Tag Archives: Spiritual Practice Success Stories

Spiritual Practice Success Story: "I Became a Stay-at-Home Mom"

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Image from the law of attraction book list featuring all major law of attraction authors at lawofattractionproject.com

Contributor: Mollie Player

A month before we had our second child, my husband David and I bought a house. We’d looked for eight months for the right one and when we finally found it we were very glad we’d waited.

It was perfect.

The neighborhood is modest and quiet and all grown over with trees. The location is central–just a short drive to anywhere we need to go. And the house, itself, is just our style: three bedrooms, two baths, one story, with vaulted ceilings, hardwood floors and a very simple charm. Though when we initially envisioned our future home with four kids running around in it we thought we’d need to upgrade, ever since moving in I’ve told David that I don’t care how many kids we have and who has to share a bedroom.

I never want to leave.

Anyway, the house wasn’t cheap. And neither are the many bills that come along with home ownership. And neither was the new car that we bought right after that. And so, when the baby was born I decided to continue working part-time.

A few months into motherhood, I got a great freelance gig. It was just the kind of thing I love doing—a corporate blog—and I could work mostly from home. At the time, I figured it was probably a law of attraction thing—the right gig at the right time, and all that.

But that was before I got fired.

Why did it happen? Well, to make a long story short, my client was more conservative than I was—way more conservative—and didn’t like the risks I was taking. So they decided I just wasn’t a “good fit.”

And that was how that went.

Normally when something like this happens, I don’t worry about it very much; there are always other clients, other projects. This time, though, it was different. This job felt so perfect for me and I thought I was doing such good work, I thought. Why didn’t this work out?

And then I thought about it some more.

I remembered the difficult phone interview when my phone wouldn’t work right and I had to drive to a nearby park and call them back. I remembered how hard it was to say goodbye to my then-five-month-old, and my uncertainties about our nanny.

And I remembered the voice inside my head saying, I just want to be a mom.

One night shortly after getting fired, my husband David and I went to dinner for our anniversary. I wasn’t in the mood to celebrate, but I went anyway, more out of a feeling of duty than anything. As we sat there waiting for our food I told Dave that something felt off to me lately, but I didn’t know quite what.

I looked around the restaurant. There were three small babies nearby—one at the table behind Dave, one at the table behind me, and one at the table next to us. Suddenly, I had a realization.

“David,” I said. “I want to fire the nanny.”

David was surprised. “Are you sure?” he asked.

“No, I’m not sure. I love working. But–I don’t know. Something is feeling off. No matter what I do, how well my work day goes, all I can think about all day is my kid.

“We don’t need the money, Hon. He should be with me.”

“Okay,” said Dave. “If that’s what you want to do.”

And that’s when I noticed it: a sense of peace. A radiating calm. It came over me suddenly, and I laughed out loud.

“I feel so much better now,” I said. “Wow. That was a relief. I haven’t felt this good in weeks.”

My higher self had finally gotten my attention.

For the rest of our date, David and I enjoyed ourselves greatly. Afterwards we took a long, aimless drive and just talked.

It was a wonderful anniversary after all.

Here is what I wrote in my journal several months later:

Xavier is over five months old now, and I find that I don’t want to write my books anymore, and I still don’t want to have a nanny, and all I freaking want to do is to stare at my baby’s face while he nurses, while he sleeps, while he cries, and to rock him and to hold him and to tell him that everything is going to be okay.

Last night, I slept from midnight until almost nine thirty. Every time Xavier awoke or stirred, I rolled over and did the most beautiful thing in the world: I fed my baby. Then I fell back asleep. There was one diaper change around seven, easily accomplished. My husband slept next to us peacefully.

It was a glorious night.

I love being a stay-at-home mom. So much more than I ever thought I would. We go to parks. We take long car rides and do car naps. Sometimes after the baby falls asleep, I just pull into a parking lot and read a book.

And I’ve never been this important to anyone before—never. Not even close.

It feels really, really good.

And even though later I got a part-time job, and even now I still work a bit most days, it still does.


Depression Success Story: "If What You’re Doing Isn’t Working, Try Something Else"

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Contributor: Anonymous. A few years back, I interviewed a friend on the topic of depression. Here is what came of our time together.

Mollie: I want to talk to you about a huge topic, depression. So many people experience this, some for many years. I have struggled with it my entire remembered life, and am currently seeking total recovery. My first question is, what is depression, exactly? What causes it? 

Anonymous: Depression is caused by pushing down your energy, suppressing it.

Mollie: What is the primary technique you recommend for overcoming depression? 

Anonymous: Meditation is essential. The kind I practice is dynamic meditation, which incorporates physical activity and helps us expand our energy. This expansion and release can help with depression.

Mollie: Some people say it helps to welcome the depression, to allow it rather than to fight against it. What do you think? Does this work? Or should I just ignore it, not give it a voice? For me, it always seems to get worse when I focus on it, but maybe I need to do so anyway as a first step towards acceptance?

Anonymous: Don’t suppress it. Give it a voice, but don’t give the labels and thoughts that accompany it a voice.

Mollie: So I should meditate on the depression?

Anonymous: Don’t meditate on depression. Meditate on what we call depression–the physical and other sensations you are experiencing in that moment–without labeling it. Don’t make it into something. Don’t put mind on it. The mind is creating the depression, and the mind is trying to get rid of it? No. That can never work.

There’s a saying I like: Not knowing is the most intimate.

Mollie: So do you think that if I do what you’re saying to do–meditate on the primary feeling of the depression, without suppressing it–that I will eventually overcome the depression?

Anonymous: I believe that this and active meditation can help people in your situation. But ultimately you need to do what works for you.

Meditation teacher Osho once said, “If you don’t feel much better after having meditated regularly for a time than you did when you started, your meditation practice isn’t working.” When I heard that I remember thinking, “What do you mean? Of course my technique is working. I feel better–a bit.” Later I understood what he meant.

Don’t stick with a practice for thirty years hoping that one day you will start feeling what you want to feel. Try something else.

Mollie: What if I can’t find something that works? Should I just accept that I am a depressed person right now, and make peace with it? Sometimes I’m able to do that.

Anonymous: I would tell you to work toward true acceptance, which comes when you disidentify with the mind. Not mere acquiescence.

Acquiescence is not acceptance. Acceptance is open arms. A full embrace. It is the knowledge that this condition or situation is an absolutely essential part of your healing. If your life was totally working the way it is right now, you wouldn’t be seeking the way you are right now.

Nothing fails like success.

Mollie: So, this disidentifying with the mind stuff. Can you tell me more about that?

Anonymous: The mind is an optical illusion. It feels like there’s a thinker, a mind, but really there are just thoughts. The mind is not real. You are real.

Mollie: What does it feel like to lose your mind identification? 

Anonymous: It feels like you’re floating. You’re not pushing, you’re not pulling. But as long as you’re identified with the mind you are not floating. You are pushing and pulling.

Mollie: So the mind is this huge, powerful force that works against our emotional well-being nearly every moment of our waking lives. This just seems seriously unfair. Why does it have to be this way? Why does life have to be so full of pain? 

Anonymous: Because it is. And so, you have two choices. You can choose to be a victim. Or you can choose not to be. You can believe that life is working against you. Or you can believe that you are just unconscious, and the Universe is doing everything it can every single day to wake you up.

Spiritual Practice Success Story: "Glennon Doyle’s ‘Love Warrior’ Reminded Me That Feelings Are Okay"

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Contributor: Mollie Player

Just before he turned five, my son Xavier wrote a story. And it was the saddest thing ever. As he finished it and I was scribbling it down, all I could think was, “Oh, my goodness. What is this kid picking up from me?” Here is that story:

“The first thing that happens is there’s alive vacuums and they bang and crush until they’re dead in heaven and then they knew to be not alive vacuums that are really alive vacuums. The end. (They just pretend that they’re not alive by closing their eyes and popping their arms in them.)”

“Oh, and put the title on it,” he reminded me.

“Okay. What’s the title?”

“Alive Vacuums Hurt.”***

Okay, I thought. Calling the therapist now.

Honestly, I have no idea if Xavier was expressing something from deep within or if his story was so disturbing because he thinks pain and violence is exciting. (He’s been a fireman for three Halloweens in a row now.) Another possibility: it was God talking through him to me, telling me to let myself feel.

Here’s the thing: All my life, I have been the most terrible at feelings. Like, hardly any skills at all. I couldn’t purposely cry to save my life; when the tears do finally come I prolong he experience as long as humanly possible; it feels that good. I think that one of my roadblocks to overcoming my depression may be this whole suppression thing that once was taught to me, but that has by now become automatic.

And I admit that it’s not just habit that’s the problem. Feeling my feelings is just scary. I always have the fear that I’ll slip back into acute depression, and do more harm than good.

Which is probably why I loved the book Love Warrior: A Memoir by Glennon Doyle so much: it gave me an outlet for emotion. It’s about blogger Doyle’s marital difficulties as well as how she overcame addiction. But Doyle doesn’t just tell her story. She emotes it. She gives us the raw, even gory, details, scene by painful scene, till your own personal sadness surfaces to keep hers company.

I felt a lot of things while reading Doyle’s book. But mostly I felt inspired to feel more.

I haven’t gotten as far with this therapeutic technique as I’d’ve liked to by now, six months or so after having read her book. But, as I’ve written before on this blog, I’m trying out some stuff–cognitive behavioral therapy and my negativity brain dumps–and so far my results have been encouraging. The feelings really are pretty bad, when I focus on them. But they pass away fairly quickly. One of my goals for this year is to just feel more.

I don’t want to e an alive vacuum pretending to be a dead vacuum anymore.

Here are a few passages I especially liked.

  • My mom’s voice quivers as she and my dad ask the usual questions: Why do you keep doing this to us? Why do you keep lying? Do you even love us? I sit on the couch and I try to receive their questions, but I’m a catcher without a mitt. My face is neutral, but the part of my heart that’s not spoiled is aching. I do love them. I love them and I love my sister and I love my friends. I think I love my people more than normal people love their people. My love is so overwhelming and terrifying and uncomfortable and complicated that I need to hide from it. Life and love simply ask too much of me. Everything hurts. I don’t know how people can just let it all hurt so much. I am just not up for all this hurting.
  • I sit and stare at my hands and I remember a story I saw on the news about a woman who had a stroke and lost all her language overnight. When she woke up, her mind functioned perfectly, but she couldn’t speak. So she just lay there and tried to use her eyes to communicate her terror about being trapped inside herself. Her family couldn’t translate what her eyes were saying. They thought she was brain-dead. It’s like that for me, too. I’m in here. I am good on the inside. I have things to say. I need help getting out. I do love you. My secret is that I’m good in here. I am not heart-dead. This is a secret that no one knows but me.
  • We begin to understand that to coparent is to one day look up and notice that you are on a roller coaster with another human being. You are in the same car, strapped down side by side and you can never, ever get off. There will never be another moment in your lives when your hearts don’t rise and fall together, when your minds don’t race and panic together, when your stomachs don’t churn in tandem, when you stop seeing huge hills emerge in the distance and simultaneously grab the side of the car and hold on tight. No one except for the one strapped down beside you will ever understand the particular thrills and terrors of your ride.
  • As we walk out into the sun, Craig says, “Is it going to be okay? He’s going to be okay, right?” I look at him and understand that when your coaster partner gets scared you must quickly hide your own fear. You can’t panic at the same time. You must take turns. I grab Craig’s arm, hold tight, and say, “Yes. Absolutely. It’s all going to be okay. He is going to be amazing. This is just part of our ride.”
  • I tell them that I’m finally proud of who I am. I understand now that I’m not a mess but a deeply feeling person in a messy world. I explain that now, when someone asks me why I cry so often, I say, “For the same reason I laugh so often—because I’m paying attention.” I tell them that we can choose to be perfect and admired or to be real and loved. We must decide. If we choose to be perfect and admired, we must send our representatives out to live our lives. If we choose to be real and loved, we must send out our true, tender selves.
  • I’d been angry and ashamed because my marriage was so far from perfect. But perfect just means: works exactly the way it is designed to work. If marriage is an institution designed to nurture the growth of two people—then, in our own broken way, our marriage is perfect.

Spiritual Practice Success Story: "I Suck at Meditation. But It Still Helps"

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Contributor: Mollie Player. For my book The Power of Acceptance, I end with an interview I title “The Beginner.” It’s a self-interview on meditation as follows.

What is the best thing about meditation for you?

What I love—what keeps me going—is the feeling. The feeling of peace and well-being. It happens as soon as I close my eyes—suddenly, I just know I’m okay. If I’m quiet, I can feel tingling, too, particularly in my palms and my arms.

And that’s it. That is why I meditate. And to rewire my brain to become a happier, more positive person. And to connect with my inner being. And to disidentify with the mind.

I should also say that I have come to agree with Subhan that in spite of my great appreciation for it, this “feeling the feeling of feeling good” meditative state is not all that it could be. I would love to experience the moments of true disidentification with the mind that he and others describe, and the feeling of transcendence that goes with it. This, to me, would be a meditative state of a higher order—really, a taste of enlightenment.

What is the hardest thing about meditation for you?

The hardest thing by far is trusting that the time is not wasted. Also, I miss being able to meditate for longer stretches like I did when I had only one kid.

Are you good at meditation?

I suck at meditation, actually. My mind wanders a lot, and part of me still thinks I’m not doing it right. But I’m really good at controlling my anger, at forgiving and being patient. At this point in my life those things are more important to me than any so-called spiritual practice. I love my husband completely. I love my kids completely, and my other family and friends. I accept them exactly as they are. And I love myself, too. The meditation will come. It takes time.

Describe your meditation practice.

My current meditation practice starts with a prayer—the same one every day—in which I repeat a handful of simple words that to me feel highly creative, energetic, and meaningful. I acknowledge that this prayer was inspired partly by Anne Lamott’s book, Help, Thanks, Wow as well as by Joe Vitale’s Zero Limits. It is this:

Angels, guides, God and all there is,

Please. Please.
Help. Help.

Notice. Notice.
Accept. Accept.

Surrender. Surrender.
Flow. Flow.

Love. Love.
Give. Give.

Body. Body.
Energy. Energy.

Thank you. Thank you.
Life. Life.

I repeat each of these stanzas as many times as feels good.
Stanza One is more a prayer than a meditation. In it, I ask the Universe to help me successfully handle whatever life circumstances I’m currently experiencing. It’s my way of getting the stuff of life off my mind so I have a better chance of entering the meditative state.

Stanza Two is the most important. It is my acceptance prayer. With “notice” I remind myself to observe my thoughts all day, particularly the neurotic ones, thus separating myself from them a step or two. With “accept” I remember to truly and fully embrace whatever comes my way that day—that whatever is, is perfect.

Stanza Three takes acceptance a step further, reminding me to surrender my will to the will of the Universe totally. I choose to let go of the need to control, to dictate each moment, and instead to “flow” with the current of life. When appropriate, I ask for guidance from my higher self regarding various decisions and actions.

Stanzas Four, Five and Six are my payoff stanzas, the ones I look forward to after the work of the first three is done. With them, I move away from asking and reminding and towards the state of love and meditation. It is no longer necessary for me to do anything or give anything; with these words, I am simply being.

With “love” and “give” I imagine love energy moving around and through me. I send this energy to anyone nearby or in my thoughts. Similarly, “body” and “energy” remind me of the energy field of my body, which I visualize radiating from my higher self to the world. “Thank you” is a moment of pure gratitude for All That Is—even the things I don’t like so much. It is a thank you for hardships, for lessons, for growth, as well as for my many blessings. Finally, I say “life,” my favorite word for God, to remember the All that surrounds me every day.

After this prayer, which I usually say during exercise, I do a short sitting meditation—five to fifteen minutes, maybe more. Sometimes I simply watch my thoughts, as Subhan taught me. No judgment, no failure, no perfection, no regrets. I just sit, “seeing what my mind is up to,” as Anthony once perfectly put it, noticing what comes up.

Other times, I do an energy or mantra meditation.

I love my mantras. I love my energy technique, and hey, I learned it from Eckhart Tolle, the best. But these days no matter which technique I use, I emphasize separating myself from my mind. Feeling good is no longer my goal for my fifteen minutes or so on the floor. Becoming a little better at watching my thoughts, retraining my brain to automatically understand that my mind is not me—that is my only real goal. The idea is that the more I do this, the easier it will become.

Practicing, really, is my goal. And even that, I must hold lightly.

My practice is enhanced greatly by activities like exercise, reading and friendship that help me stay mentally and physically healthy.

Law of Attraction Success Story: “My Top Five Law of Attraction Techniques,” Part Two

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Contributor: Ralph Dorr, author of the recently published book Law of Manifestation: How to Manifest Anything with The Power of Your Mind.

As someone who has tried nearly two hundred law of attraction methods and read over fifty-seven books on the subject, to say I was frustrated when my life was the same is the understatement of the year. That is, until I did a “self-audit” and realized that 99 percent of the positive change that was happening in my life was coming from only a few super simple techniques I’d almost stopped doing. Mollie was kind enough to let me write a couple of articles about how I got out of this slump and manifested my dream life to share with all of you amazing people.

Here’s how I discovered the final three of my top five law of attraction techniques and used them to change my life.. (You can read about the others right here.)

Technique 3: Act As If You’ve Already Done It

“Whether you think you can or think you can’t, either way you are right.” – Henry Ford

This was tough for me to overcome because it was a confidence issue with me. I knew the advice, keep your back straight, walk tall, don’t let people get the better of you but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. Or so I thought. It can be clumsy or awkward at first but I promise it will make you smile from ear to ear once you try it. When I was feeling lost just a few years ago I gave it a shot. I thought to myself, “If I were a successful author, how would I behave?” So I changed. Instead of being slumped in my chair when writing, I got up, stretched myself out, took some deep breaths, and resumed writing, only this time tried to look confident. And you know what? It worked! I managed to brainstorm numerous ideas for my books and even got started on the one I recently published.

Take a moment and picture a successful person in your mind. What is their body language like? Are they smiling? What actions and activities are they doing? Now, ask the same questions again, only picture someone who is depressed or unsatisfied with their life. I bet you’ll start to see a difference.

That’s the trick! Having a fulfilling life really just boils down to how you act. Recent studies confirmed this by determining that “. . . the way you walk and move your body and posture affects your mood.” For instance, if you’re not happy with the amount of money you have in the bank nothing is stopping you from acting like you’re already at the goal you wish you were at. Walk with confidence, smile more, live better and the Universe will notice. Go ahead, act it out!

Technique 4: Love What You Do

“Don’t aim for success if you want it; just do what you love and believe in, and it will come naturally.” – David Frost

Most of us have experienced going with the crowd rather than paving our own path. Early in my journey I was taking tests online all day trying to figure out my personality, passions and strengths. It wasn’t until I pushed my laptop to the side and starting spending some quality time with myself that I realized what I truly love, which is writing. It can be tough to sit down and have a mental “talk” with yourself. It took me hours to figure out what my heart has been trying to tell me all along. But guess what? When I figured out what my soul wanted me to pursue, I got an instant energy rush which touched every inch of my being. I had found my passion. No other feeling can relate to how spectacular it felt. Since it was my true passion I love every second I spend doing it and my life has become so much better since I found it.

This right here is where success and happiness are intertwined. Have you ever noticed that people who have it all (Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, etc.) never stop working? They have enough money and success to last multiple lifetimes but many people like that work harder than when they were young. Here’s the secret: they love what they do!

I love writing, improving myself, and connecting with others so I make it my mission each day to do at least one of those three things. If you love taking photos, take them every day, share them with who you can, and enjoy the process. There has never been a better time to cash in on your passion. Or if you don’t want any financial success from it, do it because it makes your soul feel good and alive!

I spoke about this in my book Power Mindset Mastery, as follows:

“If you do not discover yourself, and know exactly what you want from life, you have no idea what you are living for.

“A step to self-discovery is identifying your needs. Most people are clueless of what they want. To identify your needs, you first need to take a step back and think thoroughly. Then, when you are in a relaxed state of mind, meditate and focus on your thoughts. Ask yourself questions like what makes you happy, what makes you sad and so on. Along with the question of what, also ask why it makes you feel certain emotions. Seek a deep and strong reason behind it, not a common or general answer.

“When you have identified what makes you happy and sad, you can focus on the things that make you happy and stay away from moments that make you sad.”

Technique 5: Accept Who You Are

“The worst loneliness is to not be comfortable with yourself.” – Mark Twain

This can be tough for many of us because often times we shove our true thoughts or feelings to the side for quite some time. I was in a nasty habit of doing that for most my life. I would keep my mouth shut when I had something to say. Or I would keep myself from saying how I really felt when I was given the chance to speak. At first I thought I was doing good by not upsetting anyone and that I was attracting good people in my life because of it. However, I was battling myself on the inside to stop wearing so many different masks. The people I was attracting into my life didn’t share my vision or passion which made it tough to be around them. Much like the other techniques, I decided one morning that I would start to speak my mind and be honest with myself. I started slow but eventually got to the point where I was speaking my mind and telling the truth every time I opened my mouth. It was an incredibly freeing feeling and one that still hits me to this day. The result? I began attracting wonderful people into my life who shared my passion for writing and helping. It is a completely different feeling when you are surrounded by people who genuinely know you and care for that part of you that you tried so hard to push away.

As we age, our ambitions tend to fade. Do you still love doing the activities you were doing as a child? If you so happen to write a book, what subject would you write on? Questions like these can help bring perspective to where you are at in your life and what you value.

You’ll always have people tell you what you are doing Is wrong, weird, or too different. Caring about what others think of you is a HUGE distraction. What does it keep you from? Yourself.

Deep inside you know yourself. We all do. Some of us just need an extra nudge to get it out. For me, I always tried to hide the fact that I love the self-help genre from my friends and family. I remember I was terrified to get caught listening to Tony Robbins on my computer as a kid so I would close the tab when my parents walked by. I was scared of what they would think. Unfortunately the only person that was affecting was myself because I was stopping myself from exploring what my soul was telling me to do.

When I became open about how much I appreciate things like the law of attraction or meditation I was met with questions and laughter from the people that were close to me. However, I also gained respect from them because we naturally respect those who are brave enough to let go and be true to themselves, it is freeing. Be honest with who you are. Identify the areas in your life that you feel you aren’t being true to yourself in and make a change.

That wraps up my explanation of the five law of attraction techniques that changed my life. It felt great writing these out. If they help even just one person then it will have been worth sharing.

As a final note, don’t overthink it. When it comes to living the life of your dreams or attracting success into your life, focus on finding yourself first. Practice self-love and gratitude and your journey will align more and more with where the universe wants you.

Ralph Dorr

P.S. Please leave a comment if you have any questions or concerns. I love talking to anyone I can meet! It would make my year if you could check out my book, Law of Manifestation: How to Manifest Anything with The Power of Your Mind and leave an honest review.

Law of Attraction Success Story: “My Top Five Law of Attraction Techniques,” Part One

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Image from the law of attraction book list featuring all major law of attraction authors at lawofattractionproject.com

Contributor: Ralph Dorr, author of the recently published book Law of Manifestation: How to Manifest Anything with the Power of Your Mind.

As someone who has tried nearly two hundred law of attraction methods and read over fifty-seven books on the subject, to say I was frustrated when my life was the same is the understatement of the year. That is, until I did a “self-audit” and realized that 99 percent of the positive change that was happening in my life was coming from only a few super simple techniques I’d almost stopped doing. Mollie was kind enough to let me write a couple of articles about how I got out of this slump and manifested my dream life to share with all of you amazing people.

Here’s how I discovered the first two of my top five law of attraction techniques and used them to change my life.

Technique 1: Be Thankful

“If a fellow isn’t thankful for what he’s got, he isn’t likely to be thankful for what he’s going to get.” – Frank A. Clark

For the longest time I was going through life without being thankful for all that I had. I thought the world was somehow conspiring against me to bring me pain and suffering so I felt no need to thank it. That all changed back in May of 2015 when I found a YouTube channel called Infinite Waters. Here was a man who was telling me all that I could be grateful for. Everyday something beautiful would happen to me and I never gave the Universe even a “thanks” in return. I had a wonderful house, a family who loved me, and nature to appreciate but I never gave any of it attention or gratitude; I only focused on the negative. I felt ashamed and I needed to change. I decided that I would never leave my room in the morning without recounting all that I am grateful for. It began empowering me. When you open your heart and start being grateful, amazing feelings start to flow in. My life changed forever when I started doing that. Instead of only seeing the bad in the world, I saw everything that was good and all that could become good with some changes.

The simple act of recounting all the blessings you’ve been given in your life feels powerful. It can give you purpose to achieve more and pay it back. Don’t just take my word for it, though; Oprah Winfrey, Tim Ferriss, Richard Branson and countless others practice gratitude every day.

The best time I’ve found to practice gratitude is right when I wake up and right before I go to bed. Try writing in a gratitude journal or simply run through three things you’re grateful for in your head. For example, when I wake up I tell myself, “I am so thankful for the amazing family I’ve been blessed with, the comfort my room provides me, and the access to food I am able to enjoy every day.” It always gives me some much needed perspective on how much I truly have. Although we all have our problems, everyone has been blessed with so much that often times we forget to turn around and tell the Universe, “Thank you.”

Technique 2: Build a Dream Board

“Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life’s coming attractions.” – Albert Einstein

When I first heard about constructing a dream board, my first thought was, “What? I suck at arts and crafts.” Due to that limiting belief I shrugged it off and didn’t consider trying to build one for almost a year. Well, one cloudy morning back in 2016 I was thinking to myself, “What am I attracting into my life and what am I focusing on?” I had found my problem. I had no clue what I was focusing on and my life was becoming chaotic because of that. I remembered hearing about building a dream board and how it can help keep you on a focused path towards your dreams. I spent a few sleepless nights building my very own dream board, filling every possible space with an image or word that directed me towards where I wanted to go. Now, I look at it every day on my bedroom door and beautiful thoughts of my dreams rush into my head. It’s an exhilarating feeling and one that I would recommend to everyone!

This is one of my favorite techniques and has helped me change my life in so many ways. A dream board is something physical that showcases your desires in life, like a poster or even a sheet of paper (the bigger the better). It usually has images and words posted on it that align with your goals and vision. It can be a cutout picture of a new car or house from a magazine. Non-material items also work just as well; if one of your goals is to reduce stress, for example, then think about what that would look like. Would you be relaxing on a beach? Going for a bike ride? Think hard and visualize how that picture looks in your mind and put it on your dream board.

The dream board doesn’t have to just be limited to images. Write out how your dreams feel to you. For instance, one of my dreams (which I have not yet achieved) was to write a book. I wrote it out as if I was already living it, saying something like, “I spent all day replying to people’s emails about how much my book meant to them and I loved every second.”

I am hoping you are seeing a pattern by now. When you continue to write out positive phrases or look at images your focus will shift towards that instead of negative distractions. That is the core of this belief and if you are able to do it then you’ll be well on your way to success!

Remember to keep your dream board in a place where you will see it every day. I am a big fan of putting it in spots I can’t avoid like the refrigerator, my bed stand, or even my bedroom door. Add looking at your dream board to your daily morning ritual and think about it often.

Three more techniques to come.

Ralph Dorr

P.S. Please leave a comment if you have any questions or concerns. I love talking to anyone I can meet! It would make my year if you could check out my book, Law of Manifestation: How to Manifest Anything with The Power of Your Mind and leave an honest review.

Spiritual Practice Success Story: “Love Is Stronger Than Anger, Fear or Hate”

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Contributor: Gary Leigh. Gary offers energy cleansing, past life therapy, Bach Flower Remedies and more. Visit him over at psychicsupport.net.

When I was around nine years old, I began to hear thoughts in my mind that were talking independently. I would have conversations with them and eventually they got to the point where they would talk full-time. I don’t recall what was said now, but I do remember there were a lot of them and that they all became overwhelming.

As you can imagine, I assumed I was making this all up and it was just in my imagination.

Then around age eleven, I started to feel what I can only describe as a clawing sensation in my mind. It’s a very difficult thing to put into words, but it was highly unpleasant. It felt like something was trying to take me over. Not so much possess me, but eradicate my being.

Every day this would grow stronger until I was constantly engaged in my own hidden, private battle. As I could not really explain what was going on, I never told anyone around me until one night, when I was thirteen, I was staying with my mother at a friend’s place. I told her what was going on and instead of dismissing it as rubbish, she took it seriously. She had no answers, though.

But a month later, we went to visit these people who also happened to be Jehovah Witnesses. One night, she told them what I had told her, and the next day, they sat me down and told me that Satan was trying to get my soul and I needed to ask God for help.

So I began to do that and the attacks would stop for a short while, only to return a little stronger. So many times a day, I would say, “God help me, Satan be gone.”

In the meantime, I would carry on with my life as normal, and no one ever knew what I was battling. Over the years, I started to become weary and at the same time, more persistent with fighting Satan and attacking him back as best I could.

It was an ever-perpetuating circle and I was losing. Eventually, at age twenty, I had an epiphany that if fighting Satan with hate made him stronger, then maybe love would have the opposite effect. So I said to him in my mind, “You can join me, but only in love.” Then I sent him thoughts of love, compassion and peace.

The change was instant. The attacks stopped immediately, never to return–something I had never imagined was possible. At first I was cautious, just in case they returned, but instead of my old mantra of “God help me and Satan be gone,” my new one was a constant “Love and peace, love and peace.”

And that’s when my spiritual journey really started to take off.

Incidentally, this is a perfect example of the saying “What you resist, persists and what you look at and make your own disappears.”

What began after that was years of spiritual study and pursuit. I read everything I could find for answers to how the Universe worked, but true information was limited back in the 80s. Still, I slowly began to piece it all together. It took decades before I finally started to really remember who I was and why I was here and most importantly, why those attacks had happened.

Today, I practice sending love out daily. It’s a state of being now. It’s a message I’ve been trying to get out there for a long time. Especially for those so called spiritual warriors who believe that attacking and destroying the darkness is the answer. It’s not. You’re just feeding them a feast.

But love is only one part of the solution, which is why it doesn’t always produce the serenity that you desire. You also have to heal from past traumas and shift your perspectives.

True love is unconditional. It’s not judging others. It’s being there for all regardless of who they are. It’s compassion, healing and caring. But that does not mean you allow others to use, abuse or attack you. It’s standing in your own power and healing the lines that cause the attacks to begin with.

In light and love,

Gary Leigh

P.S. I can often do in a session or two what others tell me they have not been able to achieve in years of therapy. I heal the soul rather than treating the symptoms. If you would like to learn more about my services, visit psychicsupport.net. For full details of my journey and experiences, visit thephoenixarchives.com.

Spiritual Practice Success Story: "I Love Myself More Than I Ever Thought Possible"

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Here’s an excerpt from my book, The Power of Acceptance. It’s an interview with my friend and long-time meditator Leta Hamilton.

Mollie: Tell me what your definition of meditation is—just your own. (Don’t cheat.)

Leta: Breathing with presence and awareness of breath. Breathing intentionally. Breathing and knowing that you are breathing. Breathing in and out with a mindfulness about the breath. Then, as you move through your day, things come and go and you are present to them. Life becomes a walking meditation.

Mollie: Describe for me your meditation practice.

Leta: I do a sitting meditation of five minutes a day where I am just sitting and breathing. Sometimes it lasts longer, but it’s always at least five minutes. Then I go back to my breath at all times of the day. I am praying consistently throughout the day. Not a prayer for something, just prayer. Life as a prayer. Life as a meditation. I pray peace, as my being-ness in the world. I pray in my heart with the mantra God, God, God. I say, “This—this—this is God.” I love what is and if I don’t love something, I watch myself as the observer and notice that I am not loving it and I love that I am not loving it. I step back and watch myself be in a situation and I love that.

Mollie: What might you tell a new meditator to help them through the first part of the learning process?

Leta: Breathe. Breath is so important. Just listening to yourself breathe in and out, in and out, in and out. That is enough. Five minutes of just breathing. Then, notice your breath throughout the day. Always go back to the breath. Remember to breathe consciously, mindfully and with presence. When you think of it, breathe. At all times of the day, remember to take a deep breath in and a deep breath out. You are breathing, breathing, breathing and suddenly, life becomes the meditation. Meditation and prayer come together in harmony because you are no longer praying as a plea for something to change, you are being the prayer.

Mollie: How long have you been practicing meditation?

Leta: Meditation has been in my life since my second child was six months old and my first was three and a half. That is about eight years. We used to walk William to his preschool and I would go walking with Oliver after drop off. He usually slept in his buggy and I would sit on a bench outside if the weather was decent or roll him into the apartment and sit on the couch if the weather was bad.

I would just sit and breathe. I continued with this practice when we moved into our new house and began to make a habit of getting up in the early morning hours before the children awoke. I sit on the couch and I just breathe.

If I don’t get up before the kids, I will look for another opportunity in the day to sit and breathe for five minutes.

Mollie: Have you had any unusual experiences during meditation?

Leta: After I’d been meditating for a year or so “religiously” (every day), and while I was reading The Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramhansa Yogananda, I had a very profound personal experience where I felt a presence in the room with me as I meditated. I cannot explain it other than to say that it felt real. Though I could not prove it was there, or point to any evidence of its existence, I felt the presence of another being in that room as clearly as I felt the presence of my own body.

This presence stayed with me—strongly—for a full week. After that week, it went away, but soon after that another “outside of me” thought came into my consciousness while I was meditating: to go to the computer and type in the word “Michael.” I did so, and onto the screen came a dozen or more images of Archangel Michael. At that moment a voice over my right shoulder said, “Leta, this is Archangel Michael and I have come to work with you.”

I did exclusive work with Archangel Michael for some time and then, while driving home one day from a meeting with a friend, I heard, “Leta, this is Gabriel and you are also working with me now.”

I cannot explain these experiences rationally. They are not rational. Yet to me, they are as real as the experiences of giving birth to my children. They opened up a new path of expansion for me.

Since then I’ve had other experiences that are not rational, either, but are also real. One night, for example, I was awoken in the middle of the night by my husband, who was looking towards the ceiling of our bedroom and saying, “What the hell!” When I looked up, I saw a geometric figure of light that was directly on top of us. It had patterns and intricacy that was beyond a moon shadow. He got up and went to the bathroom, and the light went across the ceiling and out the window. I said, “I saw it too,” but we never spoke of it again. This was the beginning of another “opening” to other dimensions and ways of communicating with non-physical realities.

Another experience: Once, I was in the car and out of the corner of my eye I glimpsed a child. I thought it was one of my children hiding in the backseat and I called out to them. However, when I looked behind me, nothing was there except the invisible presence of something.

“Okay. Who is here with me?” I asked.

The answer came in the form of a light being I can only reference as an elf. It sounds crazy. However, to me, it was as real as if I’d gone to Middle Earth and met the Elfin Kingdom itself! I sat there in the car and had a conversation with this elf who was telling me that I was now open to receiving messages from the elemental light beings who reside on this planet in non-physical form.

I have conversations with trees that are real. They talk to me and tell me what is up with my life from the perspective of a tree, which is a very long perspective considering how long trees live. I have also been visited by the trees in meditation and taken on journeys that expand lifetimes.

Mollie: Have you ever been healed, bodily or otherwise, during meditation?

Leta: Through meditation, I have been able to receive the lessons my body parts want to teach me. I also have been expanded so dramatically that I can now communicate with angels and light beings throughout the cosmos and consciously extend my energy out in all directions and to every corner of the Universe.
Due to meditation, my inner world is just as exciting as the outer experiences of my manifested reality in form. I cannot say that everyone will have my experiences if they meditate, but I can say that what you are opened up to through meditation is so interesting, so mind-blowing and so much fun that it becomes your joy to be with yourself.

How many people can say they are truly in love with who they are? I am. I believe that the greatest healing this planet can experience is the healing of Self-Love. I love myself more than I ever thought possible. I also love what is. And that, in itself, is a great healing for the planet.

Mollie: What are your spiritual beliefs? Are they grouped together as a recognized belief system of any kind?

Leta: Put simply, All That Is is spiritual.

I believe in the sacredness of the dirty diapers and the dirty laundry as well as that of the holy ceremony. I believe that if anything, the dirty laundry is more sacred than the holy ceremony because there is no pretention in it; it just is. Laundry is laundry. How you perceive the task of doing the laundry is either awakened to its beauty, its enlightened nature, its perfection, or not.

There is no established belief system or religion to which I subscribe. I am not Christian. I am not Buddhist. I am not Hindu or Muslim. I am the one who believes in the sacredness of dirty diapers and dirty laundry. I am the one who believes in heaven right here, right now, from the inside out. I am the one who works diligently to remove all beliefs so I am left with nothing—the great nothingness of my being. I am the one who examines my beliefs, my stories, and removes them one by one until I am left with only what is.

I am not here for people. I am not here to be anything to anyone. I am not here for my kids. They come for me, so I may learn from them, but I am not here for them. I nurture them to adulthood, but they don’t rely on me for anything, cosmically speaking.

I am here only for the earth. I am here to raise her vibration, to bring her peace, to place her at a higher vibration in the galaxy and beyond. I am here to be a peacemaker for the earth. If that helps humankind as well, it is a blessed byproduct. First and foremost, I bring peace to my Self so the earth may be more peaceful and thus raise its own vibration, one human loving him or her Self at a time.

Mollie: What’s the best thing about meditation for you?

Leta: I have enjoyed making meditation and contemplation the way I am in the world. I exist with my family and do all the usual mom things, but at the same time I’m never more than a breath away from a wonderful lightning bolt, an “ah-ha” moment where I suddenly understand something about humanity or the people around me or the universe in a way that was mysterious a moment before. It is fun!

Mollie: We all talk about meditation as if it’s a similar experience for all. And we now know that the same regions of our brain are activated no matter which practice we use. What do you think: how close is what one person calls being “in touch with God” to the feeling experience another has of mere “rest and relaxation”?

Leta: Being in touch with God is being aware of the active, vital force within the Self—the electricity charge that animates the Self. It’s what is “behind” the manifested personality and the persona you call “you” in a conventional setting. I am alternatively relaxed, rested, overwhelmed, calm, angry, loving and all the other emotions of the human, life-on-earth experience, but none of them touch my trust and faith in the God that is always present in me as a living force.

For me, God is not a belief or an idea or a concept. It is a vibrating Life Force that I feel real-ly, as a real experience. It is like the Chi of Taoism. That is the only way I know how to come close to describing it. Images of God from my childhood of the man in a robe with a big white beard are nothing next to this force, which is faceless, formless, timeless and infinitely expansive. It is like I have electricity running through me all the time and it makes me feel very much a part of the cosmos—no matter what may be going on in the world around me (think: laundry, dirty dishes and chaos!).

Mollie: What about when you’re depressed or angry or a bad mood? Does meditation still help you feel better? How often does it help you get out of your rut? How often does it fail to do so?

Leta: I rarely feel that I am in a bad mood these days, but that does happen sometimes. Then, meditation does make me feel better. I notice the bad mood and am grateful for the feeling of being in a bad mood. I remind myself that it is only the biggest and best blessing a person could ever have! Through all of these different feelings and emotions, I am given the opportunity to love God more, to experience the life force that is within me even more broadly and to expand into new understandings I didn’t have before. I am grateful for all of it. There is always another night’s sleep to come my way and a fresh start in the morning. I always have the opportunity to see myself from a deeper perspective and observe what is going on as I am angry, grumpy or whatever. I can notice at any moment how I am feeling and honor that immediately. When I am frustrated, I am lucky to have that emotion! All of it is a great blessing and I am grateful to be alive.

Mollie: How often does meditation feel good in the moment? How often are you itching to get out of the chair?

Leta: Meditation feels good all of the time, as does contemplation. Contemplation is a way of pondering through your day seeking greater understanding of all things around you. It is a way of going through life with a sense of humility so you are always ready to learn and expand. Humility is a great force because it gives you the space to learn and grow. What you discover is beyond explanation. It is bliss, pure and simple.

Mollie: What makes you continue to meditate?

Leta: Connecting to God, this life force I have described above, keeps me meditating and contemplating every day. I love how I feel inside. I love that in a moment I can go from “AAAAAHHHH!” (think: four boys all complaining about something at the same time, a house that was clean two minutes ago and is now a disaster, a dog that is barking, a husband who is not feeling well and a thousand other things that could be considered “my day”) to “I love you God. I’m so grateful. Thank you.”

Gratitude is always just a breath away. That is a really great feeling. I am beautifully blessed. There isn’t a lot else to it. It is incredibly difficult to describe. I don’t know if I have done it very well. I experience all the things that all humans experience, but I have a relationship with the inner divinity of Life (I call it God) that is hard to describe, but incredibly rewarding and incomprehensibly blissful.

Mollie: Is there anything else you would like to communicate to the reader?

Leta: I would want people to know that humility and surrender are great and powerful forces. They allow us to be moved in life to new vistas that are more glorious than anything we could have imagined. They allow life to work its magic on us. They create space for joy in IS-ness. They make the things we don’t like seem like gifts (and gifts they are). They give us room to unwrap the gift and see it for the beautiful thing it is. They keep us on our toes, looking for new understandings, broadened perspectives and inner growth. They enable us to go from, “I don’t understand this!” to “Oh, yeah, I totally get that” in about a millisecond (once we are practiced at it). I count humility and surrender as my very best friends in the non-physical realms. They make me laugh, cry good tears when I need them and have fun in life. So. Much. Fun!

I’ll give you an example. After I read over this interview to give my final approval before publication, I realized that I sound like a crazy person! I’d put myself in a hospital for deranged people if I weren’t so functioning and normal in every other way! Even though the things I wrote are true for my experience, I feel very exposed in the re-reading of them.

So, I come back to surrender. I come back to knowing that these feelings of vulnerability are perfect. It is a perfectly normal thing to feel outside of one’s comfort zone as you go into new places in your inner journey. These feelings are okay. I am allowing this interview to be whatever it is meant to be, whatever will serve the highest good, despite some complicated emotions about it and my feeling of lack of control. This is surrender. This is humility.

Spiritual Practice Success Story: "For Three Weeks, I Was Enlightened"

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Contributor: Anthony Amrhein. Anthony became a trained New Thought minister, then served at the Center for Spiritual Living and the Beloved Community of Spiritual Peace Makers. He earned a degree in psychology and gained thirty years’ experience in the field of substance abuse counseling. Finally, he studied under enlightened master Gesshin Myoko, Master of Sound Yogi Russill Paul, Vipassana master S.N. Goenka, and Zen master Dae Gak, traveling often throughout the United States, India, Taiwan, Malaysia, and Costa Rica on his quest to experience the truth. Here is the interview we did for my book, The Power of Acceptance.

Mollie: What are your spiritual beliefs? Are they grouped together as a recognized belief system of any kind?

Anthony: No. I do not have a belief system. I relate most closely with the “crazy wisdom” of Zen. I call my meditation practice “the un-meditation”. For me, true religion is like a cheesecake. And the various religions are like the toppings on the cake. But no matter what the topping, when you bite down into the center of it, it tastes like cheesecake.

Mollie: How long have you been practicing meditation?

Anthony: I learned zazen from Gesshin Myoko in 1977 or 1978 and, over the following three years, practiced daily for weeks at a time. I would falter for weeks at a time as well until 1987. Since then I have been practicing zazen daily. I have also experimented with over 130 different types of “formal” meditation practices. Since they all produce the same result, I always return to zazen.

Mollie: What made you continue to meditate after the experience in 1978?

Anthony: My ego would not let me quit. At the time, I wanted to be enlightened for all the “wrong” reasons. What I got instead of that enlightenment was “nothing” other than peace and a lot of laughs.

Mollie: Tell me what your definition of meditation is—just your own. (Don’t cheat.)

Anthony: The word “meditation” is so loaded with preconceived ideas that I rarely use it. If I had to define it, I’d say this: Meditation is nothing more than sitting still and taking a good look at how the mind operates. In silence without the distraction of body movement it becomes easier and easier to see how emotions, desires and ignorance arise. Just a glimpse into the nature of the mind reveals that the mind is a conditioned phenomenon that operates in a series repetitive loops regardless of whether your true nature is watching or not. Your true nature cannot control these thoughts nor can these thoughts control your true nature. Thus these thoughts dissolve without attention and one’s life can change completely. Thoughts are chaotic but the space in which they occur is imperturbable joy and peace. That is just the way it is. Everything turns upside down. What was once interpreted as excruciating psychological pain can become quite beautiful when fully allowed to move within this space.

Mollie: Describe your meditation practice. Do you focus on a thought or image, or just not think at all?

Anthony: I just sit still. It’s the practice of allowing what is … whether beautiful or not, whether blissful or not.

Mollie: Is there a learning process to meditation?

Anthony: Not in the sense that you acquire something. My view is that it is more about letting go of the many conceptions we are addicted to rather than about acquiring some special skill. Simultaneously it is also a learning process in that we learn to trust what is and let go of any attachment to the idea that any person, place, or thing could be permanent. When the mind is still it becomes undeniably clear that our ground of being is fluid and moves. It is not something concrete or solid. I believe that is the significance of Jesus walking on the water. It was a demonstration of the fluid nature of our ground of being.

Mollie: Have you ever experienced a healing through meditation–bodily or otherwise? Can you tell me about it?

Anthony: Yes. I have been healed from a lot of drama. One day I decided to read the Bible. When I got to the ten commandments I realized I hadn’t disobeyed them in ages, but not because I had awakened and become a saint. It was because the drama wasn’t worth the momentary pleasure.

For me, it is as though the future and the present are the same. They occur simultaneously for me. This true of all things including financial prosperity. Because of this conviction, I experience the consequences of my actions in the Now.

My future is real. The only thing missing is time.

Mollie: How often does meditation feel good in the moment? How often are you itching to get out of the chair?

Anthony: It is very rare that I experience either feeling during meditation. For me, the whole practice is about not superimposing any value judgments upon what is.

Mollie: What about when you’re depressed or angry or a bad mood? Does meditation still help you feel better? How often does it help you get out of your rut? How often does it fail to do so?

Anthony: Depression, anger and bad moods are valid sensations in my book. I sense that all enlightened masters have these physical-plane experiences. The difference is in their impermanence.

When an enlightened master gets angry, it’s like when a dog barks at the mailman. As soon as the mailman turns the corner the dog immediately goes back to chewing its bone without a second thought.

From my perspective, so-called negative experiences should be welcomed like old friends. We need to take very good care of these sensations like they are small children and experience them fully without resistance. Then these physical sensations dissolve all by themselves, seemingly through no effort of our own. But we have to learn to just sit with them, whatever “they” are.

Mollie: We sometimes talk about meditation as if it’s a similar experience for all. And we now know that the same regions of our brain are activated no matter which practice we use. What do you think: how close is what one person calls being “in touch with God” to the feeling experience another has of mere “rest and relaxation”?

Anthony: Well, I think these are probably both just irrelevant delusions. I once had a very real vision of Buddha. I was very excited and could not wait to tell Gesshin Myoko. She listened very attentively and laughed quite a bit. When I was finished telling my story she looked me straight in the eye and with deep sincerity and slightly sad concern said “Don’t worry. That will probably never happen again.” Then she burst out laughing.

I was so upset. I thought for sure having a vision of Buddha meant I was totally enlightened.

Mollie: What’s the best thing about meditation for you?

Anthony: This one is going to sound odd. It’s the discipline. There are benefits to doing at least one “formal” good thing for oneself on a daily basis that are ineffable.

What is your ultimate life goal?

Anthony: My ultimate life goal is to enjoy free time with the people I love. So I measure wealth and success in terms of free time rather than money or possessions.

Mollie: What is the goal of your meditation practice?

Anthony: That’s an easy one. There is no goal. I call it the un-meditation. There is nothing to gain but there is something to lose. The sensation of fear, for example, has completely disappeared from my body. But that was not a goal. It was a side effect. So when I sit I have no expectation. For me, meditation is nothing more than the daily discipline of knowing I did something good for myself. Meditation is simply a process of tapping into and paying attention to “what is” and experiencing the subtlest sensation of “what is” that the human body is capable of in this particular moment. And sometimes “what is” is not particularly pleasant. But that is irrelevant. What is important is to just sit with it. In many ways meditation is more like coming home to the body after having had a long day dream about somewhere else.

Mollie: Why don’t more people meditate?

Anthony: Without some sort of disciplined practice people cannot stand witnessing what their mind is actually thinking and doing. It is out of control. The average person finds lack of control very irritating.

Interestingly, the discipline does not have to be meditation. It could be dance, aikido, tai chi, yoga, baseball … just about anything. However, one has to find and practice their one thing. After about five years everything else falls into place seemingly through no effort of their own. It takes about five weeks of sitting meditation every day for twenty minutes a day to begin to see the beginnings of profound changes in one’s attitude and outlook on life.

Mollie: What is one of your so-called “success stories” regarding meditation?

Anthony: I’ve had so many, all completely different yet somehow all the same. A common denominator is that at the time I was experiencing the “divine” or “inexplicable” they seemed completely ordinary. I noticed nothing special until after the experience was over. I was completely incapable of forming any sort of reflective judgment what so ever because “what is” had my undivided awareness.

An example: I was sitting on a beach in Costa Rica. Behind me was an infinity of forest. The waves were gently lapping. Suddenly the thought occurred to me “God, haven’t I done everything you asked for twelve years now? Why can’t you let me repeat the bliss of my very first spiritual experience?” I was counting on God’s grace, but nothing happened.

Somewhat disappointed but also resigned and accepting, I stood up and began to walk. I looked down at my watch to see how many minutes of meditation I had “banked” into my spiritual war chest. (Are you hearing the subtle arrogance in all of this?) It was then I noticed my watch had stopped.

I began walking into the woods. As I did so, I found I could hear different creatures and miraculously locate them in space. Not only was my sense of hearing heightened, I saw more than the usual eight to ten shades of green. I felt I could literally see thousands of different shades of green so that the defensive camouflage of the insects and animals was no longer effective. I could easily see everything naked where it stood. But it all seemed perfectly normal. Everything was just being itself.

On that trip I was showing my aunt and uncle around Costa Rica. This heightened awareness experience lasted another three weeks. We had conversations that were typical yet somehow profoundly intimate. Everything just flowed. My uncle who is a self-made man and slightly on the crass side was overwhelmingly gentle and kind to both me and my aunt. It was as though he felt heard for the first time, if that makes any sense. Everything had a spontaneous yet purpose-filled sensation within it. Even the rocks felt alive. The trees were treeing, the waves were waving, the rocks were rocking and so on.

Then, it happened. We were headed back home. First we drove down the sandy beach road. Then we drove down the bumpy gravel road. Then we hit the pavement. Then we crossed the bay on a two and a half-hour car ferry. Then we stopped at the first light. Nothing yet. I was still in “flow-bliss.” Then we came to the second light. While waiting for it, it suddenly occurred to me that I am a business owner and I had important things to do when I got home. That was my first reflective thought involving the perception of future time and immediately I felt it enter my body. It was the physical sensation of fear. Almost immediately I realized I had been in the Zen Zone for the past three weeks and was amazed. It was my first thought of the past. Suddenly I had left the eternal and was back in the tyranny of time. I was “re-burdened” with the foolish concerns of the ego.

Believe it or not, almost exactly one year later I was sitting on that same beach when my watched stopped again, and again I fell into the bliss state. As before, I did not recognize I’d been in it until it ended with the idea of “I am important.”

Spiritual Practice Success Story: "Wherever I Go, Meditation Goes With Me"

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Contributor: Evan Griffith. Evan is the consummate artist: deep thinking, profound, highly excitable, and just the right amount crazy. Author of Burn, Baby, Burn: Spark the Creative Spirit Within, he’s also a talented writer. His blog, Notes for Creators, is a passionate exploration of the intersection of creativity and divinity. Here is an interview I did with him a few years back for my book, The Power of Acceptance.

Mollie: How long have you been practicing meditation? What was your first experience of meditation like?

Evan: In my teens in the ‘70s, my very conservative yet searching Christian mom brought me to a yoga class that ended with meditation. Later in high school and college I sporadically experimented with meditation. By my senior year I became so enamored with the possibilities that I created an independent study course in Human Potential with a friend—approved by the college!—that focused heavily on exploring different types of meditation, yoga, guided imagery, affirmations, New Thought books, sleep experiments and more. It sounds so normal now, but it felt daring at the time, a little less than four decades ago.

The most memorable early meditation I can recall was with a candle—simply focusing on the flickering flame. We were high so it really doesn’t count. But it intrigued me enough to want to try it in a normal state of mind. Once I did so, mind-altering substances utterly lost their appeal. To me it was the difference between a sloppy beer-party tryst and falling in love. Deep, life-long, love.

Mollie: What made you continue to meditate?

Evan: From my earliest meditation attempts in college, I took to it right away. Even while experimenting with different forms of meditation, I felt profoundly at home in the process. From then on, meditation was a part of my life—though I didn’t develop an ironclad daily meditation process until many years later, after an intense spiritual experience.

Mollie: Have you ever experienced a healing through meditation, bodily or otherwise? Can you tell me about it?

Evan: I’ve experienced many healings that I associate with meditation—bodily, financially, creatively, relationally. I even credit it with helping me find my life partner.

The first time I realized meditation could be used for healing was while reading a magazine. I think it was a yoga magazine, or Oprah’s magazine—something with a cool spiritual slant. There was a brief article about how meditators could stop headaches.

Immediately, I sat up a little straighter.

I’m a meditator! I thought. Why can’t I do this?

I decided to try their simple process: After my first inkling that a headache was coming on, I stopped everything and got into a meditative space. After going deeply into my meditation, I brought my conscious awareness into, rather than away from, the point of pain. Then I visualized conduits and pipes running through the area of pain with pressure building up in them. Then I imagined myself turning a valve to off gas the pressure, releasing the tension, releasing the pain.

The very first time I tried this, it worked! Maybe only a month or two into experimenting with this game I never had a headache again.

Techniques like these are counterintuitive. We’re always shrinking from pain. We unconsciously tighten up around the pain points, in an attempt to block them. But meditators—people with sufficient practice accessing that deep state of consciousness where reality plays out fluidly within the body-mind—can transform the pain with their focus.

Incidentally, I’ve described this process to a number of people over the years. I’ve never seen it work for a non-meditator.

Regarding other types of bodily healing, years ago I settled into a simple pattern whenever I would feel some kind of distress coming on: At the earliest opportunity I would drop into meditation and bathe the area with love and healing. Then that night before falling asleep, sitting in bed, I’d drop into meditation again. At the end of my usual meditation practice I would envision healing … and then fast-forward to the morning. I’d see myself waking up and feeling wonderful—amazing—having almost forgotten that I even had an issue. Then I’d see myself remembering the issue and smiling, thinking to myself, Oh yeah, that’s gone. Love that process. I love how things work out so freaking well when I set the intention deeply.

With this, I’d lie down and drift off to sleep.

This process has worked astoundingly well for me, to the point where I can go years without getting sick. It’s only when I get cocky about it and don’t go as earnestly deep in my visualization that I seem to have issues.

Mollie: What is meditation to you?

Evan: Single-pointed stillness. More specifically: An enveloping shift sparked by single-pointed attention in silent stillness. You start with you and your little mind silent and focused, and when it goes well you spring through a cosmic bliss portal.

Mollie: Describe for me your meditation practice. Do you focus on a thought or image, or just not think at all?

Evan: My favorite practice is what I call “love zazen.” In zazen you sit comfortably and attentively. As thoughts come, you notice them, then let them go.

My method is similar: First, you sit quietly and comfortably, engendering a feeling of love or appreciation in yourself. This becomes quite easy once you get the hang of it. If you’re having difficulty with it, though, conjure up someone you adore. Or something you relish doing. Or a favorite place, a treasured memory, or an experience charged with affection. Focus on that person or experience until you feel washed in appreciation or love. Then focus on the sensation, and let go of the image that sparked it.

Next, begin to observe your thoughts. One by one, notice them, then consciously fill them with the love you’re feeling. Often thoughts of things you’re keenly grateful for will come up. Love and appreciate them. If a thought about some difficulty in your life arises, let your loving appreciation sensation surround it, too. Find something to appreciate about that difficulty. Appreciate the hell out of it! As you do this, whatever rises up in your thoughts will whisper away, and you’ll be left with just the loving appreciation sensation.

I swear by the moons of Jupiter that I’ve resolved more issues this way than by any other method. If I miss a day of this practice, I miss it in the way you miss a person; I’m actually sad about it.

Another favorite meditation of mine is a listening meditation—simply sitting comfortably erect, and listening. You become attentive to the sounds surrounding you, as well as the sounds and feelings within you. If you’re out in nature you might hear a brook, birds, a dog barking, squirrels skittering along tree branches, wind picking up and dying down, blowing through and around what surrounds you. If you’re in a more urban environment, you’ll hear cars and people and snatches of conversation. You’ll hear sirens or music or doors or creaking. I’ve practiced this in New York City on Ninth Avenue with jackhammers going—it still works. After a while you’ll start hearing the beat of your heart and the coursing of blood through parts of your body. A little while longer and you’ll swear to God that all the sounds are being orchestrated together. You begin to feel part of a great symphonic movement that is being played through all the elements of Earth.

Mollie: Is there a learning process to meditation?

Evan: Yes! It’s primarily learning to relax into the process. And learning that sitting in silence for five or twenty minutes—whatever your commitment—is meditation. Regardless of outcome. Many people think they’re doing it wrong … they’re not. Sitting softly erect, going calm, slowing your breathing down, focusing on the method you’ve chosen is all it is. Even when you feel unfocused much of the time. With practice, the pauses in between mind sparks become longer, more sensuous. You begin to feel the space between your thoughts … and it’s voluptuous. Rapturous even. In time that spaciousness envelops even your thoughts. It’s a loving saturation that comes to permeate the entirety of your being. Soul, mind, body, the external world … they all meld into that loving, saturated emptiness. I use the term emptiness because that space is devoid of markers. It’s a complete absence of all the things we normally associate with existence. And yet emptiness doesn’t do it justice. Because it’s also dense with life energy.

Mollie: What might you tell a new meditator to help them through the first part of the learning process?

Evan: I would tell them to take it easy. Flubbing it is meditation!

Pick whatever method feels natural to you and go for it. Fifteen minutes of Internet research will reveal at least fifteen different methods. There’s no wrong way to evolve your way through your meditation practice. Try as many methods as you need. You’ll find yourself coming back to one or two favorites. That’s your cue. Explore those that intrigue you most.

Mollie: Sometimes we talk about meditation as if it’s a similar experience for all. And we now know that the same regions of our brain are activated no matter which practice we use. What do you think: how close is what one person calls being “in touch with God” to the feeling experience another has of mere “rest and relaxation”?

Evan: It’s like sex. There’s a commonality. But within that commonality there’s a widely diverse experience, from rote to ecstatic.

Belief matters, even in meditation.

Intention and expectation frame the meditative moment intensely. Once I believed it possible, asked for it, and then went into meditation allowing for a deep spiritual connection, that’s what I got. My God was it ever mind blowing. Even now, sometimes it feels as though my neural circuits are being overloaded, in the best of ways. As though my own wiring is being rewired into something better.

Mollie: Do you have a particularly fond memory of a meditation experience?

Evan: Here’s a funny experience that happened with my friend Gil, who was in the independent study course with me. In a book we read by channel Jane Roberts and spiritual entity Seth we read that in a rare instance someone expands too quickly in consciousness—and then bursts out of existence. It’s as though their body was not equipped to handle the sudden energy surge.
This became a running joke with us. As in, “Watch out, I’m feeling the meditation vibe tonight; I might combust at any moment.”

Late one night we both decided to go down to the lake and sit on a berm and meditate.

That night was windy as hell. In Florida we get these intense storms, and this was the precursor to a particularly intense one. No rain yet, just wind that was whipping limbs and trees around. We settled down to meditate, but after a short while I became uneasy—wildly uneasy. It just felt off, eerie. We were in the pitch dark, side by side just a couple of feet from each other. The wind had picked up even more. I wasn’t gripped with fear as much as foreboding, as though something terrible was about to happen.

I opened my eyes and glanced at Gil. I could only see his silhouette, but he seemed to be deep into his meditation. Not wanting to disturb him, I silently got up and headed back. My girlfriend was in my dorm room and I spilled out how relieved I was that she’d shown up—I was that unsettled.

Maybe five or ten minutes later, Gil comes bursting into my room, flinging the door open so violently he almost destroyed it.

“Whoa, Gil, what’s wrong?” we both blurted out. As soon as Gil could regain his breath, he huffed out: “Jesus, I thought you had combusted!”

Mollie: How often does meditation feel good in the moment? How often are you itching to get out of the chair?

Evan: It always feels good to me. I drop very quickly into the meditative moment. I almost never find myself itching to stop soon—but I would certainly allow myself to do so if I were having difficulty.

I don’t set a timer or have any kind of prompt that ends a meditation session. I simply stop when it feels right. Consequently, a meditation can be just a few minutes to twenty, thirty or even forty minutes long. Most of my night meditations probably last twelve to twenty minutes.

During the day I am apt to drop into very short visualization-type meditations to suggestively pre-cast how I’d like an impending experience to turn out (a meeting, a negotiation, a conversation, an activity) or to ask for guidance or a solution to an issue. Sometimes I may be getting away from meditation and more into asking. I guess you could call it prayer. But I see it all as part of a continuum so I rarely make those kinds of distinctions in my own mind.

Mollie: What about when you’re depressed or angry or in a bad mood? Does meditation still help you feel better? How often does it help you get out of your rut? How often does it fail to do so?

Evan: Some form of meditative or contemplative or envisioning moment is my go-to method for any and all stresses. As well as all joys and triumphs and satisfactions. There’s nothing in my life that I don’t take into my practice of silence. It is that helpful.

The more I bring with me into the silence, the easier life unfolds. It’s that simple.

It is so effective a process for the turbulence that comes my way, that I know almost no other way to deal with issues. I say this with great respect for the importance of exercise, sleep, nutrition, expression and loving relationships as other pillars of a well-lived life.

I’m powerfully drawn to writing meditations as well. In fact, many days a week I write a Vision Page in the mornings. I also practice moving meditation, most commonly through walking. While driving I often speak affirmations aloud.

Mollie: What’s the best thing about meditation for you?

Evan: That it is so interwoven with the “rest of” my life that I can take it with me wherever I go.

Depression Success Story: "Make Friends With Your Depression"

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Carrie Coe Phillips is a 23-year experienced art teacher and a ten-year experienced meditation teacher. She’s been a meditator since high school and a Buddhist since her college years, and her insight comes from a deep well of knowledge, reading, tutelage and of course, spiritual practice. She is a beautiful friend of mine, too.

I interviewed her several times this year. Here is part of our conversation.

Mollie: Do you have inner peace?

Carrie: A lot of the time, I do. It’s not all of the time. I deal with fear, health concerns. And I have backup for that–when I put it to use.

When I first started meditating, I felt ecstatically good. When you’re young and healthy, you feel totally in your life and loving it. These days I can say that the journey is not about happiness. It’s about self-discovery, about opening up, and about making yourself available to others.

Mollie: Is it possible for anyone to find inner peace?

Yes, it is. Through meditation. I believe they must meditate.

All of us need brief interludes of non-conceptual experience. If someone wants a genuine spiritual path then I would include shamatha practice as well. (Not all meditations perform the same service. The one I’m speaking of is Calm Abiding or resting the mind, shamatha in Sanskrit. This is where the mindfulness movement found its source.)

Everyone is so absorbed in overwhelming struggles, getting just a slight view of “no-self” is helpful. Even someone with the least bit of curiosity can easily experience a shift in how they view what’s going on.

What do you mean by “no-self”?

The “no-self” that I speak of is from a basic tenet of Buddhism that proposes the lack of inherent existence in all phenomenon. Briefly, all things exist relatively. Everything that exists does so in reaction and relation to something else. There is how things appear and how things truly are from the perspective of enlightened mind. When we loosen our grip on a solid-self through meditation, and also through a combination of contemplation on the study of and or listening to the teachings of qualified teachers, then in my experience the path to “freedom” reveals itself in a myriad of ways.

Mollie: What would you say to someone who is struggling with depression?

I’m not a stranger to depression, and I have two close family members that have struggled with depression most of their lives. Both have a daily meditation practice. My best advice is, don’t use your meditation for your depression. Use your depression for your meditation.

Mollie: Interesting. What do you mean by that, exactly?

I mean that if you’re looking to meditation for happiness, and you hit a bump in the road–then what do you do? Do you give up? Do you find something to blame? Look at depression as something to meditate with rather than looking at meditation as something to cure depression.

Meditate on depression means to be with it, not to contemplate it while meditating. You can add a brief contemplative practice before or after your session of meditation if you like.

Mollie: What else? Any other thoughts on depression?

Carrie: The advice that I take from Pema Chodron is to lean in to the sharp points. If you’re feeling this wretchedness anyway, what have you got to lose by opening up to it and saying, “Okay, here I am, give me your worst”? You feel whatever you’re feeling and don’t reject it. If you can do that even for five seconds, the next time it may be seven seconds. And you’re on your way.

Life is all about patterns. These patterns, whether negative or positive, are reinforced when you’re distracted. But when you watch the patterns, meditate, your mind slows down and they start to weaken. You come back to the present moment–often some sensation in your body–and watch that. Some say to feel your inner body (“What’s my toe doing right now?”) and others follow their breath, but if you have a strong sensation happening anywhere in your body, you go there. If it’s distracting enough that you aren’t able to focus on the breath, go there. This includes heart-based feelings like sadness.

Don’t go to the depression with concepts. Go to it without labeling it. Just notice the primary feeling–where it is in your body, how it feels, Just notice and send gentleness . At this point, it may be uncomfortable but it’s no longer fear-producing. And it’s the fear of that pain that makes it seem unbearable, not the pain itself.

Pema’s first teacher–and author, artist, poet and great meditation master–Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche said: “Put the fearful mind in the cradle of loving kindness.” Love yourself, however you find yourself. Identify yourself as part of all the other living beings that you’re practicing love for, too.

In short: Make friends with your depression.

Spiritual Practice Success Story: "Buddhism Goes to the Root of the Problem"

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Carrie Coe Phillips is a 23-year experienced art teacher and a ten-year experienced meditation teacher. She’s been a meditator since high school and a Buddhist since her college years, and her insight comes from a deep well of knowledge, reading, tutelage and of course, spiritual practice. She is a beautiful friend of mine, too.

I interviewed her several times this year. Here is part of our conversation.

Mollie: How did you first become a Buddhist?

When I was a teen I was in a very troubled environment. I wanted to run away but I was smart enough to know I didn’t want to end up in a ditch. I had a friend whose mom had a safe-feeling home. In that family the aunt was a TM (Transcendental Meditation) trainer, and I watched as they all started getting into meditation and becoming even closer as a family. I took the training and found it was very simple. From then on, I never went back.

I did TM twice a day for twenty minutes for four years solid. It launched me into the next phase of my life in a way I could never have predicted. It helped me get to college and start earning my own money. It also helped strengthen my self-concept as an artist, and to deal with my mother.

For example, one day my mother (who didn’t like me meditating) burst into my room and got right into my face screaming. But because of my practice I was able to just open my eyes and watch the experience. Eventually she stopped, and ever since then things were different between us.

Other curious ways that TM helped me as a trouble teen: I left harmful friends; gained kinder, more positive ones; my grades drastically improved; I developed as a painter to the degree that knew I was an artist and would pursue it as a vocation; without guidance from others, or financial help, I managed to earn save and direct myself into a good college.

Most importantly, the meditation taught me to stay in my family home environment until it was the right time to leave. I turned my bedroom into my art studio, developed my interests and relationships and gained some self-control. To stay at home was to change my experience from the inside.

Mollie: Why do you like Buddhism? What makes it better for you than a more open-ended approach to spirituality?

Carrie: I like it because it goes right to the root of the problem. Some spiritual systems try to prescribe cures for every different thing that ails you. But there are only so many fixes. At some point you just have to get down to the root. Buddhism does this. It addresses anyone, no matter where they’re at or how unique their circumstances are.

Buddhism is a very simple but very profound thing. You can describe it in just a few words, and then you can spend a very long time trying to figure out what those few words mean.

Mollie: In Buddhism, are there rules for inner peace?

Carrie: Somewhat. In Buddhism there is a progression of truth, each stage of which is revealed to you when you’re ready. This is still relative truth, and it is the path to enlightenment. If we were already enlightened, there would be no need for this path; however, from where we are it is quite valuable.

As far as following rules in Buddhism, it’s not a contract or deal. There are rules to follow like guidelines. Relative truth is the path and we recall the ultimate until the relative is no longer fully operational. Grasping and fixation just drop off by themselves if you don’t give up.

There is a quote from Padmasambhava, who Tibetans refer to as a second Buddha: “Keep your actions as fine as dust and your view as vast as the sky.” This means that we carefully follow the guidelines while also holding onto the vast view, which is ultimate truth.

Mollie: What is the ultimate truth?

Carrie: Good question. The ultimate truth is emptiness. It’s not a void–not nothing. It’s just an emptiness. There are elements of love and compassion to it, too, and wisdom, which is the ultimate compassion.

Mollie: And what are the rules for inner peace?

Carrie: “Do no harm, do good, train your mind thoroughly.” This is one of my favorite quotes of Buddha because it outlines the path. Of course we practice all three from the very beginning. But hidden here, also, is the path’s three vehicles. “Do no harm” refers to the set of beginning or foundational teachings and guidelines from the Buddha that refer to daily habits of life and mind. “Do good” is a different group of teachings that focuses on others. It is a more expansive view of your practice and of the world. “Train your mind” refers to a third group of more esoteric teachings that focus on yet other methods for reaching enlightenment.

Mollie: If someone is interested in learning more about Buddhism, where should they start?

Carrie: It doesn’t hurt to start with meditation. Meditation is the heart of Buddhism. One thing I would point out, though, is that if you’re using meditation just to feel better, it’s not Buddhism. There’s nothing wrong with doing that, but for Buddhists, meditation isn’t meant to be a way to feel better, or calmer, or to relax. The intent is to wake up, increase your awareness. To let the mind unfold and show you its natural stability, its natural clarity and insight. With that, with time, there is an opening of the compassion, of the heart, and struggling does eventually abate.

Mollie: So why meditate, then, if not to feel better?

Carrie: Many many people these days come to meditation to feel calmer or better. More come to it or to Buddhism out of loss or grief. Generally speaking, seeing your own dissatisfaction is enough to begin meditating.

I can say that with meditation you will feel calmer, better and more aware of everything, including your environment. Some find their clairvoyance, but these are fringe benefits.

Why not set out with a greater motivation than feeling better, though–the motivation to wake up to your world? Meditation is a path of realization.

We meditate to know the truth. We do it because we suspect there might be more to life then then what we presume.

What books or other sources do you recommend?

This article and Lion’s Roar, an online magazine, is my my pick for you and your readers–so handy, frequent, free, and packed with inspiration and wisdom.

Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism and other books by Rinpoche are excellent. No one says it like Rinpoche does.

Sakyong Mipham also has a very good and complete book on learning meditation called Turning the Mind Into an Ally, and also the book Running with the Mind of Meditation.

Spiritual Practice Success Story: "Meditation Gives Me Clarity"

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Carrie Coe Phillips is a 23-year experienced art teacher and a ten-year experienced meditation teacher. She’s been a meditator since high school and a Buddhist since her college years, and her insight comes from a deep well of knowledge, reading, tutelage and of course, spiritual practice. She is a beautiful friend of mine, too.

I interviewed her several times this year. Here is part of our conversation.

Mollie: Some forms of spirituality are more rule-based than others. In my limited experience with Buddhism, it seems that it is somewhere in-between the extremes: not particularly dogmatic, but at the same time, often prescriptive. What do you think?

Carrie: It can be dogmatic. It doesn’t have to be.

Mollie: Has there ever been a time in your life when you truly questioned everything that you believe? How did you circle back to where you are now? Tell me the story.

Carrie: Every so often I wonder why there has to be so much iconography in Buddhism. Coming from a background in which there’s a restriction against statues and images, it bothers me a bit.

I get different explanations for why they’re there. One is that historically the statues weren’t a part of it, and they were only added later after the Silk Road opened up (due to the influence of Greek imagery), and therefore they aren’t a needed part of the practice. Another is that the idols are representations of enlightened energy, an enlightened mind. There is a myriad of methods for people at different stages of practice; some work for some people but not others.

Mollie: What if you’re wrong? What if after death you find out that Buddhism is just partly true, or not true?

Carrie: The Tibetan Buddhist teachings on both the death process and the afterdeath process are unlike any other teachings. There are very careful instructions on what to do. I have complete faith in these Tibetan teachings.

You know, when you meditate with some consistency, your mind will want to wake you up to the truth. Then, when you look around, when you listen to or read what’s been written by other meditators, and your truth matches the other person’s truth … now you are on to something. You have insight.

Mollie: What do you mean by insight? What kind of insight?

Carrie: By insight I mean a momentary flash of wisdom. You might not even recall it but it changes you on a deep level. Buddhists also call it clarity.

Mollie: Do you have clarity? How much do you have, would you say?

Carrie: Sure, I have some. There’s no way of telling how much. I can say that the more I meditate the more the chances are that I will.

Do you mean do I have flashes of insight? Sometimes. It’s not something you go looking for; you can’t direct it. And as I said before, the difference between ordinary insight (which will also increase with meditation) and true spiritual insight is that you will probably not remember true spiritual insight after it happens.

Depression Success Story: "I Stopped Running From the Depression Monster"

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Contributor: Frederick Zappone, author of seven books and blogger at Inspired Living. This story is excerpted from his blog.




In a desperate attempt to cure myself of my depression, I read everything I could on the subject. I took the psychological approach as well as the religious approach. The stronger the depression, the more aggressive my search. Self-help courses and recovery groups brought minimal relief but never a cure. Each improvement was eventually followed by a setback.

I began to believe that I was inherently flawed. It was even suggested that I was possessed by an evil entity, a thought I rejected. And yet, when the feelings were at their strongest, I doubted myself and believed I might be. I became even more frightened.

One day, I realized just how terrified I was. Desperate feelings require desperate measures: voluntarily I went in for psychiatric evaluation. I began weekly therapy and was prescribed a drug which altered my mood almost immediately.

I gained many insights during therapy, but eventually the prescription drugs caused me to experience the side effects of hyperactivity, chills and headaches. I felt as if the cure was worse than the disease itself and so I took myself off the drugs without consulting my doctor (something I don’t recommend). I did, however, continue therapy.

I thought therapy had solved my problem with depression until I had an extremely devastating setback and experienced the worst depression of my life. Suicidal thoughts began to intrude into my mind, and yet no matter what, I would not surrender. I lived with my depression for years, just tolerating it. If depression was going to slowly squeeze the life out of me, I decided, it would do so without my help.

I struggled through, day after day, hiding my depression from everyone, but when I got home and I was alone I would realize I was exhausted. I just wanted to lie on the couch and do nothing. I felt hopeless. After many years of living this way and contrary to professional advice, I isolated myself, knowing when I was alone with my depression, I felt it the strongest.

One day I realized that I was at a standoff with my depression. It wasn’t getting any worse and it wasn’t getting any better. So, I decided to start analyzing what was going on with me. I knew I couldn’t feel any worse, so I might as well treat my condition as a mystery that needed solving rather than a problem to fear.

First, I went back to the basics. I looked up the word “depression” in Webster’s dictionary and found the definition: a disorder marked especially by sadness, inactivity, difficulty in thinking and concentrating, excessive sleep, feelings of dejection and hopelessness, and sometimes suicidal tendencies. Yes, I agreed, the dictionary was intellectually correct. I experienced all of those things, but when I explored my feelings, I made some amazing discoveries.
One of my discoveries was that my depression was actually made up of a variety of strong unexpressed feelings interwoven together. These feeling included unexpressed anger. This entanglement of unexpressed emotions left me feeling like a net had been dropped over my spirit and pulled tight. The more I struggled, the more entangled in them I became.

Instead of judging my feelings of depression, I decided to observe them. I noticed that I was afraid of my feelings. I also observed that throughout my life whatever I feared eventually became my enemy. How did I make my depressed feelings my enemy? I did it by accepting someone else’s belief that my depressed feelings were dangerous. By accepting this belief unedited, I erroneously concluded that my feelings could lead me to killing myself. In making my feelings the enemy I gave them power over me; the moment I did that, they dominated and controlled my life for over thirty years.

After this realization, I decided to start allowing the feelings to come without being afraid of them. If depression was going to defeat me, I decided, I wanted to feel it absolutely. I was tired of running from the monster within.

This one change made all the difference.

Today, I view depression in a totally different way. I believe that my inner guide uses depressed feelings to let me know when I’m off track in my thinking, trying too hard, headed in the wrong direction, or not taking proper care of myself. I no longer struggle with “depressed feelings.” When they come upon me, I embrace them, and in embracing them, I can hear the message of guidance and advice that is being directed to me. When I hear the message accurately, the depressed feelings leave me, and I am filled with an exuberance and a renewed passion for life.

My advice to others experiencing depression: Allow your depressed feelings to harmlessly pass you by like clouds in the sky. You do this by choosing to intensely feel what you are feeling without judging what you feel in any way. If you are willing to let your feelings of depression become your friends–if you are willing to learn from them, embrace them–you too will once again be excited about living life generously and passionately.

In life we are either expressing ourselves or depressing ourselves. These days, when an occasional feeling of depression washes over me, I ask myself which thoughts and/or feelings am I depressing. Once I discover what they are, I express them, release them, let them go. I set them free so I can return to my natural state of mind which is happiness, harmony and peace of mind.

Frederick Zappone


Depression Success Story: "Just Watch the Mind. Nothing More. This is the Only Real Meditation"

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Contributor: Subhan Schenker. Subhan is the real deal, whatever that deal is: sharer, teacher, guru, guide. He runs the Osho World of Meditation, which offers instruction in meditation techniques that incorporate physical exertion as originated by Osho, a last-century Indian mystic. He invites you to visit his center’s website at worldofmeditation.com to learn about his Seattle-area classes, workshops and private therapy sessions. Here, an interview I did with him for my book, The Power of Acceptance.

Mollie: Tell me about your meditation practice.

Subhan: I teach and practice active meditation techniques that incorporate body movement. The reason I chose these techniques is that when I first attempted meditation many years ago, I couldn’t do it; it was torture. I hated sitting still. One day in the midst of this learning process I went to a bookstore and asked the clerk what I should read about meditation. He directed me toward Osho, and as soon as I started reading it I knew his was the technique for me.

Our lifestyles aren’t what the monks of the past knew. They carried water, chopped wood and worked hard all day, which helped them release their emotions, allowing their minds to become less active. Then, when it was time to be still, their bodies were ready for it. We need the same kind of emotional release in order to ready us for stillness, for what I call “the Grand Canyon of silence.”

I invite you to go to our center’s website, worldofmeditation.com, or to osho.com to learn more about active meditation techniques like dynamic meditation and no-mind meditation.

Mollie: What about people who do have active lifestyles? Would you still recommend these practices?

Subhan: I would recommend that they try them. And that they try other techniques, too, until they find what works best for them.

Truth is what works.

Mollie: What is meditation?

Subhan: It depends on what you mean by the word. The meditative state is the state of relaxation, awareness and no judgment. It is the state of not thinking. Watching the thoughts, watching the mind, is the technique you use to get to that state. You know your meditation technique is working when, for a flash here and a flash there, you arrive into the state of meditation.

There are many, many people who are trying meditation techniques that don’t get them to the state of meditation. They may help them feel a bit better, but they don’t separate them from mind and therefore aren’t going to get them to the awareness, silence and stillness that they’re looking for.

Mollie: What do you tell beginning meditators about meditation?

Subhan: First, I tell them that meditation is not separate from life. The technique of meditation is something you have to create time to do, but the meditative state has to be part of all the rest of your life or there isn’t any substance to it.

Mollie: Any other basic advice regarding meditation?

Subhan: I often tell new meditators that in order to finally get what you want, you have to get enough of what you don’t want. Here’s what I mean: For each of us spiritual seekers there came a point at which we realized that everything we were told about the way happiness works, the way the world works, isn’t true. We did everything our parents and our society told us to do, but we were still miserable and unfulfilled. When we had enough of the anxiety, the fears, the worries, the difficult dances in relating with other people—the stuff we didn’t want—then our quest for true happiness began.

I often see new meditators give up very quickly. Partly this is because they don’t want to experience the emotions that meditating brings up in them, and partly it’s because they haven’t had enough of what they don’t want yet. They’re not ready.

Mollie: Okay. Now, let’s address the proverbial elephant. Are you a guru?

Subhan: No. I’m not a guru. I’m not a teacher. I’m a sharer. And who knows? Maybe even that’s saying too much. The truth is I have not a clue who “I” am

Any time there’s a notion of who “I” am, it usually gets shattered.

Zen masters say, “Not knowing is the most intimate.” It sounds odd, but the moment you finally stop projecting your ideas of who someone is upon them, when you finally decide to not “know” them (according to the mind), is when you experience the greatest possible understanding of who they are. This is also true of oneself.

Mollie: Are you special?

Subhan: No.

Mollie: There is nothing about your past lives, maybe, that makes you further along the path than others?

Subhan: I don’t play that game. Some people get involved in past lives, but I am more interested in this life!

I appreciate my own uniqueness and the uniqueness in every person. And I have no interest in trying to change them. I do have a mind that wants to try to change others and change the world. I was a lawyer in the past and I still have the mind to go along with that. But that mind is not me. I allow Existence to be.

Mollie: Existence being your word for God?

Subhan: There are many words. I like Existence. I like many others. What I know is that I’ve experienced moments of connectedness with something that feels so big, so vast, so beyond anything the mind can comprehend, that I just know it is real, whatever it is called. And then there are times when those moments are gone and the mind takes over again.

Mollie: Do you have challenges?

Subhan: Oh, yes. I love challenges. When I remember that I have support, they are wonderful.

Mollie: What do you mean by support?

Subhan: I mean things like meditation, relationships with people who are also on the path of discovery, and the words of spiritual teachers and mystics, and their books and recordings on spirituality. There are many more.

One of the great supports is to stop doing what you don’t love to do. Not filling up your life with have-tos.

Mollie: Are you enlightened?

Subhan: No. Yes and no. We are all enlightened, but most of us are also still identified with the mind, which conceals the enlightenment. I am often identified with the mind, too.

Mollie: How does one become enlightened?

Subhan: There is no way to teach that or describe that. It is a quantum leap. After having tried everything possible for six incredibly difficult years to disassociate from his mind, Buddha came to the point where he recognized the impossibility of getting somewhere that is not the mind. He sat under the Bodhi tree and surrendered—and then it came. He entered the no-mind space. Osho describes a similar giving-up experience leading to his enlightenment.
Until that moment of true letting go, we only get very brief glimpses of enlightenment. When this happens it looks so close, but it’s still very far away as long as the mind is there.

It’s a quantum leap. It’s illogical. You can’t get there by trying, and you can’t get there by not trying! What a paradox!

Mollie: When someone is fully enlightened, do they feel psychological pain?

Subhan: I have heard that enlightened people feel physical pain but not psychological pain. They may have some awareness that there is a mind that has pain, but it’s very far removed; the mind has dropped into the basement.

Okay, now I’m really going to get into it. This book is not just about meditation. It’s also, and mainly, about how to become a person who is able to maintain a state of connectedness with Source “through night and day and in and out of weeks and almost over a year,” as Maurice Sendak wrote. So what I would really like to know is what to do when the mind makes a judgment and tries to nudge you—sometimes not so gently—to do something, change something, or at the very least, abhor something about yourself or your life, which then separates you from that feeling of connectedness.

Mollie: In other words: How do we react to the monsters in our heads?

Subhan: You don’t. It’s not about getting rid of anything. It’s about watching, noticing what’s there. Becoming aware of how the mind functions is tremendously helpful. You’ll be able to experience how parts of the mind push and pull you; that there are so many judgments–about you, about everyone else, about everything! This watchfulness becomes more and more available. And the distance between “you” and the thoughts starts to grow.

Mollie: Where do the monsters go?

Subhan: Once this dis-identification starts happening, the thoughts aren’t perceived of as monsters. They are simply the way the mind functions, and they don’t have to be taken too seriously! They lose their power over you.

I can’t explain it. I can’t intellectualize it. You have to try it for yourself. When you have a thought you don’t like, notice it, remind yourself that it’s not you. I tell people to step back just one-twelfth of an inch from the mind. That doesn’t seem too hard, does it?

Mollie: I do that. It doesn’t always work.

Subhan: No, it doesn’t always work. The mind is tremendously powerful. It can process an unbelievable amount of data in a mere second. It is a miracle that we have the ability to step back from it at all. The only reason we are able to is that what is behind it is indestructible. And usually, we only obtain just a flash of true silence. Maybe for ten seconds you are in silence, and those ten seconds can be life-changing.

Mollie: Why is this the way it is? Why is it so hard to detach from mind, from pain? It doesn’t seem fair.

Maybe awareness isn’t that cheap. Maybe awareness has to be earned.

The truth is, though, it’s hard because it’s hard. Because this is the nature of the mind. Asking “why?” is a game of the mind, the one it plays a million times a day. Why can’t I have this? Why can’t I do that? Why can’t I be there, feel that way?

D. H. Lawrence was a very intelligent man. One day he was walking with his nephew in the woods when his nephew asked: “Why are the leaves green?” Lawrence didn’t answer right away; instead, he thought about it for a time, wanting to give an answer that was the truth. Finally, he said, “I know the answer, but you are not going to like it. The leaves are green because they’re green.”

Your mind is not happy with this answer. But your inner being is.

The leaves are green because they’re green. Asking “why” leads to a never ending work game!

“They’re green because of chlorophyll.” But why does chlorophyll create GREEN? “Because of the chemical reaction in chlorophyll.” “But why does this chemical reaction create GREEN and not RED?”

(Once a children learn the “why” game, they can keep adults over a barrel forever!) Ultimately the only real answer we can give is that leaves are green…because they’re green…!

Mollie: So what about when you really do want to change something about yourself or your life? Maybe your life is going pretty well, and you already have a lot of what you want, but you would just like to tweak something just a bit. What next?

Subhan: Well, the first thing I’d say is to watch that desire. Notice your perceived need to change things. Ask yourself what this tweaking is all about. That desire is the mind, and by accepting its ideas, you’re identifying yourself with it. But the truth is, you are not your mind. You are much bigger, much grander than it, and within the real you there is no idea of “lacking.”

What is the point in identifying with a lacking? Don’t. Don’t allow there to be a split between the reality of the person you are and the ideal of the person you want to be. Because whenever you have something called the ideal, you will be in conflict with the real. And if you’re in conflict with the real, you will never arrive. There will never be a time when the mind doesn’t want something different, or something more. Never. So, it’s better to sacrifice the ideal for the real!

Mollie: Then how do we ever change anything, do anything, get anything done? If we’re all perfectly content with things just as they are, won’t we end up sitting around and meditating all day like you?

Subhan: I don’t meditate all day. I am in constant contact with people. I do counseling sessions. I write. I teach classes at the college. I lead four meditation sessions a week at our center. I do numerous weekend workshops.

You see, the mind tells us that if we stop listening to it, and stop being in conflict, we won’t get anything done. But all you have to do is look at the great spiritual masters to see that isn’t true. Buddha, Lao Tzu, Christ, Rumi … They all accomplished a lot and many things change around them.

Mollie: How?

Subhan: When I am in acceptance of who I am, Existence does the changing!

Mollie: How? Let me slow down and look at this process you’re talking about because there’s obviously something I’m not getting here. So, there you are in a state of meditation, disidentified with the mind, blissed out. Then the mind comes up with another judgment—say, “My child is misbehaving, and I want him to stop.” This is the moment we’re really talking about—the moment that repeats itself all throughout the day. This is when you decide to either reidentify with the mind and become the one who is judging, or to not accept the judgment, and just notice it instead. But when you decide to just notice the judgment, isn’t that also a decision the mind is making?

Subhan: No. I don’t decide. We are part of an Intelligence so vast our minds are useless compared to it. When we are in a state of meditation, it is not our minds that do the deciding, but this Intelligence within us.

Mollie: But if you don’t use your mind, how do you speak? How do you carry out the instruction of this Intelligence—say, to hug the child, or to correct them, or to comfort them?

Subhan: For verbal and physical responses like these, you do use the mind and body. They are tools that allow us to be part of the physical world—to speak, to move our bodies. The key is to respond rather than to react. When you react to your child rather than responding, you’re not using your mind; it’s using you.

Mollie: Ah, I see. So you can still speak, talk, respond to the situation without using your mind to do so? Maybe we are defining mind differently. So there is the mind that’s the ego, the monster, the monkey, the neuroses, and there is the mind that’s a simple, useful tool, a tool we use to translate what is going on in our larger Intelligence? And so is the body, when we hug the child rather than yelling at him?

Subhan: Yes, that’s right. The mind is a fabulous tool … but a crappy boss!

Mollie: So how does a spiritual seeker, someone who is committed to becoming disidentified with the mind, make this switch? In that moment when the child is so-called misbehaving, how does she learn how not to react as the mind would like and to instead suspend thinking, then receive and act upon Intelligence, all without using her mind? This sounds like quite the skill. How does she learn how to accept a situation she finds unpleasant, without “making it into a problem,” as Eckhart Tolle says?

Subhan: Meditation. Meditation that really works, really functions, allows you to, for a moment, to be completely separated from the mind. This doesn’t happen overnight! So it’s best to start with simpler things and situations. Practice watching the thoughts whenever you remember to do so, in simple settings that aren’t triggering emotions and control issues, etc. You slowly build up the knack of watching – in your meditation, in simple situations, and then, ultimately in more “difficult” situations.

Mollie: Then what?

Subhan: Then, acceptance comes. And wisdom comes, the wisdom that is right for that moment.

Mollie: Then what? I will ask it again: How do we end up getting what we want out of life, if we’re always just listening to Intelligence and doing whatever it tells us to do?

Subhan: We try to force Existence to give us what we want, but this is ridiculous, totally futile. It’s like we’re playing the greatest cosmic joke on ourselves: We are buddhas, capable of extraordinary things, even peace and enlightenment, and instead we’re acting unconsciously. We pretend to have all kinds of self-imposed limitations, including a mind that has no clue what to do most of the time, that’s creating many more problems than it’s solving.
It is our nature to be a buddha. Anything else is going against the flow. To paraphrase Osho: “The miracle is not when we obtain enlightenment. The miracle is when we conceal it.”

Mollie: So if we want to be truly happy and free of mind, we have to let Intelligence give us what it deems best for us, no matter what that may be?

Subhan: That sounds like the mind talking, not wanting to give up its control to a higher intelligence that resides within us. One we step back from the mind, it loses its control and the intelligence is THERE, waiting to be of immense service!

I tell people to ask for 100 percent of what they want, then let the Universe decide, because it will!

Mollie: So would you say that the main purpose of meditation is to teach us acceptance of whatever the Universe deems best for us?

Subhan: The purpose of meditation is to disidentify with the mind. Acceptance comes naturally after that.

Mollie: Then what? What happens after acceptance?

Subhan: Acceptance and gratitude, and peacefulness and fulfillment become real once there is the disidentification from the mind. I had an early experience of this before I became a meditator. I didn’t know it at the time, but I had dropped into meditation. When I was a young man I was driving my mother’s car when it slipped on some ice. In the ten seconds between starting to slide and hitting the car in front of me, I had my first experience of the meditative state. The mind understood that there was nothing it could do, no role for it to play in that moment, and it said, “I’m out of here. You’re on your own.” Those ten seconds felt like an hour. They were bliss. And the silence was so serene, so “palpable!”

Then I hit the car, and the mind said, “Oh, I can deal with this.” And it started in again: “What is your mother going to say, how much is this going to cost,” etc. It was much later that I realized that when the mind disappeared, something extraordinary emerged. And later still, it became clear that this space had something to do with an essential nature that is always there, although covered by the minds overthinking.

Mollie: I see. And yes, that bliss is what I want. But should I make it a life goal of mine to obtain it? Should happiness be something I strive for? Because it seems the more you try to get happy, the more neurotic you become.

Subhan: You’re right! Anything you desire is a product of the mind. And it will create misery around it. Do not make happiness a goal. In fact, do not make anything a goal. All goals keep you stuck in the mind. Life will give you what you truly need.

Mollie: So—and I realize that I’m really trying to pin you down here—would you say that if I practice meditation regularly, and practice living in a state of meditation and acceptance, I will certainly become happy?

Subhan: I will say that if you stay with it, there is every possibility that you will have more moments of feeling loving, feeling grateful, feeling at peace. And that’s assuming that you are doing a meditation that works for you. Because as I said, a lot of people are doing meditation techniques that don’t really work for them.

Also, be really careful because the mind that asks that question is more interested in the goal than the process. As long as you have a goal to your meditation it will keep you locked in your mind, evaluating whether or not your meditation session was “successful.” Every time the meditation happens the mind will judge it based on whether or not it has achieved that goal. The mind is very crafty. Instead, be there sincerely, without the notion of getting somewhere.

The mind doesn’t want you to be happy. How many times have you experienced a moment of joy and the mind has tried to throw you out of it, using every complaint, seeing every shortcoming, predicting every future bad result it could?

The mind doesn’t want you to be happy, because if you are it is no longer needed.

Mollie: And how long will it take for me to get there? How much meditation would you recommend that I do?

Subhan: There is no way for anyone to know that. There is no formula to it. It is a quantum leap. But after a while, you will notice that you don’t take life so seriously, that you have moments of greater clarity, and that you even feel more gratitude, just for being alive. These are clues that the meditation process is working.

Mollie: Is just meditating and noticing the workings of the mind enough? Is there anything else I need to do?

Subhan: Watching the mind is essential. But you can also find people on this path of discovery who can share their experiences and understandings with you. They offer workshops and sessions that can be of great assistance to you in coming back to your inner, essential nature!

Mollie: No mantras? I love my mantras.

Subhan: If you enjoy mantras, then use them! Some mantras can help you go deeper inside. Just remember, the point of meditation is to disassociate yourself from the mind.

Just watch the mind. A thought comes, and you watch it. Nothing more. This is the only real meditation. Saying mantras may be a good and helpful practice, but it may not lead you to the state of meditation, which is awareness, relaxation and no judgment.

Now, let me ask you a question. Have you had enough of what you don’t want yet?

Mollie: I would have to give that some thought.

Subhan: If you have to think about it, you haven’t. When someone is being physically tortured, and they’re asked if they’ve had enough yet, there is not a single instant of reflection. The answer is yes.

Mollie: That is true. I am getting there.

Subhan: I would hope you get there as fast as you can.

Depression Success Story: "Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Is the Good Stuff"

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Contributor: Mollie Player

I was pregnant. I was exhausted. I was potty training two kids. So it would’ve been easy to chalk it up to stress. But when earlier this year I discovered how negative my thinking had become, I didn’t dismiss it. I became genuinely concerned.

I made the discovery when one difficult evening, for the first time in ages, I picked up a pen and journaled my true feelings. Not my affirmations. Not my goals. Not my prayers. Just my ugliest, most despicable feelings.

In the end, I had four handwritten pages covered solidly back and front with nothing but the crazy in my brain. When I showed my husband, he said, “Wow. That’s a lot of bad thoughts.”

“Yes, it is,” I replied.

A few hours later, I was sitting in my office, scanning my memory for a solution. At one point I idly glanced over a bookshelf I don’t usually pay attention to, and there it was: The Feeling Good Handbook.

Reluctantly, I took it from the shelf.

A book my doctor had recommended a year or so prior, the Handbook didn’t hold much interest for me at the time. I remembered flipping through its many detailed descriptions of medications and skimming some of its seemingly pat advice. This time when I opened it, though, I found something else.

I found a different book entirely.

The Feeling Good Handbook is written by psychiatrist David Burns, and it’s about a well-known, widely used form of psychotherapy called (unfortunately, I think) Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT for short). The book is far too long—full of flowery ideas and applications. What is comes down to, however, is this: negative thoughts are not the truth. They’re a perspective, and often pretty screwy one—one with only a bit of basis in reality, if any at all. The best way to work through them—to eradicate them, and in doing so, eradicate depression—is to write them down, then write down their opposite: the more objective (and yes, more optimistic) view of the matter.

I know, I know. Big damn deal, right? Isn’t this just positive thinking with a fancy name? But sometimes, that’s what it takes. Sometimes the fancy name or the scientific research backing a technique gives you the faith you need to give it a go. And then there was the timing thing; at this reading, I was more willing than before to try something new.

Later that day, I wrote out my negative thoughts again, but this time I countered them with more positive interpretations of the situations. To my great surprise, after doing so, I felt better. Much better. Even … well, good. I felt the way I normally feel after a brisk four-mile jog or walk—and the feeling stayed with me for much longer.

A week later, after journaling two or three more times, my acute depression still hadn’t returned. And that’s when I really knew I was on to something.

We spiritual people can all say all day long that we’re want to learn to accept everything, even pain. The truth is, though, that often, we don’t have to. We can work through it instead. Change what you can change, and accept the rest. And, of course, learn the difference.

Here are some of the results I recorded in my journal during my first week of CBT:

  • One of my least favorite things in the world is the sound of a child whining. But at one point as I was waiting out yet another of these patience-trying incidents, I started saying to myself, “This is the good stuff.” I did a mini version of CBT, and it worked; I felt calmer. Later, I had a converation with that same child after he complained (ironically) about his brother’s loud voice. “In life, there are things that we like, things that we don’t like and have to wait through, and things we don’t like but get to figure out a solution for, and all three are good in different ways. Life is a fun challenge. The hard stuff is the good stuff.”
  • When a friend called to describe at length a difficult problem that I felt she’d brought upon herself, I got angry. Not on the phone (I was merely impatient), but after hanging up. A rush of anxiety came over me as I thought about her unfortunate situation, but instead of ignoring it, I thought it through. I identified the stressful thought that the whole thing was her fault, which helped me see how ridiculous it was, and later I noticed thoughts of love for her coming to me spontaneously.
  • Finally, I did CBT on a long-held misbelief of mine, namely that I’m not productive enough. Then that night when my husband took the kids out for four hours, I binged on stand-up comedy specials. The next day when I woke up I thought, I want to write today. And that’s what I did off and on all day, in spite of the usual challenges. The rest had helped.

“I envision stacks and stacks of papers listing all my negative thoughts,” I wrote the following week. “These stacks will be the dumpster—no, the landfill—for all of the crap inside my head. It’ll be great.”

CBT isn’t easy. It’s tedious and time-consuming. But it’s a fun challenge, too.

It’s definitely the good stuff.

My super-scientific, 100 percent accurate Depression Effectiveness Rating for Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: 10 on a scale of 1-10

And, to highlight the importance of the technique in the mental health profession …

Here’s the Wikipedia definition of CBT:

• “Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a psychosocial intervention that is the most widely used evidence-based practice for treating mental disorders.”

And here are quotes from several articles about CBT:

• Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is an effective treatment for depression … Cognitive restructuring refers to the process in CBT of identifying and changing inaccurate negative thoughts that contribute to the development of depression. This is done collaboratively between the patient and therapist, often in the form of a dialogue. For instance, a college student may have failed a math quiz and responded by saying, “That just proves I’m stupid.” … The “I’m stupid” response is an example of an automatic thought … The idea in CBT is to learn to recognize those negative thoughts and find a healthier way to view the situation. http://www.webmd.com/depression/guide/cognitive-behavioral-therapy-for-depression#1

• Dozens of randomized con­trolled trials (RCT) and other studies support CBT’s efficacy in treating major depressive disorder (MDD). http://www.mdedge.com/currentpsychiatry/article/82695/anxiety-disorders/using-cbt-effectively-treating-depression-and

• A success­ful response to CBT in the acute phase may have a protective effect against depression recurrences. A 2013 meta-analysis that totaled 506 individuals with depressive disorders found a trend toward signifi­cantly lower relapse rates when CBT was discontinued after acute therapy, com­pared with antidepressant therapy that continued beyond the acute phase. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2933381/

• The researchers found that patients with higher levels of connectivity between four brain regions involved in mood regulation were likely to achieve remission with CBT but have a poor response to medication, whereas those with weaker connectivity were more likely to remit using medication and not respond to CBT. http://www.pharmaceutical-journal.com/news-and-analysis/research-briefing/brain-scans-could-match-patients-to-best-depression-treatment/20202624.article

Depression Success Story: "Sometimes, I Just Hate Everything. It Works Pretty Well"

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Contributor: Mollie Player

Every once in a while, I want to set fire to my brain. I want to light a match, and get a bucket of kerosene, and just go to town on it. The desire usually comes when my brain is on fire already, and it’s getting out of control. I figure that if I hasten the job, the whole thing will be over more quickly, and afterwards I can cool it off and start rebuilding.

Yeah, that’s the answer. More fire.

Allow me to explain.

A few months back, I was going through a rough time. So, I decided to try something a little different. I was sick of practicing acceptance, saying “love, love, love” and meditating all the time. I needed, instead, to vent.

The situation: bad behavior boot camp.

Have you ever tried this? Well, don’t. Or do. I don’t know yet. Results unclear. Regardless, it’s when you take your two whiny children and make them stay at home all day and fight with each other. Then you take every single one of those fights as a “learning opportunity,” complete with one-on-one conflict resolution coaching, the patience of a goddess and, of course, appropriate consequences.

You can guess how well this went. The good news? It inspired a new spiritual practice. I call it my “I hate this” meditation and that pretty much sums it up.

So maybe I’m the only person in the world to find this as helpful as I do. But on the off-chance that my experience can be replicated, here is a brief description of what I’ve been up to.

One of my favorite spiritual books is Loving What Arises, about, well, loving everything as a spiritual practice. Matt Kahn is the author. He’s a channel, though he doesn’t use that term, preferring the word “empath.” Basically, he holds lectures on the topics of love and spirituality, mostly love, and how to bring everything in our experience back to that.

So one day in the midst of this bad-behavior stuff, while attempting to do what Kahn suggests, I realized something: I didn’t want to love this. It felt fake. So, I tried something else instead. And it worked. So I tried it every day that week.

It still worked.

Here is the technique: You get alone, in a quiet spot, and start by saying the phrase “I hate.” Then you just let it rip.

I hate my outfit. I hate my hair. I hate the gym. I hate that person. I hate the morning.

You go on and on like this, getting it out, letting it go. Then you take a deep breath, and meditate a while.

This sucks so much, I think. But damn, am I growing. You know, as a person.

And then I call it a day.

Then what?

Then, about half the time, I get this feeling of gratitude. Something like, Wow. I’m okay. I’m doing it. I’m getting through it. How much awesomer am I going to be at life (in this case, parenting) after I get through this?

I feel truly grateful for my crap.

And then there’s something else that happens, also about half the time: A bit of positive thinking accidentally creeps in. It’s weird, really: there I am, trying my damndest to be negative, and my ego part—the part of all of us that makes reverse psychology so effective—starts arguing with my silly list. “I hate the gym,” I’ll say in all sincerity. And everything I appreciate about the gym—the childcare, the alone time, the dress code—will come to mind. Then I list the next thing—say, giving up dessert—and Reverse Me will do it again. “You don’t care about that. You love the food you eat. And you look really good, too.”

Then I argue that point a bit.

Ah, that ego. Always arguing. Mostly, it’s best to just ignore it. But every once in a while, we can outwit it instead.

Reverse psychology. It works.

So, in sum: I’m saying “I hate” over and over—and calling it a spiritual practice. Take that, lame, phony life rules.

More fire.

And now, my review of the technique.

Does this spiritual practice work against depression?

Yeah. Yeah, I’d say it does.

Have you tried it? For how long?

I haven’t used my “I hate this” meditation very often. But once in a while, when I feel really bad, I give it a go.

What are your results?

The results are so-so. Sometimes it helps a lot. But about half of the time it offers little to no real relief. It’s one of those things: you have to sort of search your soul a bit, ask yourself if you just need a few moments to vent. If the answer is yes, the practice could help. It gets everything out there—a brain dump. Then you can pick through the garbage for what you want to keep. The rest goes and doesn’t seem to come back. At least not right away.

Is it enjoyable?

Admitting, truly admitting, what I hate—no rose colors involved—is something I’ve deprived myself of in the past. Allowing myself to admit I hate what is, that I don’t effing want to be spiritual right now—it feels like eating ice cream for the first time after years without sugar.

Yeah, I’d say I enjoy it.

Is this practice scientifically backed?

Uh, no.

What is your overall rating?

My super-scientific, soon-to-be-patented Depression Effectiveness Rating for my negativity meditation: 6.5 on a scale of 1-10

Not reliable, but worth a try. I recommend it.

I love that honesty can work for depression, at least sometimes. I don’t want to have to be positive forever. What a drag.

That’s right, Matt Kahn. I can’t do what you tell me to right now. I cannot love everything that arises. I want to, but I’m just not there yet. So let me take a few steps back first.

Let me hate. At least for a while.

Law of Attraction Success Story: "I Met Tony Robbins"

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This super cute gal, Jennifer Casolary, is the creator of a law of attraction app called Subliminal Vision Boards. Genius, right? Currently, it’s available for IOS and Android. If you’re a skeptic, try it anyway. Prove it doesn’t work, or make your dreams come true. Win-win. 

Here’s a true law of attraction success story about an experience Casolary brought into her own life.

All my life I’ve wanted to really make an impact on the world. I’ve learned that in order to do this, it’s best to trust my gut, let my heart lead the way and be open to signs. I’ve always felt guided and I trust the path in front of me, which has made me a powerful manifestor. My dad used to say, “How do you do it, Jenn?” I’ve had unhappy jobs and unfulfilling and unhealthy relationships like we all do but I learned that it’s okay to want more, and it’s okay to act on that desire.

In that frame of mind, I went to hear motivational speaker Tony Robbins. I sat in an aisle seat in hopes that I could somehow give him one of my Subliminal Vision Boards App business cards, and within the first two minutes of the show, he stood right in front of me. I kept thinking, “Oh my gosh, he’s right in front of me. How do I do this?” Then, even though there were bodyguards around him, I held my hand out to him with the card in it.

At first, since he was speaking over me, he couldn’t see it. So I raised my arm slightly, and suddenly he looked down and said, “Oh, you want me to have this?”

Speechless, I shook my head yes. Then, into his mic going out to over 4,000 listeners, he read the card.

“Subliminal Vision Boards App.”

He made a spooky-like finger gesture, and everyone laughed. He kept looking at me, so I said, “It’s cutting edge. It will change your life.”

“Okay, I will take a look at it,” he said. Then he put it in his pocket and carried on with his show.

What a magical moment this was for me.

This is just one of the manifestations I’ve experienced while using this app.

The next morning I went to meet one of the powerful and inspirational speakers at the same conference, Jason Tyne, to learn about his new streaming app called New Tycoon and his book, 52 Words. I showed him the app and he said, “Oh, you’re the girl who gave Tony the business card. All the other speakers backstage were in awe that he took it from you because he never takes anything from anyone.”

You know, it isn’t just the experience of connecting with Tony Robbins that I loved. It was realizing that I have a lot more courage and capacity to change people’s lives than I was aware of before.

And that is a beautiful feeling.


Subliminal Vision Boards features include:

  • Advanced Subliminal technology 
  • Unlimited Subliminal Vision Boards 
  • Healing Sound Feature
  • Brainstorming Goal Action Planner 

Get the app here.


“This is the kind of writing that makes me feel as if I’d sat down with the author on the sofa with cups of tea and we were talking together for hours. The style is so vulnerable …” – Heather

“I don’t know what to say other than it is the most beautiful book that I have ever read.” – Ashley

“Really, I am rather speechless.” – Sarah

“I loved the book!! I couldn’t stop reading it!! It touched me so very much.” – Haydee

“Player has given a beautiful gift to her readers. I was very touched.” – Celia

“Player’s chatty style evokes a realism and empathy for the story. One is able to feel her pain.” – Anonymous 

Get What I Learned from Jane on Amazon.

Spiritual Practice Success Story: "Desire Is Missing"

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I have this friend who is really, really happy. Her name is Leta Hamilton. She’s a channel, an author, and a mom of four–and the perfect person to grill for answers about life. Her books include The Way of the Toddler and a four-book series called 100 Daily Messages.

Mollie: When you meditate, do you have thoughts?

Leta: When I am in a meditative state, which is to say, breathing with depth instead of shallow breaths, feeling connected to All That Is, feeling in a state of bliss, feeling “in the flow” and all the other ways we express the experience of being ease-filled … I discover that my thoughts and myself are two distinct things. I can be meditating and suddenly realize that I’ve been thinking thoughts the whole time, but that they feel as if they have arrived from an infinite field and are not a part of me (the essence of me) at all. It feels as if the “me” is infinite space and the thoughts are energy signatures that come from the outside in, but are not mine. They may, of course, have everything to do with this lifetime as I am experiencing it, yet there is a depersonalization to it. They are not the essence of me.

Therefore, the relationship I have with thoughts is that I have them, but they are not from me. They just are. They bounce in from the infinite field of consciousness and become personal to my life experience, but are not personal, nor are they “me,” nor are they “mine.” They just are. I have a distance from them. They occur, but they are not personal. They come and go, but it is like the bouncing ball, not an internal foundation of my being. I am the observer behind the thoughts rather than the thoughts themselves. I am distinct from the thoughts. No matter how personalized they feel (and of course they are very personal to what is going on in my life experience), they are profoundly not personal, not me at all. They have no relation to who I AM. They are. That is the best way I can describe it.

Mollie: In other words, while meditating, you are almost entirely separate from your ego? Can you describe that feeling a little more?

Leta: It is a very strange phenomenon. When I am feeling vast, I fall into that vastness and lose all dreams, ideas or hopes of being anything other than completely anonymous as a human. I go into this vast space inside myself and everything I need is there. I have everything. I have the impulse to disappear completely.

How this plays out in my life is that I have no desire to be present on social media. I cannot nor do I want to explain myself to anyone. There is no desire to even talk to anyone. I am here for those who want to talk to me, but I am not in defense mode. I only care to listen and speaking feels like a kindness I do for the benefit of all humankind as we do this thing together–as a species–of evolving. The thing that is missing from my life is the desire to be anything other than what I am right now or anywhere other than where I am right now. That is not to say I don’t have stress or feelings of overwhelm. However, I am grateful for them as I am experiencing them.

I don’t know how else to describe it. No explanation is ever going to be enough. It is felt, not explained. I cannot talk about it. I can only feel it. When I try to talk about it, like right now, it feels so inadequate and off-base. It is only an approximation of an approximation.

Mollie: I don’t think I’ve ever lived a single moment without desire. That must be amazing.

What is your greatest, most helpful spiritual practice in life?

Leta: NOTHING is what I insist is my greatest experience! Nothing is NO-THING. It is surrender and surrender and surrender until your heart is so full you encompass everything. You become no-thing and have room for everything. It is the galaxy I am talking about, the vastness, the opening up to galaxies and the whole universe. It is everything because it is nothing.

This admission feels vulnerable because I don’t want anyone to be denied the experience they are having right now, to ever think they are experiencing anything other than perfection every moment, no matter how unpleasant.

I want everyone to have their own experience, because it is theirs to have and it is perfect just as it is.

Depression Success Story: "Matt Kahn’s ‘Loving What Arises’ Technique Is Simple and Profound"

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Contributor: Mollie Player

Last fall, I was going through a rough time. Like, really rough. I wasn’t taking walks. I wasn’t eating healthy. I wasn’t hanging out with friends–even writing. The problem? I was pregnant.

And every day, all day long, I was nauseated.

It’s the worst thing, that nausea. I’ve had it four times for over three months straight, and it never gets any more enjoyable. It’s unfortunate, too, for my kids and husband, who want another little one someday. (I think they forgot how bad the bathroom smelled, and how infrequently I cleaned it.)

All right, enough pity. (Thanks, though. It was nice.) The point is, when you’re sick everything sucks. So you can imagine how badly I’d have to want to do something while in this condition in order to actually get dressed, get in the car, go somewhere and do it.

Yeah. Pretty bad indeed.

Well, I did that. I did that for Matt Kahn. And it involved a 40-minute car ride. There was an IV in my arm, and I puked on the street by my friend’s car, and I hated every second, but I went.

To say I’m a fan of Kahn is an understatement. I once offered to ghost write a book of his. (His office person rejected the idea. No hard feelings! Emoticons!) He’s a Seattle local, which gets him a few points, but mostly he just has a great take on spirituality. It’s jovial. It’s fun. It’s super insightful. And it’s just non-friggin-uptight. He’s not a comedy genius or anything–he’s just relatable. Honestly, a pretty normal dude–yet awesome.

And then there’s his message. His message is the thing. It’s unique. It’s a blend. There’s nothing copycat about it. He talks about karma, about the law of attraction, but in a totally different way. A real treatment of his message is far beyond the scope of this piece, but do check out at least one of his super popular YouTube videos. It’s required.

With that, we come to Kahn’s spiritual practice, and my assessment of how well it works for depression–and for just getting more inner peace and stuff in general.

So let’s get to it.

Matt Kahn is a spiritual teacher with second-sight abilities. In his book, Whatever Arises, Love That, which he seems to claim was channeled (though possibly not word-for-word?), he shares how one day a spirit entity or entities revealed to him his greatest teaching (so far) in the form of the four words that are the title of his book:

“Whatever arises, love that.”

Taking the directive literally, he began repeating, “I love you” to whatever got his attention—a flock of birds, a construction worker using a jackhammer. What followed was an awakening, as he calls it, that caused sounds of gunshots in his head and a sense of his Self “oozing out of my ears like warm liquid light.” Sounds like something I want to experience. Maybe.

And that’s it. That’s the practice. So simple. So of course, I had to try it. Here’s what I found.

Does this spiritual practice work against depression?

Yes, but only to a point unless used with great commitment. Just saying a few “I love yous” every day won’t get you out of a bad slump. Though it wouldn’t hurt, either.

Have you tried it? For how long?

I tried the technique for about one month during that pregnancy I was describing. Not the first trimester, of course–spiritual practice? what’s that?–but later when things weren’t so … entirely crappy. I was convinced I’d stick with it for at least a year straight as one of my main practices. However, it was not to be. Soon afterwards, I discovered Byron Katie’s The Work, and loving what arises has been relegated to the Definitely Will Do That Again, Hopefully Soon list in my OneNotes.

What were your results?

My results were great. Thing is, as hirpy-chirpy ridiculous as the technique sounds, in practice it’s very profound. When things are swimming along, feeling good to you, it’s just an extra “thank you” to the Universe, but when things get un-fun, the technique really gets interesting. It’s not about pretending to have feelings of appreciation and love for what you actually hate. For me, anyway, it’s about reminding myself that this–even this–is fine. Not great. Not cool. Not awesome. Not de-lish.

But fine. Really, really fine.

My kids both pooped on the floor? On the same day? It’s fine. It’s really fine. I love you.

I’m feeling depressed but too lazy to go take a walk? It’s fine. It’s really fine. I love you.

My body is forty pounds heavier, and my ears hurt from the sound of whining? It’s fine. It’s really fine. I love you.

Because, here’s the deal, you: You’re what I get when I ask to become a better person. You, Poop. You, Depression. You, Fat. You’re my gifts, my teachers, my best friends.

Even you, Whining. All of you.

So, I love you. For teaching me how to train my kids to clean up after themselves. For bringing me back to spiritual practice after a few days’ absence. For reminding me how lucky I am to have a healthy body. For teaching me patience. For making me stronger.

I love you.

Here are a couple of amazing quotes from the book.

Note that it was really, really hard to choose; there were tons of great ones.

  • “No matter what seems to trigger you, each reaction represents the releasing of cellular debris collected from lifetimes of experiences.”
  • “Throughout this process, it is important to remember that a sensation only feels like a barrier for as long as you refuse to feel it. As it is invited to be felt, a willingness to experience each moment as an opportunity to heal clears out layers of cellular memory to make room for the emergence of heart-centered consciousness.”
  • “Instead of using this practice as a cosmic fire extinguisher to merely resolve the flames of personal despair, I invite you to treasure your heart on a regular basis, until the world you are viewing reflects back the light that your love reveals.”
  • “While moments of transcendence are incredible to behold, the true benchmark of spiritual maturity is how often your words and actions are aligned with love.”

On a scale of 1-10, how effective was this technique is against depression, in your experience?

My super-scientific, soon-to-be-patented Depression Effectiveness Rating for the spiritual practice of loving what arises: 7.5 on a scale of 1-10