Attachment Belonging Confidence Ecology Embodiment Emergence Emotional Sobriety Eros Freedom Intimacy Love Meditation Relationships

Walking in the Bewilderness

This week I met an interesting man and also found out that my landlady already rented my apartment to someone else at the end of my lease in 2 months. I was not anticipating either of these things.

Where will I live? I don’t even like this apartment! An emotionally available man? I won’t have to f*ck my way across a chasm? Well, there’s a different experience of eros…Should I go full feral and live on my land for the summer? But how will I serve my clients without internet?

You get the idea.

Lots of mental flippity floppity jibber jabber until I found myself all tangled in my head, dragging my body around like a laundry bag and listening only to some distant tinnitus.

I know I’m not alone in wanting certainty when a truckload of “I don’t know” is dropped in my yard. The events of this week were novel and full of possibility really, but my thoughts put a pillow on their face, muffling the life out of the actual events and snuffing the vital moment that was for real real in front of me. The demand for certainty is a blunt and suffocating instrument. It’s the seed of greed.

Nothing calls me to self-pleasure practice faster than the feeling that I’ve left my skin. But I have to notice the tingle of the tangle first. When I’ve gone to my head full stop, seated meditation or sound work or breath work just aren’t as helpful.

What does my self-pleasure practice do? It’s non-orgasmic, so it cultivates, rather than releases, energy. It builds my nervous system capacity. I can move with big surges of energy without avoidance.

On noticing a surge, I draw my energy out of my head and back into my body, into my root. What could be called anxiety could also, more neutrally and usefully, be called a surge. I consider it being summoned to the bewilderness. Self-pleasure and meditation have taught me how to hold that energy without skittering about like a squirrel or other small prey.

Drawing the surge from my head back down into my body, shifts the penetrative urge to PUT IT SOMEWHERE or DO SOMETHING WITH IT and instead opens me to allow all that frantic energy to permeate out beyond my skin in a radiant, rather than a jagged way. It lets anxiety become radiance.

But I have to notice. I have to lie down first. I have to step out of reactivity. Like the old fire drill commercials: I have to stop, drop, and slow my roll.

After about 15 minutes of this, I found my feet again and was ready to go for a walk in the bewilderness. I have a cabin there, like Red Riding Hood’s gramma, so I don’t turn down that invitation. Ever. It’s an ancient call that summons my present response.

The bewilderness is a vast and intimate place. Best to go in permeable, so self-pleasure is good prep. Something will happen there, and I have no idea what it is yet. Someone will come out and with some boon or other, and I don’t know anything about either yet. I trust this. I don’t need a map, or any other facsimile of the bewildered territory.

I’m not trying to find a way out, I’m letting myself go deeper in. Letting myself go… “She let herself go.” I think it’s worth interrogating that terrifying phrase and the vicious ways we wield it. There’s a call from the feminine inherent in every time a woman, “Lets herself go”. What if we reframe that to: “Damn, she’s wandering in the bewilderness. Can’t wait to hear about that adventure. She’s going deep!”

Sometimes I don’t like what emerges in the shadows of the bewilderness: Poison ivy! A rabid raccoon that wants tickling! A bear ate my muesli! Baba Yaga is f*cking with me again! Anxious attachment is actually avoidant attachment!

As I step back from what would harm me, can I keep on trusting that being pulled away from one thing means I’m being drawn toward another? Something more resonant? No? That’s okay. That will also change. If I change with it, it will be easier, delightful even. Peril practiced becomes adventure.

Having my preferences violated is one of the deep dark pleasures of the bewilderness.

I notice them better as they depart.

My life has been one of trial and error. I’ve had to try everything–not once–more like three times before I knew it was not for me. I’ve been a good fool who let no precipice pass without throwing myself off of it. All those falls gave me definition. They showed me who I am. They taught me to remember. They taught me that my body will always bend toward life, but my mind might go ahead and kill me–slow or quick–if I don’t train it to sit and stay. Then it becomes a loyal companion.

I’ve always been more interested in vitality than comfort. This has meant I’ve spent a lot of time walking in the bewilderness and I’m no longer afraid the beings there. Lots of poison allies to be found. I’ve befriended them before. We remember each other. They’re my relations. I belong here, and have since before I was born. This is my place. In this ecosystem, we are making and re-making each other in cycles of vital and fatal surrender. There’s nothing to defend. Remembering that is the better part of protection.

Wandering through the Bewilderness is not unlike Little Red Riding Hood’s visit to grandmother’s house. Sure, ancestral wisdom is waiting there, but so is that egoic wolf, poised to devour. He’s sexier than gramma, to be sure. So furry! He just wants to play! If I listen well, he walks at the end of my leash.

I have the wolf and the gramma in me, and I am also Little Red Riding Hood. We all are. Gramma is that ancestral observer, the mitochondrial presence in my every cell that teaches me about energy and the elasticity of time. Not the mother. The mother’s mother. A broader level of compassion and insight. An orbit out from primal wounds.

That’s the vast bit. On a practical level, my grandmother calls me to her lap for tea and pizza when she notices I’m going off the rails. I’m still a goddamn fool, but grandmother is always there, ready to swaddle me in her cloak and offer me a slice. With her watching out for me, I’m free to play and explore and f*ck up. She’ll always set me straight.

Ignoring her and acting from the wily child without remaining permeable to ancestral supervision is not for a grown-ass woman. My Gramma heart is the spiritual maturity that tempers and tends the brat in me. Gramma keeps the brat alive. And ffs, let the brat live. She’s fun. She risks the bewilderness with verve.

What is risked anyway? Insulating ourselves from risk is a perpetual, creeping death. I mean, I don’t throw myself off any old cliff anymore. I use discernment. I ask myself: How does this risk meet reality? Is it bringing an incontrovertible clench or can I meet it from the ready position: knees bent, soft and bouncy, relaxed and alert. Poised and agile. I can’t be the response if I can’t hear the call and I can’t hear the call if I’m clenched.

Everything I need is here, in the bewilderness. And yet it never looks the same twice, which is fine with me because I have a terrible sense of direction anyway. This has been helpful. I never feel lost because I’m always wandering, right here, where I belong.

If you’re ready for a full-on guided tour through the bewilderness, I’m offering 8 week 1 on 1 intensives now. If you want a swaddle and some pizza as you dip a toe in, Pocket Coaching is always available.

Attachment Belonging Boundaries Embodiment Emergence Emotional Sobriety Freedom Fuck Suffering Intimacy Love Meditation Metabolizing Ordinary Joy Relationships Self-Compassion You Deserve Gentleness

Belonging is Our Birthright

It’s been a really challenging couple of weeks. Every time I thought I’d opened, I took a deep breath and opened wider. I also learned when to close. I’ve become a better asshole, basically.

It’s been a tender time, where I’ve learned intimately all the places I’m held. I’ve softened into this trust in a way that is new for me. I’m standing in a place I’ve never stood before. It’s scary and it’s not easy, but there is so much ease enveloping it. I hope that makes sense. It’s not for the mind, but a felt sense in my body. There is trust enveloping the fear. And so much love.

I got this message from a client yesterday, that he gave me permission to share with you. It came right on time, as things do.

If you’re looking for this kind of support, DM me for a one-on-one, or the F*ck Suffering group. Or you can go right to my website The start for the group has been pushed back to March 1 while I give myself some space to grieve.

Working with others really does help me realize in my bones that we’re all in this together. We’re never alone. Belonging is our birthright.

Here’s part of Daniel’s message:

“It’s like a seed was planted and something very beautiful has began to grow. I’m sure you speak with many people and don’t remember every detail of our talk but one of the main points you brought up for me was to listen. I have taken that and ran with it. Lately, I find myself wanting to speak only if it improves the silence. I’ve really began to put into practice listening to my partner, loved ones, my manager etc. without that selfish, bad habit of preparing my responses based on my own feelings.

Since I’ve put my meditation first, I find myself relinquishing all control. Life is fucking messy, complicated, constantly evolving, and it will always remain that way.

I feel one follows the same rules for meditation as one would when experiencing psychedelics. A taboo statement I’m sure but it definitely feels that way. I sit with myself as I am allowing all thoughts to flow through me without any control or judgement. I do not resist. I come innocently to the practice not forcing or “trying” to have an experience.

The only difference of course and most rewarding thing is it is teaching a sober, clear mind. Resistance only brings suffering & my god, it’s like a light has turned on. I feel like Dorothy returning from Oz. We all have the power within us. It just takes one particular journey for each individual to believe in it.

While I’m still learning & by all means am no master of this, it has created a yearning to continue to dive deeper and return home to myself. I feel you’ve really helped me shape a very important focus and for that I thank you immensely.”

–Daniel LA, CA

Even though there’s lots of loss around here over the past week, there is also so much to be grateful for, so much to love.

Confidence Embodiment Emergence Emotional Sobriety Eros Freedom Fuck Suffering Intimacy Meditation Metabolizing Self-Compassion You Deserve Gentleness

The Care and Feeding of Anxiety

Care and feeding? Of anxiety?

But this feeling is terrible! I don’t want to care for it, I want to annihilate it. Make it stop.

My heart is pounding and I feel like I’m going to crawl out of my skin. Make. It. Stop.

Energy is blasting thru me like geyser erupting from forces I can’t see or understand! Is this anxiety? Or is it just surging? We surge to meet demand. Even Uber does this. Sometimes the rest of us doesn’t want to come along. Our vital life force energy is waking us up anyway. There is no need to hit snooze. There is a need to notice what’s being demanded.

Energy is fundamentally neutral. Anxiety is what we sometimes call an energetic surge, a turbo boost. It would be a response to danger, if there were danger, but these days it’s more a reaction to an old mental loop. “What fires together, wires together,” goes the old neuropsych saying.

How often do you wire a surge into an anxiety circuit?

The more we choose to adorn a surge with existential dread when no actual, physical danger exists, the more we get to call ourselves “anxious” and the more we allow the misfiring thoughts to wire into identity.

“There’s nothing I can do about it, I’m just an anxious person.”

What if you’re a high-energy person who just doesn’t want the full responsibility for what you’re capable of doing with all that vital force? I mean, that would be a pretty big responsibility, I can see why you’d resist it. As a species though, we kind of need you to paddle onto that wave and stand up. This takes practice. This takes failure. This requires you to let the thoughts be released from the surge.

You can’t outrun the energy you’ve been given. You can expand the capacity of your nervous system until you can receive whatever comes with ease. When we call it a surge, we can soften and expand. When we call it anxiety, we clench and restrict. It’s harder to feel victimized by a surge and a bit easier to feel invigorated by it.

When a surge comes to move you, move. Move toward what is yours to do. Welcome the uncertainty until the next right action becomes clear. Let yourself feel fully overwhelmed. “Overwhelming overwhelms overwhelming…” as Dogen wrote. Which is to say, allow yourself to be engulfed and taste what is engulfing you.

Give it time. Let that all that sensation permeate your stillness. Wait for what it feels like to truly be moved.

If you’re still here, life is holding you. I learned what anxiety was made of by having my existential dread scenarios actually come true. Grief and failure whittled me down. They revealed my true shape, hidden for so long in a block of wood. Everything that fueled my anxiety actually happened. And I was still here. What seemed like a full decade of catastrophes, freed me. There was actually nothing to be afraid of. Surrender really is the most powerful position.

Nothing revives anxiety for me as reliably as procrastination. My body and mind are primed to serve. I’m full of energy. Poised and potentiated for all I am required to do as my essential self in the world. But fuck, what would that mean? What would be required of me after this thing in front of me? Like, another thing? And another thing after that? Wouldn’t that soon be a pile of things? How would I do it all? What if people don’t like it? What if I am not pleasing? What if I am despised? What if I am abandoned? What if I die alone, smelled before I am missed? Does any of it even matter?

I mean, even if we destroy this world, it will rebalance, it’s really just us destroying ourselves. How we treat ourselves ripples out. How we tend our own bodies is how we tend the body of the world. It’s so easy to let one old loop expand into another until I am humming along, alone in my room, tipping over into paralysis, burying myself alive until I am good and dead inside, too numb to move. Anxiety thrives on this black comedy. I’m being devoured by my own self-abandonment. My own reluctance to be responsible for myself and my gifts. I’ve taken the energy given me for the next right action and squandered it. I’ve used it for self-immolation instead of self-compassion. I’ve brought this on myself. I mean, what can I do, I’m just an anxious person, right? How can I dig my way out of this grave grave grave? How can I use the energy given me to show up instead of leaking it all over the place in a squander wander?

I can learn to hold this energy by learning how to regulate my nervous system. I can learn to hold this energy by increasing my nervous system capacity with practice. I can learn to hold this energy by landing in my feet and breathing deep into my belly with very long exhales. By noticing how all that intense sensation is moving through my body without needing anything to be different. What is its texture, temperature, tone? By building my capacity to notice how much energy my system can handle before tipping over into the clench. By committing to expand that capacity. By committing to notice before I react. By noticing the thoughts that encourage the spiral to drill down deeper instead of trying to banish them. By understanding that what I wrestle with, I lend power to. By realizing that I can just let the surge be what it is without the adornment of existential dread.

I invite the surge to dance. As it breathes on my neck, I ask what it wants. The answer is, “Oh, you know.”

Me, all breathless: “Tell me again.”

The Surge: “To help you do your work, dummy. It’s only your resistance that makes it uncomfortable. If you dance with me, we shall delight. If you resist me, you think you’re dying. Because that is what you’re choosing. To deaden yourself against the motion of life. Move with me. Shake that ass. You’re not in charge here, I am. I am here to serve. I’m here to dance. Are you?”

Me: “I want to feel you inside me.”

The Surge: “That’s what I thought.”

Welcome the surge like a lover. I mean, so many underground forces had to gather in the dark for this geyser to erupt inside me. The surge will eventually run its course. It will come, it will go, it will come again. To pathologize the surge is to squander a gift. To welcome the surge and move with it is to open that gift, this present, and all of the potency it is so generously offers. Anxiety by any other name is here to propel you toward what is required. Why are you turning away?

Belonging Buddhism Embodiment Emergence Eros Freedom Fuck Suffering Love Meditation Metabolizing Relationships Self-Righteousness The Feminine You Deserve Gentleness

Buddha Pudding

Before Gautama was officially THE BUDDHA, he was an ascetic. Which is some kind of fruitless exercise in separation, if you ask me.

When he first arrived at the fabled Bodhi tree he was sick and weak and nearly dead from the denial of his body that he was convinced was the path to enlightenment. Such is the way of the immature masculine. He thought he could get there by controlling his mind. He thought there was a “there” there.

So Sujata, a milkmaid, comes to the Bodhi tree to make her devoted offering to the tree sprits for giving her a child and a wonderful husband, as she did on the regs. She sees Gautama there, a bag of bones. She thought maybe he was the tree spirit, somehow exiled from the tree itself. Not far off, really.

She went home and filled a golden bowl with rice pudding, as an additional offering, because how miraculous is it when spirit is made flesh? Even when that flesh has been so diminished. She presented him with the pudding, hoping that it would make all his wishes come true, as hers had. 

He ate it.

He was utterly rejuvenated by this feminine offering. To thank her, he threw her golden bowl into the river as a form of divination to determine his next steps. Apparently he didn’t trust his intuition yet.

Thus fortified, he was shortly thereafter enlightened and became the Buddha that we all know and love.

So the story goes.

In all the celebrations of Buddha’s enlightenment, Sujata is rarely mentioned. And nowhere can I find what happened to her bowl after Gautama threw it in the river. I’m guessing he didn’t return it.

I tell you this story of Gautama and Sujata to emphasize how simple life on the path can be if you’re Sujata and how complicated it can seem if you’re Gautama. And yet Gautama’s story is the one we all hear about. The one who made life difficult and then didn’t and then became a historical figure for telling everyone that it’s easy as pudding without giving credit to the woman who gave him the pudding. 

A classic religious trope. 

Let’s not embody it, okay? 

Sometimes things happen that we most definitely don’t want. We lose people, we lose things, we lose money, we lose our golden bowl—but we don’t have to lose our shit. We don’t have to create loss, create failure, create suffering. We can meet and metabolize everything as it comes, as simply (though not always as easily) as we can eat pudding. We can open wide and take it all the way in. We devour the invisible meat of viruses, spores, pollen, and so much more with every breath. We can’t be separate no matter how much we try. We are always devouring and being devoured. Know this. Taste this. Trust this. 

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


There’s so much talk of letting go and so little mention of welcoming.

I have considered just sitting on a welcome mat instead of a cushion.

I’m about to sign off for a week to sit my last retreat of a retreating year.

There will be times I’ll feel I’m going to crawl out of my skin. There will be times when I can’t stop crying–sometimes from awe, sometimes from grief, sometimes from wild yearning. There will be times when I am stable and times when I am wobbly. There will be times when my heart is so blown open I don’t know how there could be anything but love in me ever again. There will times when it all feels insufferable and ridiculous and I will see myself as my neighbors do as that crazy lady who chants a lot and hasn’t left the house in a week except to walk the dog. There will be times when I’m pretty sure I can feel all of my neighbor’s heartbeats.

I will remember my grandmother and that time in January and ice cream and my niece and a haiku and my grandfather’s feet before he died and the laughs at the checkout, buying butter. Sometimes I will remember absolutely nothing, just fizzing away in god’s own womb until the bell rings.

It probably won’t be any of that, now that I’ve said it. I’ve welcomed it, so it’s already gone.

When I think about what I need to let go of, I clench. When I trust that I can meet and metabolize whatever comes, I soften. 

This week is the culmination of a year of practice that has surprised me with its depth and devotion. I kept showing up, soft and spacious. I didn’t mean to. It wasn’t my preference. I just couldn’t muster a sulky gesture of refusal. Once I got me the fuck out of the way, everything just unfolded. No force required.

Practice introduces me to myself over and over again. All of me. Retreats call an assembly.

The feral pack of selves doesn’t always show up in the everyday. Not all together, where I can get a good look at them. They hide out. They like to take me by surprise. They’re fun that way. Stalking my own soft animal requires long stillness. If I move, the litter of me-cubs won’t scamper into my lap and tell me their names:

“What kind of animal are you? Oh, I see we have a few reptiles here. A litter of puppies. Who let all these pigs in? Very large number of pigs. This one appears to be a Javelina. Interesting.”

I’ll let them go, but first I have to let them come. I’m letting them show me to myself. I’m letting them play in the field of practice, according to their nature. I won’t starve them, I’ll feed them. I don’t want them clinging to me, desperate for survival. I will let them to go their own way, in their own time. They’re more keen to explore on a full belly.

I’m letting them show me where I still fear desire–being overwhelmed by it, being honest about it. I’m letting them show me parts that think if I open to my deepest desire, I will be punished for it. Again. 

I’m letting them ask me how I can dare to move only from the vast fuck yes while they’re crawling all over me.

Who do I think I am, anyway?

I think I’m emerging, again and again, like G above middle c in a song I haven’t even heard yet.

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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.

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

The Soften and the Clench

How can I know when an impulse to act is coming from my Big Original Self or my little selfishly selfish self?

It’s tricky because the Big Self has a little voice and the little self is a big screamer.

I put myself back where my feet are. The body always knows. There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home. 

I still myself and listen for the soften or the clench. In the stillness the clench retreats. That trash panda scurries off as the noticing lands. I have to sniff around a bit to find exactly where it was and what it was eating. 

Soften or clench is the polarity that is more foundational to me than feminine or masculine, right or wrong, empty or full. It’s the primal yes and no. The nod or the grunt. Toward or away. The absolute or relative. Those pairs aren’t separate, they’re intimately intertwined and still polar opposites. 

Even opposition is intimate. Not enmeshed, but interdependent. In the distance between them, dancing. Like a contra dance, sorta. Swishing and swirling in and out of the space between the space between. Strangers and pairs and strangers again.

That’s what’s between the soften and the clench—everything. 

Soften or clench is the bridge between the infinite and minute, the inchoate tug like tides that I can only feel if I am in this body more water than bone.  

If the ocean can be pulled by the moon twice daily what arrogance to think that my body is not subject to the same forces? 

Why would I resist them? 

Who do I think I am? 

Oh shit. Wrong verb. 

Thinking who I am or what my body is subject to is the crux of the problem. Mind can’t untangle mind, hands can. Water can. 

The wave moves both toward and away just by virtue of being a wave. It arises and passes from the flux of invisible forces. It harnesses and wields them through its surrender. The wave never forgets it’s water.

Without surrendered flux, it’s no longer a wave. It’s still water, which is pretty great and all, but the being of a wave is the energy it carries. You too. Me too. It’s so easy to drown there. 

I remember as a little girl doing the dead man’s float in the Atlantic at the Jersey shore, ears underwater and body floating, held. 


I was carried a little far down the beach and couldn’t spot the family umbrella. 


I still remember that quick twist from one state to the other. These words come from that child’s body. 

What do I know, puny human that I am? 

I am privy to a tiny slice of the big fat truth at any given moment. 

My senses are designed to limit, so that I can navigate this warm speck of self through fire water earth and air moving in and out of other fields until there is no more other and I am no longer sensible. 

I’m just the wave, intimately tugged, scattering light. 

Under that, I’m water.

The other shore is there somewhere and I don’t need to know who will wash up on it. I can’t. I only trust that somehow, her presence is required.

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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.