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…)

Here is a passage from my book The Translucent Revolution.

Maria attended one of our retreats a few years ago. Now in her fifties, she has been practicing meditation, which she had learned from a well-known Indian guru, for more than thirty years. She had a very calm, empty, silent presence. She dressed in plain, very sensible clothes, and her gray hair was cut in a short, boyish style. After some days, she told us that her greatest difficulty and disappointment was that she still had strong emotions. She felt herself overwhelmed by grief or anger from time to time, which both she and her husband agreed was a sign of weakness, a lack of depth in her meditation practice. (more…)

Ok, friends, listen up, as this is seriously interesting stuff.

A couple of years ago, I got introduced to a supplement (that’s capsules in a bottle, like at the health food store) by my friend John Gray.  The effects have been remarkable over this time, and the implications for the relationship of brain chemistry and consciousness are off the charts.  I got in touch with Brian Cunningham,  the inventor of the capsules in the bottle, and learned a lot about how the brain works.

Wanna know more?  Well, I’m no scientist, but I’ve been experimenting, so I’ll do my best to explain.

For as long as we can remember back, we know that human beings have been affected by different moods, or states of consciousness.  Excitement is a state of consciousness.  Boredom is a state.  So is depression, anxiety, grief.  At the other end of the spectrum is elation, oneness with God, insight and clarity.  For most of our human history there has been a very foggy understanding of the relationship between states of consciousness and the biochemistry of the brain.

As you know, in the last few decades, scientists have begun to understand what is going on in the brain when, for example, someone is depressed.  There is a neurochemical imbalance.

Brian Cunningham explains to me that our brains have an array of neurochemicals that need to be in a specific balance.  To create a symphony, to make beautiful music, you want to have every instrument working in harmony. It’s the same thing with neurochemistry in your brain. When there is an imbalance, we experience negative states like anxiety, stress, and depression. Depression, for example, is characterized by a deficiency of serotonin. Anxiety could be too much elevation of cortisol and adrenaline hormones, or also an imbalance of serotonin. Everything has to be in balance.   We have, in recent years come to understand how to treat pathological states with chemicals.  When someone is depressed, they do not have enough serotonin. It is being created, but reabsorbed too quickly.  So by inhibiting the process of “uptaking” serotonin, we can reduce symptoms of depression.  An equivalent understanding applies to anxiety, and even more severe states like schizophrenia.

Now here is the really interesting part.  Ready?  Sure?  Ok.  Here goes! (more…)

Here is a practice from my book “Leap Before You Look.”

Whenever there is disagreement or disharmony in the family,
Or any time at all, just for the fun of it,
Switch to gibberish.
You will all continue to communicate
And connect fully with each other,
You will just stop making any sense.
Express everything that needs to be expressed inside you
Using nonsense words.
Keep going like this for a minimum of five minutes
Or for as long as fifteen minutes.
Have fun; be generous in your nonsense.
When you are done,
Keeping a straight face,
Try to remember what the problem was.

When we connect, there are always multiple dimensions occurring simultaneously in the interaction. All at once, our minds are trying to make sense of things, wanting to be right, pressing our own agenda, and defending against others. This is where we often get lost as a family, and are left feeling separate from our loved ones simply because we do not agree, often on an ultimately unimportant matter.

When you switch to gibberish, the logical dimension of connecting is transcended, but the energy still flows. Now the communication has no logical purpose; it is just a way of allowing energy to flow for its own sake. You will discover through this practice that this is, in fact, much more fun and nourishing communication, and even that you feel closer to people when the logical has been flushed away.

We have used this practice often in our family. We have a code word—when things get too serious or intense, someone just says: “Gibberish.” Then we keep the conversation going, with just as much gusto as before, but now instead of being logical we are simply phorshemphashing troobalddee mosrhfung.

It might be disorienting, like it was just now, if a logical sentence and train of thought suddenly ghoopangs mooshfartoo foorganoble. What happened? It breaks the continuity of the mind, and we find ourselves manbang nooshbarat forbantbit. But that is the point, to break the stranglehold of the mind.

Try it out. You may feel much goosberiestier and share a great deal more foongatsong together when you abandon being reasonable and dive wholeheartedly into morshfangtooble shangsorbetty.

You can discover 72 practices like this in Leap Before You Look. Buy it now at our online store.

I just finished leading five exquisite days of silent retreat for a group here in Nevada City.  I am bursting with excitement to share with you the fruits of this adventure, and, at the same time, at a loss for words to talk about five days where there were no words.

Silence has always been, for me personally, the greatest teacher.  Sounds paradoxical, doesn’t it?  You think of a teacher as giving you messages, insights, guidance…how can silence do that?  When I look back on my life, it was from discreet periods of silence that the greatest creative flow emerged.  It was from discreet periods of silence that the greatest blessings flowed, synchronicity just happened, and things fell together in the outer world.  It was following silence that opportunities flowed into my life most easily.

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Here is a passage from my 2005 Bestseller, “The Translucent Revolution.”

As with every other area of our lives, there is a symbiotic relationship between the depth of our translucence and the way we view otherness. Translucence naturally shifts our habits of relating, without our doing anything about it. We have less to defend as we come to know ourselves as bigger than our own story, and our relating naturally becomes less strategic. As we see the other as myself, even if only in snapshots, we find that compassion occurs effortlessly. We develop more humor about the idiosyncrasies of our personality. We have less investment in laboriously working things out, and a greater willingness to breathe a sigh and return to innocence. The need to change others relaxes, since we are less tied to them as a source of our well-being. All these things can happen more or less spontaneously as by-products of waking up. At the same time, the attention we bring to our habits of relating can deepen and stabilize our expression of translucence. We can always bring more skillful means, more as an art form than as self-improvement, to our relating. We can become more aware of, and tell the truth about, the old habits that have created separation. These old habits run deep, and they will not necessarily die on their own. Our social environment reinforces them. When we are willing to put awakening into the fire of relationship, it will reveal all old habits and allow them to be released. Says Gay Hendricks:

“I think therein lies the difficulty, as well as the awesome beauty, of relationships. The universe is attempting to meet itself in play. When one person meets another, as that space links up with that space again, it pushes to the surface all the little places where we’ve withdrawn from space. Whether it’s being physically beaten, or starved to death, or criticized, or in beating others, those are the places where we’ve withdrawn and crystallized into mass, and then that has to come to the surface.”
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