Arrogance Belonging Buddhism Ecology Embodiment Emergence Emotional Sobriety Eros Freedom Fuck Suffering Love Resentment Self-Righteousness You Deserve Gentleness

Playing with the Four Noble Truths

Do you know the four noble truths? Or as Stephen Batchelor very usefully translates them, the four great tasks? They really are an assignment. They’re seeds, not just some dusty old rules lying limp on an altar to be sniffed at like incense or ripe cheese.

Truth is just a theory if it’s not embodied. Worse yet, just dogma. Seeds have to be planted in living soil to reveal their essence. Like everything, the four noble truths are renewed by the ecology of erotic emergence.

Here are the four noble truths/great tasks:

The classic version:

  1. The truth of suffering.
  2. The truth of the causes of suffering.
  3. The end of suffering.
  4. The causes of the end of suffering.

A soft core version:

  1. I have so many preferences!
  3. Maybe my preferences aren’t useful.
  4. I can welcome and metabolize this moment, just as it is, regardless of my preferences.

A hard core version:

  1. The world is f*cked.
  2. I am all alone, f*cking myself in a f*cked up world.
  3. I don’t need this to be different.
  4. I allow myself, embodied and un-self-centered, to be intimately f*cked open by the world.

The four noble truths examine the human condition and offer a balm. An activating balm. Like Tiger Balm, maybe. All schools of Buddhism slather this balm liberally—no matter how they spin off stylistically from here. This is the core. Yes, to be a human being involves suffering. If I metabolize it, it nourishes all beings and me. If I turn away, it amplifies. How loud a scream do I require?

To f*ck and be f*cked by suffering is to be fully alive. This includes not just tsunamis of grief, or my response to social and ecological cataclysm; but the ten thousand minor annoyances like the slow driver in front of me, or the boss that doesn’t appreciate just how much I really do, or the husband that doesn’t load the dishwasher the way I like, or the friend who doesn’t want to get vaccinated–any encounter that gives me a free pass to separate myself.

THEY are wrong.

I am right.


When I am no longer available for this childish behavior from myself, I am free. Free to be mature. A state of being we tend not to value. Which might explain a lot about why we consider these toddler antics normal.

But it feels so alive to feel that hot blaze of outrage running through my midline like a vivid imitation of eros itself!

I like it so much I want to feel it again because opening to eros means I would need a sense of play where there is currently a sense of righteousness and how can I maintain an identity that notices that identity itself is an adultish game of dress up?

I might have to just go put a tutu on for real and prance around the kitchen.

What if the neighbors see? Who am I when no one is telling me who I’m supposed to be including myself? Can’t I just keep embodying the four humiliating lies?

The four humiliating lies:

  1. Everything I think is right.
  2. People who don’t align with my rightness are wrong, even that dandelion. Get off my lawn, dandelion!
  3. People who don’t believe what I believe are harmful and I should separate myself from them.
  4. If I work harder, everything will be as I want it to be.

Do I have to keep reiterating this rejection of life? Can I be pulled instead? How’s my magnet?

Can I follow that homing signal that runs through my body even when it’s not aligned with my preferences or the story that I carry about who I am? Can I play with life and let it play with me? Can I meet it in the sandbox and feel the grit chafe my butt crack?

Can I touch the bark of one tree and notice what kind of tree it is and what that mutual intimacy feels like when we touch? Is that my responsibility too? Is that on my to-do list?

Can I trade childish for child-like? Can I trade certainty for innocence? Can I embody eros as innocence?

Eros is how I move with the world, not what I’m grabbing at along the way.

How can I maintain an erotic, playful state of being?

I regulate my nervous system.

Is my nervous system mine or am I enslaved by it? Do I have the skill to regulate myself and my reactions?

Belonging to my own body is the portal to noticing I belong to the world. There is a family in my gut. There is a consensus among all the causes and conditions that make you, all the beings of your body when your life force runs up your midline like a thunderbolt.

This is a no.

This is a yes.

If this is a maybe, it’s a no for now.

Life is too short to move from a maybe and long enough to wait for the yes.

If you don’t know, abide in uncertainty.

Radiate and bask there.

Play there.

Taking responsibility is a willingness to play with life rather than taking my ball and going home in a sulk.

When I’m responsible for cultivating innocence, the four noble truths can be clear as hopscotch, chalked out and played anywhere. Like hopscotch, the four noble truths are an old form, passed down through generations, meant to be joyfully embodied.

Play is essential in erotic engagement. Eros dissolves separation. When I trust in belonging, I’m free to keep playing. If I’m in my head and not in my body, I’ll miss it.

Arrogance Belonging Confidence Ecology Embodiment Emergence Emotional Sobriety Eros Freedom Fuck Suffering Intimacy Love Self-Compassion You Deserve Gentleness

Separation, Specialness, and Suffering–Oh My!

Your feeling of separation will be roughly equal to your feeling of specialness.

Your sense of suffering will be roughly equal to your sense of separation.

It will be easy to catastrophize the world’s disinterest in validating your specialness.

Craving external validation widens the separation between your life force and your life.

If you compound the feeling of separation with a lack of self-compassion—if you meet it with self-loathing—it drives the root deeper into your body.

You are not special.

You are not separate.

There’s nothing to fix.


Separation is the source of suffering. Opening to intimate connection on all levels, from finger to fern, diminishes suffering. You are emerging from the eros of ecology. All the time. Hot, right? Moist, even. Why turn away? You know you at least want to watch.

If you disconnect, delusion echoes and amplifies in the chasm between your life and your life force. Severing from intimacy brings suffering—the more dependent you are on external validation and the more addicted you are to the power generated by your identity turbine, the farther apart your life and your life force become.

People-pleasing kills intimacy. No matter how busy you are at it. No matter how good you think you are from all the nice and pleasing things you do. You can’t outrun separation with busyness, goals, and manipulation (which is what people-pleasing is at its cold, dark heart).

The vital impulse to connect will catch you eventually and slow you down, reminding you that you can connect or die. You can call that depression, or you can see it as a summons to notice how intimately connected you already are.

Is it mental illness or is it a call to notice intimacy with your fellow humans and the more than human world that already always is? How does opening to all that intimacy feel in your body? How does it feel to turn and clench like a special, sullen brat?

All that juicy intimacy might not lead to productivity tho, you unrenewable human resource, so we’ll be happy to medicate that for you.

Why do I care about your capacity for intimacy? Because without it, none of us can reconnect to the eros of ecology and the ordinary joy that the ecology of erotic emergence so effortlessly brings.

Turning away from that connection is quite literally destroying our world. A sense that we have to “go to nature” assumes exile. This is a false view. You are nature. Not separate. You are it and it is you. It’s right in your belly, under the button. Ah, that old womb-tether. Remember? A whole universe of you and not-you in there.


More cells within your skin are not human than are human. You’re never alone. Are you creeped out yet? You mind has to work overtime to convince you of separation. Notice the thoughts that pave that pitted road.

Separation is mind-made and separation can be mind un-made. Your brain is not separate from your mind, your mind is not separate from your body, and your body is not separate from the body of the world.

Your shitty relationship with your body, your loathing of your own skin ripples out. Get it together. We don’t have time for you to be squandering your life force on your puckered thighs.


They’re puckered.

You don’t have baby thighs.

That would be weird.

They would be too small to hold up your adult body.

Jiggle your jiggly bits like the grown-ass human you are. Rub them up against another human’s jiggly bits. That’s so much more fun than fretting over things that aren’t going to change in your preferred direction this lifetime.

Might as well ditch the preference because you need your adorably dimpled thighs to carry you toward compassionate action.

Stroke those thighs. Stroke that oracular p*ssy. Stroke that regal c*ck. Welcome yourself back into your body and the body of the world.


Nice to see you.

It’s been awhile.

You’re just in time, hopefully.

The suffering you create is the suffering you endure and the suffering you continue to create and endure.

We don’t have anymore time to squander on that childish shit. Grow up. We need each other whole, adult, mature. I know, I know, mature is an insult in our consumptive culture. Capital idea, devouring the young and plump.

Who wants mature skin? You should really inject that giant shameful organ with botulism, amirite? Again, grow up. Mature lands right in that sweet spot between birth and death. Those potent twin portals! Mmmmmiddle age. Let that radiant paradox light you right the f*ck up. Go to the supermarket like that.

When we see ourselves and our relationships as nouns, roles we perform and the audience we perform them for, we stultify the ecosystem of relationship.

What is your greatest responsibility?

It’s not to store or hoard or claim a noun, but to embody the verbs between the nouns.

It’s not just your partner or your child that is your responsibility, but how you show up in that relationship. How you respond in mutual presence. How present and full you are capable of being. How generously and lovingly you are allowing yourself to emerge from that system. How willing you are to be shaped by that system instead of trying to control it. How deep and clear and self-replenishing your well is.

That is your biggest responsibility.

Tick the box. Kid. Check. Partner. Check. House. Check. Food. Check. Job. Check. Nouns are a solid matter. Verbs are dynamic and always in relationship. They report how we are moving with life. You can stash nouns in a storage unit. You have to be present for verbs.

You don’t need to find your place or purpose in this world. You are already in place and there is your purpose.

The first place to be is in your body. Everything ripples out from there. Far and wide. If you keep grabbing at something “out there” you’re only wandering farther and farther from home. Easy to get lost out there and there are definitely bears.

Arrogance Belonging Blame Embodiment Emergence Emotional Sobriety Eros Freedom Fuck Suffering Intimacy Love Relationships Resentment Self-Compassion You Deserve Gentleness

Orgasms Ruin Everything

Well, sort of.

Orgasm is the annihilating wave. The very present absence. A glimpse of boundless emptiness. I mean, it’s the goal, right? Tick the box, we came! How could it possibly be ruining your erotic life?

Orgasm is driven by the primal urge to connect and, for just a moment, to experience the obliterating freedom of a dissolved body and an empty mind before landing back into ourselves with a thud.

I mean, that feels good. But Consider all the blame that gets tossed about when someone doesn’t “give” you an orgasm. Or when you didn’t “get” off. Or when you reach for that vibrator because you didn’t “finish”. Finish what tho? Feeling alive?

If there’s no orgasm, how will you know when you’ve completed the transaction? How many times did you have sex? Without orgasm, how can you keep count? Did you go down on me after I went down on you this time? Was it good enough to get me off? Quid pro quo, baby! Is that on the spreadsheet? Have we hit all our deliverables for Q2? It says I have 30 minutes of head credit, payable within 30 days. Did you want to pay that off now, or wait till my period is over?

No one can give you what you’re not willing to receive and this transactional approach to sex is destructive to intimacy.

Orgasm is like freedom. It’s not given or taken—we allow it or we don’t.

Orgasm is an emergent property. When it’s allowed to be that, instead of a goal, it runs the full range and moves in multiple dimensions like the state of being it is.

Orgasm has become commodified. We even have machines to extract it, like the natural resource it is. We not only have tools and toys, but computers and phones that can deliver porn at the stroke of a key. We can get it ourselves, thank you very much, and the more we do, the more a partner can feel like an impediment to the goal rather than the heart of erotic exploration. When we know exactly how we like it, and want it only just like that, curiosity is lost. When curiosity is lost, so is intimacy.

I was a gung-ho celebrant of the turn of the century toy-positive revolution until I got so numb thanks to my Rabbit Habit that only industrial strength stimulation would do. It was no different from any other addiction. A quick hit of orgasm to release the tension of one too many cups of coffee. Another during a commercial break. Another pre-nap. The vibrator is an efficient tool.

I had completely decontextualized orgasm from intimacy.

The more I machine-extracted high sensation from my body, the less inclined I was to learn how to build my nervous system capacity to move with goalless eros. I didn’t even consider it was possible to swell full without trying to scramble out of the stream. To live on the plateau without needing to jump off.

 If I was feeling too much, I could just release it with an instant orgasm. I could keep all my insecurities intact. I could keep a shitty relationship to my body. I didn’t need to be seen to come. There was no vulnerability required. I was a greedy little orgasm hoarder.

When it came time to share, I was numb. My pussy lost all sense of subtlety. I was all clit no womb. Eros no longer permeated my whole body, but was reduced to the push of a button.

With commodification, comes entitlement. I was full of blame. “You didn’t give me the thing! I deserve the thing!”

I didn’t think twice about pulling the Rabbit vibe from the nightstand drawer and giving myself what he couldn’t. I didn’t give much consideration to how this was received as I wasn’t very receptive. “If you can’t do it, I can. So there.”

A giant wallop of, “I don’t need you” with a side of “you failed.”

And yet I saw this as empowerment, not insult. I didn’t see it as the numbing of my heart following the numbing of my clit. I saw it as righteous.

These days, I would say it’s a good example of ultra-independence as a trauma response.

Pulling for orgasm means I assume I’m separate from it. That it’s “out there” to be grabbed at like a brass ring rather than a state of being always available to me.

Eros requires no resolution.

The ecology of erotic emergence defies resolution.

 It just is, fully alive.

Always available for your wet, open participation, it’s in the bedroom, the lake, the forest, and the supermarket. You’re participating in it, even when you’re turning away. When you surrender to it, you realize you are it. There’s nothing to grab at and nothing to resolve.

What if we develop the capacity to embody eros? What if “finishing” dulls our radiance? What if interpenetration were a state of being rather than a bound encounter? What if hearing a bee and smelling the sea were received as intimate touch?

What if, instead of the goal-oriented pursuit of getting off, we stayed turned on and on and on?

Arrogance Belonging Confidence Ecology Embodiment Emergence Emotional Sobriety Eros Freedom Fuck Suffering Intimacy Love Ordinary Joy Relationships Self-Compassion The Feminine You Deserve Gentleness

Emerging Weird

Hello, I’m new here.

I repeat myself a lot lately. I still can’t remember what I’ve said and what I’ve only thought. A year of solitude really showed me just how much my thoughts shape my reality, whether spoken like a spell or not. I could conjure all manner of states, alone in my room. I have developed an enthusiasm for the sound of my own voice which I should probably rein in a bit.

How about you?

What’s your new weirdness?

How’s your foal wobble showing up?

The upside of this messy rebirth is the freshness of even the most fleeting connection; my face in a wild rose, the new, expanded coffee shop around the corner, full of unmasked faces talking, sipping, smiling. So many radiant faces to bask in.

I’m delighted as a puppy who might pee on the floor. Every moment of eye contact runs through me like a thunderbolt. Some people seem put off by this. I’m emerging weird.

I’m meeting myself, as I’m reintroduced to society. I’ve found myself emerging in conjunction with a new relationship, so the newness feels even newer, and even more richly uncertain. I’m meeting him and myself at the same time. We are a little system, each of our selves an emergent property in the ecosystem of ‘together’. I am tender. I am sweet. I feel innocent in a way I don’t ever remember feeling. This is not who I was. She was lost to Covid.

After about 6 months of solo quarantine, running myself through the full human spectrum of feels over and over again, all by myself, I didn’t have it in me to believe my thoughts anymore. Every loop of thought felt like a solo show. The audience was no longer buying it.

When my Vito the Sweeto died last January and there was no touch, no hugs available in my grief, it finished me off.

Around the day Vito died, my sister conceived. This was every spiritual trope I’ve ever heard writ intimate. Birth and death were the same. They feed each other all the time. They nourished me too. What could I possibly still be afraid of?

In February, I went on a night hike in the forest and cried for hours into the biggest white birch I could find. All the losses of the year fell into her and tumbled down into her roots, rose up and out of her branches. I gave her all of it until our quiet winter pulses matched. It was the most intimate touch I’d had in 11 months. I was completely held.

When Vito died, lots of people said, “Stay busy.” Why do we suggest this to grieving people? It’s really the worst advice. I stayed busy like a caterpillar, melting. I kissed all my monsters right on their gooey mouths until they felt loved enough to leave.

I found my bones and found that what I put back on them was entirely optional.

What am I going to carry forward? Nothing but a sense of discovery. I was prepared to be surprised by myself, prepared to emerge from this moment rather than the last one or the next. Just this. Just as it is.

I had conversations with mushrooms. They were like, “Respect the dark, it’s what everything emerges from. Most of life happens where you can’t see. When was the last time you saw your own heart? But you know it’s there, amirite? Trust the dark like that. Don’t over think it.” It was good advice. Mushrooms are wise.

My sense of being an emergent property of the broader ecology rather than a separate self seems irreversible. I can’t sustain the illusion of separation and really, why would I bother? It’s the root of all suffering.

Lately, my foundational belief is Ram Dass’s, “We’re all just walking each other home.” There’s no space for arrogance in that and plenty for confidence. We walk with not just the human each other, but the more than human world. We are all in this together. Every bee, every peony and me. Family.

I can’t measure what the peonies have taught me. They are unabashedly, fragrantly and floridly themselves. They can’t show up otherwise. From the first red shoots that pop from the empty garden in early spring, they grow relentlessly, intimately summoning the ants they need to crawl all over their fat buds in order to open. Then they blossom and get real sloppy. The herbaceous varieties can barely keep their heads up. I have to provide a metal exoskeleton for them of they’ll flop right over into the dirt. They are more than they can handle. Cut some away and they right themselves. They are generous. They are too much and just right. They are definitely my kin.

Now rest. Now sprout. Now leaf. Now bud. Now blossom. Now shed. Now replenish. Now rest. Do this next. Just this. This is how you emerge. Okay. I can do that. Thanks, peonies. The next right thing is always clear, even as the why is uncertain.

When I paddle out, the ocean looks like a circle. The ocean is not really a circle. I trust this without proof. I’ve only ever really seen the whole ocean on a map. I will never see all of it at once. It reveals itself with each stroke, each felt bob of my little plastic boat.

Hello, I’m new here.

I just keep showing up, wet-winged and enthusiastic. Can I stay in beginner’s mind and not try to establish a self again? Can I tolerate innocence? I don’t know. I don’t need to. It’s way easier to love not-knowing, even when it’s uncomfortable, than to flail about grabbing at straws. I’m developing a real kinky love of discomfort. It’s most erotic.

Which is to say, I’m just going to keep emerging weird. You?

Arrogance Attachment Belonging Boundaries Confidence Embodiment Emergence Emotional Sobriety Eros Freedom Fuck Suffering Intimacy Love Self-Compassion The Feminine You Deserve Gentleness

How To Be Too Much

“I’m too much,” is an old story I told myself about myself. Feeling like “too much” was the paradoxical companion of feeling like I was not enough.  A paradox is not a problem. It’s a potent field with lots to notice. Ricocheting between the poles of too much and not enough, trying and failing to control myself, convinced of my brokenness, I felt there was plenty to hide.

Here, look at this sparkler!

“Too much” is distraction and defense. You won’t be able to see me if I’m swinging a sparkler around and that was just the way I wanted it. I found myself leaking energy all over the place, eager to find someone, anyone, everyone other than myself to hold what I could not.

Nothing sincere is ever too much, no matter the vivid volume. But when the ego is so busy trying to please, save, seduce, blame, and otherwise manipulate some food into its belly, it’s hard for sincerity to break through the sludge.

Confidence arises from the ability to fearlessly face the ego’s neediness, even when it feels unbearable.  The love my ego grabs at outside of me, is already in me. Not until I notice that I’m already full can I sincerely share. If I believe something’s missing, I’m constantly grabbing at anything I can to fill that hole. That’s addiction and it’s not just for addicts.

If I can BE the hole, just abide in emptiness, I fill like a self-replenishing well.

Does that sound mysterious or just uncomfortable? I find it easier when I approach the hole with spacious awareness, then I get a real good sense of how it fills. I come to trust this.

Nature doesn’t abhor a vacuum, she embraces it. Emptiness, when we notice it, is as elusive as balance. There but for a moment before ripening into something else. Which means I don’t have to force-feed myself or anyone else. The grab and clench is insatiable, because what I would fill is already squeezed shut by the grabbing and the clenching. This is how to become a hungry ghost. Always too much and never enough. The hungry ghost can get no nourishment.

I went from having shame around being “too much” to wearing it as a badge of honor: “You better fucking believe I’m too much, and here’s some more!” But if I really want to connect, expressing myself that way is insincere.  I had to learn to be right-sized and tempered by self-compassion, which will spill out all over the place if you let it. That’s a generous sort of spill. Very different from the self-centered mess of leaking.

There’s value in having the skill to modulate my expression, to wield my energy with agility so I can be responsive and better received. If my full expression just shuts people down, what am I really in service to? Not connection. And if I’m not really connecting, I’m not in service to anything at all.

Being responsible means learning how to hold anything and everything that comes through me. Not hold it in, clenching; but hold it steady, soft. Let everything I am becoming rest within my skin, expanding it, allowing it grow more permeable.

Being responsible is not asking anyone else to hold what I won’t. I don’t throw parts of myself that I can’t or won’t love at other people like a ragged hot potato. Anymore. I used to do that a lot. “Here, hold this thing I think is shitty about myself and prove to me that it’s not. You’re my lover/partner/friend/family. Validate me! That’s your job!”

No, it’s not. It’s no one’s job to validate you. Witness you? Sure. Validate you? No. And if they did? Then what? Like an insatiable hungry ghost, you’d just be back for more tomorrow. No one can transmit confidence to you. No one can transmit self-compassion to you. No one can rescue you. No one can oppress you. The only thing anyone can do is witness you noticing where you are blocking what is already there and point out some clogs you’ve missed. You find compassion in yourself, for yourself, and let it spill. Not until you open enough to give it can you really begin to receive it from anyone else.

When you allow self-compassion your life force starts to flow unabated again and you can see that you are a ridiculous, flawed, and sovereign human. Responsible. Powerful. Loving. Free. There’s never been too much of that, but here’s hoping.

Arrogance Belonging Buddhism Ecology Embodiment Emergence Emotional Sobriety Eros Freedom Fuck Suffering Intimacy Love Meditation Metabolizing Ordinary Joy Resentment Self-Compassion Self-Righteousness The Drama Triangle You Deserve Gentleness

WTF, Snowflake?

I woke up thinking about snow.

And how a snowflake is only a snowflake from the time it forms in the womb of a cloud until it reaches the ground. Then it loses the flake bit, and joins the vaster field of just snow. 

That trip from sky to ground is short.

But then, of course, the sun comes out and the snow becomes water again. 

Evaporation happens and water goes back home to sky. Becomes rain, becomes food, becomes drink, becomes rivers and oceans and trees.

Water is always becoming: eternal, intimate, pure and quite possibly joyful if it doesn’t resist all that becoming.

Our bodies are over 70% water. So much of us floats. So much of us has been a snowflake, whether it’s one we’ve directly put our tongue out to, like a sacrament, or one that came to us later in a can of seltzer, or a shower, or the tear on our shoulder from that person we hugged. Remember hugs? I liked them a lot.

All the water on Earth has always been here. 

I find this reassuring. 

Is that the sweat of Mother Mary in my tea? 

Genghis Khan’s urine I’m washing my dishes with? 

Water is inherently intimate. 

I like feeling its history in my cup. 

The bodies it has made. 

The sprawl of time in a cup of tea.

I think it’s funny that snowflake has become such a handy dismissal these days. As if it’s useful to shame and blame a person for embodying a set of positions in this moment that are naturally emerging from the conditions of this moment. I mean, we’re all creating this. We’re all just doing our part, being our particular snowflake in the storm. 

We’re all a bunch of snowflakes, timeless and temporary; exactly who we are, exactly now. Glittering masters of the slow descent.

Imagine the snowflake who’s like, “I want to be a raindrop! I was told by the river that I would be a raindrop. You are a terrible cloud, turning me, a precious raindrop, into a snowflake.” 

There’s nothing further from freedom than a snowflake caught in victim consciousness.

As I see it, the sky has 2 possible replies here:

1. GTFO my cloud.

2. Be patient. You will be a raindrop eventually. Just not right now. The kind of raindrop you become has a whole lot to do with what kind of snowflake you are willing to be right now. Right. Now. Enjoy the fall, snowflake. You had it coming all along. Take it all in. Sparkle. Never forget you’re actually water. The snowflake gig is temporary, but water is forever. Now GTFO my cloud.

I wrote a post a couple weeks ago, before I went into retreat for a week (If you want to know what you’re like, sit still and silent for a week. It’s very straightforward, really). The post was about all the things that have been challenging in previous retreats and how this time they were all welcome. I went in with no intention this time, just welcoming everything. So nothing came.

Except Mary Poppins.

Which was weird, but persistent. She just kind of dropped into the big old fizzy field like she does in the movie and everything about my practice to this point made sense.** 

It turns out that PL Travers, who wrote the books, was the 2nd Western woman to study Zen in Kyoto. And the 1st Mary Poppins book tracks pretty closely the stages of the bodhisattva from the Avatamsaka Sutra. Who knew? Not me. 

Welcoming opens up that deep, connected desire, every time. It lets the unfolding make sense, even when it’s not the sense you’d like it to make. You really have to stay spacious to feel the difference between desire and and a pesky preference. Preferences will tear up your ducting like a bunch of rats.

If I were the kind of practitioner who shooed thoughts like flies, I wouldn’t have been able to receive that visit from Mary Poppins that clarified so much. 

I know from my own practice that a sip of ordinary joy in my belly allows me to welcome whatever winter brings. 

It lets me notice with love the birth and death of snowflakes as they fall from sky to ground, even the ones that would rather be raindrops.

Arrogance Belonging Blame Boundaries Embodiment Emotional Sobriety Freedom Intimacy Love Metabolizing Ordinary Joy Relationships Resentment Self-Compassion Self-Righteousness The Drama Triangle You Deserve Gentleness

The Day I Got Sober

The day I got sober, the only thing I was capable of being honest about was that I wanted to live. Or at least I felt certain that I no longer wanted to die.

So much of me had died already. Repeatedly.
I didn’t know who would emerge from all that empty space.
I had no trust yet.
I needed a midwife.
Maybe a squad.

I didn’t know then that emergence is constant and surrender is joy.

I just knew I wanted another shot at being human. It wasn’t cheap. It cost grief. I had a seemingly endless supply of this resource.

A couple of weeks before I got sober, I’d been dumped on Valentine’s Day by the first man I opened myself to after being raped. He was a marine biologist who studied whale songs and everything about him felt vast. When he broke up with me he said, “You take me to a different place. I can’t live there.”

Honest. More honest than I was. That place was fueled by alcohol.

I, too, was in a place I’d never been before, literally and figuratively. I’d landed in Maine because it was the end of America. There was nowhere left to run.

Maine felt like a mother. I recognized her immediately. She felt like a place I’d dreamed of as a little girl. The birch forests, the sea, the soft, ancient mountains. I felt held and primordially welcomed.

My last drunk night, I was out dancing like someone who actually needed an exorcism. The bartender cut me off.

I’d never been pulled over after drinking before. I still had out of state plates on my car and I imagine the cops thought, “What poor deluded soul visits Maine in March?” and took pity on me. The cop testing me said, “I don’t think you’re impaired, but I think you’re on the edge. Go right home.” He was wrong and right. I didn’t know how to do the last bit, but went back to the lakeside cottage I’d rented.

I got help the next morning. I took my seat with last night’s stamp still on my shaking hand.

I was willing. I was willing. I was willing.

I was willing to fully surrender to whatever arrived.

I was willing to be witnessed. I was willing to be responsible for everything I’d ever done, everything I’d ever been, everything I was becoming.

A $12/hr gardening job? Yes. Changed my life. It literally brought me to my knees. I was stubborn enough to require this. I spent 40 hrs a week on all fours on the ground and had barely enough to pay rent. I worked at the estates of extraordinarily wealthy people. I spent my days crawling around in the chasm between rich and poor. It really robbed me of my capacity to dismiss anyone. Which was kind of a bummer. I wasn’t able to participate in all the invigorating toxic dehumanization available on social media these past few years. I’ve always loved a good fight. You can take the girl out of Philly, but…

When I was sober a year, someone said to me, “Every time I saw you you were either bawling your eyes out or pissed off at the world.” This was true. When I talk now about eradicating victim consciousness, I’m speaking from experience. I’m speaking from the other side.

I see victim consciousness as one of the most destructive frames in ourselves and in the world. It brings on a catastrophic abdication of responsibility and slops blame around in ways that obscure the path forward. Victim consciousness can only be eradicated by compassion. Having trauma tenderly witnessed by a compassionate person guided me to self-compassion. Once I could feel that within myself, I was able to grow it.

Did I have one last abusive relationship in me? You bet. That thing people say about not dating in your first year of sobriety? That shit is real. I did it anyway. Found somebody I could ‘help’ so I could feel better about myself. The more I healed, the more he resented me. The more he resented me, the more violent his rage became. I stayed. If only I softened more, maybe he would stop throwing things at me. I wouldn’t have to change anything and I could somehow still believe I was being “helpful” and “kind” and “good”. It’s the rescuer position at its most toxic. An easy swing to victim. And the drama never ends.

As I got deeper into sobriety and took responsibility for my role in the dynamic, firm boundaries were established and held, and nobody hated each other anymore. We obviously didn’t stay together, but there was forgiveness all around.

There is no victim-blaming in eradicating victim consciousness. There is the cultivation of self-compassion. Hand-digging a well of self-compassion so deep and clear and self-replenishing that anyone can come and drink from it. Even “enemies.”

Water is patient.

If you feel I’m victim-blaming, consider if there’s not something else rumbling under the calcified story you tell yourself about yourself. Your own thundering life force, maybe. Crack open a slot through which you can receive the invitation to grow up.

Freedom comes from an embodied, wholehearted, devoted, felt sense of responsibility to clarify and amplify the particular note I have been given to sing in this magnificent choir.

I am not special.
And my presence is required.

Emotional sobriety lands me in the juicy middle of these poles.
Not knowing.
Bearing witness.

What is unfolding right now?
Right now.
This breath.

The dancer is danced.
The singer is sung.
The bee just keeps tumbling in roses.
Somehow, there are hexagons and honey.

Arrogance Belonging Buddhism Embodiment Emergence Emotional Sobriety Freedom Fuck Suffering Intimacy Love Meditation Metabolizing Ordinary Joy Resentment Self-Compassion You Deserve Gentleness

F*ck Mindfulness

“Why do you stay in prison when the door is so wide open?” –Rumi

This quote has come up a lot for me lately, as I’m interviewing to enroll my new groups. When I ask people if they meditate, the answer is usually, “No, I can’t do that. I have too much anxiety.”

When people would rather medicate than meditate, I die a little. Regular old seated meditation is the heart of my practice. 

It’s simple, free, confronting, and transformative.

It is not always (or even often) relaxing, as the internet would have you believe. 

This belief sets people up to fail.

Why do people have this fear of sitting still? 

Why do they expect being still to be relaxing? 

Did you expect to suddenly be sitting inside a different person? 

You won’t actually crawl out of your skin. 

I promise. 

How have we arrived here? I’m not usually big on blame, but I blame “mindfulness”.

“Mindfulness” is a malignant and horrifying concept, especially for people who come to me and are already drowning in the overflowing cesspool of their minds.

“Wait, am I supposed to fill that thing up even more? Nooooooooo!” 

The commodification of mindfulness is even more insidious and I would like to cut it from the culture like the tumor it is.

The dominance of mind is what most people are suffering from when they come to meditation. They can’t hear or feel much of anything over the unholy whirr of their own mind-made identity turbine. That thing only powers delusion. 

The body knows the truth. The body is the wise companion always already present. 

We’re taught to suspect our bodies and revere our minds. This is still true in contemporary Buddhist practice, which “mindfulness” has unhelpfully emerged from.

EMBODIMENT is a much more useful word than “mindfulness.” The body is the practice portal. Mind is an interfering monkey, flinging poo.

It’s not like I’m against mind. I like it fine. We play together cheerfully, most of the time. 

Still, I’m for mind being informed by the body, instead of the other way around. 

They are intimately intertwined, so why have we allowed the mind such dominance, while relegating the body to cumbersome, shameful skin bag?

My ancestral dharma frenemy, Shantideva’s “A Guide to the Bodhisattva Way of Life” has big ups from all your contemporary Buddhist hitmakers like Pema Chodron and the Dalai Lama.

Shantideva is something like a saint in Buddhism. 

I think his attitude from the 7th century is an apt expression of the poison in our roots. 

Here is his take on bodies generally, and female bodies, specifically:

“Sensuous desires create calamities in this world and the next: through imprisonment, beating, and dismemberment in this world, and in hell and the like in the next. 

“She for whom you have supplicated…and for whose sake you have not considered the cost of either vice nor disgrace, throwing yourself into danger and wasting your wealth, embracing her with the greatest pleasure—she is nothing but bones, indifferent and impersonal…

“Their saliva and excrement arise from the same food. Why then do you dislike excrement and like sucking saliva? 

“The enamored, deluded with regard to filth, do not delight in pillows stuffed with cotton and soft to the touch because they do not emit a foul odor.”

Lol. To me, he doesn’t seem like a saint. He seems like a bratty manchild full of fear, hate, and delusion who probably only went into the monastery because his girlfriend dumped him.

Shantideva shows how the sanctified dominance of mind over body is entangled with a paralyzing terror of the engulfing and transformative power of the feminine. 

“Mindfulness” is the toxic legacy of both. 

No wonder you don’t want to meditate. I wouldn’t either if I thought this anti-eros bullshit had anything to do with practice. 

Shantideva offers an invitation to suffocate the heart, not practice.

“Sati” is the original word that led to the fatal translation of “mindfulness.” Sati means ‘MEMORY’, or ‘TO REMEMBER’. “Prajna,” its practice partner, is translated as ‘WISDOM’ (not so bad) and literally means ‘BEFORE KNOWING’. Sati and Prajna are foundational to meditation practice.

We meditate to remember before knowing.

This memory is in the body, not the mind.

Your mind only interferes with this remembrance.

Your body remembers what your mind hides.

Your body was there before you were born.

Your body arose from one body.

Your body arose from the womb.

A rose.

The womb.

This is where you come from.


When your arm formed in the womb, were you like, “Oh shit, I better figure out what to do with this. How can I use this thing to achieve my goals?” 

There was nothing to do but notice.

Every single day in the womb was transformative.

Every single day you were different from the last.

Every breath in meditation is like this.

Did you panic? Did you cling?

Did you yearn to be the zygote you once were?

Or did you float in sync with your mother’s heartbeat, noticing fingers?

One body.

Your memory before knowing, before separation.

If you forget, your belly button will remind you. Have you looked at your belly button lately? I think it’s interesting that our bellies are one of our most reviled body parts. Keep that portal tight. Only shame in the softness game. Cover it up. Suck it in. Shut it down.

Is that because there’s a little ghost in there? 

That taunts and haunts?


I mean, you can suck it in and be like, “What belly?” Or you could return the ghosts’ whisper with your breath.

Let your belly fill soft with invisible things.

Nudge that bellybutton from within, behind.

“Hey, you. I do. I remember. How did I ever forget? I mean, those were good times…”

One body.

Skin is a permeable membrane.

So is reality.

Sati is this remembrance of womb.

Your memory of before knowing.

Of being one body, before your body.

Of your body before you were born.

Mind has never been here.

The gate’s too small.

You are a speck, a spark.

A bright dust mote that you don’t see land.

You’re the middle c in the demented hum that finds its way back to all the middle c’s in all the songs and wailing and machines that ever were and yet will be.

Deliquesce. Coalesce. Repeat.

Mind has no idea.


Be still.

You will.

This is meditation.

One body, no mind.