there is hope ...

Thanks for landing on my meditation blog. I haven't been updating it lately; because I am busier over here on my other site, a little free-form space I set up to share smoke signals from my world up here in northwestern Wyoming. I called it "There is hope in beauty," after sitting through a dark night of soul-rollercoaster riding one night last winter. What shifted me out of that inner whirlwind was stumbling across a piece of art so simple and beautiful that it triggered a surge of hope and faith.

It unleashed, in an instant, the desire to participate in creating the world I want, not grieve about the world I don't. The feeling of this urge was so much simpler than anything I'd landed on so far in my search for understanding.... The urge to detect and create beauty, or simply to sink into the world that is around you with all your senses fully awake, is when humankind is in alignment with the divine. From that place, everything starts.

In this time of massive change and reinvention, when a lot can seem difficult or even hopeless, the most powerful driver that exists to keep us moving forward are the moments when the already-existing beauty around us is suddenly illuminated. When something in us opens, like curtains parting, and we see deeper into the ordinary reality in which we exist. The heart shudders and swoops to life; the pulse speeds up. Delight rides our circuitry like electricity round the grid. We wake.

I don't think this is hokey. It's not sentimental. It's about what happens when we—intentionally or accidentally—make contact with the invisible, benevolent force that is guiding us to something so big and so grand, we so far, can only handle glimpses. Please visit me there @ and feel free to read the content on this site, too!

To the Women of Our Time-Spiritual Group by Phone

I co-created this new Spiritual Group with my dear mentor, and beloved guide and friend, Deirdre Hade. It starts Tuesday June 7th by phone, and will continue weekly. The link is below at the bottom of this message, or you can send me a message personally if you are interested.

To the Women of our Time,

We are entering into a global transformation, which has never been seen before. This global transformation is dependent upon you, to step forward with courage and strength. For our world to heal, the power of the nurturing and caring heart must stand boldly in the face of those who think that nurturing and caring is weak and unnecessary.

You must begin to see yourself as an explorer into the Universe of True Love. In order to accomplish this, there are many places in your psyche that are wounded and broken and bent, which we must heal together so you can truly be the woman of the Power of Heart.

We cannot do this alone. You need the other women. I need you. A single woman alone without her sisters, mothers, daughters, and friends is a woman of isolation. This is the despair and the depression and the cancer that is eating away upon our souls.

When do we reach out to one another? When do we look beyond judgment, beyond separation, and see our other women as co-patriots and guardians of each other’s heart?

We must learn again to be safe with one another. We must heal the wounds between us from the things we’ve said when we were ignorant. And, we must begin to build bridges amongst each other. These bridges are millions of arms that can reach around this world and hug this world. For what you have to give is the hug of wisdom, the hug of truth, the hug of caring, and the hug of a prophetess.

Look within now and see this magnificent priestess of extraordinary ability shining within you. Know that it is so right now, in this moment, and join me, and the many women who have come in wis-DOM.

Join today. Don’t wait another moment to begin to join the sacred hoop of tithing to the care of our planet.

Give your light for one month to the creation of a new Angel upon the earth. We cannot do it without your participation. You are so important –each and every one of you. Your individual light is a ray that, without, we cannot complete our mission.

Join as women of the world meet tomorrow evening to become one mighty voice for the wisdom and the understanding of what it means to bring the Shekinah, Divine Mother, the Miriam of all creation, into our world to heal, to give hope, to uplift, to give grace, to sing song, to take flight, to take root, to sprout wings, to plant fields, to harvest rapture, to taste the delight of the passion - of what it means to be a woman of wisdom.

Thank you. My heart is with you.

Many blessings,

Join now:

there is hope in beauty

Those wondering, Why aren't you posting more on this blog?, i invite you to read my personal blog,, which combines spirit, nature, life, and beauty. At the moment, I am focusing more on writing and living in the mountains than teaching meditation—but I have plenty of amazing colleagues in meditation for you if you want to learn, from Los Angeles to New York to Vancouver to Chicago to Nashville to London, Australia, and beyond. I can help you find your meditation teacher, beautifully, I hope. Check the links to the right, below, or write me for help.

Nuclear reactors and Meditation

Those of you who are connected to me on Facebook have seen my fairly frequent posts about the nuclear reactor situation in Japan. I feel very strongly about this moment; it strikes me as an extremely important time to be attuned, and not ignoring what is happening. I thought I'd take a second to reach out to you meditators to spur you all to action - through meditation, through intention, through holding the highest thoughts of positive outcome.

There is a lot of anxiety in the air, and a heavy weight of sorrow and grief. You are probably feeling it. This mood will intensify in the coming days I believe. On the one hand, I want to encourage you, now more than ever, to use your twice daily meditation to empower and stabilize yourself at a time when there is a lot of unrest and fear in the air. Take the time for it. Become settled, become clear, become calm, most of all so that your heart can stay open, and your innovation and ability to help the whole flows fast and clear. In fear and stress, we shut down those capacities, and we get rocked, and disempowered.

Secondly, what I have held on to personally in this moment is the understanding that individuals can affect outcomes and can affect the field of energy of which we are one integral part. We affect the field through our minds and through thought. We were designed this way. Ancient peoples knew this. Some today know this. But on the broad mainstream level, we have forgotten.

Many studies have shown how meditators, when they gather together to meditate, quantifiably shift the levels of violence and crime in the cities around them. They literally generate peaceful waves that ripple out to soothe the whole and change individuals' choices. Other studies show how group intentions, when focused on specific outcomes for healing or physical change, and when done in a place of least excited awareness like after meditation or prayer, show quantifiable physical change.

After all, expectation breeds reality, say the physicists. It is the law of nature; it's how reality works.

Why, then, would it not follow that when a global collective of people meditate, pray, and intend for an outcome of cooling the Japanese reactors and containing damage safely, would work?

I do believe this is what is happening now. Many of my friends, my colleagues, and my spiritual mentors are engaging in this effort, to turn their hearts and minds towards a safe resolution of this crisis, and to contain the damage and protect all sentient beings and the earth.

You can do it too. Will you? Will you meditate today; will you hold this outcome in your hearts and minds today? Know that you have an impact. You, I, we, are all facets of one wholeness. With our minds and thoughts we tug on the fabric of reality and give it shape and form. Take time for some ritual. Meditate. Pray. Create the reality we need. You are that important.

Many people on the more progressive edges are talking about this year, 2011 leading to 2012, as a time of great turbulence and, through the turbulence, a mass awakening to our connection to each other, to the earth, to the whole, and to our monumental divine nature. I know that to be true. But it's coming with a major kick in the ass.

Stay with your practice. Connect with others who do similar practices. Go to a Vedic meditation knowledge meeting. Start meditating again if you have stopped. Keep faith, hope, trust, and your will turned up to high. Because what is also coming in this time, is a massive wave of compassion and alturism. The one "global brain" of connected individuals is firing up as we realize how connected we are and pour light, attention, compassion through those pathways. (Even posting concern on Facebook is part of this). As I wrote to my Jamaican friend yesterday, the phrase that keeps coming to me is, "One Love." Ya Mon.

My One Love thoughts to you and to those in Japan, and my highest thoughts for a safe resolution and compassion in this turbulent time. We are moving towards something, but we need to stay connected to each other as we take each step. Meditate, take care of your own state of consciousness, know that it is having an effect. Watch the news: not so much you go to fear, but enough to know what is going on, and what protective measures you may need to take too. Being awake and aware means paying attention to the crude reality as well as the subtle.

Jai Guru Deva, Amely

Cowboy Wisdom

On Wyoming NPR this morning, they were talking about a Western songwriter who has some "trademark phrases," including the following: Always ride the horse in the direction it's going. I thought, "He's a Vedic cowboy!" A central tennet of the Veda is that happiness and a richer experience of life comes when you learn to detect, at every moment, where things are evolving forward in your world, and where the blocks and obstacles are, and when you choose to move in the direction of the former, not the latter.

When you meditate, you begin to peel away the noise and distraction so you start to notice, at every moment, where this frictionless path is. It's already there; like a river that is flowing forward, things are always evolving, renewing, moving forward creatively. The problem is, we are often too caught up in our thoughts, expectations, and worries to notice where this "evolutionary path" lies. We end up getting into situations that are dead ends; relationships that repeat old funky patterns, jobs where we feel frustrated and stuck.

From a quieter and less stressed state as a daily meditator, however, we find that we're naturally looking around our environment with sharper vision and more space in our awareness to notice, Where are things flowing more easily, where is there effortless opportunity and support? Where are the "coincidences" and "serendipity" happening to help our ideas come to pass? Where are there obstacles seemingly in the way, blocking us from getting things done?

Nature is always organizing things to evolve and improve and refine. The nature of all things is to grow and keep creating. But there is an aspect of Nature, of course, which involves stasis—non-growth—and an aspect that, naturally, is about destruction, death, and decay. All these aspects exist in every moment of every day, and it's our choice where we align ourselves and our efforts. Going with the forward, creative, growth-oriented flow, or riding the horse in the direction it's already going, is one of the basic principles that begin to truly change your life, IMHE. (That's In My Humble Experience for you non-acronym types).

Best Places on Earth to Meditate, Part One

Any meditator who lives life somewhat on the move becomes an expert in guerilla meditation. You learn to get down and dirty and meditate anywhere, anytime. A bench on a street corner, a restaurant booth, a cinema seat before showtime—we've all used them as twenty-minute refueling stations and they work just fine. Sometimes, though, you score an unexpected luxury spot.

Last week, after a month living and writing in New Mexico, I did a solo road trip around Southwestern Colorado. On the drive back south, I crossed the state line in the late afternoon, following Route 84 through massive fields of sage-green ranch land to sun-kissed bluffs of golden-red sandstone. It was time to meditate—but where to pull over?

That's when I saw what looked like a massive clamshell carved out of the rock walls that loom over the highway. A sign said "Echo Amphitheater." It's a natural phenomenon, a Hollywood Bowl-like structure of carved-out rock where, I'm guessing, Pueblo indians surely came to hoot, chant, and sing to the sky gods. I drove in as the last tourists of the day drove out. The sun was setting behind the rocks; the whole vast site was open and vulnerable in the way all natural sites are after the visitors leave and they can—sigh—have their space back again.

I took off my shoes and walked towards the concave dome, and what struck me was the silence. It was profound—dense and delicious. It was the dominant feature of the place. If the silence had been a color, it would have been red. Something obvious and unmissable. The acoustics of the rock wall made it so you could not avoid becoming quiet in yourself and falling into alignment with the environment.

I had a little hooting moment under the dome. "Love!" I blurted out and "! love! love!" came echoing back. "Thank you!" went my vocal chords and "...thank you! thank you! thank you!" came the boomerang response. Frank Gehry couldn't have done a better job of designing this thing: the reverb was terrific. I found a bench under the shadow of the dome, and as the "golden hour" flooded the landscape all around me, I did my evening meditation before finishing the drive back to my temporary home about an hour down the road, with its old friends and its puppies, goats, and starlight.
(Photo by Paul Chesley)

Next Course: June 17, 2010

I'll be teaching one last course for beginner meditators in Los Angeles before heading mountain-wards for the summer. If you're interested in learning to meditate, I invite you to come meet me and hear about this practice for about an hour on THURSDAY, JUNE 17th at 7.30pm in Laurel Canyon. Those who'd like to learn will then return for one session per day on the next four days, FRIDAY - MONDAY. To RSVP, and for more information, please write me at

If you're new to Vedic meditation, see the links on the far right column, below, about what kind of meditation this is, why to do it, and so forth.

Panic, Freak Outs, and Uncool Behavior

I've been meditating and teaching meditation for some time. Daily life is constantly delivering new lessons, and new clarifications, about what this practice does to improve life and let us live in better ways. Some recent family events brought home in Technicolor, Surround Sound detail how high levels of unremitting stress can tripwire even the most careful and kind-hearted person into reactivity and fear.

When stress builds up, it erodes your energy to deal with challenges. It muffles your sensitivity to the big picture and to other peoples' needs. It blinds you to the consequences of your actions on those around you. It narrows your viewpoint as your body tenses into a survival mode. All that your body and your reptilian brain know (that's the old part of the brain that dominates under stress, while the sharper, smarter, more recently evolved part gets knocked offline) is that things feel dangerous—and you need to take immediate action to save your butt.

The result of living under sustained pressure? A fun little bounty:

Reactive, rash decisions that you'd never normally make, but that put other people out and force them to have to accommodate your "urgent" needs.
The perception that big changes have to be made immediately, as if your whole life is on 911, when normally you might take a calmer and more thoughtful approach.
Coming at your life, relationships, and future from a place of fear, which drives behavior that can be selfish and exclusive, instead of a place of love, which is co-creative and inclusive.
Feeling generally crap, run-down, and negative about what's happening.

The list goes on. When you notice yourself acting in a way that falls short of your highest potential, or doing or saying things that disappoint you for their lameness—but that feel impossible to change—it's time to do an inventory of your stress levels. Then, take responsibility for your own stressed-state and find a way to release the pressure valve yourself.

When under persistent stress, we tend to blame others for our state. The job situation, the demanding family, the maxed-out world, we say, are making us feel this way. All those factors influence us, sure. They pull at our equanimity like hungry vultures sometimes. But all we can do is change our inner state to meet those external factors.

We can increase our energy, adaptability, grace, humor, and capacity for thoughtful response and avert getting to the point of panic and freak-out. We can cultivate the spaciousness in our awareness, what some call the witness quality. It's the part of your awareness that watches ourselves in action and that, in times of pressure, can go, "Holy wow, I'm so stressed I'm about to do something very uncool, I better go for a walk alone for half an hour." All this is why, basically, I and the majority of my friends meditate daily!

The Still Point

Thousands of years into the future, when we look back at this funny time in human evolution, we'll smile (or whatever our version of smiling may be) about a few of our early mis-takes.
1. That we prized independence so fiercely, moving as far away from our families as fast and as early as we could, living in boxes alone, transporting ourselves around alone, having babies alone (even if it's with a partner), eating alone, entertaining ourselves alone. When what we really wanted all along was the opposite thing: Connection.
2. That in our rush to independence and progress, we chucked out some extremely useful tools. Such as using techniques for de-exciting the mind and body, like meditation. Things our forefathers knew how to do naturally: Accessing that Still Point within ourselves—that quiet, massive reserve that lies at the seabed of our conscious mind, underneath all the mental noise.
3. That we spent so much time talking about, reading books about, and consulting experts about how to be better, we totally forgot we came equipped with our own inner GPS. It was trying to guide us the right way all along, but like an avalanche beacon buried under huge snowfall, it was muffled and hard to hear.

I use a lot of different tools to find health and happiness, and take the best tips I can from some incredible experts to heal imbalance and make better choices. But these things are all scenes in the Second Act. They come after Act One, which is the fundamental, daily, and totally ordinary process of de-exciting the mind and body deliberately. To me, meditating is finding the way to that seabed again and again--being in or near the Still Point for a few minutes. It is so integral to being fully functional--my favorite new phrase, by the way--that I'm not sure how we're supposed to get by without it.

The Still Point is where the deep rest we need to fuel our multi-faceted, independent-but-actually-when-you-think-about-it-making-new-webs-of-connection-that-are-just-different-from-our-forefathers lifestyles.

The Still Point is where we begin to hear that peep! peep! of our inner GPS, the innate knowledge of what's good for us, who to align with, and when to act and when to just sit still and wait.

The Still Point is where we begin to actually experience--instead of thinking, talking, or reading about--that thing, that lovely indescribable gossamer durable powerful thing: Connection.

Are you In ... or are you Out?

Just like the contestants on Project Runway, I lay myself before some sharp-minded critics. You can read a few reviews of me from people I've taught by clicking here.

Detox the Mind, Detox the Body

A full year after its release, my recent book collaboration,
CLEAN: The Revolutionary Program to Restore Your Body's Natural Ability to Heal Itself
with Dr. Alejandro Junger, is still going strong. It's pretty amazing to see how the Community Site that Alejandro developed as part of his Clean program has mushroomed in size. I've not seen anything quite like it; a web forum devoted to a book/program, where ordinary Americans get to share their wisdom, pose their questions, vent their frustrations, and celebrate their achievements in building health, passing on first-person knowledge from peer to peer. If you read it, or if you do the program, drop me a note to let me know about your experience.