hear, and feel supposedly “out there” is not as great of a part of reality as I had previously thought.

Through TM practice I regularly encountered stillness within, and I could see how everything that I experienced came out of this stillness.

Through daily practice of affirmative prayer, I started to see how fearful and reactive my conditioned mind was. I could see how this fearful, reactive conditioning filtered my perception. And I could see how this shaped my reality.

By sheer quantity of affirmative prayer, some changes took place in my life. However, my understanding and clarity of the actual nature of the manifesting process was still fairly poor. As such, I developed a lot of superstition.

This is common among spiritual people. As I have already suggested, formulas may sometimes work, but they tend to produce superstition. And therefore, many practitioners who use formulas become increasingly superstitious or fearful.

I certainly did. And this brought out pre-existing tendencies of anxiety, obsessiveness, and fear.

The Years of Hell

For many years my anxiety and obsessive tendencies grew and grew. As an adolescent I had developed anorexia and compulsive exercise habits. In college those habits had grown and expanded.

But it wasn’t until my mid-twenties that things developed into full time hell. I have described this hell elsewhere, including my article on stopping compulsive behavior. Therefore, I won’t go into great detail here. But I will say that it was so severe that all day and night I was consumed by counting, checking, repeating, avoiding, hand washing, and on and on.

It wasn’t until I was 34 years old and nearly dead – living in a cabin in the woods of New Hampshire with my wife and newborn first child – that I finally moved beyond mere formulas.

Formulas may or may not work. But formulas alone can’t give us what we really want. To manifest what we really want, we have to move beyond formulas. We have to observe carefully and discover for ourselves.

That is what finally happened in my life. Only through having exhausted all other options, I finally began to carefully observe my experience. And through careful observation I began to be witness to the actual creative process. That is, I started to see how manifesting is actually happening.

Witnessing Subtler Levels of Experience

In order to be witness to the actual creative process, we need to be sensitive to the subtler layers of experience. That is because creation occurs at the subtlest level of experience.

Everything less subtle is not strictly creative. It is merely an outward movement of what has been created. We can rearrange what has been created, of course. And that can be a useful skill to have – to learn how to rearrange what has been created. But if we want to truly learn how manifesting works, we will not be satisfied with mere rearrangement. We want to observe the subtleties of creation.

Think of the image of a pebble thrown into a pond. We all have experienced this, so we know that ripples form and spread outward. Each ripple grows in size as it moves outward.

Each outward-moving ripple is an effect of the ripple that precedes it. But the actual creative moment is at the point at which the pebble struck the pond and the first ripple formed.

Many people who are interested in manifesting are focused on the outermost ripples. They are busying themselves with rearranging effects rather than observing the actual creative process.

But it is at the subtlest level of the creative process that we have the most leverage. To return to our pebble-in-pond metaphor, we have the most leverage when we control where we throw the pebble into the pond. Rather than trying to shift existing ripples into different locations, we have greater control by choosing where to throw the pebble in the first place.

…Or whether to throw the pebble at all! In fact, my experience is that the most important part of the creative process is consciously choosing whether to manifest. Otherwise, we tend to simply get caught up in the momentum of manifesting. We manifest and then react to that manifesting.

A much more powerful approach is to rest in the unlimited potential prior to manifesting. The great secret is that in this space prior to manifesting we find fulfillment, peace, and joy.

See, most people wrongly think they will get fulfillment, peace, and joy from what they manifest. They are mistakenly believing that their happiness is conditional. And that is disempowering and a recipe for suffering.

This is a very, very important point. Most of us want to know how to manifest for the wrong reasons. And if we don’t see this, we will only generate more suffering for ourselves.

Instead, what is possible is to first discover the true source of fulfillment and happiness that is prior to manifesting. When we know this, we are free to manifest…or not. Then, what manifests can only be an expression of that joy that we already know. We cannot generate suffering when we know our inherent freedom and happiness.

Therefore, before you try to manifest anything consciously, I strongly recommend that you first acquaint yourself with the space of potential that is prior to manifestation.

I intend to add more articles to this series. In those articles I will share more insights for how to know the peace and freedom in that infinite potential. I will also share ways you can become more conscious of the creative process and make use of that in your life. The best way to ensure you receive those articles is to subscribe to my free email list (see form below).

last month

How to Stop Compulsive Behavior (and Find Happiness Instead)

I know what it is like to struggle with compulsive behavior. My struggle was so severe that I nearly died in the process.

For eight years I have lived free of compulsive behavior. I’ve shared the solution with thousands of people and personally coached dozens to complete recovery.

You might struggle with mildly disruptive compulsive behavior. Or your struggle might be as severe as mine was. Or maybe your struggle is even more severe. In any case, I will share with you how to stop the compulsive behavior.

In this article I will share with you how to understand what is really driving your compulsive behavior. And I will tach you how you can transform that into happiness, freedom, and confidence.

If your struggles are severe, you may find that last claim to be difficult to believe. But I promise you that by the end of this article you will see how this is possible. Once you understand what is really happening, you’ll know that you can make changes for good.

What Is the Real Cause of Compulsive Behavior?

The underlying cause of all compulsive behavior is the same. This is true whether the compulsive behavior is:

  • repetition
  • eating
  • hand-washing
  • fingernail biting
  • gambling
  • counting
  • checking
  • sex
  • exercise
  • or any other compulsive behavior

Most of us find the behaviors themselves or the consequences of the behaviors to be problematic. We don’t typically peer beneath the surface, so to speak. We experience such an urgency in the compulsion that we don’t give ourselves enough time to reverse engineer the problem.

I know well what the consequences of this can be. I began to struggle with compulsive behavior when I was 11 years old. And I continued to struggle until I was 32 years old.

In my case, the compulsive behavior began as compulsive exercise and compulsive counting. I would lift weights at night while my family was sleeping. I felt compelled to do every exercise in sets of 13. And as soon as I stopped doing one set – no matter how exhausted I was – I felt compelled to do another.

Over the years this grew into a long list of compulsive behaviors. I indulged compulsions to turn around in particular patterns while showering. I felt compelled to avoid stepping on crack in the sidewalk. I ate compulsively until I was sick and then kept eating. And on the other hand, I would often compulsively starve myself.

I compulsively stacked my mail. I compulsively meditated (compelled to meditate for longer and longer stretches). I compulsively checked my door and windows to ensure they were locked. I compulsively checked the stove. I counted everything, including my thoughts, my steps, the number of times I rubbed my hands together when washing them, the number of sheets of toilet paper I used, and on and on. I compulsively rinsed my hands. I compulsive tried to avoid certain thoughts. And if I thought of those things, I would compulsively perform all kinds of difficult to explain and internal rituals.

All of those compulsions had the same underlying cause. Furthermore, in the years since my recovery, I have coached dozens of people to recover from compulsive behavior, Everyone I have coached has had the same underlying cause for their compulsive behaviors.

What is the underlying cause?

The answer to that question is actually extremely simple. And because it is so simple, many people overlook it or dismiss it. However, I assure you that truly recognizing this holds the key to a full recovery from compulsive behavior.

The underlying cause a feeling of aversion. That feeling of aversion is a reaction to fear.

The specific behaviors are, in some sense, arbitrary and unimportant. Although they may sometimes be disturbing or painful, focus on the behaviors themselves won’t resolve the real cause.

Furthermore, simply trying to force yourself to stop the behavior without recognizing the real cause rarely (if ever) works. Instead, trying to force yourself to stop the behavior typically results in extreme discomfort, relapse, or some alternative compulsive behavior.

That is because the behavior itself is not the cause. The compulsion is a reaction to fear. The behavior is a coping strategy we have learned in an attempt to avoid the underlying fear.

We assume that the fear is because there is an actual threat. But there is no real threat. We’re only reacting to conditioning. That is it. There is no real threat.

This is very good news. Once we truly recognize this, we hold the power to make real change and fully recover. The next step is to discover how the aversion to fear takes shape and grows into a compulsive behavior.

Watching the Compulsion Move into Action

Compulsive behavior is a habitual response to the feeling of aversion to fear. The specific behavior can and sometimes does change over time. The behavior itself is just a habit. And since there is no real threat, we don’t actually need to do anything to avoid the threat.

We could change the habit with enough will power. But as I suggested earlier, on its own, this rarely gives satisfying results. At best, using force we can substitute one compulsive behavior for another. Which is not really what we want.

In order to satisfyingly stop the compulsive behavior and resolve the underlying compulsion (the discomfort, anxiety, aversion to fear), we need to use awareness rather than force.

Awareness is difficult to define in normal language. But it is a very real thing, and it is something that we can make use of to bring about real change.

We can cultivate awareness by doing something simple. That simple thing is to slow down.

I’ll share with you a few ways in which to slow down throughout this article. But regardless of the means by which we slow down, the internal slowing down generates greater awareness. And that awareness indicates a fundamental shift in the state of the nervous system. That shift in the nervous system is what we are wanting. That helps to change the conditioning in the nervous system. And that gives us the results we want.

If you think back on anything you’ve ever learned, you may see how when you first start learning something new, you go slowly and deliberately.

Whether it is walking, talking, playing an instrument, riding a bicycle, or anything, we learn by slowing down.

Once it is a habit, it moves fast. Fastness in the processing within the nervous system indicates the utilization of a part of the nervous system that is for habit. We can’t make fundamental changes at this fast level.

We can make fundamental changes when we slow down.

The simplest way to slow down is to simply observe your own experience. And the most direct and relevant observation practice in this case is to watch how the feeling of discomfort – the compulsion – takes shape as a compulsive behavior.

Logically, you can see that there is a point between the sensing of the compulsion and the beginning of the compulsive behavior. Let’s take the example of compulsive hand washing. I used to wash my hands dozens of times every day. My hands were dry and cracked, and I still washed them.

When I started to observe this carefully, I discovered that the compulsion was a feeling of discomfort. Up until this point everything happened so fast I hadn’t really noticed. But it was obvious once I slowed down just enough to see it.

Do this when next you experience a compulsion. Pause for just a second and slow down inwardly enough to observe. See how there is a feeling of discomfort.

This feeling happens before the compulsive behavior.

Next, you can watch to see what happens just before the compulsive behavior starts.

When I first started observing this, I saw that between the compulsion (the feeling) and the start of the compulsive behavior there was a subtle tension in my body. Sometimes this tension was in my belly. Sometimes in my head.

As I continued to slow down my experience, I observed that the subtle tension would cascade into increasing tension until it was so uncomfortable that I found myself moving into the compulsive behavior.

Having coached many people through this exploration, I am confident that this is the same basic mechanism that operates in all compulsive behavior. I strongly believe that if you slow down and look at your own experience, you will see this to.

When you next experience compulsion, pause for a moment. Observe your experience. And see if you discover a tension in your body.

At first, many people tell me one of two things in this exploration. They either tell me that they don’t find any tension (less common) or they tell me that they find a lot of tension everywhere (more common).

In the case of those who say they find no tension, more careful observation eventually reveals this is not true. The nervous system may numb itself to the tension. But with enough observation, the nervous system eventually awakens to the tension.

In the case of those who say they have tension everywhere, they may sometimes find this to be overwhelming. They don’t know where to start. Yet more careful observation will eventually reveal that there is a subtler layer of tension that is easier to work with.

Next, I will share with you more ways to slow down and relieve any overwhelm you may experience during the process of observation.

Using Breath Awareness to Slow Down

We’ve probably all heard the advice to “take a deep breath” in order to calm ourselves.

Well, it turns out that is some bad advice. Breathing “deeply” usually means breathing more. And breathing more is unlikely to help bring calm or balance. If anything, it is more likely to lead to anxiety.

However, breath awareness is a very powerful tool to help slow down. Breath awareness brings our attention from our anxious thoughts and uncomfortable feelings to an activity that is happening all the time (our breathing) that can capture our interest. Furthermore, when we are aware of our breathing, our breathing naturally begins to even out and become more regular. This produces physiological changes that shift the state of our nervous system. Our brain waves literally shift to a slower frequency.

We literally slow down through breath awareness.

The wonderful thing about breath awareness is that you can do it anywhere and you don’t have to have special skills or knowledge to do it. All you need to do is to observe your breath.

Because this is so simple, most people will dismiss it as “couldn’t be effective”. But it truly is very powerful. The one catch is that you have to actually do it.

Shifting our attention to our breath requires that we do just that. We have to be willing to give our attention to observing the breath. This is a fully immersive practice. We can’t be doing this and thinking about fearful things at the same time, for example. Neither can we be fully giving our attention to our breath while we are indulging compulsive behavior.

Most of us are so habituated to giving attention to our thoughts and indulging compulsive behavior, we may find it challenging at first to give our attention to our breath fully. If you do, then it is especially helpful to find regular times when you can do this. Perhaps you can make the space for it while lying in bed at night or first thing upon waking.

With more practice, it becomes easier and easier. And it also becomes increasingly pleasurable.

Here is how to do it. Many people will find it is easiest to do while lying on their backs. But you can do this from any position.

Notice your breath. Don’t try to change it. Just observe it.

Notice if it is smooth or choppy. Are you holding your breath at any point?

Again, just observe. Awareness will change things if you allow it. But if you try to change the way you breathe, you will introduce more strain and stress. So it is important just to observe.

If you notice any choppiness or breath holding, be curious about that. What is happening at these times? Are you holding tension in the body? Can you become aware of that?

Start to observe where in your body you can feel the breath. And importantly, notice where you do not feel the breath. Observe the front of the body, the back of the body, and the sides of the body. Observe the chest as well as the abdomen. Observe the pelvis. Are there places that feel rigid, restricted? If so, just observe if you are exerting yourself to hold those areas rigid. You may discover that with awareness, these areas begin to soften.

In general, don’t try to take bigger breaths. Allow awareness to guide the volume of the breath. Most of the time what we think we should do to correct our breathing is wrong. We have incorrect perception. So we need to allow ourselves to simply become more aware. That awareness allows the uninhibited functioning of the autonomic nervous system to regulate the perfect breath. All without us having to “do” anything.

As you observe, simply allow the breath to become increasingly under the control of the autonomic nervous system. Don’t inhale rhythmically. Instead, let your body determine when to inhale. Likewise, don’t exhale rhythmically. Let the body determine when to exhale. The body has its own rhythm that is uninhibited. Let it move to its own needs.

This practice of simple breath awareness is a very powerful way to slow down. As I have stated, it literally slows down the frequency of brain waves. It literally produces a shift in the functioning of the nervous system. And this allows you to perceive very differently.

From this slower, calmer state of the nervous system, you will find that you have a greater sense of choice. You may still experience the habitual compulsion, but you will notice more space around it. You may experience less urgency.

This awareness is not in and of itself necessarily the magic cure for compulsive behavior. But it is an essential first ingredient. It forms the foundation that allows you to begin to choose rather than react.

Using Somatic Awareness to Slow Down

Personally, I find breath awareness to be the most effective method to slow down. However, a close second is simple somatic awareness. That is, giving attention to the felt experience in the body.

There are many ways you can approach this. Don’t think that the way I am describing here is the only right way. But do let this be a starting point for your exploration.

Start by feeling your feet on the ground. Notice how much of the bottoms of your feet are making contact with the floor, ground, or inside of your shoes. Are the bottoms of the feet relaxed against the surface they are resting on? Or are they holding tension?

Don’t try to make your feet do what you think they should. Don’t try to flatten them or force them to make more contact. Just observe your felt experience. And allow that awareness to gently release and relax any unnecessary tension.

Again, don’t try to force the release of tension. That won’t work. Be patient and just observe and allow for a natural softening.

You can continue this kind of exploration throughout the body. I find it to be particularly useful to explore feet, hands, pelvis floor, belly, shoulders, chest, throat, tongue, eyes, and forehead. But you can feel free to explore any parts of the body in this way.

The basic exploration is to bring attention to one “part” of the body at a time. Let your attention rest with this area of your body. And be curious to observe any unnecessary tension. Without trying to force anything, just see if awareness of the area and tension can soften it.

Keep Slowing Down

The truth is that the only step in the recovery process is slowing down. If you persist in slowing down, that helps to cultivate awareness. And awareness plus commitment does everything for you.

As hard as that might be to believe, it really is true. Awareness (which comes from slowing down) plus commitment (which is about continuing to slow down over and over) completely cures compulsive behavior.

Consider what I have proposed to you about the actual mechanics of compulsive behavior and this becomes easier to understand. Compulsive behavior is a habitual reaction to discomfort (the compulsion). The discomfort (compulsion) is a reaction to fear. There is no real threat, meaning we don’t need to react to the fear.

The compulsion moves into action through a subtle tension. And if we allow it to play out, that tension cascades into the compulsive behavior.

But if we have sufficient awareness, we can soften and allow the compulsion to ease rather than indulging the habitual tension.

Done persistently, this undoes the habit. This is actually just Pavlovian conditioning at play. We can undo the conditioning as long as we don’t indulge the habit repeatedly.

The key to success is to quietly observe. As I have said previously, if we try to use force, we are failing to properly undo the conditioning because we are not sufficiently aware of the entire process. Therefore, if we just use force, the underlying compulsion remains. We might forcibly stop a specific compulsive behavior. But if the underlying compulsion habit remains, it will show up as a different compulsive behavior.

For that reason, gentle awareness is the key.

What a Recovery Looks Like

Many of us – myself included – have been taught to be impatient. We want immediate relief, and we want that relief to be lasting. If we don’t get immediate and lasting relief, we may give up and move on to seeking for another solution.

However, in my experience, what actually works to produce a full recovery from compulsive behavior is persistence. A commitment to this approach that I have outlined in this article is what has worked for me and for many others I have coached in this process.

It is important to understand that your expectations about what success should feel like or look like are distorted. As difficult as this might be to believe, I promise you that your perception of what true relief and true happiness and true peace actually is, is all wrong. That was what happened to me for 20 years. I kept seeking for what I thought relief and happiness should be, but the more I chased after it, the worse things got.

True recovery is a shift in perspective. Our nervous systems reset and our conditioning changes. This allows us to begin to see clearly. We then recognize peace and happiness as it truly is. And we stop chasing after something else, believing wrongly that what we’re chasing after is peace and happiness.

Again, I know that might be hard to believe. But if you’ve struggled long enough with compulsive behavior, you may be ready to admit to yourself that what you’ve been doing hasn’t been working out so well. So it is at least worth considering that maybe you’re perception is distorted.

The process that I have outlined in this article works. It is based on my own intensive observation of my own experience. It is supported by research. And it has proven to work in dozens of people I have coached one-on-one in this process.

It can work for you too. The important thing is commitment. The gentler you can be with yourself, the better. And know that you are doing something rare and courageous. Be kind to yourself. You are doing something amazing.

Doing this alone can be challenging. Having support can make a big difference. If you aren’t signed up for my mailing list, I recommend that you sign up below. I send daily emails with insights, encouragement, and sometimes humor that can inspire and help you. You are not alone. This does work. You can do it.

Also, please post comments below if you have any questions or feedback for me related to this article. I value your feedback so that I can make this article ever more clear and useful.

a few months ago

On Love

I rent a yurt from my landlord and landlady to use as an “office”.

Yesterday I was in the yurt and a yellow jacket was crawling on the floor nearby.

The yellow jacket looked to be in distress. It was struggling to stay upright.

It was dying.

I felt sad. Was this preventable? Could I do something to help?

But what could I do? It is fall. The yellow jackets are downsizing the hive in preparation for winter. This yellow jacket was dying.

I was powerless, as I always am, to fix things and make them how I think they should be.

The yellow jacket flipped over. Legs moving. Righted itself. Then flipped over again.

The yellow jacket died.

I didn’t get to be the hero. I didn’t get to save anyone. No one survived.

Life seems to keep communicating this message. “You have no power.”

That doesn’t sound like a message of love in the traditional sense.

But it is. To me it is. It is the greatest love.

I have no power. And yet all is taken care of. Life and death completely taken care of.

I will die. That will be taken care of. I won’t have to do it.

Meanwhile, I am alive. Oh, sure, we could argue the finer points of whether there is anyone to be alive, yada, yada.

But for now, let’s just say I’m alive. And that is also taken care of.

For all my grasping for power, it is not needed.

Life is telling me “you have no power”. And it is like Mother’s soothing touch. “Shhh,” she says. “You have no power.”

I have no power.

The power can’t be had. Not for all the gold or silver in the universe. Not for all the wanting. Not for all the pleading.

Thank goodness it can’t be had.

I don’t need to have it. It has me.

a few months ago

Everything Is Falling Apart

Everything is falling apart.

This lifetime. These ambitions. Security. This body.

All falling apart.

I can try to fix it. Try to hold it together. And I can look around and scream for help.

“We’ll help you hold it together” some say.

Others say “Pull yourself together, man!”

But it is falling apart. All slipping through my fingers like water or air.

No solutions. No hope.

So finally, let’s let it fall apart. It is falling apart anyway.

Does that mean that we should do nothing? Should we not try to feed ourselves? Should we not take care of our children?

No!

Should we hide out in “It’s all delusion anyway”?

No!

No need to hide. No need to reject.

Instead, let us allow the falling apart to wash over us. And through us. To cleanse us of all that never was. All the burdens. The burdens of hope. The burdens of holding it together.

Let us discover our essential freedom. And then let us tell the truth, which is that despite the delusion and illusion and emptiness, we are still here. Showing up. Showing up fully. Choosing this. Choosing this not because we are virtuous. Choosing this because there is no other choice.

And though it is empty of what we thought it was made of, it is not precisely empty. Not truly. It is only empty of hope. Empty of things. Empty of holding it together.

But it is full of wonder. Full of aliveness. Full of us.

Then perhaps we can celebrate.

Not a celebration of things or of holding it together or winning or hope. A celebration of us as we are. Flowing. Hopeless. And free.

To me, this is true love. I know that’s a dirty word. “Boo!” call the hardliners. But fuck it. If we’re to call anything love, isn’t this it? Here we are. Despite all the reasons why not. Despite all the fears. Despite all the emptiness. Despite all the hopelessness. Despite all the delusion. Despite everything.

In the midst of falling apart, I declare this love. And I welcome you to discover it too. Not as you thought it was. Not the love of future security. Not the love of having or holding.

The love of this as it is. Open. Free. Whole. Alive. You. Me. Now.

Say yes. Say yes. Say yes.

a few months ago

Seeing Through Conditioning

My friend, John Veen (https://johnveen.weebly.com/), just sent me this lovely and clear image. I like it so much I asked if he’d be willing to let me share it with you, and he said yes. So here it is.

It was serendipitous that John sent me this image because on Saturday during the second of the workshops of the workshop series I’m offering a similar thing came up.

I had been describing how it is that in my experience it is valuable to be able to shift from fixation on the conceptual overlay to recognizing the unified nature of direct experience. In my experience this ability to shift focus and recognize the wholeness or vastness that is actually here – what is merely getting filtered through a conceptual overlay – offers us the opportunity to stop fixating on all our problems.

To me, that is freedom. And that freedom isn’t the freedom to solve the problems of the conceptual filter. It is the freedom to recognize what is here always that doesn’t have a problem.

By the way, I am not an advocate of trying to remain forever with your focus shifted to non-conceptual wholeness. I find that to be just another unnecessary trap that leads to more unnecessary suffering. So this is not a practice that I am advocating that you should do in the aim of trying to maintain some perfect state.

Rather, I’m just saying that if you look, you might notice that in direct experience, if you just shift attention or focus from objects, places, people, things, ideas, and all the conditioned conceptual overlay, you can notice that simultaneously (and inclusive of the conceptual overlay) there is simply this non-conceptual. unconditioned aliveness that is perfectly obvious. You don’t have to see something other than what you see. You only need to let your focus soften and then you can recognize that all that is happening and appearing is actually already unified, non-separate, whole. There is no boundary or distinction except in concept. And even concept doesn’t have a boundary or distinction. It’s weird, but it becomes obvious if you just catch a glimpse.

To me this actually translates to benefits for the person. And I know that’s probably offensive to many people. But that’s my experience, delusional or not. I find that this shift saves me, as a person, from an awful lot of unnecessary suffering. It doesn’t have to be all the time. Just when I remember. Then it wipes clean all the mess that seemed to have built up. In this instant of seeing all the problems that I had disappear, and even when I find myself again imagining problems, there remains this little whisper that I can’t deny. The vastness and wholeness that instantly dissolves all problems is still here.

During the workshop I was suggesting that one way to notice this is to notice that we are in the habit of hearing sounds through a conceptual filter and so we assume that when someone is speaking that the meaning is innately there in the sounds and in the hearing. We assume that the sounds are coming from over there and that I am here hearing the sounds coming from over there. But if you just soften your auditory focus you can notice that the sounds are just happening in a unified flowing way and that there is no meaning inherent in the sounds. And the sounds aren’t even happening over there and being heard here as a place separate from there. All that is just the conceptual overlay. In the softening of the auditory focus and the loosening of the fixation on the conditioned conceptual overlay, it is obvious that there is just this flowing happening that leaves us (me, at least) in wonder.

I also suggested that the same kind of exploration is possible with visual experience. We normally believe we see things. But we don’t see things. We see. Or, rather, seeing is happening. And the conceptual filter that we fixate on gives this whole story about objects and distance and location and separation.

Well, anyway, John Veen’s image says it better. Just look at it. It is so clear.

I’ve been saying so many word lately. But I guess it really is true that a picture is worth 10,000 words.

Bless you, John. You’ve saved me even more unnecessary talking.

a few months ago

Metaphysics, Magic, and Healing

Let’s imagine for a moment that you’re life is a journey. (If you’re already finding things to object to, just play along with me for a second. You don’t have to actually believe anything. Just play with me here.)

Imagine that on this journey, you are traveling along a river on a boat through a steep canyon.

Just up ahead you see that the river forks. And as you get closer still, you see a sign. On the sign it say:

<- Divisive Absolutist Materialism and Lifelessness

-> Metaphysics, Magic, and Healing

Which do you choose?

I know which I choose. Metaphysics, Magic, and Healing.

Now, I know, the inner cynic might be calling bullshit on this. The inner cynic might say that this is a false polarity. It might cry out that I’m leading you into some kind of trap or trick.

It’s understandable if your inner cynic is fearful. That’s it’s job. That’s what it is. It’s a fearful, self-protective reaction to all the trauma of our lives.

But how well is that working out?

Many years ago I had to be honest with myself. That was wasn’t working out well at all. It was a way of separation, emptiness, and death.

And I had dressed it all up in a neat package and called it non-dual spirituality. Which might have sounded nice, but it wasn’t very pleasant or functional or useful.

My experience is that opening to the way of Metaphysics, Magic, and Healing is life affirming, unifying, and restorative. It is a healing balm that has given me back life.

And beyond the truly false paradigms of the conditioned mind, this pathway has opened me to true non-dual realization. Not keeping some aspects of myself and life separated into silos. Rather, dissolving all the false barriers and revealing the connection and unity of everything in my life.

The word “metaphysics” may conjure up images of bookshops with “psychic readers” and crystals and a cat or two hanging around. Fair enough.

But the actual meaning of the word is that which is beyond the physical.

Take a moment and test this out. After you read this paragraph, pause, close your eyes, and see if this is true in your experience. With eyes closed, where is the physical? What is true in your actual experience with eyes closed? Where is the body? Where is the world “out there?” Where are all the physical things? And yet, is there still aliveness? Is there still some sense of some phenomena? Go ahead and test this out now.

Okay, now, what did you find? Is there, in fact, a metaphysical experience? Can you, in direct experience, discover for yourself that there is, in fact, a metaphysical reality?

And isn’t it true that this metaphysical reality is the greater aspect of your reality compared to the so-called physical?

Okay, okay, the inner cynic might have to admit that there’s some truth to this. But magic? Come on! Magic is bullshit, right?

Well, let’s see. One definition of magic is enchantment. That is, to be under the influence of or entrained to a force. Literally, a chant, which is a frequency.

Ever been in love? You’ve been enchanted. Ever believed in anything? You’ve been enchanted? Are you able to understand anything I write? You’ve been enchanted. Ever heard the news? You’ve been enchanted.

Enchantment, magic, is a phenomenon that we’re all experiencing all the time. In fact, our normal, ordinary, consensus reality is all enchantment. We just aren’t normally awake to it as such.

When we deny the magical nature of our experiences, we play victim. We play separate.

Waking up to the magical nature of our experience give us a new wonder and awe and freedom.

Okay, okay. But healing? Geez, really? That sounds awfully New Age and bullshit, right?

The word “to heal” derives from the root meaning “to restore to wholeness”.

On the surface that might not jibe with our super-evolved, better-than-thou, high-falutin’ spiritual understandings.

Yet the truth is, we all have been enchanted to believe in separation, individual power, and suffering. Meanwhile, if we pause for a moment and just notice what is actually true in our direct experience, we may find that wholeness is already our most true reality. Go ahead and check it out now. Without referring to a thought, memory, belief, or label, can you find any boundary? Is there any actual separation in direct experience?

Our most intimate experience of ourselves is already whole. Wholeness is primary. Only through enchantment do we come to believe in anything other than wholeness.

To heal is to restore our proper recognition of ourselves and our nature as wholeness.

Now you might see why I choose the path of Metaphysics, Magic, and Healing.

And I’d like to invite you to join me for a three-part workshop series that I’ll be holding over the next three weekends exploring these subjects.

Each weekend we’ll meet together live, online, in a group and explore Metaphysics, Magic, and Healing.

It will be fun and with practical explorations that will allow you to experience these things for yourself. Not mere theory, we’ll do a variety of experiments that will let you taste your inherent wholeness.

Come and play.

This is the first of a bunch of workshop series I have planned. Some ideas for workshops that I have in mind include Myth and Storytelling for Healing, The Power of Relationships, and Spiritual Herbalism, among others.

Metaphysics, Magic, and Healing is the prerequisite for other workshop series as we’ll be creating the foundation for future explorations and fun.

We’ll meet live Saturdays September 28, October 5, and October 12 live at 2 pm Vermont time (US eastern time). All meetings will be recorded and archived on the workshop website (link below). That way, if you cannot attend live, you can watch the recordings.

Want to join us? Go here and sign up: https://joeylott.podia.com/metaphysics-magic-and-healing

The standard price is $100 which is to compensate me for my time and my costs to offer this (my monthly costs related to an internet presence are around $200).

JOIN THE WORKSHOP

Don’t let price be an obstacle. If you are unable to pay full price, I’ve created some “pay what you can” coupon codes that you can use to choose your own price. I ask that you pay as close to full price as you can to respect my time and my family’s financial needs.

But if you genuinely feel unable to pay full price comfortably, feel free to choose your own price using one of these coupon codes. The name of the code indicates the price you’ll pay in US dollars (click the link to apply the coupon and sign up): NINETY, EIGHTY, SEVENTY, SIXTY, FIFTY.

I’ve also created some coupon codes that have limited uses for those who feel they cannot afford even with fifty percent off. Each of the following codes has just a few uses, so please use them with respect for others who may have difficulty paying (but if you truly have difficulty affording $50, please do not hesitate to use these coupons): FORTY, THIRTYTWENTY, TEN, FREE. And if you are unable to pay and wish to give something in exchange, I am open to a work-trade for one or two people. If you wish to inquire into a work-trade opportunity, contact me by email: joeylott@gmail.com

Oh, and let anyone you know who might be interested know about this workshop series.

Lastly, if you’re inner cynic is still complaining. Don’t worry. You’re not missing anything. There’s nothing to see here. These are not the droids you are looking for… 🙂

a few months ago

I want you to fail

It is true. I want you to fail.

With all my heart I want you to fail.

But only completely.

I want you to fail in your search for what you think will make you happy.

Because your search for what you think will make you happy is the only thing that makes you unhappy.

It is what causes your pain and struggle.

It wants more, more, more. Less, less, less. Different, different, different. No, no, no.

But don’t misunderstand me. Because I’m not saying I want you to restrain yourself from the search.

I’m saying I want you to fail.

Failing is falling. It is tripping and looking up and seeing it all differently.

From the normal perspective up here, it is so easy to mistake habits for the totality of reality.

But trip, fall, and then look up. Then you see differently. Everything you thought was the totality of reality is not actually available here if you pause for a moment to see this as it is.

Down here, having failed in the pursuit of winning…

…there’s just this as it is. All the assumptions can be left up there.

Down here, there’s just what’s happening. And who knows what this is?! Do you? If so, you haven’t failed.

And I hope your next failure is soon. Very soon.

If you’re willing to play with me for a moment…right now, come on, let’s be silly and play for a moment…If you’re willing to take your shoes and socks off and get down on the ground and look up…or just look out. Just look out. See whatever is here. Or just see. See without all the stuff that got left up there.

Down here there’s just seeing. Seeing freshly. Never happened before.

Now you can stand up if you want. Put on your serious face again. Stop playing if you want.

Or you can keep playing, even with serious face on. Even with all the other habits and niceties of life happening and even with all that life seems to “trigger” “for you”…why not keep playing?

Play and look out. Just see this as it is. Forget the drab, boring stories of the past for a moment. Just see.

Forget about all that boring grown-up stuff about achievement and self-image and whatever else grown-ups are so concerned with. Just for a moment. And see as you can even now remember having once done. And notice that it is still happening. And if you tell the truth for a moment, it’s never not happened. This seeing. Its happening now is everything that is.

Play and explore it like a child pretending to be a fearless adventurer. Pretend to be someone. Pretend the story. Pretend it all. Like it is for real.

And just notice that this is what is happening.

I want you to fail in your pursuits for happiness because they make you unhappy. This right now is already happening. This is already the miracle. Inconceivable. Ungraspable. And undeniable. Totally obvious.

Look out. It’s happening.

a few months ago

You Being You

Funny thing about the spiritual search is that it usually seems to be about being something or someone better.

Because we’re unhappy with our idea of who we are. We’re unhappy with what we perceive of our experience. And innocently, we believe that if only we could become someone better, more enlightened, more spiritual, more powerful, whatever…that then we’d be happy and okay and lovable, etc.

Which turns out to be completely wrong. But it is also apparently a necessary part of the journey of self discovery. We start from assumptions and experientially discover how those assumptions are flawed and create unnecessary rigidity and pain.

So it turns out not to be so much a journey of acquisition as a journey of loss.

Loss of identity. Loss of ideas. Loss of beliefs.

And also a loss of burden.

The burden of trying to become someone else.

And an acceptance and surrender to you being you.

Exactly as you are right now.

We complicate this. We dramatize it. We create all kinds of stories about it.

But none of that helps or is necessary.

It is easier when we allow it to be easy. And simple. And direct. And immediate.

Right now, you are you.

This is obvious when you take a moment to notice.

A second later, the mind starts to wonder who this you is. Ideas start flowing. And if we fall into our usual habit, we grasp at those ideas in hopes of getting something that will make us better. Or protect us. Or help us in our quest to become better.

But we don’t have to give attention to that. And even if we do, as soon as we notice that we’re giving attention to that, we are noticing our inherent freedom.

We can notice that regardless of what ideas come and go, in this moment right now, we are always ourselves. Inescapably.

And being ourselves doesn’t require effort. We can’t get it right. Nor wrong.

It doesn’t require anything, in fact. Even when we’re trying really, really hard and totally fixated on fixing and bettering ourselves or protecting ourselves, we are still being fully ourselves in this present moment. Exactly as we are. Inescapably.

So nothing is required. But the status quo for most of us has been to continue to suffer from the wrong imagination that something is required and that we need to protect and fix ourselves.

Fortunately, we can notice right now that we are being ourselves. Before the idea of ourselves. Before the impulse to get it right, do it right, hide, protect, manage, manipulate, etc. Here in this most intimate moment we can notice that we are simply being ourselves.

And we can notice that this is always the case. In retrospect we can see that this has always been so. And we can even see that this will always be so. All in this one intimate moment right now. Just drop the fixation on understanding or fixing or getting somewhere and just notice the absolute simplicity of this right now. Nothing needed that isn’t supplied perfectly right now.

This noticing is the first step.

In my experience, only doing the first step is very powerful, but it has a tendency on its own to lead to a subtle seeking. Better than the older form of seeking. But still a subtle suffering because there is still a subtle seeking for betterment or protection. Because then we can imagine wrongly that we need to hide out in noticing.

But that’s not true.

So there are other steps that can help.

For example, one possible second step is to not only notice, but to confess one’s vulnerability, insecurity, impermanence, “flaws”, etc.

Not as a means to get something. But simply because it feels good. It is light. It clears the air of any confusion. Lest either of us begins to mistake ourselves or one another for something we are not. This ongoing flow of self expression – not just the “good”, but also the “bad” – reveals what is beyond good and bad. It offers a living invitation to all “others” to recognize that they too can be themselves.

Because they already are. Inescapably.

6 months ago

I am not special. I am important.

One of those quirky (and fairly dysfunctional) things that I learned growing up is that I need to be special to be okay.

It wasn’t enough to be me. I had to be special me.

When I was in school, one year the teacher asked us to write a report on what we’d be when we grew up. Being me wasn’t enough to write a report on. So what would I be when I grew up? Something special.

This is a recipe for unhappiness, of course. Because even if I succeeded in becoming something special, even if I got the admiration, adoration, and approval that I thought I wanted, I’d be left with a terrible anxiety inside. A doubt…”Is it me they love? Or my specialness?”

My specialness can disappear. For example, if my specialness is some special talent or ability, I could lose it. Or it can easily turn into something that people despise instead of love.

So no matter how special I manage to become, it only makes me more anxious, feeling more isolated.

Fortunately, I was so completely miserable being special – with my special OCD, special anger, special aloofness – I had to die to specialness.

And what that left was just me.

Just me…and the totality of life.

In comparison to the totality of life, it’s tempting to fall into the idea that I’m unimportant. Because I’m apparently pretty small and apparently pretty insignificant. And life is apparently really huge. After all, life is holding it all, moving it all, being it all. The stars and the light that stretch across space so vast that it might as well be infinite. Planets orbiting those stars. Moons orbiting some of the planets. Planets so large that in and of themselves, they make me appear insignificant.

But my heart is also beat by the same life. My apparent life is animated by that same intelligence.

And it is intelligent. It is responsive and creative and alive. Clearly. All I have to do is open my eyes and it is clear.

Heck, I don’t even have to open my eyes. Even with them closed, here is an infinite universe seemingly “within”. Alive, intelligent, aware.

In direct experience, my life isn’t separate from life itself.

I may not be special. Blessedly so.

But I am important.

You are important. Not because you are special, though.

Just because we are. We are important because we are.

There is another option, you know. As Shakespeare famously posed it…to be or not to be.

But this is not a choice we can be assured that we get to make. Me, my idea of myself as a separate, time-bound thing…do I get to choose to be or not to be? Would killing myself result in not being?

I don’t think so. Plenty have killed themselves, but still, being persists.

So to be or not to be is not my choice, not your choice.

Being is happening. Being is choosing me. I can know this because here I am.

Sometimes it seems like and appears like torture. Sometimes it is painful. Sometimes we wish it wasn’t.

But wishes aside, being is happening. So rather than wishing or hoping, what can I do?

I can choose being now. I can choose my life now. I can choose what is and live from trust. I can choose all of what I am as important…not just the parts that I think are good, acceptable, and okay. All of me, all of my experiences.

What I’ve found is that choosing to live from trust is terrifying to my self-concept. My conditioned ideas of myself as an island responsible for all my own experiences and feelings and for being special can’t co-exist with the immediate direct raw experience of 100% choosing this now.

My ideas of myself tell me that I am only okay when I have $$$ in my bank account enough. My ideas of myself tell me that I am only okay if people approve of me. My ideas of myself tell me that I am only okay if I’m “getting it right”.

But these ideas are stiffling. This whole idea of myself is like a straightjacket.

Here’s the question I ask: am I truly fulfilled?

If the answer is no, there are three options:

1. Ignore the warning signs and keep doing more of the same

2. React by seeking for solutions to the problem

3. Trust fully, surrender to life, and be moved

I tried the first two for most of my life with extremely painful results. Ultimately, the pain of that led/forced me to truly open to the third option.

The third option is humbling. It is unknown. It completely undoes my ideas of myself.

It strips me bare and often puts me on display in uncomfortable ways. It leaves me exposed, vulnerable. It has repeatedly shown me that I don’t need the money, things, experience, people, or other things that I thought I needed to be okay or fulfilled.

This way is uncommon, though I suspect that it is becoming more common. It is uncommon because it flies in the face of what we’ve been taught to believe about ourselves and life. But I believe it is becoming more common because more and more people are waking up to just how painful the other options are.

Collectively, humanity has more than enough nuclear weapons to ensure that doing more of the same is a terrible idea.

And we’ve sought for solutions (at the level of consciousness that created the problems in the first place) without success. The search for solutions leads to the holocaust and to the (in my humble opinion absolutely insane) neuralink (google it) and to rare earth mineral mining and tar sands projects and on and on.

So those of us with open minds and open hearts are ready for a different option.

And I am proposing the third option – surrender to life, trust in the intelligence that beats our hearts.

This is a messy option. It doesn’t allow for the 1% to decide for the 99%. It doesn’t even allow for representative democracy.

Because this third option acknowledges the importance of everyone and everything. And the wholeness and integrity of everyone and everything.

It requires that we prioritize listening. Listening to our hearts. Listening to one another. And listening to those who don’t speak in the same language we do…

Which requires patience. And slowing down. And a willingness to see and feel and be witness to what we have tried to avoid.

Because when I surrender to life, I am humbled to realize that I am not the center of the universe. Everything and everyone is important. And this reveals that my own experience is not just for me. My experience is a gift that is given through me.

A humble receiving of my own experience without treating it as a problem or trying to solve it, without trying to ignore it or sweep it under the rug…but a true surrender…is my spiritual practice, as it were.

That’s what I am here in service of.

6 months ago

On Being a Father

I am the father of three children.

Being a father has changed my life in ways I could not have predicted. Well beyond merely having additional responsibilities and learning to live with more people…though including those things.

Having children has given me the clearest and most direct lesson that life is not all about me.

This has been a difficult lesson to learn. And some might think that is curious since much of what I share is about awakening to the impersonal nature of life. But all the same there is a difference between discovering something and actually *living* it.

Being a father is a choice to actually live it. It is choosing to show up and keep showing up and receive it all. Including the daily failures. Failures to communicate. Failures to keep my cool. Failures to be non-reactive. Failures to get what I want. Failures to protect them as much as I want. Failures to know everything. Failures to be kind and patient.

It is humbling. And it is often thankless.

And it is the most important thing.

A young person I know recently got into some serious legal trouble. I feel a lot of grief, sadness, and anger. He is charged with three felonies. Heartbreaking. Because he is so sweet, such a good, honest person with a loving heart.

And he had and has no father for most of his life. His biological father abused him as a child, and he was removed from his father many years ago.

The cycles of abuse, neglect, and trauma are ours to take responsibility for. Now. Here. In ourselves. And in our relationships with others.

The cycles of abuse, neglect, and trauma can only continue when we’re unwilling to show up fully. If we show up fully, they cannot continue.

To show up fully is to be vulnerable. Not to be perfect. Not to get it all right. But to show up and be real and vulnerable. To admit to failures. To look others in the eye. To say I’m sorry. To be humbled and to still show up.

Even when the conditioning of millions of years says to get the hell out of here. Or to hit. Or to shout. To blame. To shame. To violate.

Even when that conditioning has already played out. It is not too late.

Now is the time.

I came into this life with a lot of challenges. I developed more challenges through this life. Emotionally challenged. Shame, humiliation, disgust, terror, arrogance.

Before I became a father, I thought I needed to change all those things and fix myself first before I could be worthy of relationship.

Nearly nine years after becoming a father, nine years of choosing to be a father, to show up daily, I know differently.

I don’t need to be perfect. I don’t need to fix everything first.

I just need to be willing to keep showing up, keep being humbled, keep opening my heart.

Trauma leads to more trauma…when we try to avoid it all and fix it all and isolate.

But the healing of trauma occurs with presence, the willingness to show up and be vulnerable and receive this experience, this moment right now. And in the healing of trauma there is a gift to the world.

The gift of presence matters. It matters to everyone.

First, I choose to be present to my own experience. I choose not to reject my experiences, my feelings, my emotions, my thoughts, my circumstances. I choose to receive it all, acknowledging that I don’t know what any of this means. But I can choose to receive it and trust in life, Trust in that which gave life to me.

Second, I choose to be present to my own experience in the presence of others and to be present to others as they have their experiences.

Third, I choose to forgive myself and others for when we forget what is most important. And I choose to show up vulnerably now.

To me, this is what it is to be a father. And a friend. And a lover. And a human being.

It matters. It makes a difference.

Your presence matters. Your presence to your own experience. And your presence to others. Your presence heals.

You may be a father. You may be a mother. You may not be a father or mother. But your presence matters. It matters to you. It matters to your friends, family, and loved ones. It matters to the world.

Don’t underestimate the importance of showing up vulnerable and authentic now.

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