Things I love

When I first learned meditation back in 1971, it was motivated more by despair than devotion to any ideal.  I was born into an unusually unhappy family, and by the time I reached my teen years it was obvious that I had to do something different to avoid suicide or going crazy — both of which had run in my family.  I checked out psychotherapy, which involved a lot of talking back then, but quickly discovered that most of the therapists I could find were just as disoriented as the people they were trying to help.

And then I found meditation.  I withdrew four British pounds from my bank account, and armed with flowers, a new white handkerchief and an orange, I went along to an inconspicuous suburban house in England.  An hour later I had my own personal mantra.  I meditated with that mantra conscientiously throughout my teen years, and after university I went to India to dive even deeper in.  I’ve tried almost every kind of meditation imaginable in these last 40 years, including using sex, running, fasting, eyes open, eyes closed, eyes rolled back, forget the eyes, focus on the breath, deep breathing, shallow breathing, alternate nostril breathing, forget the breathing feel the body, focus on pockets of pain, seek out bliss, welcome thoughts, ignore thoughts…  I’ve also had periods, perhaps understandably, which I call my “screw this” periods, where my “meditation” became whatever I happened to be doing anyway.

Meditation has somehow or other been a component of all of my adult life.  I’ve been through loving it as a zealot and resisting it as a rebel, but it has never drifted further away than the next room, where it waits patiently for me to return to my senses again. (more…)

You wake up early to the sound of birdsong and the waves on the shore.  You stretch slowly, and slip on your sandals and the thinnest beach wrap you can imagine.  You step outside into another dream-day.  Perfect temperature, plump lemons on the tree outside your window, vast blue ocean.  Just in time for the morning meditation session.  “How did everyone get to look so much younger and sooooo relaxed in just a few days?” you ask yourself.

After meditation you run down to the beach, with many of the new friends you have made, and play for a while in the waves. The beach seems like a mirage, which explains why it actually won an award as one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Did you know that beaches can win awards?! But these waves are here all day, so now its time for breakfast, from a buffet with all local and mostly organic ingredients. Afterward you rest a while, do some stretching or take another swim. The days seem to go all by themselves outside of time, with no pressure and nothing particular to do.

Then comes the best part of the day.  Mid morning you gather with a group of friends from all over the world, who share one precious and rare thing in common: a dedication to living the deepest and most real love that is possible.  Some are single, and some are couples.  There are people here who are married but came without their partner.  There are people in their early twenties, and a few couples who have been together for more than 40 years!  Together, you spend some precious time diving into the exploration of the Deeper Love.  Commitment, monogamy, fighting, boredom, worship, control, criticism, sex, jealousy … everything gets addressed.  Nothing is excluded.  The group is intimate enough that each person can get the attention they need, and gets just the right personalized practices to slip effortlessly into a love with no limits.

For lunch, you walk down the road with a few friends to a local tavern, where you can enjoy a Greek salad, made with local tomatoes, feta cheese and greens grown nearby.  The topics of the morning session spill over into your lunch time talk… everything serves to deepen love.

After lunch you might take a stroll, go back to the beach, have a sleep… your time is your own.  The couples in the gathering might take time to be alone and close, the single people make new friends by the beach and around the resort.  Later in the afternoon we meet again for another dive into the deeper love:  questions, sharing, practices, breakthroughs.  And then to dinner: several courses, with most of the vegetables grown in the resort’s own organic garden.  After dinner you might linger with friends, take a night stroll, or enjoy a glass of wine from the bar.  And finally you kick off those sandy flip flops and sink back into your bed.

This is not just a dream.  It is a reality coming soon, perhaps for you!  Chameli and I are going to Corfu, a Greek Island, with a bunch of Deeper Love friends this June, from the 18th to 25th, and we’d love for you to come too!  It will take place at Alexis Zorba Retreat: go check it out:  Obviously space is limited, so if you are thinking about it, shoot a mail to Maria Vikman and she will fill you in on all the details.
You can pay your $200 deposit here to secure your place.
And, if you have already bought the Deeper Love Retreat at Home, or if you plan to, you will get a $100 discount coupon that you can use towards your balance.

For more details and the small print,  click here

This kind of thing sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it?  Sun, sand, deeper love, good food, conscious friends from all over the world.  Its time for all of us to upgrade the dream!photos from Alexis Zorba website

I have been accused, by those who shall remain nameless, of using too many words when I blog.


So here it is, on this Saturday night, February 19th 2011.

My latest offering to you is from Ezra Pound,

Who said it all with these words:

The apparition of these faces in the crowd;
petals on a wet, black bough.

Sleep well, everyone.

More than forty years ago, on Our World,  the first live global television link, the Beatles performed All you Need is Love, to an audience of 400 million people in 26 countries. The BBC wanted a song with a simple message that could be understood by all nationalities.   It went on to become the #1 single in the UK for three straight weeks.  Today everyone can sing the lyrics, everyone knows the tune, and it has become a unifying anthem the world over.  Why?  Because everyone loves love.

Thirty six years later, the Black Eyed Peas performed their first single Where is the Love? at the Grammy’s in 2004, earning themselves two  awards on the night. That song is the 25th best selling single of the entire decade in the UK.

People killin’, people dyin’
Children hurt and you hear them cryin’
Can you practice what you preach
And would you turn the other cheek?

Father, Father, Father help us
Send us some guidance from above
‘Cause people got me, got me questionin’
Where is the love?

These two songs are not only about romantic love, or the personal love we feel for our children, or our parents, or even our country.  They are about LOVE,  the Big Love, the love that we all intuit, and admire, and sometimes even deify.  They are songs about what our hearts tell us is true, tell us is our real potential, even if that intuition is trampled underfoot each and every day by disappointment, cynicism and disorientation. (more…)

Over the July 4th long weekend, I went on a trip with my oldest son, Abhi. We drove down south through the gold country to the old mining town of Auburn, and from there  even further south to the remote town of Foresthill. I’ve heard Foresthill sometimes called the “armpit of the Sierras,” which is, I’d say, a little unfair. It’s not really on the way to anywhere, so you might possibly get the sense that it’s where you end up when you get lost. We only stopped in Foresthill long enough to get ourselves a fire permit, and then we drove another 40 miles on a tiny road that clung to the side of the steep American River ravine. We passed across the French Meadow Reservoir dam, and kept driving. During the entire 40 mile journey from Forest Hill, I don’t remember passing a single dwelling. The road turned to dirt after about 28 miles.

We parked our car at the end of the dirt road, a place called Talbot crossing. A ranger had been stationed there to perform a survey that is conducted once every five years. His job was to monitor how many people hike in from the crossing into the Granite Chief wilderness area. “There have only been five,” he told us, “the entire day. And that will probably be it for the holiday weekend.”  Although this is one of the most popular weekends of the year to get outside, there was only one party parking at the campground where the road ends. From here, Abhi and I hiked in another 4 hours with everything we needed in our backpacks.

I’ve given you this build-up to emphasize that where we were going was REMOTE. Even on the busiest weekend of the year, there was nobody here. We set up our small tent next to a fast-moving creek.

And for the next 2 days, we focused on doing… absolutely nothing.

Sure, we cooked some food now and then. We talked a little. On the second day we took a long hike. We were back on the earth exactly, I mean exactly, the way that it was naturally occurring before the human mind imposed its ideas on it.

We call an experience like this going into “nature” or “the wilderness.” But actually, if you think about it, these words are quite unnecessary. We should really just have a word for “not nature,” meaning roads and cities and towns and trains and factories. Everything else doesn’t really need a name because it’s what the Earth is like already. We didn’t go “into nature,” we just took a break from “not nature.” We left behind physical structures and schedules and electronics, and we also left behind all of the habits associated with those things. (more…)