Page 1

How to Awaken from Depression


med with tea 7 TRAITS OF

Positive Audacıty Listening to

Polyamory The Zen of

Gratitude Peace Lessons

from a War Horse

ARE YOU A PIONEER? Discover your Audacity Archetype on page 46 SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2016

Mind–Gut Connections Thich Nhat Hahn Rabbi Rami

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APRIL 22ND, 2017

JULY 22ND, 2017

Escape The Ordinary


september / october 2016


7 Traits of Positive Audacity Audacious acts always breed polarized responses. Will your next bold move be a catalyst for good? BY JOEL BENNETT, PHD


Listening to Polyamory As more marriages open, I wanted to learn if polyamory can be a spiritual practice for growing love. BY LEAH LAMB


Peace Lessons from a War Horse Could you teach a peace-loving and exquisitely sensitive animal to carry you across a battlefield into enemy fire? What would that teach you? A true story… BY ALLAN HAMILTON, MD



The Zen of Gratitude Why is more and more always better if it can never be enough? And other great questions from Zen teacher David Loy. BY SAM MOWE


Tea: Handheld Meditation A special section exploring tea’s amazing ability to nourish mind and body. EDITED BY KATHRYN DRURY WAGNER



ON THE COVER Cover art by Sarajo Frieden

94 74

46 52 62 58



32, 30, 19

september / october 2016

The Awareness Training Institute and Greater Good Science Center at the University of California at Berkeley


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INNER & OUTER WORLDS 24 Inner Life What to tell your kids about psychic abilities; The week I burned up my ego; Papal infallibility gone wrong

30 Practice Why I’m a student of Thich Nhat Hanh

32 Healthy Body Recovery from nighttime bingeing; How our microbes tie us to every living thing

36 Relationships BETONY COONS (DETAIL)

Latest moves of the pole dance; Finishing school for boys who want to be girls

40 Biosphere


Become a part of bee life; The top rung of the consciousness ladder

COLUMNISTS 19 Roadside Assistance

for the Spiritual Traveler Help! I’m Being Threatened with Hell BY RABBI RAMI SHAPIRO

96 Care of the Soul No Need to Explain BY THOMAS MOORE


99 The Happiness Track Start Acting Like an Animal BY EMMA SEPPÄLÄ


102 The Heart of Money What If I Never Risk It All? BY PAUL SUTHERLAND


DEPARTMENTS 10 12 14 16

Editor’s Note Contributors Talk to Us Your Assignment The Sword in the Storytelling Stone


Creative Cuisine

88 Reviews 94 The Commons Why Bears Are Waking Up and People Are Hibernating

104 Five Questions Emeran Mayer, MD 4

september / october 2016

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10 Spiritual Luminaries This fall we proďŹ le celebrated and emerging spiritual luminaries. Nominate someone you believe should be included by emailing luminary@spiritualityhealth. com. Starts September 26th. spiritualityhealth. com/spiritualluminaries

Listen In On Essential Conversations, host Rabbi Rami talks with authors Marianne Williamson, Stephen Dinan, Matthew Fox, and Judith Schwartz. On Love Well, Eve Hogan interviews relationship experts Alexander Loyd and Dr. Richard Chambers. Marianne Williamson MATTHEW ROLSTON


september / october 2016

Stephen Dinan

Matthew Fox

Photo courtesy of Manuel Bauer and the office of His Holiness The Dalai Lama


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Bodh Gaya in 1974, 1985, 2003 and 2012. The Kalachakra teachings in 2012 drew over 200,000 devotees from across the world, including 8,000-10,000 Tibetans. The initiation to the Kalachakra is one of the most important because it takes everything in to account: the body, mind, cosmic

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aybe the quest for positive audacity comes from the realization that no good deed does go unpunished—and that’s OK. We still keep

doing them. I thought of that the other night at a city council meeting where I proposed that the City of Gold MELANIE LUTHER (DETAIL)

Hill offer a $1,000 prize for the best “storybook” ending to the story of The Sword in the Storytelling Stone. (Page 16) The iron “sword” was stuck in the stone perhaps to anchor a water cannon during the days of gold mining, so removing the iron seems an appropriate gesture for our first First Nations Day on October 10. Alas, a new city councilor got it into his head that the iron was “industrial waste,” which we were going to dump into the Rogue River. He was angry, and I was incredulous—and then angry. Then the meeting fell apart. Later I learned that the new councilor sometimes gets inexplicably angry as a result of his service to us in Afghanistan. No good deed goes unpunished—and yet he continues to serve on the city council, and we found the reward money. Our big dreams and bold moves will piss off someone for some reason because that is the nature of big dreams and bold moves. That said, the spiritual goal—total aliveness— includes boldly working for peace, and I think Joel Bennett’s “7 Traits of Positive Audacity” (46) has some powerful advice. Also helpful is a piece from Nadia Colburn: “Why I’m a Student of Thich Nhat Hanh.” (30) She includes snippets of Thay’s poetry: I am the twelve year old girl refugee on a small boat, who throws herself into the ocean after being raped by a sea pirate. And I am the pirate, my heart not yet capable of seeing and loving. Note to self: we need to restore poetry to this magazine.

Another piece I love is from Allan Hamilton, MD, who tells the true story of Otto, his grandfather’s cavalry horse. (58) I read it many times in the back and forth of tiny edits and I still can’t read it without tearing up. Imagine spending years training a horse to trust you so completely that he would carry you uphill into enemy mortar fire. Yet another piece I found fascinating is Leah Lamb’s “Listening to Polyamory.” (52) Think of it: Getting stoned for adultery is completely legal both in Saudi Arabia and in Oregon—but in Saudi Arabia it’s still lethal and in Oregon it’s now a spiritual practice. These are remarkable and confusing times, and Lamb has done a fine job giving voice to people who have consciously opened their relationships and marriages to other sexual partners. Adding to the possibilities for total aliveness are growing institutions that allow people to experiment with gender, like “Miss Vera’s Finishing School for Boys Who Want to Be Girls.” (38) We have other fine pieces from old friends and former columnists. Psi researcher Marilyn Schlitz, who was the model for the heroine in Dan Brown’s The Last Symbol, writes what she would tell her own teenage son about intuition and psychic abilities. (24) And evolutionary neuroscientists Peggy La Cerra goes to the root of a growing epidemic of depression in “Why Bears Are Waking Up and People Are Hibernating.” (94) Great stuff! Personally, I’m slowly waking to the profound intelligence of bears and, of course, my old golden retriever, Niki, who knocked me off the ladder of consciousness—and not a moment too soon.

Stephen Kiesling editor in chief 10

september / october 2016


Joel Bennett, PhD, has helped catalyze healthy work cultures for the past 20 years. Through clinical trials, his programs have been recognized in the U.S. and abroad as effective in reducing stigma, stress, and behavioral risks while also enhancing employee well-being. On page 46, he acquaints us with some of the key tools he uses: interpersonal mindfulness, raw coping power, the quantum nudge, and—most outrageously—your own positive audacity.

Nadia Colburn is an OI aspirant in the tradition of Thich Nhat Hanh and a certified Kundalini yoga teacher. She brings together writing, meditation, and yoga in her online class Align Your Story as well as in private coaching. Nadia holds a PhD in English from Columbia and her poetry and prose have been published in such places as the New Yorker, American Poetry Review, and She is a founding editor at Anchor Magazine: where spirituality and social justice meet. Read about why she so loves “Thay” on page 30.

Allan Hamilton, MD, spent his professional life as a brain surgeon while his main avocation is training horses. From his grandfather, a WWI cavalry officer, Dr. Hamilton first learned that one of the biggest obstacles horse trainers face is that human beings are so fundamentally predatory. Read his inspiring essay “Peace Lessons from a War Horse” as well as his latest book, Lead With Your Heart: Lessons Learned from a Life with Horses.

Paula Jones started painting “at the ripe old age of 45, after a plaster ceiling fell on my head while I was doing what I loved at the time, which was remodeling houses.” After that, she “covered miles and miles of canvas” and now paints “intuitively with my hands … with sponges, with crayons, stencils, with charcoal, alcohol (for the painting, not for me. Okay—sometimes for me)….” She is the author of My Lyrical Journey: How I Painted My Heart Wide Open and her work is featured on page 62.

Leah Lamb says her “first love was theater … having a play win a spot in Virginia’s Young Writers Playwriting Festival. My second love was the wilderness. While studying wilderness leadership at Prescott College I fell in love with the natural world. My third love was film. My continual love is social justice and community building. And my real love is storytelling!” The fascinating story she tells on page 52 is “Listening to Polyamory,” about the spiritual practice of having many lovers at once.

Marilyn Schlitz, PhD, is a social anthropologist, researcher, and award-winning writer, who serves as President Emeritus at the Institute of Noetic Sciences. Additionally, she is a Senior Scientist at the California Pacific Medical Center, where she focuses on health and healing. For more than three decades, Marilyn has been a leader in the field of consciousness studies. On page 24, read what she would tell her own teenage son about intuition and psychic abilities.


september / october 2016

artists Stasia Burrington Double Spoon 2 (page 53), Double Spoon (55, 56) mixed media,

Lucy Campbell After the Flood (page 34) acrylic,

Betony Coons Saint Swan (page 28) acrylic on canvas,

B. A. Lampman War Horse (page 58), Yellow Boy (61) collage, BA-Lampman-164228360350172/

Tracey Long Gerald and Percy show off their new best boots (page 38) mixed media,

Melanie Luther Niki at the Top Rung (page 43) acrylic, ink and Photoshop

Sandra Dieckmann Bear Rock (page 95)

Janet O’Neal Dim the Lights (page 32)

pencil, watercolor, digital collage,


Marie DiLeva Rainbow Phoenix (page 27)

Sara Pulver Happy Day (page 36)

digital illustration; Instagram: @mariedileva

acrylic on panel,

Sarajo Frieden Cover, 7 Traits of Positive Audacity (page 46)

Amy Rice Milkweed and Honey (page 40)

mixed media and digital,

Signe Gabriel Breathing Into My Cup (pages 74–75) pencil, ink, watercolor,

mixed media

Sandra Salamony Clematis (page 23) mixed media and digital

Tracie Grimwood My Mind’s Eye (page 25) acrylic on paper,

Paula Jones It Is Time to Share Her Heart (page 63), Metamorphosis I (65), Opposite Sides of the Fence (66) mixed media,

Gerald and Percy show off their new best boots (detail) Tracey Long

september / october 2016



Anyway, I appreciated reading your words. The article helped solidify what I know in my heart to be true, that I, as an individual, have the power to make a difference. Not only the power, but the obligation.

Losing the “God Talk” in Grief Groups I appreciate Katherine Ozment’s sharing about her care through secular grief outreach. Everyone finds their own way through grief and through their own journey in life. What I like about your magazine is the ability to share many different perspectives when it comes to spirituality or no spirituality. I take exception to Ms. Ozment’s comment: “To say you need the afterlife to have meaning is the bleakest form of insanity.” I would hope that Ms. Ozment can speak about the joy and benefit of her grief work with those who are nonreligious without negating, criticizing, or ridiculing others and their approach to grief. Such comments speak of a spirit of superiority or a “right way” to deal with grief. For Ms. Ozment to speak about her work without disparaging those who believe differently and handle grief differently would help others to see her work in a more positive light. Douglas Anders

Note: The quotation was from the subject of Ozment’s piece, not Ozment herself, but the point is well taken.

Why an Ad for Dianetics? I have enjoyed your journal for a number of years, especially the column by Rabbi Shapiro. And I have enjoyed the advertisements for books and conferences. Because of your ads, I have attended conferences with Rabbi

Holly Groome

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Shapiro and purchased many books. I consider everything in your journal to be reputable and safe. However, in a recent issue I was alarmed and actually frightened to see an advertisement for L. Ron Hubbard’s Dianetics. I was stunned that you would advertise anything associated with Scientology. I realize that by running advertisement, it does not mean you endorse the product. However, in this case, it seems you might as well list an “unendorsed” advertisement for Jim Jones. In honesty, I am afraid to state my name.

Trump as Guru I wanted to express my “odd” gratitude for your recent article regarding “kissing our ugly.” I say “odd” because it resonated with an uncomfortable stirring inside I’ve been feeling over the past few months—an internal buzz that says, I have to do something for the world, for others… There has to be more to this life… This can’t be all there is.”

For the first time in my several years as a subscriber, I find myself reluctant to put your magazine in our psychology practice waiting room. And it’s really about a single exclamation point on your cover: “Reverse Dementia in 3 Months!” (May/June 2016) As a clinical psychologist working primarily with people 50 and older, I’m really pleased that you’ve included such comprehensive coverage on aging. I also respect how you’ve fleshed out the concept of strategic aging in a way that highlights the hopeful power of lifestyle and nutrition as well as more advanced dementia treatments. However, highlighting the article with the tabloidesque teaser “Reverse Dementia in 3 Months!” seems overly simplistic and misleading, given the wide variety of types of dementia and personal characteristics such as one’s age, duration of difficulties, or medical complications. As a result, we have chosen to tape a disclaimer of sorts to the magazine cover, which you can see in the photograph attached: “one person’s story.” Lisa C. Campbell, PsyD Co-Director, Willow Wellness Center

talk to us by mail: Spirituality & Health, 123 W. Front Street, Suite 2B, Traverse City, MI 49684 by email:;; Include your name, city, state, and phone number when possible. Letters may be edited for length and clarity.


september / october 2016

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Complete the Story of

The Sword in the Storytelling Stone THOUSANDS OF YEARS AGO, at

the beginning of Takelma Indian time, when the Great Dragonfly called Daldal brought the Salmon Ceremony to Ti’lomikh Falls on the river that is now called the Rogue, there were two stone chairs. The first was a natural stone seat at the base of the falls called the Story Chair, where the elders of the Takelma would net the first salmon of the spring to share among all the Tribes. The second chair was a stone on the riverbank called the Storytelling Stone, where the story of the Great Dragonfly and the Salmon Ceremony was told. The Salmon Ceremony was a living story that brought peace to all the people. The long peace was broken when New People came and found a yellowcolored fever stone that was more important to them than salmon, more important to them than anything. Takelma means “People of the River,” but the New People called the Takelma “Rogues,” which means savage, and called themselves “Exterminators.” The New People killed the People of the River to take the yellow fever stone. Over the years the New People gradually realized that they too are People of the River. The Story Chair was rediscovered and Great-Great-Grandmother Aggie, the very oldest living Takelma Indian, took her seat to bless the water and to once again bring peace.


september / october 2016

The New People apologized. A special day—First Nations Day—was established to honor all the First Peoples of Oregon. Meanwhile, a search began for the Storytelling Stone. What was found on the riverbank was this stone chair with an iron sword right through the heart of it. On First Nations Day—October 10, 2016— Finish the story: The Storytelling Stone and this story will become part of the First Nations Monument at Ti’lomikh Falls. What happens to the sword? For more information, visit



book ur story Send yo telling@ to Story y ending b lityhealt a u it 6 ir 1 p 0 s 2 ber 23, Septem

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so?” Tell them the best way to interest you in their faith is to live a life so filled with compassion and love that you are compelled to ask how they achieve it. Living their faith well is more powerful than talking about it endlessly. What do you make of Ark Encounter, the new Noah’s Ark theme park in Kentucky? Two thousand years ago Rabbi Ben Bag Bag said, “turn her and turn her for everything is in her” (Pirke Avot 5:19). The “her” is Torah, the Five Books of Moses. Turning Torah is an act of literary creativity and spiritual imagination that continually finds new meanings in this ancient and multilayered text. Ark Encounter flattens the Bible into a one-dimensional cartoon incapable of turning. This is an insult to the Bible, and anyone who loves her should be saddened by what has been done to her.

Author and teacher RABBI RAMI SHAPIRO has been called “one of the best bridges of Eastern and Western wisdom.” His newest book is Embracing the Divine Feminine.

Help! I’m Being Threatened with Hell I’m being hounded by evangelicals calling me a sinner and threatening me with Hell. How can I make them stop?

Rabbi Rami: If you politely ask them to leave you alone, and they persist, I suggest deepening the conversation by asking them questions like these: “The God I know loves unconditionally, but yours loves only those who agree with you. Why would I believe in a God who is nothing more than an extension of your ego?” and “For all your insistence that God is love, all your talk is about eternal damnation and Hell. Why do you believe in a God who scares you

Like you, I’m Jewish, but I’m not religious. What is your relationship to the religion of Judaism? Jews are my tribe. Judaism is my culture. But my religion is Perennial Wisdom, a set of four truths found in all religions:

1) All life is a manifesting of a singular process (call it God, Tao, Brahman, Allah, HaShem, Great Spirit, Nature, Mother, etc.). 2) We humans have an innate capacity to realize this process. 3) Living this realization means embracing all beings with justice and compassion. 4) Achieving this realization and the life it engenders is the highest human calling. I am drawn to those Jewish texts, teachings, and practices that reflect Perennial Wisdom; I am uninterested in those that don’t.

september / october 2016



I’m an atheist (there—I said it!), but I’m also partial to Buddhism. Is there such a thing as Buddhist atheism, Buddhism without supernaturalism? In his very first sermon the Buddha said, “I teach one thing and one thing only: suffering and the ending of suffering.” Original Buddhism was a-theistic, without a God. As Buddhism spread across cultures it absorbed ideas from those cultures, and it developed a variety of supernatural notions about which the Buddha himself knew nothing. Two books might be of help to you: Stephen Bachelor’s Buddhism Without Beliefs and Walpola Rahula’s What the Buddha Taught. What’s the difference between organized religion and faith, and which of these does the Bible support? Organized religion is a system of ritual and belief governed by a clerical elite whose primary concern is to maintain power and control over the religious. Faith is the innate human capacity to awaken to and engage directly with Reality manifesting in, with, and as all things. The Bible supports both. When the Bible divides people into Chosen and not Chosen (Deuteronomy 7:6), sheep and goats (Matthew

Live meaningfully now, and worry about the afterlife only if you find yourself living in one.

25:31–33), the saved and the damned (Mark 16:16) it is laying the groundwork for organized religion. When God calls us to be a blessing to all the families of the earth (Genesis 12:3), and when Jesus calls us to follow him rather than worship him (Matthew 16:24), the Bible is speaking of faith. Religion is the easier of the two. Faith the more desperately needed. I can’t believe that we human beings with all our complexity and genius just come to an end. Don’t you think we must survive death if our lives are to have any meaning? I don’t think our lives have meaning, I think living is about making meaning. In your way of thinking meaning is dependent upon dying. My way is different: live meaningfully now, and worry about the afterlife only if you find yourself living in one. My neighbor blames hurricanes, tornadoes, and droughts on God’s hatred of gay people, and yet she said nothing

ONE FOR THE ROAD I belong to a very liberal church, and when it comes to religion it is a perfect fit. But politically I am conservative and plan to vote for “He Who Cannot Be Named” (at least not in my church). I’m feeling very isolated, as if I shouldn’t be a member here if I can conceive of voting for him. How can I share my whole life with my church family if I’m judged so harshly? Share your responses at


september / october 2016

regarding the mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando. This was clearly an attack on gay people done in the name of God. Why is she silent? Here are two possible reasons: First, chances are the God invoked by the Orlando shooter is not the God invoked by your neighbor, and while both Gods may hate gay people, supporters of each are loathe to credit the other in these matters. Second, invoking God to explain natural disasters is very different from imagining God sending a terrorist as a servant of his wrath to murder 49 innocents. This probably makes God more evil than even your neighbor can handle. I’m impressed that almost every religion believes in Hell. Does this prove Hell exists? No, it only proves that religious leaders are good marketers. Religions, or rather certain kinds of religion, use Hell the way toothpaste companies use halitosis, and deodorant companies use body odor: to scare you into buying their product. The fact that each religion reserves Hell for those who violate its particular set of sacred behaviors and beliefs, and not those who violate the beliefs of other religions, suggests that each religion uses Hell for its own benefit. Rather than worry about Hell, do something to make earth a bit more heavenly. S&H

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INNER+OUTER WORLDS inner life // practice // healthy body // relationships // biosphere

When I look inside and see that I am nothing, that’s wisdom. When I look inside and see that I am everything, that’s love.

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—SRI NISARGADATTA MAHARAJ From “The Zen of Gratitude” on page 62. Clematis Sandra Salamony


inner life BACK TO SCHOOL

What to Tell Your Kids about

Intuition, Intention, and Psychic Abilities AS A RESEARCH SCIENTIST and former president of the Institute of Noetic Sciences,

Marilyn Schlitz, PhD, has studied intuition, intention, and the possibility of psychic abilities for decades. What she has experienced fills scientific papers, books, and workshops, but we asked her to reflect on what she would advise her own teenage son. What is the source of intuition?

Just what intuition is or where it comes from remains a mystery. There are different theories. Some scientists argue that intuition is something that comes when we have learned a great deal about a topic, incubated the idea, shifted our attention to something else, and then experienced a kind of “aha” or illumination moment. This speaks to the unconscious nature of intuition, busy working within us while our conscious thoughts are elsewhere. Then we may, with practice, bring our attention to the insight, bringing it into our awareness. We may pick up the pen and write, or find a brush and make a painting. Within the creative intuition process, there is usually a judgment phase. Here we can decide if our intuition was correct. Of course, some of our intuitions can be wrong, so we need to learn to calibrate them to help guide us in positive and life-affirming directions. We can also learn from our mistakes, so long as we are willing to keep trying. Some people feel there may be a kind of X factor that leads to intuitive insights or breakthroughs. Many people report having extended human capacities like telepathy or clairvoyance. These experiences suggest that people may gain information from something other than our known senses. A recent review of studies designed to cultivate intuitive experiences that involve telepathy or mind–to-mind communication showed that some people are able to know another person’s thoughts or feelings, even if they haven’t communicated with each other. The researchers reported that the intuitive information was correct more times than was expected by chance. This idea is controversial, but that doesn’t mean it’s wrong. Maybe when we have a creative new idea, it involves our mind reaching out to connect with other minds in order to share information and reveal our fundamental interconnectedness. Again, a mystery. 24

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Learning to trust your intuition can help you as you seek to discover your own unique life path. Be prepared to feel awe and wonder when you least expect it. What is the power of intention?

Intention is a fundamental organizing principle that underlies all our actions in the world. Like intuition, it remains a fundamental mystery. We know more about the outer world we live in than we do about our own personal impulses and motivations, even though we live with ourselves every day. There are three basic types of intention that people describe, and all seem to me to be important for how we live our lives. Individual intentions can be directed toward both our inner experiences and our outer actions. We may use intention to calm our inner turmoil, practicing focused breathing and affirmations that can keep us in a state of emotional balance. If we feel anger or frustration, we can learn to self-regulate and self-soothe. We can harness our intention to help heal our minds and bodies, visualizing optimal health and wellness. Individual intentions often involve making a game plan for achieving our goals in the world, such as taking a class or going to the gym. There are also ways in which we can direct our intention toward qualities of being that we wish to live into, such as gratitude, love, and forgiveness. Making the effort to accomplish our goals involves working with intention, sometimes pushing against our own inertia or laziness. Collective intentions allow us to galvanize our shared goals in a specific direction. The idea that men went to the moon when many people said it was impossible represents the harnessing of our collective intentions. Participating with a team to win at sports, or participating in a community service project, can feel good as we connect to others.

My Mind’s Eye Tracie Grimwood

We may use intention to calm our inner turmoil, practicing focused breathing and affirmations that can

keep us in a state of emotional balance. When people rose up with a message of resilience and hope following the shooting in Orlando, this illustrated a shared intention to grieve together—and to move on in spite of the suffering and confusion. In these ways, our thoughts are potent. They have an impact on the world in which we live. They can influence our minds and bodies as we share our meaning systems and values through our conversations and shared activities. The clinical benefits of placebos, for example, offer important clues about the ways in which intentions are communicated during interactions between people through subtle suggestions. We may not always be aware of the impact of our intentions on other people. This is another good reason why we need to pay attention to how we direct our intentions. Transpersonal intentions are what I call the third form. People make use of prayer and ritual to bring about positive outcomes for themselves or their loved ones. In fact, prayer is the most frequently used form of alternative therapy. Praying helps us feel connected to a life force. It is calming and soothing, and may help us to heal our selves and others. We don’t really know if distant intention or prayer

actually helps people heal from diseases. Indeed, because prayer is so difficult to study, it’s simply been easier to dismiss reports of spiritual healing as a lot of wishful thinking. But there’s no question that praying, meditating, breathing, journaling, reciting affirmations, or holding positive intentions can help us feel better. Knowing we are connected to others who are also holding positive intentions may be stronger still. So if and when you are moved to pray or ask for guidance on your life path, do so with all your heart. We can all use a little extra help from time to time. Can anyone know your path?

No one can know your path or your future. You can find guidance from trusted teachers or friends. In the end it’s up to you to find your soul’s compass and use it as a trusted guide. Take time to acknowledge your deep wisdom, polish up your intentions, find opportunities to experience the mysteries of life, and trust yourself to find a sturdy path in this precious life that is unfolding in and around you. You are your own —MARILYN SCHLITZ, PHD North Star!

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inner life STAFF RETREAT

The week I

burned my ego AN ADVENTURE ON WHAT’S CALLED PATH OF LOVE AS I PULLED INTO the retreat center circled with

towering cedars, blossoming wildflowers, and the deep green richness emblematic of the Pacific Northwest, I saw smoke. Surely this couldn’t be an actual fire on the premises, I thought. But it was. Local firefighters were just beginning a controlled burn of an old barn. After checking in and getting settled, I watched in curiosity and awe the bright flames pouring from the windows as the fire keepers positioned themselves and their hoses to carefully control the deconstruction. A few hours later, the men, the hoses, and their vehicles were gone. Broken stones and bricks lay among the charred wood. I trembled slightly. Was this going to happen to me on what’s called Path of Love? What I knew from the website was that the seven-day group process was supposed to give us “a unique and direct experience of our true selves,” and “tools to come out of old patterns of compromise, fear, complacency and isolation.” That was good. But the secretive nature of the program, the multiple calls for confidentiality, and the in-depth waiver had fueled my anxiety and doubt. Could I handle whatever was to come? Would I have the guts to stick it out? I wanted to be open—fully—so that if real healing was available, I could accept it. The personal mantra guiding me was “Surrender to the process,” and surrender was what I decided to do. Thank God I did. For brief moments, I experienced a full dissolution of the ego-mind, transcending into deep knowing and bliss. Other times, I was so entrenched in internal despair and disgust, of myself and others, that I grimaced at the thought of living another day. But then I also played, wildly, with a

fierce abandon and intensity that I hadn’t felt in years while joy and pure ecstasy enveloped me. And most beautifully, this process helped me connect with the sublime space that can be created in the heart through expression of my own authentic self. EXPOSURE Osho once said, “Whatsoever you hide goes on growing, and whatsoever you expose, if it is wrong it disappears, evaporates in the sun. . .” A major part of Path of Love is exposure through deep sharing and fearless communication—letting others, and ourselves, see the darkest parts that have been stowed away from fear of rejection or shame. I told stories of my own traumatic experiences as a teen and young adult, and the regrettable actions around which I’d been harboring deep guilt. Being “seen” in my shadows through small-group sharing made me realize that it’s possible to disclose all this and still be received with compassionate understanding and love. MOVEMENT We are constantly feeling and, truth be told, we should be responding to our feelings through responsible expression. But more often than not, we suppress our feelings. Our physical bodies become warehouses of trapped emotion. We used physical release and emotional catharsis to somatically free these stored energies. One particularly strong style of music-accompanied meditation, termed “Burn Meditations,” created an environment in which we could fully let go of whatever remained locked inside (stuff that can manifest as disease and physical pain if not discharged from the body). At one point during a burn, I felt a strong wave of heat and tingling energy move from my neck to my chest and

One particularly strong style of music-accompanied meditation, termed “Burn Meditations,” created an environment in which we could

fully let go of whatever remained locked inside.


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arms, creating ripples of sensation as it left my body. Afterward, I felt freedom and space in my chest, allowing for deep, naturally expansive breath, and relief from a deep, lingering pain in my neck and shoulders. I felt lighter, stronger, more well, as this energy moved through the rest of my being. SUPPORT There were trained and gifted leaders and staff providing much-needed words to help make sense of what was happening—keys to follow for success in the process (and in life) such as: “The intensity of my longing will show me where I need to go.” Staff also provided soothing touch and encouragement when my experiences were painful or difficult. I felt safe in their presence, and this safety created the trust necessary to go to the depths that allow healing to happen.

and mostly superficial wants into a somewhat socially accepted personality that might get by OK. It wasn’t easy to burn through an established identity and break down the walls surrounding my fragile, powerful heart. However, with a new soul tribe, divine help, and a truly genius approach to deconditioning, here I am as a child now, again holding the raw elements, rebuilding. —ROBIN STREMLOW Path of Love retreats have been held across the world for over 20 years. There are year-round seven-day processes, and also two-to-four-day introductory options. For more information, visit

SILENCE Except in moments of sharing, all participants were in silence, which initially felt strange and intimidating, but the silence became a comfort and something I looked forward to after the energetic highs of group work. Silence let each of us to stay with our own experience and recognize where and how things might be opening or shifting, giving us insight into what to work with next. It wasn’t “noble silence” (there was laughter at lunch, and one time some of us managed to play soccer) but the tone was gentle and respectful of the depth created. REFLECTION Through the process of opening, walking into, and expressing my darkness, and being passionately curious about exploring whatever I found, I was able to see pure godliness. When exploring this realm, I connected with deep places of trust and confidence not only in myself, but in life. A trust that recognizes it’s always going to be OK, at some grand level, no matter what obstacle I feel overwhelmed with or defeated by. I also recognized the roles I play and perhaps what established them, the sabotaging nature of my mind and how it has tried and will continue to try to keep me safe from the painful yet intensely beautiful trip that is authentic living—and the sweetness of connecting with others despite believing no one could ever understand nor hold space for all that I am. I also saw that who I thought I was is merely a construct created to situate me in this world—something my ego, and other egos, pieced together from my experiences

Rainbow Phoenix Marie DiLeva

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inner life


Overcoming the History and Failings of

Papal Infallibility INFALLIBILITY WAS A “NINETEENTH-CENTURY NOVELTY” GONE WRONG IN MARCH OF THIS YEAR, the Swiss Catholic theologian Hans Küng wrote an open letter to Pope Francis asking the pontiff to allow “a free, unprejudiced and openended discussion in our church of all the unresolved and suppressed questions connected with the infallibility dogma.”

This is not the first time that Küng has sought to encourage open and frank discussion of the doctrine of papal infallibility. He did so in a famous 1971 book and, in large part due to this book, was eventually deprived of his license to teach as a Catholic theologian by the Vatican. This year is different. A month after he sent his open letter to the pope, Küng reported that Francis responded both personally and positively to his appeal. This led Küng to say that he would take up the debate on infallibility once again, but in the spirit of collaboration, collegiality, and freedom that Francis has made possible. Could it be that Küng’s lifelong efforts to encourage constructive and ecumenically oriented reforms in the Catholic Church are finally getting the serious attention they merit? And why does this matter? As Küng has stated, the doctrine of papal infallibility has overshadowed and impacted many key challenges and issues that have divided the Catholic Church. In the nineteenth century, this doctrine became the bedrock of papal power and of ecclesial centralization in Rome. However, this helped bring about a situation where some popes became fearful of being seen to contradict their predecessors, and some Church leaders became reluctant to admit that Church teachings (doctrines) undergo development and change over time. Out of fear, ignorance, or confusion, theologians and Church leaders alike have tiptoed around the issue of infallibility and have missed countless opportunities for honest and open discussion and debate on Church matters of fundamental importance. The result: much Catholic theology and even Church teachings all too often became timid, and Saint Swan Betony Coons 28

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at times seemed irrelevant, to the needs of today’s world. This forced and misleading sense of timeless continuity has particularly straitjacketed much Church life and theological inquiry in the decades since Küng’s 1971 book. It has led to the persecution and isolation of scholars and pastoral servants of the Church and to a period dominated by fear and control. It has led to generations of Catholics growing up with an erroneous understanding of aspects of their faith because they were told that modern innovations and glosses were actually centuries-old “traditional” components of Catholicism. It has also been a major stumbling block for ecumenical relations. And yet the doctrine of infallibility is largely misunderstood by the vast majority of Catholics—even among all too many theologians and scholars. During the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the

Roman Catholic Church experienced a loss of its temporal power. Revolutions in intellectual, social, and cultural life also impacted the Church’s authority and influence (including from internal movements and theological ideas, as well as from the advance of liberalism and secularism beyond the Church). To counterbalance these challenges, key Church authorities decided to emphasize the spiritual and doctrinal authority of the pope and Rome in stark and uncompromising terms. But the manner in which papal infallibility came to be understood was, in many ways, a nineteenthcentury novelty. Even at the First Vatican Council (1869 to 1870), the bishops who attended were deeply divided over the issue of papal infallibility. Nonetheless, even that council framed its final understanding of the doctrine in the most guarded and qualified of terms. Yet, in the century that followed, many people erroneously confused infallibility either with qualities enjoyed by the person of the pope himself, and/or by the Church teachings themselves. From there it was a short step to thinking that everything a pope said had to be accepted without challenge, and that teachings could never be questioned or modified. Küng is surely right that the time has come to “re-vision” this doctrine. Indeed, I would suggest the time has come to reimagine and reenvision the entire system of ecclesiastical magisterium—how Catholic Church teaching authority is understood and practiced. Revisiting and reimagining the notion of infallibility will form a vital part of such an overhaul of the entire magisterial system—something necessary in order for the Church to flourish in its global and constructive gospel mission today and long into the —GERARD MANNION, D.PHIL. future.

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Dr. Mannion holds the Joseph and Winifred Amaturo Chair in Catholic Studies at Georgetown University. This piece was adapted from Sightings, a publication of the Martin Marty Center at the University of Chicago Divinity School.

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Why I’m a Student of

Thich Nhat Hanh I know of no spiritual teacher or person who more fully embodies peace and compassionate understanding than Thich Nhat Hanh, or Thay, as he is lovingly known by his students. “ALL RELIGIONS and spiritual traditions,” William

James famously wrote, “begin with the cry ‘Help!’” Like so many, I began my spiritual quest in earnest when I began to heal consciously from an instance of violence in my early childhood and the pain and confusion around it. Why, I wanted—I needed—to know, did bad things happen, not only on the personal level, but all around us in the world? The world is full of injustice and destruction: how are we to understand our present moment and transform it? I needed a larger frame. I had read the Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh’s work before, and I knew to go back to his writing and teachings. When Thay teaches that the present moment is a wonderful moment, he is not speaking from a position of naïve privilege. Thay lived through the Vietnam War and saw immense pain, violence, suffering, and tragedy firsthand. He broke with the established Buddhist leaders and urged greater engagement; together with other young activists, Thay went into the countryside, where the fighting was worst, and provided support—rebuilding towns, schools, villages. He risked his own life many times, and many of his close friends and colleagues were killed. Exiled from Vietnam in 1968 because of his peace work, Thay settled in France and continued to work steadfastly for peace and to help those displaced and suffering from the war and its aftermath. I find his early journals especially moving: we see him, confronted with the violence of the war, time and again overcome his own despair. We see him, in his early exile, far from the country and people he loves, feeling homesick, unable to sleep, and learning to make a new home in his new surroundings, keeping his spirits up. At the heart of his teachings is the insight that peace starts from within. In the face of the self-righteous conviction of each side in the civil war, in the face of people so sure 30

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they are right they are willing to kill or be killed for their ideals, Thay realizes that the only true path to peace is to find and grow peace within each of us, to cultivate compassion and understanding, and to understand how we all are interconnected. Many of Thay’s most moving teachings come in the form of poems. In his poem “Call Me by My True Name,” written in 1978, he remembers with sorrow the many Vietnamese who died trying to escape their country on boats—in a situation not dissimilar from that of many Syrian refugees today. In this poem, Thay explores entering into the experiences of many different beings: I am, he writes, “a bud on a spring branch,” a “frog swimming happily,” a “child in Uganda all skin and bones.” In perhaps the most powerful stanza he assumes the roles of both victim and perpetrator: I am the twelve year old girl refugee on a small boat, who throws herself into the ocean after being raped by a sea pirate. And I am the pirate, my heart not yet capable of seeing and loving. Thay tries to see every side, every being, with understanding and compassion. He continues: Please call me by my true names, so I can hear all my cries and laughter at once, so I can see that my joy and pain are one. At the heart of Buddhist teaching is the idea of non-self. And Thay emphasizes this: we inter-are. We are the cloud whose rain falls into the earth and helps grow the food that we eat. We are our joys and our pains, our mothers and fathers, our teachers and everything that we ever come into contact with. I had originally been asking the question “Why?” But Thay taught me to come out of my head and into my heart.

Breathing in, I calm my body, Breathing out, I smile, Dwelling in the present moment, I know this is a wonderful moment. In a time of such violence on a global scale, such insecurity and such devastation to the landscape, I think

it’s important that we all learn to practice peace. We practice not only to eliminate suffering, but to transform on the personal and the social levels, and to wake up so that we are capable of really celebrating the great miracle —NADIA COLBURN of life.

RECOMMENDED READING Thich Nhat Hanh’s Inside the Now: Meditations on Time begins with an autobiographical reflection in which we hear the voice of the young monk, poet, and community-builder struggling in war-torn Vietnam to develop a Buddhism relevant to the suffering of his time. These early experiences lay the groundwork for his insights into the nature of time and interbeing. In part two, we hear the clear, direct voice of the Zen Master challenging us to open our hearts, seize the moment, and touch the now.



How do I show compassion, first to myself for my own suffering, and then to all others? Through his own example of coming to a place of peace and joy from suffering, I trusted his directions. How do you cultivate peace and happiness? His answer is to meditate: practice; breathe; pay attention to your breath; pay attention to the present moment; pay attention to the miracle of being alive; wake up; and again come back to your breath. This practice calms the mind and body and develops concentration. And from this concentration, one has the insight to see into suffering and cultivate wise compassion and understanding and appreciation. In Thay’s engaged Buddhism, meditation is not only what we do in silence on our cushion, but what we attempt to do all day long, with every step and every breath: we come back into awareness, and from this awareness we come to be the peace:

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Peace—that was the other name for home.

When we recognize the virtues, the talent, the beauty of Mother Earth, something is born in us, some kind of connection.

Love is born. THICH NHAT HANH

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healthy body GUT CONNECTION

How Our Microbes Tie Us to Every Living Thing on Earth HUMAN MICROBIOME SCIENCE IS FORCING US AGAIN TO REEVALUATE WHO WE ARE… EVERYTHING that we’ve learned

about the gut microbiota challenges traditional scientific beliefs, which is one reason why it has become a topic of so much interest and controversy, both in the world of science and the media. It is also the reason why some people are posing deeper, more philosophical questions about the impact of the microbiome: Are our human bodies just a vehicle for the microbes living in it? Do the microbes manipulate our brains to make us seek out foods that are best for them? Should the fact that we humans are outnumbered by nonhuman cells change our concept of the human self?

According to the new science of the microbiome, we humans are truly supraorganisms, composed of closely interconnected human and microbial components, which are inseparable

While such philosophical speculations are fascinating, the implications of what the science of the human microbiome has revealed so far in the last decade are equally profound. Just as the Copernican Revolution in the sixteenth century fundamentally changed our understanding of the world’s position in the solar system, and Darwin’s revolutionary theory of evolution proposed in the nineteenth century has forever changed our position within the animal kingdom, the human microbiome science is forcing us again to reevaluate our position on earth. Dim the Lights Janet O’Neal 32

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and dependent on each other for survival. And most concerning is the fact that the microbial components are vastly greater than our human contribution to this supraorganism. Because

The gut microbiota residing at the interface between our gut and our nervous system are in a key position to link our physical and mental well-being directly to what we eat and drink, and in turn link our feelings and emotions to the processing of our food.

HOW WE HEAR THEM. . . The microbes not only inhabit the inside of your gut; many of them sit on a razor-thin layer of mucus and cells that coats the inner lining of your intestine. In this unique habitat they are barely separated from the gut’s immune cells and the numerous cellular sensors that encode our gut sensations. In other words, they live in intimate contact with the major information-gathering systems in our body. This location allows them to listen in as the brain signals the gut how stressed you are, or when you feel happy, anxious, or angry, even if you are not fully aware of these emotional states. But they do more than just listen. As incredible as this may sound, your gut microbes are in a prime position to influence your emotions, by generating and modulating signals the gut sends back to the brain. Thus, what starts as an emotion in the brain

is something that’s in everything and everybody. ADYASHANTI MEGGEN WATT PHOTOGRAPHY

influences your gut and the signals generated by your microbes, and these signals in turn communicate back to the brain, reinforcing and sometimes even prolonging the emotional state. When the first publications on this topic—mostly animal studies— appeared in the scientific literature some 10 years ago, I was skeptical of the results and implications, which just seemed to be too far outside the conventional view of medicine. However, after my research group at the University of California, Los Angeles, under the leadership of Kirsten Tillisch completed our own study in healthy human subjects, we were able to confirm the results of the animal studies—and I became determined to further explore the question of whether the interactions between the gut microbiota and the brain could affect our background emotions, social interactions, and even our ability to make decisions. Is the proper balance of microbes a prerequisite for mental health? And when these connections between the mind and gut are altered, can they raise a person’s risk of developing chronic diseases of the brain? These questions are fascinating not only from a scientist’s perspective, but also from a human one: a better understanding of the gut–brain connection is urgently needed in view of the impact that many brain disorders have on human suffering and health care —EMERAN MAYER, MD costs.

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the microbial component is so closely connected through a shared biological communication system to all the other microbiomes in the soil, the air, the oceans, and the microbes living in symbiosis with almost all other living creatures, we are closely and inextricably tied into the earth’s web of life. The new concept of the human microbial supraorganism clearly has profound implications for our understanding of our role on earth and for many aspects of health and disease.


When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe. John Muir

Adapted from The Mind–Gut Connection: How the Hidden Conversation Within Our Bodies Impacts Our Mood, Our Choices, and Our Overall Health, by Emeran Mayer, MD, PhD. Published this month by Harper Wave

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healthy body A READER WRITES

My Recovery from

Nighttime Bingeing Pretty much every night, for 46 years, I woke up in a semihypnotic state and ravaged for food‌ SOMETIMES I ATE foods that were frozen while standing in the kitchen. Other times I ate foods that were raw that shouldn’t be eaten raw. I ate in my bed while in a sleeping position. I ate on the couch, soiling the cushions and pillows. Plates, forks, and napkins were not part of these meals, and crumbs would be left all over the house. My father once caught me eating a box of Ritz crackers and a whole salami. The next day he commented that I appeared like a wounded animal. I felt that way inside.

My home life as a kid was often toxic, unpredictable, and frightening. My entire immediate family had an obsession with how much a person weighed. People who were overweight were viewed as a subhuman. The unspoken message was that maintaining a low weight was the most important aspect of being human, and I, of course, was overweight. The resultant anxiety I felt was temporarily soothed by these private orgies of food, so all my plans not to eat dissolved each night in a half-conscious frenzy of consumption. I tried various ways to manage what I thought of as my own troubling idiosyncratic behavior: I read self-help books, joined weight loss groups, listened to CD recordings, joined exercise programs, got hypnosis, and tried most every fad diet. Some of these attempts temporarily reduced my symptoms, but my weight and eating patterns always came back. I did have a hint of the solution: my sleep-away camp, which could not have been more different from my home environment. There I became part of a vibrant spiritual community that nurtured my soul. This stable and loving environment allowed me to live without fear. Mountains, lakes, and trails were the context for this healing. The spiritual path would become my core strength. But it was long time coming.

My father once caught me eating a box of Ritz crackers and a whole salami. The next day he commented that I appeared like a wounded animal.

I felt that way inside. After the Flood Lucy Campbell 34

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I was doing research to find help for another family member when I finally discovered that my condition had a name: night eating syndrome (NES). Eating disorders specialists were making real progress in providing care. I attended an open family support group at a local eating disorders center. At that first session I had a strong sense that I was finally in the right place. The following day I called for an appointment to be evaluated. The program encouraged me to incorporate a spiritual component into my healing, and I joined two spiritual communities that in many ways emulated the camp experience of my childhood. I gained support and friendship from the other members. Meditation, yoga, services, chanting, singing, and dancing also nourished my life. A sleep assessment proved invaluable. It turned out that nose drops that I had been taking were causing me to wake up during the night. Something as simple as replacing the drops led to improved sleep. An overnight sleep study provided additional information, with implications for my treatment. I also learned to speak to my family and a few select friends about the elephant in the living room. The missing food and the telltale crumbs were very annoying to my husband, but I was too ashamed to talk to him. But finally, we talked this through together, which lessened my feelings of shame and gave me greater support. Step by step, my symptoms decreased, until one amazing day when they were all gone. It has been six months now, and the night eating has not come back. I shared my story at an Eating Disorders conference, and several people approached me to let me know I was telling their story too. With tears in their eyes, they thanked me for giving them hope. I’m writing this because I want to reach out to others who are also suffering. Hopelessness can be transformed into hope and optimism.



Mindful Parenting September 10, 2016 Sharen Gutterman Teilhard de Chardin: Mystic September 10, 2016 Sally Woodhall Mary, Labyrinth and Pilgrimage of Faith September 19, 2016 Jo-Ann Iannotti, OP Six Qualities of Spiritual Genius September 24, 2016 Jon M. Sweeney Healing the Heart After Loss October 22, 2016 Eileen Manela, LCSW Additional programs, personal retreats and opportunities on .

WISDOM HOUSE 229 East Litchfield Rd., Litchfield, CT 06759 860-567-3163


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relationships BEARING ALL

Learning the Latest Moves of the Pole Dance Because emerging gender-bending generations are actively rejecting old labels and lives. . . RECENTLY MY HUSBAND AND I were out on a walk and I was catching him

up on a stressful project that I had been wrestling with all day. Suddenly he stopped, whirled around, and gave me a passionate embrace and kiss. It lasted just a few moments, yet afterward I felt giddy, weak in the knees—and my multitasking mind finally turned off! Looking back, that kiss was intoxicating because his spontaneous outburst of affection created a shift between us like two magnets coming into attraction. This delightful interlude got me pondering: How do couples maintain—and play with—what can be called “polarity”? Couples I counsel are in fact a lot like magnets: When aligned north to south, their opposing polarity inspires an irresistible connection. Conversely, when couples come at each other with

identical poles, repulsion results. This just in: Repulsion can be a real killjoy when it comes to sexual desire. In long-term relating, couples need to learn how to consciously shift

polarity, or else trouble ensues. My husband and I are a perfect example: He is a soft-spoken, contemplative, single-minded man with a fierce work ethic who knows how to prioritize. I tend toward bold, effusive expression, I have a penchant for multidimensional musings, and I somehow manage to putter my way to achievement. When our polarity is aligned N/S, he appreciates my improvisational insight and I his nuts-and-bolts grounding. When our polarity is N/N or S/S, our energy flatlines into competition or indecisiveness. When it gets really bad, I look and sound like a demanding wing nut while he resembles a deer frozen in someone’s headlights. It’s important to note that polarity doesn’t just exist between couples. We all have our own internal continuums of energetic polarities—such as stability vs. spontaneity, security vs. risk, extroversion vs. introversion, emotional vs. cerebral, and doing vs. being. Where we tend to live on the spectrum of these polarities influences what we are attracted to in a partner. Energetic opposites do attract, but don’t confuse energy with values. Having shared goals and lifestyle preferences are foundational to long-term harmony. Shared values give us a sense of stability; energetic poles create excitement that keeps us wanting to be together. Happy Day Sara Pulver


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Strength run amok. Frustration and apathy prevails both in and out of the bedroom. If polarity is like football, I find many couples chronically skirmishing at the 50-yard line with nobody scoring. A new game is needed, where we learn how to not favor one pole over the other, but to be fluid in our use of these powerful energies and play the —JOY HOSEY entire field.

Creating Poles Apart It takes two to tango, but only one partner to change the dance! Here are a few ideas for recharging your magnetic attraction with another by shifting your polarity. Tips for Embodying Strength: • If you tend toward a neutral or aloof listening posture, lean in a couple of inches. • If you tend to look up, to the side, or down while listening, try looking into your partner’s eyes instead. • If you tend to be the animated storyteller, be the present listener. • Make firm body contact: Put your hand on the small of his back or hip when walking. • Offer big, warm, grounded embraces when your partner is frazzled—and hold them until you feel her relax. Tips For Embodying Surrender: • Recline your body when conversing. Consciously relax! • Take a bath, lie on the earth, light a candle, and connect with your breath. • Carve out unstructured time for creative play.

For more quotes like these follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram: @spirithealthmag

The good news is, if you can recognize illusion as illusion, it dissolves. Eckhart Tolle

Let come what comes, let go what goes.

See what remains. RAMANA MAHARSHI

• Dance with abandon!


Of course, the most universally recognized human poles are “masculine” and “feminine,” and the genitalia you were born with still tend to dictate which of these poles you are expected to represent. Yet emerging gender-bending generations are actively rejecting these labels, and frankly, it may be time to update our terminology. What seems to be true is that we all have a continuum of two primal poles inside us: One embodies a powerful sense of penetrating presence and focused goal-orientation, and values physical challenge; the other draws its power from intuitive receptivity, creative chaos, and emotional insight. In my practice I call this polarity the dance between “Strength” and “Surrender.” The Chinese yin and yang symbol mirrors an essential truth of this dynamic dance: Within polar opposites, the other always resides. The two need each other in order to be fully known. Real Strength knows how to surrender to what’s present; true Surrender requires strength to relinquish control in order to tap into a larger source of power. The good news is that the radical culture shift we’ve been in for the past 50 years allows much more room to experiment with the primal polarities of Strength and Surrender. We get to choose, and even to switch, but most of us still have a home base. This becomes apparent with sex: We favor being either the penetrating presence or the receptive force in bed. Consciously embodying our more latent pole can deepen our capacity to enjoy our home base—so long as our partner also switches to maintain polarity. The challenge is that our radical culture shift has caused many couples to forget how to passionately engage. In my practice, many women are the main wage earners and use their Strength in service to their vision and to provide for their families. But in doing so they can end up chronically denying their Surrender nature—and their partners go passive in the face of

• When overwhelmed, let yourself cry. And, ideally, let yourself be held.

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Gerald and Percy show off their new best boots Tracey Long


Miss Vera’s Finishing School for

Boys Who Want to Be Girls HELP FOR THOSE WHO LIVE IN THE MALE ROLE TO EXPLORE THE WOMEN THEY FEEL INSIDE I AM PRIVILEGED to be in a very unique position as the dean of Miss Vera’s Finishing School for Boys Who Want to Be Girls. For more than 20 years, my faculty of deans and I—all experts in aspects of femininity—have helped those who live in the male role explore the women they feel inside. In my studio we use clothing and makeup to perform physical transformations. But we don’t stop there. I devised a program that involves practical lessons and field trips to expand each student’s world. In the process, by transforming the body, I enter the world of the mind.

I have made discoveries that psychologists have told us about for years. In interviews, I’ve referred to what we do as therapy with props. (And I’ve jokingly used the term “frock therapy.”) The results of my academy’s efforts are exciting, but no joke, and they have very positive effects. I’ve helped some students strengthen their relationships and helped others find new ones. We’ve uncovered hidden talents, relieved sexual inhibitions, inspired better levels of health. Our students begin to understand and accept those parts of themselves that were hidden, and developed others more fully. There have been a few times when our efforts produced unpleasant results, when the student was simply not ready

Adapted from Miss Vera’s Cross Gender Fun for All, by Veronica Vera. Published by Greenery Press.


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Our students begin to

understand and accept

those parts of themselves that were hidden, and developed others more fully. to grow in self-acceptance—but those experiences, though not always pleasant, were just as informative. Our goal is the same as that of traditional therapy: we strive to help realize fully integrated human beings who have more options. But Miss Vera’s frock therapy is more fun. And you can do it, too. When I founded my academy, I did so with the idea that I wanted to put more female energy into the world—that there needed to be a shift in power away from male domination. I still believe that, but now I see that on an individual basis, each of us has our own need for balance. Sometimes a student will tell me that he is a husband who loves to buy clothes for his wife. “I shop for all her clothes,” he’ll boast. But that student will often express frustration because, while his own femme persona loves the

full skirts and high heel she adds to his wife’s wardrobe, the wife’s response is far from enthusiastic. It occurred to me that the wife simply might not share her husband’s taste. After meeting more and more spouses I realized that, while some of the wives preferred ultrafemme styles, others might like to butch it up. So I offer couples a complete role reversal: he to she and she to he. The transformation from male to female is not an end in itself, though that first look in the mirror is a pivotal moment; it is simply the first step in self-acceptance. We have put clothes on the student’s psyche, made visible what before was only a feeling. We have made a dream come true. For some students, this is as far as they will go;

they are not ready to share this part of themselves with others. That is why I say this is the simply the first step in their transformation. I have always encouraged Miss Vera’s academy students to think of their transgender explorations as performance art. This is a dynamic experience. The makeup, the wardrobe, the gait, the voice, and all the other aspects of presentation aid in your performance. The use of those outer trappings to reveal the unseen truth of feelings and emotions is what turns the performance into art: taking your art in into the street, sharing it with others, gives your art life. The great thing about being an artist is that it gives you license to take risks. The rewards of those risks can fulfill —VERONICA VERA your dreams.

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Becoming a Part of Bee Life I DIDN’T JUST ONE DAY TEAR OFF MY BEE SUIT AND “BE ONE WITH THE BEES.” THAT TOOK YEARS. . . A FRIEND OFFERED US BEES, and it seemed natural to accept, like we did when we were given our first chickens. When our first two hives arrived on our farm in early summer 2004, I had no experience with bees. I thought of them as another farm animal, one that gave honey instead of milk or eggs.

Like most people, I was quite fearful about getting stung, so I bought a protective bee suit with hat, veil, jacket, pants, and gloves. The first time I put it on, I wore a long-sleeve shirt and jeans underneath to give me a double layer of protection. I pulled on my knee-high farm boots, and I ducttaped the overalls inside the boots so no bees could burrow inside. I taped the edges of my elbow-length gloves over the long sleeves of the jacket. I put on my bee hat and zipped the bottom of the screened veil into the jacket. I even taped the zipper in case a bee might try to get in that tiny opening at the top. Looking like an astronaut suited up for a moonwalk, I marched out to see the bees. I approached the hives, adrenaline-filled and bee-protected, and was surprised the bees didn’t fly out in a cartoon tornado to attack. I gingerly put a chair next to the hive and sat down to watch, ready to bound away at a moment’s notice. It was sweltering hot outside, and inside the bee suit it was even hotter. Curiosity soon overcame my fearfulness, as I watched bees go in and out of the hive. I watched until my clothing was sweaty wet and the heat was unbearable. The bees paid no attention to me. I spent days next to the entrance, my face inches from where they landed and took off, and never once did a bee make an aggressive move toward me. Occasionally, one would land on me the way a bee lands on a branch or a blade of grass, with no concern of me at all. Despite the discomforting heat, I felt relaxed, curious, and happy in a caring way. I began to wonder if the reason the bees didn’t chase

Milkweed and Honey Amy Rice

I approached the hives, adrenalinefilled and bee-protected, and was surprised the bees didn’t fly out in a

cartoon tornado to attack. me off was because I felt so calm around them. Might they be mirroring how I felt? Or was I mirroring them? Could it be that we were connected? I pondered this unexpected thought, wondering if the bees themselves actually thought they and I were mirroring each other; if they were paying attention to me, noticing who I was around them; and if they were causing me to feel this emerging joy. I was on the verge of revelation: If this were true, it would mean my bees were more than mere insects. Over time, I realized the bees could tell my emotional or energetic state. When I embodied kindness around them, they treated me with the same. A cloud of exuberance surrounded us, like they were templating euphoria into the air.

Adapted from Songs of Increase: Listening to the Wisdom of Honeybees for Kinder Beekeeping and a Better World, by Jacqueline Freeman, published this month by Sounds True.


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Every bee is totally committed . . . When a need comes up, the task is answered without hesitation. I’ve seen a bee signal to another, “I’ve got an itch I can’t reach,” “The floor is sticky,” or “I dropped a pollen pellet,” and other bees jump in to help. Once, while working inside the hive, I inadvertently broke a honeycomb, which fell on the hive floor and made a mess. A whole posse of bees quickly started licking up the honey and carrying it off to store. No one said, “I’m busy.” Everyone jumped in and cleaned up the mess and then went back to their other tasks. I could tell by their hum that there was no blame, frustration, or anxiety, just easygoing cooperation. Each bee does what needs to be done to move the colony forward. How utterly divine that they put the colony first. Imagine if we did that; imagine if each day we put our best self forward and did whatever it is our community—local or global— requires to keep the world going in a way that supports all life. Could we be so brave and generous?

I want you to know I didn’t just one day tear off my bee suit and “be one with the bees.” That took years. But eventually I did retire my bee suit. The first time that I walked right up to the hives wearing a T-shirt and shorts I felt a bit anxious and self-absorbed, but then I remembered to turn my thoughts away from myself, to open to the bees and let them feel me out— which they did. They landed on my bare arms and licked my skin for the salty minerals. When I held a finger next to the entrance, a sweet little bee delicately walked onto my fingertip and faced me. She looked right into my eyes, and for the first time, we saw each other. And so I became part of —JACQUELINE FREEMAN bee life.

Dancing with Tex Based on a true story of a remarkable friendship between a man and a rare Whooping Crane on their journey to save the species. Written by: Lynn Sanders

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How to Hang On to the

Top Rung of the Consciousness Ladder And other lessons in counter-evolutionary cognition THE OTHER DAY I was reading The Atlantic aloud to Niki, my golden retriever, when I came upon an article by Alison Gopnik called “How Animals Think.” The article was about the new book Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are? by the renowned primatologist Frans de Waal. I thought Niki would be pleased, but her tail barely moved.

“You don’t need an article to answer that question,” she said. “The answer is no.” “But wait,” I said. “Gopnik’s a psychology professor at Berkeley. She’s really smart.” I plunged ahead: “For 2,000 years, there was an intuitive, elegant, compelling picture of how the world worked: It was called the ‘ladder of nature.’ In the canonical version, God was at the top, followed by the angels, who were followed by humans. Then came the animals, starting with the noble wild beasts and descending to domestic animals and insects . . . New Agers talk about becoming “more evolved”—and in the 19th century, it was still common to translate evolutionary ideas into the ladder-ofnature terms. “Modern biological science has in principle rejected the ladder of nature. But the intuitive picture is still powerful . . . ”

Niki yawned. She never liked ladders. “Now that your ladder’s been pulled out, where does that leave you?” “We’ll see,” I said. I read on. “De Waal notes that there isn’t even a good general name for the new field of research. ‘Animal cognition’ ignores the fact that humans are animals too. De Waal argues for ‘evolutionary cognition.’”

Niki rolled over, tail thumping against the floor, her way of laughing so hard she practically wet herself. Eventually, she was able to point a paw toward a photograph on the wall. It’s from the Salmon Ceremony that takes place in our backyard. I got what she meant. 42

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Hundreds of Native Americans show up to honor the Salmon People. Before they cut willows for sweat lodges, they speak to the Tree People. Ceremonial dances honor the Bear People and the Turkey People. Our local indigenous teaching is that all living things are “Peoples” with vastly different languages and ways of thinking—and understanding each of them is key to survival. They never believed in a ladder of nature. Even the idea of one Creator or Great Spirit is not indigenous, but was thrust upon them. And now such ancient ways of thinking align with cuttingedge science. “That’s why I teach people to throw sticks,” Niki said finally. “To arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.” She stretched. “T.S. Eliot could have been a dog. What else you got?” So I picked up a new book by Matt Kahn, who recently arrived at the top of the consciousness ladder via YouTube. “Kahn’s a channel,” I told Niki. “Jesus talks to him. So does Melchizedek, Archangel Michael, Quin Yin, and St. Germain. I got an email saying that Britney Spears is following him.” “What do these angels say?” I quoted the title and the crux of the book: “Whatever Arises, Love That.” “Really?” Niki growled. “Our temperature is rising. Our sea is rising. I can’t shed fast enough as it is. If I were an angel looking down on this planet, I would tell you to stop all your arisings.” “Very funny,” I said. “I think these are interdimensional angels. They don’t see stuff like that. At least they don’t say stuff like that. They help people feel better.” I read aloud: “This will be an adventure that leads you to the depths of your being to the support you have always deserved . . . As you say yes to this invitation, you leap to the forefront of human evolution by understanding that in a Universe of endless questions, love is the only answer.”

“Our temperature is rising. Our sea is rising. I can’t shed fast enough as it is. If I were an angel looking down on this planet, I would tell you to

stop all your arisings.”

“Would it be okay if I bite this guy?” Niki asks. “Why?” Niki sighed. “My People grew with your People. We hunted and played together as one big family. Then your People went off to school and got so educated that you couldn’t talk to us—or any other People. It’s actually a big deal that your fancy education is finally allowing us be a family again—better even than the Salmon Ceremony because we don’t have to eat anybody.” She scratched her ear. “But then there’s Kahn.” “But Kahn writes such cool-sounding things.” I read a bit more: “When I’m sad, I deserve more love, not less. When I’m angry, I deserve more love not less. Even when I’m embarrassed, I deserve more love not less.”

“But you don’t,” Niki said. “Being sad or angry or embarrassed doesn’t mean you deserve anything. They’re just feelings. Smart people have learned a lot about feelings, but not that.” She looked sad. “Jesus didn’t talk about deserving love either. Not like that. How does Kahn know he met Jesus?” I flipped the pages of his book and found the answer: “As I entered my friend’s house, I saw a framed painting hanging on the wall of his living room. I remember saying, ‘I know him!’ “My friend responded, ‘Yeah, Matt. We all know him. That’s Jesus.’ “‘I met him last night,’ I said with absolute certainty.”

Curious, we Googled Jesus and checked out the images. They vary, but one thing seemed clear: Recognizing Jesus from a typical American portrait would require what you might call energetic license. “That’s the art of the Kahn,” Niki said. “Too harsh,” I said. “I think he believes himself. Listen to this:” “No matter how consistently you’re operating from ego, such moments invite you to realize, I’m not here to ridicule myself or anyone else’s behavior. I deserve more love, not less.”

Niki wagged her tail. “I’m going to teach Kahn to throw shoes. He can write his next book on sole retrieval.” —STEPHEN KIESLING

Stephen Kiesling is the editor in chief of S&H.

Niki at the Top Rung Melanie Luther

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recently gave a talk at a conference, and afterward people came up to shake my hand and say things like: “One of the best!” and “You should be a keynote!” A follow-up LinkedIn request even asked to learn more

and to collaborate. I felt great. A few weeks later, however, I received written feedback that included comments like: “Horrible!,” “Made me uncomfortable,” and “Who does he think he is?” The last comment was especially painful and ironic given that my topic was “interpersonal mindfulness.” In that talk I ranted a bit about what I call “McMindfulness,” a psychologized, pop spirituality approach that overemphasizes individual practice and forgets its roots in spiritual friendship. I emphasized that spiritual friendship—rather than stress relief or health promotion—is a traditional cornerstone of mindfulness as a deep mystical journey. I quoted the Upaddha Sutta, where a monk tells the Buddha that at least half of the holy life is about having admirable companions on the spiritual path. In response, the Buddha exclaimed, “Don’t say that! It is the whole of the path!”



Who would have thought this message could be so polarizing? Imagine what people thought when the Buddha abandoned his life as a prince: when such teachings were truly audacious. But of course the messages of the Buddha—and many other spiritual teachers—were truly audacious. That’s why they stuck. I sometimes open my talks with a quote from Neale Donald Walsch: “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” This time, I jumped right in because I felt some urgency about exposing the “McMindfulness” contrivance and wanted to take a risk. In fact, I wrote a book titled Raw Coping Power, which argues that life is not just about bouncing back from stress. It is also about actively seeking out challenges with an attitude of Bring It! or Let’s Do This! So, literally trying to walk my talk, I chose to walk around rather than speak from the podium. I gave some serious selfreflection and peer-to-peer exercises to challenge listeners to share their experience—in a way that obviously caused discomfort. So, in retrospect, I was audacious. But had I struck a chord, irritating some edge of personal growth? Or was I just being provocative? The teachings of the Buddha and Jesus and the Declaration of Independence are audacious in the extreme. But so was Adolf Hitler. How can we discern positive from negative audacity? If you are a Native American, you might be less impressed with Jesus and the Declaration of Independence. Is it just about who wins?

WHAT IS AUDACITY? Bold disrespect, the essence of audacity, can be perceived as either positive or negative. Bold acts of disrespect run a wide gamut from the ordinary to extraordinary, from historychanging events to outbursts on social media. Rudeness is perhaps the most familiar form, found in conversation (“How dare he say that!?”), in public behavior (someone pushes past on a waiting line without even an “excuse me”), and in relationships (your best friend starts dating your ex the same day you broke up). But what we tend to overlook is that audacity, by its very nature, breeds polarized responses. Even in its very highest forms, people will be either inspired or triggered. Or both. The perpetrator—the catalyst—will be loved by some and crucified by others. So the main question is: How can you cultivate a more positive orientation toward your own audacity? How can you discern whether your next audacious act is deliberate, thoughtful, and virtue-inspired or spontaneous, off-the-cuff, and capricious? Is there some abiding value, some higher meaning to your audacity? Or are you being irreverent just to get attention, Twitter hits, or political votes?


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Below are seven qualities that, when taken together, can result in positive audacity. The traits are listed in sequence—development of earlier ones can be a prerequisite for those that come later. The list is not a prescription. Audacity is always defined by our local tribe, the times we live in, the social context, and the persuasive sway of the “fool who rushes in.” In the final analysis, you must judge whether your audacious act is doing the right thing, for the right purpose, in the right way. continued on page 50

Audacity is always defined by our local tribe, the times we live in, the social context, and the persuasive sway of the

“fool who rushes in.”


POSITIVELY AUDACIOUS POSITIVE AUDACITY comes in all shapes and sizes—and manifests in a variety of different archetypes. What unites these varied characters at the highest level is that their audacity comes from compassion rather than cleverness; from a desire to join with others rather than to upstage or defeat them; and from humility rather than grandiosity. Which ones inspire you to be audacious?

The Champion.

The Peacemaker.

The Innovator.

These can be athletes, activists, scientists, inventors, and even personal friends or family whose actions set higher expectations, bringing more goodness and hope for humanity into the world.

In the Iroquois legend, the Peacemaker helped to create the Five Nations Confederacy through his ability to persuade warring nations to come together after great effort and discussion. The Peacemaker reminds us of one who employs nonarrogant audacity: one who can commit to persistently acting on values of harmony, peace, and unity.

The term “disruptive innovation” refers to inventions that create whole new markets—new ways of seeing and new ways of being. Our modern business world loves this archetype.

The Jester or Trickster. In royal courts and mythology, the King counted on the Jester to be audacious, to mix truth telling with insult, and provoke ideas for entertainment and thought. In various cultures, the Trickster also acts boldly to awaken the individual or group from unconscious loyalty.

The Martyr. It is important to distinguish between martyrs who put their own lives at risk for a noble cause they love versus those terrorists and suicide bombers who desire to kill people they hate.

The Pioneer. There are pioneers in all areas of life, in exploration (earth and beyond), science, medicine, and technology, as well as in consciousness, the arts, and philosophy. Leaving the past behind, they set out on a path never before taken. Those left behind consider these pioneers audacious for being both willing and able to do so.

The Warrior. The warrior as violent aggressor is the predominant archetype for audacity in the modern world. But there are other types of warriors who fight for a benevolent or spiritual cause. Again, consider the context: an individual seen as a victorious warrior by one group may be seen as a terrorist by another. Carlos Castaneda emphasized the need to be a warrior on the path of knowledge: “Only as a warrior can one withstand the path of knowledge. A warrior cannot complain or regret anything. His life is an endless challenge, and challenges cannot possible be good or bad. Challenges are simply challenges.”

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AUDACIOUS ACT? The media expose us to negative acts of audacity—self-serving, insulting, hurtful, violent, and even evil—and features these significantly more than acts of positive audacity. Increasing the latter, in the news, in our human species, and in each of our lives, is a worthy goal. As you consider your next audacious act, ask yourself which of these words might other people use to describe it? How might you use the seven qualities and archetypes to improve your rating?
















THE 7 TRAITS OF POSITIVE AUDACITY Raw Coping Power. In my book, I define audacity as the counterpoint to resilience, which has been overrated of late. Life is not just about bouncing back from stress. We also need to actively seek out challenges, take decisive action. Doing so transforms our stress into a positive resource for growth or enlightenment. Raw coping power is a bedrock fundamental human trait; it runs in our blood and our genes. It provides the impulse, the energy, and the “juice” to take bold acts. You can have all the following qualities but, without the juice, your audacity won’t even get noticed. Self-Worth. Individuals who have strong raw coping power but have either very low or very high self-worth can exhibit negative audacity. Without self-worth, bold acts may come across as cocky, narcissistic, and self-aggrandizing. On the other hand, high self-esteem can be effective when one pays attention to his or her own needs while also caring for others. The fictional character Captain James Kirk of Star Trek is often seen taking audacious acts in defiance of Starfleet, but his self-worth rarely gets in the way of his need to protect his crew and his ship.


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“I care what you think of me, but after carefully weighing my options, I believe that

this will help us all in the long term.”

Values and Virtues. Positive audacity requires a wellformed intention shaped by values such as love of humanity and social justice. We believe that values of universalism or benevolence are ultimately stronger than those of selfdirection, achievement, and power. When we act from such convictions, our behaviors consistently become means to a higher end. We act with integrity. Others have explained the importance of values to positive audacity. These include James Collins’ idea of a “Big Hairy Audacious Goal” (BHAG) in Built to Last and Brené Brown’s call to put our common humanity before our individual need to succeed.

Heedful Irreverence. Let’s say you have raw coping power, the right degree of self-worth, and a strong belief in some benevolent truth. And now you feel compelled to challenge a prevailing social norm that stands in the way of that truth. But you also don’t want to stir up trouble for the sake of it. You’re not some hooligan or rebel without a cause. You want your irreverence to be mindful of others. Terrorist acts come from provocateurs who pour their raw coping power into some monolithic value, with but one heedless way to express it. The concept of heedful irreverence provides an antidote; it combines the work of the psychotherapist Marsha Linehan and the philosopher Gilbert Ryle. Linehan uses an irreverent communication style that, in playful and caring ways, confronts and challenges patients. She shocks them into taking a hard look at areas of stuckness that keep them from well-being. Ryle’s Concept of Mind (1949) describes heed as purposeful, conscientious, attentive, consistent, and critical. To be positively audacious, bold acts of disrespect should be heedful at the same time. Skillful Means. The word upaya in Mahayana Buddhism denotes “skillful means” and refers to any activity crafted to facilitate the spiritual enlightenment of others. Spiritual teachers use different stories and metaphors for different audiences, taking into consideration their existing level of understanding. Zen Buddhist teachers have used skillful means in audacious ways, either shouting at, hitting, or requiring strenuous physical acts from their students, who then became enlightened. These acts are welltimed to shock the student at the right moment for their awakening. Positive audacity—when truly designed to help


MAY BE THE WEIGHT THAT’S CRUSHING YOU One of the former editors of this magazine was raped as a girl and carried the secret shame of it until the day she decided to parachute out of an airplane and write about her pain and her leap and her liberation. In the process she transformed the burden she had carried into a foundation to stand on—and to help pull others out of their own pain. Is there a similar pain in your life? A burden holding you down? What is the positive, audacious act that will transform that burden into your own foundation?

Thoughtful acts of positive audacity require uncommon skill. They involve

courage, conscientiousness, creativity, and spiritual health. others—balances a compassionate form of planning with a willingness to embrace risk. As in Zen, this can take many years of training. Fully Embracing Risk. Audacity involves courage in the face of risk of some kind, such as rejection, embarrassment, or criticism. Purpose-oriented and skillful aspects of positive audacity fully embrace this risk, whereas the more selfish and expedient aspects of negative audacity ignore and may even be blind to risk. There is a big difference between “I don’t care what you think of me” and “I care what you think of me, but after carefully weighing my options, I believe that this will help us all in the long term, even though it will cause discomfort or disagreement.” The Quantum Nudge. The poet Shams i Tabriz wrote: “If you don wings of love, you can ascend without the need of steps.” Positive audacity is ultimately an act of love, one that has gathered energy from the previous qualities. The quantum nudge is a call-to-action not a performance, an effort to inspire truth not just to leave a mark. The act is artful in how it produces a quantum shift or transformation toward well-being and higher consciousness in those to whom the act is directed.


learly, thoughtful acts of positive audacity require uncommon skill. They involve courage, conscientiousness, creativity, and spiritual health. Something within the human spirit gets sparked when we witness such acts, sensing deep inspiration behind the boldness. Your bold risks may appear disrespectful to some social groups or norms. But, when carried out in mindful ways, they can jolt us into a precious type of awareness—one that produces growth and healing, and perhaps even fosters spiritual friendship. Joel Bennett, PhD, President of Organizational Wellness & Learning Systems, is author of Raw Coping Power: From Stress to Thriving; Heart-Centered Leadership (with Susan Steinbrecher), and the just-released “Well-Being Champions: A CompetencyBased Guidebook.”


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listening to



ast New Year’s Eve, I decided to commit to accomplishing what I wanted most: to have a red-hot love affair—with Love itself. Love Actualized was the name of the game, love of self, love in relationship,

love of community, and love of work. Rather than keep trying to better myself in one way or another to attract the mate I wanted, so I could experience the love I wanted, I decided to take the bull by the horns and live a life in love. I had exhausted the Cinderella story (someday my Prince will come), had buried the Sleeping Beauty narrative (another version of the story that there is someone outside myself who can rescue me), and intentionally hunted down and killed every single paradigm that informed me that the only way I could experience true happiness, deep fulfillment, and physical pleasure was

through a relationship. What I realized is that I had been living in a state of impoverished imagination, thinking that being in relationship was the only place where I could give and receive the love I wanted. And it worked!

BY LEAH LAMB Double Spoon 2 Stasia Burrington 52

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When I refocused my attention on experiencing love wherever I was and with whomever I was with, I was able to receive love from places I hadn’t before: in a deeper way from my family and friends and through my everyday interactions with strangers. And it even made me deal with the angst of my fellow drivers in a different way. But while I was living my life from a more empowered platform, there was no escaping the wisdom Rilke immortalized: “For one human being to love another: that is perhaps the most difficult of all our tasks. . . the work for which all other work is but preparation.” So when a friend of mine said she was receiving more love than she ever had in her life through a polyamorous relationship, and that she had finally found a container to explore love in ways that was expanding her comprehension and capacity of love—what can I say, my interest was piqued. Polyamory has plenty of positive and negative associations, and like many philosophies, means very different things to different people. For simplicity, we’ll define it as the practice of having romantic relationships with more than one person, where everyone involved knows about the other lovers. Truth be told, I have been a merciless judge of this kind of relationship. It was hard not to wonder if polyamory is just an escape from the trials and tribulations of a “real” relationship, one that ends up being an escape from the state of the world itself—given the amount of time I witnessed my polyamorous friends spend scheduling and coordinating dates with their partners and their metamours (their partner’s lovers or partners). Not to mention the level of processing and negotiating involved in between. Polyamory seemed an all-consuming distraction in a world that has real problems to solve. Then a friend confided that she and her husband had opened their relationship so she could take a lover. She went on to explain that she and her husband were committed to staying together and parenting their child, and yet had concluded that their sexual desires were unfulfilled. This woman broke every stereotype that I might have had about polyamory: she was a successful and well-respected leader in her field, completely committed to her work and her family—and her own full expression of her sexuality. They developed guidelines, and were both allowed to take on lovers. In addition to enlivening her sexuality, she felt more empowered in her work life, and she and her husband were having the best sex of their lives. I started to wonder if this might be an awakened path.

DOES IT TAKE A VILLAGE? Of course this isn’t anything new. The open marriage movement has been around for plenty of time: the free love movement of the ’sixties still resonates through the music of that time. I live in the Bay Area, so first I convened a few of my elders to find out why the free love movement of the ’sixties didn’t take root—and the overwhelming response was that 54

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they simply didn’t have the skills or the tools to manage such a massive paradigm shift in relationships. Many returned to monogamy. I also wondered how many people today practice polyamory, and it turns out that no one knows. In an article published in Psychology Today last year, Elizabeth Scheff estimated that 1.2 to 2.4 million Americans live in polygamous relationship, and perhaps 9.8 million live as couples with agreements to allow satellite lovers. Scheff notes that the Internet has made it much easier for polyamorous people to find each other, but it’s also a group that’s still for various reasons in the closet. But it’s a movement that is slowing coming out, simply because sex and relationships are continuing to go through a massive transformation. “We have taken sex out of biology,” explains psychotherapist Esther Perel, who has been writing and speaking about our current society’s relationship to eroticism, intimacy, and desire in the modern-day relationship. “This is the first time in human history where we have created a model of relationships where we have a sexuality that is rooted in desire. We are not having sex so we can have six children . . . and we are not having sex because it is a woman’s marital duty. . . . Due to the women’s movement, the gay revolution, sex has been socialized so it’s no longer a part of our condition, but a part of our identity.” Perel also says that the shift in our modern culture away from communal living has had a devastating effect on our intimate relationships. “This is a grand experiment of the human kind. We want companionship, economic support, social status, family life. And then a best friend, a confidant, a passionate lover, and for a few decades to go.” We are asking one person to do what a village used to provide. I then invited a group of people—many of them relationship coaches and all of them people who have sustained multiple intimate relationships and consider polyamory a part of their spiritual path—to describe what their new village looks like. My first lesson was that the term polyamory isn’t loved by all. Many prefer to use the term exclusivity for monogamy, and nonmonogamy or open relationship for polyamory.

SO WHAT IS IT REALLY? Greg Callahan said, “At its core, it is about living in the container of a relationship that is absent of fear and control.” David Imiri, a relationship coach, explained, “Poly is a paradigm that supports embodied sensibilities. But you aren’t just trying to go with every impulse. You are trying to do it with care and love because that is what feels most deeply right. But you are making it up as you go along. The ‘mechanics’ of it is to pay attention and resist nothing; to stay present, authentic, caring, and responsive. I find this not only sufficient, but rewarding beyond anything else I’ve tried or heard about.” Melani shared, “At first I didn’t know that loving multiple people was my path. My husband brought the idea to me

We are asking one person to do what a village used to provide. seven years ago, and in deciding to stay with him or not, I had to dig down to see if I could get aligned with this or not. In the exploration I discovered I didn’t want to constrict love in any shape or form, and I didn’t want to be an influence of constriction in him. At first he was the only one who explored other relationships, but then I also fell in love with another man. I am continually blown away and grateful for the lessons that arise as the result of being in an open relationship.”

EQUALLY BUT DIFFERENTLY Relationship coach Phillipe Lewis explained, “Polyamory has been in existence forever: it happens between parents and their children in a natural way—they love their children equally but differently.” Imiri went on, “There are different kinds of inner work that come more to the forefront in each style of relationship, but we all have to work for our wholeness and awakening no matter what kind of relationship we choose. People come into relationships from both healthy and wounded places in themselves. In exclusivity I see people clutching their partner for security, for self-esteem, or to reach for spiritual connection or an experience of union. They want to extract that experience through their partner or relationship, and that is misplaced longing. . . . And with polyamory, you’ll find people who have issues with commitment, consistency, follow-through, showing up emotionally consistently, escaping into one peak experience or another, or running from one form of fascination to another—they can avoid issues that require deep intimacy. “But none of this has to be how we do either love style. The Sufi’s have a saying, ‘The heart that can be broken is not the true heart anyway, so break me, now.’ So the opportunity is to stop seeking to extract security, self-esteem, and unity through a partner or a relationship.” IS MONOGAMY MORE SECURE? Bertram says no. “Monogamy sometimes only provides the illusion of safety when it is a container that doesn’t stand for truth, growth, transparency about desire, and an equal focus on self-love, and so it may result in dishonesty, sexual frustration, lying, cheating, and ultimately often separation and divorce. Plenty of people desire to live in the illusion of safety. Of course there is Conscious Monogamy where you are still in truth and transparency with your desire—you just don’t act on it outside of

Double Spoon (detail) Stasia Burrington

the container of the relationship and instead find ways to channel that desire in healthy ways within the relationship.” Imiri adds, “Some people live in structures because that makes them feel safe. But as soon as you try to control something that way, you’re creating a false sense of refuge. It’s not Buddha or Sanga, it’s your imagination. I’m a big fan of containers and commitments, but I like them to be flexible and reflect what has already arisen organically.” Relationship coach Lorina Manzanita highlighted that context does not always define the value of content. “I let go of expectations and agendas as to where a relationship needs to go in order to be valuable. My various relationships don’t quite seem to fit into the binary categories of dating vs. sleeping with another. I’ve had profoundly meaningful, loving, and transformative one-night stands. I’ve had seriously satisfying relationships that consisted of mostly cuddle dates. My current, almost six-year partnership is deep and beautiful and we both have no idea whether we are going to want to be with each other in 10 years’ time. So many different forms can arise out of that ground of relating.” september / october 2016


While there may be an infinite amount of love to go around, time is still finite. . . Imiri explained, “Whenever we desire, what we really want is a feeling, not a form. We can have our needs for love, care, nurturing met in any relationship, or many relationships. The less mature version of polyamory is obsessed with rules to go by, versus trusting in transparency and care as the guide. When you are coming at your relationships from a basis of awakening, you can find your realistic love for your partner(s), and stay allies to each other.”

Double Spoon (detail) Stasia Burrington

NOT SO SIMPLE LOGISTICS While there may be an infinite amount of love to go around, time is still finite, so one question I asked was, “How do you manage it?” Most of the people I spoke with explained there really wasn’t a typical week, but Melani, a mother of two who is in committed relationships with two men, gave me an extensive calendar that broke down time with herself, time with her husband, time with her lover, time with her children, time with her husband and her children, and time with her lover and her children. Philippe explained he spent two nights a week with his wife, two nights a week with one of his lovers, one night a week out on a date, and one night babysitting while his wife was out with her lover. DEALING WITH DESIRE While loving many people in your life at once may be the norm, what is noticeably different is that the open loving relationship model plays by a different set of rules: where the guidelines make space for desire for others to be spoken about and acted upon. 56

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THE “HUNGRY GHOST” Manzanita explains that she tracks when her partner’s impulses are coming from wholeness, and when his impulses are coming from the “hungry ghost,” or deficiencies: “He tracks it too, and he values my reflections. Two things might look like the exact same actions, but depending where an action is coming from it can have an entirely different effect in the field. If we don’t acknowledge that we are potentially trying to fill a hole, through more love and more sex, it can have an addictive pattern. So I find that it’s important to track those hungry ghost tendencies and to strive to come from wholeness.” Lewis explained, “There are shadows to polyamory: it can attract people who can’t commit, and people who can’t get enough love. That empty feeling never gets filled, and eventually you have to see yourself as the common denominator. The path is to recognize where the desire you are expressing is coming from. You might meet someone and really want to be intimate with them—and it might be because you’re naturally loving, or because you have a need that has to be filled. Knowing what the proportions are is part of the discovery of who we are and what we are made of.” PAIN & REJECTION While having multiple lovers can clearly provide an abundance of intimate relating, it can also provide an abundance of opportunities for your lover to want to be with someone else. Rejection, pain, unmet desires, jealousy, and suffering all seem ripe for the picking. I asked about that. Manzanita shared, “When it comes to the kind of human love that involves deep, beautiful, vulnerable attachments— well, I don’t think there is any way of escaping some degree of pain in that form of love. When I can accept that pain is an inherent part of that picture, bring my awareness to the

uncomfortable, vulnerable feelings as they arise, and simultaneously deepen my connection with Source Love—when I do that, I find I don’t get caught up in unnecessary suffering. I move through the painful feelings with a lot more grace. This is all of course easier said than done. It’s a practice. It’s a practice that is well worth it. When I do my practices my love life consistently thrives.” Imiri explained, “When you are triggered is when you understand that the feelings are really your own. ‘This is my jealousy.’ Or I can turn this around and choose compassion, or even find joy in my partner’s happiness, knowing that the happiness and love she experiences with her other partner will also come back to ultimately feed our relationship and she may even be more resourced for our relationship. We even have a word for that: compersion. This elevates real love and care about her happiness over fear, and shows a trust that the happiness and love she experiences with her other partner will always come back to feed our relationship, and leave her more resourced there as well.” Bertram said, “We are conditioned to think that jealousy is normal. We are so used to the Hollywood story where guy sees a sexy woman, and then the woman he is with gets mad, and they end up in a tailspin.” He continued, “When I am with our group of friends, I am often in both love and desire for every woman in the room. Desire can be nuanced—I feel a different level of attraction and flavor of love for different kinds of people. I receive being able to express what I feel as a huge gift. I am both part of and in deep admiration of the brotherhood of men in the room, who can hold and celebrate this new kind of conversation. And desires can be expressed, without having to go anywhere. It is about establishing trust through transparency—and transmuting shame and guilt simultaneously.” Melani said, “I just navigated a situation where I was feeling attached and needy to my partner, and it was so painful to see myself give my power away to someone else.”

LOVE OF SELF I’ve heard of people performing ceremonies where they married themselves, and I found the practice tragically depressing. I still held the dream of having a big wedding where all my friends and family danced the night away—not a solo ceremony of committing to myself because my particular version of Prince Charming hadn’t arrived. But through the course of these conversations, I have come to think the practice of marrying oneself might actually be the gateway to love. I asked about that. Manzanita said, “I hit rock bottom with my codependent tendencies in a relationship about seven years ago. When I finally got out of it I said, Fuck that, fuck trying to complete myself through another human being, and vowed to take full responsibility for my happiness, and for loving myself. And from that place I created new situations that were abundantly loving and far healthier. That approach to loving led me to be

in a deep and open relationship for the past six years.” Bertram said, “Poly is serving in that it outlines for you the work you have to do within yourself. You realize that the triggers you feel—rejection, jealousy, insecurity, loneliness, shame—are just unintegrated childhood trauma. So I have to make the choice to not shoot the messenger (the person or event I am triggered by or upset about). The work is to go inside and feel that unintegrated charge, and that is the path—rather than blaming the external circumstance that triggers you. So when one is triggered, you don’t make it about the person who triggered you, and you don’t gloss it over to make it go away or escape into another partner. It is about being responsible and staying ‘response-able’ so you can deal with it. And from doing that I have found I have a lot more compassion and acceptance when my partner is in there dealing with her triggers. Open relationships only work if both partners subscribe to doing their work, to life happening for them and not to them, and having a safe place to do their individual work.”

ON REFLECTION My first love was that sweet and innocent wholehearted dive that only comes once, when you have no idea what pain can come from falling in love. I experienced the angst of heartbreak for the first time when my beloved cheated on me with another woman. Or that’s one version of the story. The true heartbreak actually came when I realized that we weren’t going to be compatible as lifelong partners. That our visions for how we wanted to live our lives were actually quite different. And yet the memory of the love we shared was so good and so strong that even in the worst of times it felt impossible to let go. When we eventually broke up, it took me over five years to heal and be truly open to loving someone again. I clung to stories about what the cheating meant and took on powerful belief systems about deficiency. So imagine my surprise when I saw him again for the first time 10 years later, and what I saw in his eyes was pure love. Desire was absent, but the presence of love, undeniable. Now, I think back on that relationship and wonder how much harm could have been prevented if we had had a different toolbox to work with: what if desire for one person wasn’t defined by the rejection of another? What if we could have lived in a world where desire and attraction didn’t come with shame, blame, and scarcity? The poly toolbox is profound. A friend who is a therapist mentioned that she is having her mind blown by the millennials she counsels, and that a fair number of them are having open and conscious relationships with several people. We are all building on what we are learning about how to be better lovers—to our beloveds, our families, and our communities. And so: cheers to a year of love actualized. Leah Lamb is a writer and producer and creator of Soul Stories and My Planet, LLC.

september / october 2016




Peace Lessons from a

War Horse I

have spent my professional life as a brain surgeon, while my main avocation has been training horses. As a neuroscientist, I know how hard it

is to overcome our deeply engrained thought patterns because they reflect the ways our brains are hardwired to default to instinctive responses. But I have also learned how much horses have to teach us about changing those thought patterns and reactions. My grandfather, who helped raise me, was a World War I cavalry officer with a horse named Otto, and then a dressage rider—so horses were key to his survival, as well as to his expression as an athlete and artist. He taught me that one of the biggest obstacles horse trainers face is that, as human beings—at our core— we are all so fundamentally predatory.


In my grandfather’s time a cavalry officer was symbolic of the über predator—something very different from the way most of us see ourselves. But he would argue that he was less self-deceived than most people. Our eyes are in front, our teeth are sharp, and we are all instinctively driven to look for the reward, to scrap with whatever assets we have to get it, and to throw as many obstacles and create as many setbacks for any opponent who stands in our way. No species has been more successful at getting what it wants than Homo sapiens. If he were alive, my grandfather would point out that our predatory nature today is literally killing our planet, and what we desperately need to do is to honestly confront ourselves as predators. A life around horses taught him that— and he was a much better person for those lessons. Let me explain.

War Horse B. A. Lampman

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Horses are expert at reading the energies we give off from our posture and gestures, as well as the pressure we project from our emotional state of mind. And they are about

a thousand times more sensitive

to the energy we give off than we are.

First let’s contrast the cavalry officer—an über predator— with the horse he needs to partner up with. The officer is in command. He uses his authority to coordinate men, weapons, and—in World War I—animals into military action. He employs language to ensure that instruction and orders are carried out. He uses maps and signals and strategy to decide what objectives to set. And the ultimate objective of all of this manipulation is to kill on a scale that should be unfathomable. During World War I, 11 million military personnel and seven million civilians were killed. But that is nothing compared to the killing that is taking place today—not so much to people in the short run, but to all the other species on earth. Contrast those qualities with those of the cavalry officer’s mount. His horse is the prototypic prey species. His eyes are on either side of his head, his teeth are grinders, and all he wants is to be among his own, with his herd buddies, munching on grass, without a wisp of a threat as far as the eye can see. In other words, he wants peace. He wants to live in a place and a state where he can relish freedom, where he is able to feel secure from any threat of disruption and danger. Yes, a horse is a physically powerful creature, but his main method of defense is to flee as swiftly as he can. He is not driven by the rewards that we seek as predators. Instead, he looks for release from pressure. “But wait!” I hear you say. “What about racehorses? Aren’t they über competitors?” The simple answer is “no”— or at least not in the way we think. To understand why, contrast a horse race with a greyhound race. In the former, the horses are enclosed in claustrophobic stanchions at the starting gate. When the signal is given, the horses burst out, trying desperately to outrun each other. The goal is not to win a prize but to not be the animal that might fall victim to whatever is chasing. As the saying goes, horses run from. Of course, some horses are bred for running races, and we often refer to them as having “heart”—an inherent competitive streak. But in reality, what breeders have been able to do is genetically consolidate an instinct to be first, to jump to the head of the crowd. When the race is run and the pressure finally relents, the reward for the horse is rest. In other words, these horses will run their hearts out to find safety and peace. Greyhounds, on the other hand, are predators that require a mechanical rabbit, which circles around the track, giving them something to set their sights on. If there is nothing to pursue, there is nothing to win. So a good question is how do you train a fear-based, 60

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peace-loving animal to carry you full speed across a battlefield into enemy fire? The answer is complicated, and where the question gets really interesting.

INTO THE MIND OF THE HORSE Perhaps the most basic lesson learned from horse training is that trying to muscle a horse into doing something is doomed to fail. When you have a 1,200-pound animal at the end of your lead rope or under your saddle, the horse actually has you. You cannot outmuscle your horse. That means the more you want from your horse, the more in tune you need to become with your horse’s mind. The next thing a trainer must come to grips with is that horses don’t understand or care about what we say. They don’t care about the lies we tell each other or tell ourselves. They are nonverbal creatures. But they are expert at reading the energies we give off from our posture and gestures, as well as the pressure we project from our emotional state of mind. And they are about a thousand times more sensitive to the energy we give off than we are. Why? Because they have to be. Over the course of 40 million years of evolution they honed their abilities to sift through their environment to detect any threat that disturbed it. They needed to be able to sense a lion when the distant birds saw him and when they felt him staring at them. They still do. We humans used to know the language of birds, and we also have a “gaze detection” system that is especially sensitive to whether someone’s looking directly at us. Studies that record the activity of single brain cells find that particular cells fire when someone is staring right at you, but not when the observer’s gaze is averted just a few degrees to the left or right of you (then different cells fire instead). Our gaze detection system can feel like ESP, and the horses’ perceptions are much more sensitive—and their eyes are on the side of their heads, so they see all around. What that means is that I can grab a rope and halter and go out into a pasture and pick one horse to collect, and that horse will raise his head and stop grazing but none of his companions do. Why? Because he senses my gaze focusing on him, even from hundreds of yards away. My mind and my eyes have picked him out of the crowd and he feels that. He judges whether or not to run. In that regard, a horse can become a wonderful teacher or sensei because he can show you that, whether you notice it or not, you are always engaged in a conversation with the natural world, indeed with the entire universe. Horses demonstrate for us how our outward transmission of energy is really a reflection of our inner state of mind. And through

Yellow Boy B. A. Lampman

this process, the horse will eventually guide every good trainer to that threshold where they are face to face with the horse’s ultimate truth: There is really just one obstacle that stands in your way of achieving the mindfulness and partnership you seek—yourself. Repeatedly, the horse brings you back to the fundamental truth of training—you pose the greatest obstacle to your horse’s progress. So now let’s return to the original question: How do you train a fear-based, peace-loving, and exquisitely sensitive animal to carry you across a battlefield into enemy fire?

THE MAKING OF A LEADER Training horses teaches us to become mindful of how, where, and to what we apply our energy. The training teaches us that powerful, effective leadership requires patient, focused, and efficient application of energy. Patient because the best leader is one who is interested in a longterm partnership that produces results but also produces trust. Focused because a good leader knows how to create specific, achievable goals that are earned through education and compromise and not through the application of force or suffering. Finally, leadership must be efficient: Energy needs to be applied thoughtfully, where the least amount of energy will produce the greatest results and benefit. Ultimately, training horses teaches us that we must be of service to the horse. How can we best teach him to overcome his fears? How can we help him have faith in his physical and mental abilities to see his way through situations where his first reaction is to run the other way? From this stewardship emerges the concept The photo of Otto that my grandfather kept in the box with his medal for valor. My grandfather must have shown me this picture a thousand times while he was alive.

that leadership can only be bestowed by those who are being served, that leadership must be earned by the trainer. A horseman or horsewoman needs to prove that he or she is a good and fair leader—and earn that respect each day or lose it. Leaders must show they will put the welfare of their partners, the herd, in front of their own. So it’s ironic that perhaps the best-trained horses the world has ever known were cavalry horses able to charge into battle because the partnership with their rider meant more than their own fear of dying. This mirror’s Mahatma Gandhi’s sentiment when he said, “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” The cavalry horse epitomized that concept—and when my grandfather left for the war, he told my grandmother not to worry, that no harm would come to him as long as he had his beloved warhorse, Otto. And he was right. It was early in 1916, when my grandfather’s cavalry unit was ordered to charge up a hill, and like good soldiers they did. As they arrived at the crest, they were met with a volley of mortar shells. As the rounds began detonating around them, Otto did what he was trained to do—he reared up to protect my grandfather and took the full brunt of the explosion. The shell took off his legs and eviscerated him. Badly wounded himself, my grandfather crawled to be alongside his beloved Otto. Cavalry officers had strict orders not to waste precious bullets on horses; instead, they were instructed to use their bayonet. My grandfather wept as he kissed Otto, took out his pistol, and released his horse from his pain. All Otto ever wanted was peace. As a child, I was always fascinated by my grandfather’s big, shiny medal, which was personally given to him by Franz Josef, the emperor of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. But every time I asked to look at it, my grandfather would first make me look at a small photo of Otto and himself riding off to war. “Otto earned this medal,” my grandfather would say. “He was the bravest soul I ever met. And every member of this family owes their life to this horse who gave his life for me, for us.” My grandfather confessed to me once that what haunted him above all the terrible memories he had from war were the screams of the horses. He could never get that terrible echo out of his mind. My grandfather taught me that to properly train a horse, the rider must confront his own predatory core, and perhaps train himself to choose another path. We must now do this together if we are not to kill half the other species on earth in our own lifetimes. Allan J. Hamilton, MD, is a Harvard-trained brain surgeon. His latest book, Lead With Your Heart— Lessons Learned from a Life with Horses, will be published in the fall of 2016.

september / october 2016






he striking thing about gratitude is how much there is in our society that militates against it,” says Zen teacher David Loy. “For example, consumerism—which in some ways seems to be the prevalent religion of the modern world—is based not on cultivating

gratitude, but just the opposite. “ Fortunately, says Loy, gratitude can be cultivated as a spiritual practice. He spoke with S&H about practices to develop gratitude, and how greed and generosity can be expressed on both the individual and institutional levels. His website is Gratitude is often seen as a good and important quality, but also as kind of obvious and basic. Is there anything much to say about gratitude?

Thinking about it recently, I realized that gratitude is not just something that we feel or don’t feel, but that it’s something that needs to be encouraged and developed in the same way as any other spiritual practice. It really transforms the way we experience the world. Meister Eckhart, the great medieval Christian mystic, wrote: “If the only prayer we ever say is ‘thank you,’ that would be enough.” As Brother Steindl-Rast put it, we aren’t grateful because we’re happy or because our life is going well, we’re happy because we’re grateful. So gratitude also transforms how we experience ourselves.

Why don’t we talk about gratitude more?

Well, the other striking thing about gratitude is how much there is in our society that militates against it. For example, consumerism—which in some ways seems to be the prevalent religion of the modern world—is based not on cultivating gratitude, but just the opposite. Consumerism is about cultivating dissatisfaction through advertising, and that sense of lack is what keeps us always craving something more, rather than appreciating the many things that we already have. Do you think focusing on gratitude could possibly distract us from thinking about difficult situations that do need our attention?

This is a point that’s sometimes made about mindfulness, how it can encourage a kind of

BY SAM MOWE It Is Time to Share Her Heart Paula Jones

september / october 2016


self-preoccupation that withdraws our attention from the larger social and ecological challenges that we face today. From that perspective, I think it’s very important on the individual or personal level for each of us to appreciate the many things that we have going for us in our lives, but not in a way that distracts our attention from the larger systemic or institutional issues that face us right now. As activist Joanna Macy has pointed out, gratitude can help empower us to take on these challenges. If you don’t start with cultivating and living in gratitude, I think it’s very hard not to be overwhelmed by the crises that we’re facing today. Gratitude can provide a kind of grounding and strength that we can then use to go out and do what we can to address some of these important issues. You mentioned the importance of actively cultivating gratitude. Are there practices that can help with this?

Of course there are. For example, one can make a habit of taking some time at the end of each day to remember what’s happened and being grateful for something that made one happy. Another is to list and reflect on 10 things within one’s own life that one feels grateful for right now. Meditation teacher James Baraz tells a wonderful story about visiting his aging mother who was rather negative and critical. I think we might call her a “glass half empty” person. He gently suggested to her that she do this exercise of writing down 10 things that she was grateful for, and, as he tells the story, it was extraordinarily transformative for her.

much there is to appreciate in our lives—we see that gratitude is not something to be cherished in the sense of keeping it to ourselves, but something that is to be shared with other people.

These practices sound like they’re performed in private. Do you think gratitude can also be cultivated by expressing it to others?

When I think of generosity in a Buddhist context, it’s not that we’re generous because it’s the right thing to do but rather because it’s the natural thing to do when we realize our deep interconnection with others.

Yes, indeed! That includes things like simply saying, “Thank you,” and letting people know that they’re appreciated. This is really huge in our society because we have a collective epidemic of low self-esteem. People often don’t feel appreciated enough and aren’t recognized enough for what they do. When we develop the habit of expressing our gratitude, it can really make a difference in other people’s lives, not just in our own. I think that goes along with a fundamental principle in Buddhism that we might call “basic friendliness.” Sometimes the Pali term metta is translated as love and kindness, but that’s a little extreme insofar as I understand the etymology. Metta is more like an attitude of basic friendliness with which we should approach the world and respond to people. Of course, sometimes there are situations where we need to be more careful, but those tend to be rare. Most of the time, people respond to us in the way that we relate to them. Gratitude is an important part of this attitude. The other aspect of gratitude that needs to be emphasized is the deeper way in which we express it, which is generosity. When we realize all that we have been given—how

I think that’s exactly right. My own Zen teacher, Yamada Koun, emphasized that a genuine awakening is spontaneously accompanied by a sense of compassion. We could certainly include in that compassion a sense of sharing that goes beyond the kind of exchange-economy focus that we have now, to an approach that doesn’t think only in terms of “I’ll give you this if you give me that.” If generosity is the natural expression of understanding our mutual interconnectedness, then I suppose greed is a sign of an unenlightened person. It’s the sign of someone who thinks that their own wellbeing is separate from that of other people. The Buddha identified three poisons—sometimes called the “three roots of evil” or “three unwholesome motivations”—which are greed, ill will, and delusion. Today, however, it’s important to understand that these don’t exist only on the individual level, because the modern world has institutionalized them. In particular, greed has been institutionalized as an economic system where people never consume enough, corporations are never profitable enough, their market share is never big enough, and our national GDP isn’t big enough.


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Metmorphosis I Paula Jones

about the important things that are happening in the world. The media are more interested in finding ways to grab our eyeballs and sell them to the highest bidder. The major media outlets are mega-corporations that make money from advertising, and therefore built into their message is the presumption that consumer capitalism is natural and not something that should be or can be challenged. So what’s the best way to promote the kind of systemic change we need? Does it start with people cultivating more positive qualities—generosity, loving-kindness, and wisdom—on the individual level?

Personal transformation

is certainly where Buddhism starts. Today we can see that’s necessary but not sufficient. That makes me wonder: Why is more and more always better if it can never be enough? We have a very strange, unstable economic system in that if it doesn’t expand, it tends to collapse. That’s an interesting observation. So what would institutional generosity or gratitude look like?

A national health care system, like you find in other developed nation states, would be a good way for a society to express its generosity to everyone who forms a part of it. And maybe even something like a guaranteed national income. I forget what the precise term for that is, but the idea is that basically everyone would receive a certain minimum income, regardless of their economic situation, enough support to keep them from being homeless and hungry. Ironically, given the incredible economic growth over the last few decades, the levels of poverty and the increasing gap between the rich and the poor in this country have become more and more problematic. A truly generous society would be one that wouldn’t just let that happen. It would incorporate correctives into its policy-making. Just as our economic system institutionalizes greed, I think our media institutionalizes delusion in the sense that it’s not really concerned about educating or informing us

Personal transformation is certainly where Buddhism starts. Today we can see that’s necessary but not sufficient. Given the way Buddhism developed in Asia—within autocratic authoritarian societies whose rulers could and sometimes did repress Buddhism if they weren’t happy with what Buddhists were doing—it’s not surprising that Buddhism really didn’t develop much emphasis on social justice. Instead, it focused on one’s individual karma, one’s personal dukkha (suffering), and one’s own delusion. But now that Buddhism has come to the modern world, we’re well situated to ask these broader questions about what might be called “institutionalized” or “structural suffering,” and to start finding ways to alleviate it. Consider climate change, for example. Bill McKibben has suggested that, yes, you and I and all of us need to do

WHETHER LIFE IS HALF FULL OR HALF EMPTY MAKES A HUGE DIFFERENCE In one classic study of the power of gratitude by UC Davis psychologist Robert Emmons, 16 transplant patients were divided into two groups. Both groups recorded their feelings about life and the coming day, their connections to others, and side effects they were feeling from medication. One group was also asked to add a daily list of five things or people they were grateful for, and why. After 21 days, those who kept gratitude journals had improved scores for mental health and general well-being. Meanwhile, both measures declined for those who kept the “routine” journals.

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Opposite Sides of the Fence Paula Jones

everything we can to reduce our own carbon footprint. That’s where we need to start—but if the notion is that such individual effort is sufficient, that’s just not going to work. We have very powerful fossil fuel corporations whose power and wealth depends upon continued exploitation of the fossil fuels that they have access to, and they are working very hard to make sure that we will not be changing to an economy run on renewable energy anytime soon. McKibben wrote that even if 10 or 12 percent of us did everything we could to reduce our carbon footprint, that wouldn’t be enough. But if a smaller percentage of us also became politically involved, socially engaged, that could make all the difference. Of course, Buddhist teachings don’t give us specifics about what to do. For example, I tend to support such things as direct action and civil disobedience, but a good friend of mine is working with the Citizens’ Climate Lobby to promote a carbon tax. He goes regularly to Washington to lobby Congress. Who’s to say which of those is the correct way to fight climate change? My guess is that it’s both—and other approaches are needed, too. Buddhism originated and developed in very different social and economic contexts, so it doesn’t give us specific answers about how to address these structural problems. These institutional challenges require us to work with other people and form real communities.

Right. It’s not as if an ecological crisis is something that you or I can individually solve. That reemphasizes the importance of joining together and working together in ways that our society discourages. The emphasis on consumerism tends to individuate us and fosters a certain kind of passivity. The whole point of the climate-change challenge is that it’s only by reconnecting and rebuilding communities that we can realistically expect to bring about the kind of changes that are necessary. A lot of Buddhist practice emphasizes detachment. Do you think Buddhism can help us build these kinds of necessary communities?

For most of us, when we first come to Buddhist practice, it’s because there’s something wrong with our lives, such as an addiction or maybe just some vague existential angst. There’s usually some suffering that brings us to the practice, and more often than not that suffering is connected with some kind of “cleaning out” that needs to happen. So, early in one’s meditation practice, there’s necessarily a lot of emphasis on letting go of some problematic things that we’re identifying with. But that alone is one-sided. Although it’s often necessary in the early days, it’s incomplete. As the Heart Sutra puts it, it’s not only that form is 66

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One’s sense of separation—that I’m

separate from you and the rest of the world, so my well-being is separate from yours—is the fundamental delusion that needs to be overcome. empty, but that emptiness is form. This means that a lettinggo that involves dissociating or disconnecting from worldly concerns ultimately works against the kind of deeper transformation that we’re working toward. The kind of transformation that occurs when we engage in wholehearted practice tends to lessen our sense of separation from the world. One’s sense of separation—that I’m separate from you and the rest of the world, so my well-being is separate from yours—is the fundamental delusion that needs to be overcome. Nisaragadatta said it really well: “When I look inside and see that I am nothing, that’s wisdom. When I look inside and see that I am everything, that’s love. Between these two my life turns.” I love that, because it shows the connection between wisdom and compassion. When we feel a deeper connection with other people and the world, then naturally there’s going to be compassion and concern and wanting to live in a different kind of a way. When this happens, the meaning of my life changes. Instead of thinking “What’s in this for me?” we find ourselves asking “What can I do to make this situation better for everyone?” Sam Mowe is a regular contributor to Spirituality & Health. He splits his time between Brooklyn and Garrison, New York, where he lives and works in a former monastery on the Hudson River.


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handheld meditation





raditionally reserved for royalty, this verdant powerhouse has been enjoyed in Japan for almost 1,000 years. Thanks to its caffeine

capabilities with health perks to boot, it’s gaining popularity in America quickly. If you’ve never heard of it, you likely won’t be able to say that for long. “Matcha has been enjoyed in Japan for centuries but the Western world has only just recently discovered it,” says tea writer and consultant Nicole Martin, who blogs at She believes the increased interest in tea and better health is what’s driving the matcha trend. Matcha is powdered, premium green tea. Grown only in Japan, where tea preparation and consumption are legendarily celebrated, matcha deserves its own brand of reverence. Several weeks prior to harvest each spring, farmers gradually reduce the amount of sunlight that reaches the plants by covering them with bamboo mats. Chlorophyll production in the plants increases exponentially, which turns the leaves a deep, dark green. After careful harvest,

the leaves are steamed, air-dried, destemmed, and then stone-ground to achieve a fine powder texture. Perhaps the Zen-like ritual of taking a bamboo brush to whisk the tea and hot water is part of its charm; matcha is, after all, the tea used in Japanese tea ceremonies. But there’s more to matcha than meets the eye. In addition to being 10 to 15 times stronger than steeped green tea, ingesting the entire tea leaf heightens the health benefits. Matcha offers 70 times the antioxidants of orange juice and is rich in vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and fiber. Natural compounds called polyphenols and catechins in green tea may protect against several cancers, including those of the prostate, gastrointestinal tract, lungs, breast, and skin, and thanks to those same components, matcha is said to have incredible immunity-boosting powers. It also contains L-theanine, an amino acid known for its calming effect. Combined with the tea’s caffeine, it produces a calm alertness; Buddhist monks drank it to stay alert during meditation, while modern-day city dwellers appreciate the better buzz, too. But just how big really is the matcha trend? “It’s huge,” Martin confirms. “I live near New York City and years ago it was impossible to find matcha. Now there are four specialized matcha bars in Manhattan alone. Sales of matcha products are predicted to grow by 25 percent within the next few years. I’ve heard from people in the tea industry that they believe demand for matcha will soon outpace supply.” “Outside of its traditional use as a revered beverage in Japan, matcha is now also an ingredient in hundreds of food and even skincare products,” says veteran tea industry analyst Brian Keating, who is the founder of the tea consultancy firm Sage Group. “It’s hard to identify another beverage, food, or dietary supplement that provides this dynamic combination of wellness support and healthy mind-body nutrition.” Jennifer Glatt is a freelance lifestyle and travel writer based in Wilmington, North Carolina, where she finds that the only thing better than sweet tea is even sweeter tea.


TEA BOOSTS MEMORY Green tea extract boosts cognitive functions, especially memory, report researchers at the University at Basel, in Switzerland. This may have future implications for treating disorders such as dementia.


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handheld meditation


Morning Awakening Practice Many of us rely on the caffeine in tea to wake us up, and as we gulp down our beverage, we miss the activity of preparing and enjoying a cup of tea—a destination unto itself. Matt Valentine notes on his website, Buddaimonia: Zen for Everyday Life, “Tea meditation is a perfect example of that fact that you can experience magic in even the most ordinary activities of your everyday life.” Here’s a simple tea meditation to greet the day:

1 2 3

Prepare your tea mindfully, thinking about how grateful you are to have access to heat and clean, safe drinking water. While your tea steeps, contemplate the aromas coming from the cup. Think about the journey of the tea plant as it has traveled to you. Breathe deeply. Sip your tea, savoring each small sensation, and allow any thoughts that may come to mind to gently pass by and get acknowledged before you return to your meditation.

Drinking tea can be a good way to prepare for a morning sitting meditation. Or, you can simply move on to the rest of your day from there.


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The Afternoon Pause By the midafternoon, we’re likely to be feeling frazzled. The day’s many expectations and our endless to-do list are weighing upon our mind. This is the ideal time to find a quiet nook and retreat with a cup of tea. In her book, Meditations with Tea: Paths to Inner Peace, author Diana Rosen writes about the importance of saying “no” to extra requests, so that we can spare 10 minutes in the afternoon to have a restorative cup of tea. “Each day, you can honor yourself when you prioritize your tasks in order of importance, and you stick to the priorities. You owe it to yourself, and to others around you, to honor yourself in this way. Taking care of yourself should always be on top of the list because if you are not well mentally, spiritually, and physically, you cannot be of help to anyone else.” Rosen suggests taking a thermos of tea to a quiet corner, or sit near artwork or a tree. “Sip your tea, rest, relax, ruminate—now you are meditating!”

Evening Calming Practice His Holiness the Dalai Lama tucks into bed each night around 7 p.m., but first, he starts to wind down with a cup of tea around 5 p.m. We might not go to bed quite as early as a Buddhist monk, but the concept of an evening ritual is universally soothing no matter what time you tuck in. The tea company Buddha Teas has some good suggestions for evening tea practices. First, turn off your electronic devices. “While many of them are undoubtedly important, they can function like weeds in the garden of our own well-being.” Next, pick out your very favorite teacup or mug, and with intention and purpose, select a noncaffeinated tea, such as chamomile or hibiscus. As you enjoy your tea, blow on it, exhaling over the tea. Spend about 12 to 15 minutes enjoying this sensation, blowing and sipping. Now you’re ready for a good night’s rest.

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ew things unite the human race quite so much as tea. Its long shelf life and ability to impart both energy and calm helped it spread from its birth-

place in China along overland caravan routes to the Middle East, Africa, and Europe, and then by sea to the Americas.


Soon, tea was being grown in subtropical regions around the globe, and enjoyed almost everywhere people lived. SHUNJIAN123 / THINKSTOCK



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China is the place where it all began. SUCCESSFUL_NICK / THINKSTOCK

Everywhere tea goes, it weaves itself into the culture and history of the place, says Jane Pettigrew, a tea educator and specialist, and author of the forthcoming book The World of Tea. And like wine, tea’s terroir can be tasted in the final product. “The topography, the climate, the weather, the soil, the plant [varietal], they all make a difference.” Camellia sinensis, the small, fragrant tree from which all true tea (white, green, black, red, or oolong) is made, can grow only within certain latitudes and growing conditions. They also happen to be some of the world’s most congenial climates, scenic landscapes, and ancient cultures. Combining a love of tea and a love of travel can be a journey for the senses and the spirit, deepening understanding and providing stories you’ll treasure long after you’re back on home ground.

Linking Yunnan Province and Bengal in India by way of the Tibetan Plateau, a network of routes collectively called the Ancient Tea-Horse Road is often called “the Silk Road of the South.” Since the seventh century B.C., tea, sugar, and salt from China were traded for hardy Tibetan horses. Sections of the Ancient Tea-Horse road were paved with cobblestones, and can still be walked.

CHINA With a tea history stretching back thousands of years to the first harvest of the fragrant bush that would become the most widely consumed beverage in the world after water, China is the place where it all began.

Yunnan, in China’s subtropical southwest, is the birthplace of tea drinking. Part of the original “Himalayan tea corridor,” a region stretching from Assam in India to North Vietnam that gave rise to the first indigenous tea plants, Yunnan’s native cultures still harvest wild and cultivated tea from 26 distinctive “tea mountains,” some of whose plants are said to be thousands of years old. Dark, earthy pu’er tea is a specialty of the region, made by fermenting and oxidizing fresh tea leaves and pressing them into bricks or cakes for long-distance trade.


The Tea Mountains and Tea-Horse Road of Yunnan Province


SIP, TO MAKE PRESSURE DIP A 2012 Australian study showed that regular, long-term use of black tea can result in significantly lower blood pressure in people with normal to high-normal blood pressure. The study looked at people drinking three cups a day for at least six months.

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Wuyi Mountains On the other side of China’s vast empire, the Wuyi Mountains in Fujian Province are “one of my favorite places in the world,” says Dan Robertson, whose company World Tea Tours organized the first tea-oriented travel from North America to China. Wuyi’s limestone formations are home to some of the country’s most spectacular natural environments, from its 32 limestone karst “Fairy Peaks,” to the complex of rivers and waterfalls that honeycomb the area. Growing on the limestone crags of this breathtaking region are wild and cultivated tea plants that produce the famous Wuyi Rock Oolongs. These semi-oxidized teas, subjected to the difficult and artful oolong production process, are said to taste faintly of the stone from which they grew, with a mellow complexity and a long, sweet aftertaste. The teas of China have such a long and storied history that they have often acquired individual names that spring from their origin stories. One of the best known is Da Hong Pao (“Big Red Robe”) tea, originally made from a small number of special tea bushes that grew on Wuyi Mountain. Legend has it that tea made from these bushes cured the mother of a Chinese emperor, who sent voluminous red robes to honor and clothe the bushes from which the tea leaves had come. Six of these venerated plants are still growing today in Wuyi’s Dahongpao Scenic Area.

Dawon Green Tea Plantation, known across Korea for its scenic beauty. In late spring and early summer, couples and families from across Korea come to stroll Boseong’s immaculate lanes, lined with Japanese cedars, and wend their way around the misty, scenic tea trails. Stop in a plantation shop or restaurant to sample a refreshing bowl of green tea noodles—or sip the year’s ujeon, the season’s first-picked and most fragrant green tea, from the famous pale-green celadon tea ware of Korea. Then head to the seaside town of Yulpo, a few minutes away, where the Yulpo Haesu Nokchatang spa offers a bracing deep-seawater and green tea plunge.

Pettigrew describes Korean green teas as “intensely sweet and very special, a cross between Chinese and Japanese, as Korean culture tends to be.” BOSEONG, SOUTH KOREA

SOUTH KOREA With a long history as a tea-growing region, South Korea provides one of the world’s most pleasant, accessible, and multifaceted tea travel experiences. The country’s handmade green and oolong teas are grown in the country’s southernmost tip. Pettigrew describes Korean green teas as “intensely sweet and very special, a cross between Chinese and Japanese, as Korean culture tends to be.” A half-day’s travel from Seoul, Boseong in South Jeolla Province is the country’s tea-growing capital, producing about 40 percent of Korea’s green tea. The most well known of Boseong’s nearly two dozen “tea gardens” is the Daehan VINCENT ST. THOMAS / SHUTTERSTOCK.COM


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DARJEELING, INDIA: Darjeeling Himalayan Railway

Darjeeling became one of the first of India’s “hill stations,” where the colonials of the British Raj flocked to escape the sultry summers of lower elevations. INDIA

The Tea Bungalows of Assam

India’s tea history starts with the British Empire, whose bottomless appetite for tea led to the cultivation of vast tea plantations across the Indian subcontinent and the country’s current place as the second largest tea producer in the world.

Almost alone among major tea-growing regions, Assam, cleaved in half by the mighty Brahmaputra River, spreads out near sea level. But tea is native to these parts: in the 1800s, an Assamese nobleman led a Scottish trader through unbroken jungle to a stand of Camellia sinensis growing wild, establishing it as the westernmost end of the Himalayan indigenous tea corridor. The fast-growing, bigleafed teas of the region are robust, with an earthy or “gutty” brewed flavor the English have long favored as a breakfast wake-up-call. Today, Assam is the largest contiguous tea growing region on earth. Tucked into India’s northeastern reaches and connected to the rest of the country by a slender neck of land, this isolated province can be an adventure to get to—but once there, visitors experience a lush and uncrowded side of India that few will ever see. A stay in an original tea-planter’s bungalow on one of Assam’s 800 working tea estates is a must; many are mansions, and some of these enchanting structures were built on stilts to rise above monsoon floods and deter wandering leopards. Two of the best known are Thengal Manor in Jorhat, and the Mancotta Chang Bungalows (on stilts), which host riding holidays that explore Assam’s tea plantations. You’ll also be sharing Assam with the rare white one-horned Asian rhino, Asian elephants, wild buffalo, and a rich array of primate and bird life, which can be viewed in the grasslands and jungle of Kaziranga National Park.

Darjeeling With crisp mountain air, wildflowers blooming in season, and a snowy backdrop of the Himalayas, Darjeeling became one of the first of India’s “hill stations,” where the colonials of the British Raj flocked to escape the sultry summers of lower elevations. Its altitude, sunshine, and excellent sloped drainage also produce what many call the “champagne of teas,” a pale golden, floral brew that often carries an otherworldly hint of muscat grape. View some of Darjeeling’s 80 tea gardens with a ride on the antique Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, operating since 1881 and nicknamed the “Toy Train” for its narrow gauge. Or travel winding mountain roads lined with blooming rhododendrons, and climb Tiger Hill, with its famous view of Mount Everest and Kanchenjunga, the world’s thirdtallest peak, together. “Everest is the tallest peak, but not necessarily the most beautiful,” says Robertson. “That’s Kanchenjunga.” “Staying overnight in a tea garden and getting up in the morning to watch the sun rising in the Himalayas,” he adds, is not to be missed.

MORE RESEARCH NEEDED Many studies have been done on cancer risk and tea consumption, and results have been inconsistent, but according to the National Cancer Institute, some “have linked tea consumption to reduced risks of cancers of the colon, breast, ovary, prostate, and lung.” For details, visit the NCI’s website.

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SRI LANKA: Tea Plantation

that “you can have your toes in the sandy beach, ride an elephant, meet with a tea company, and be up in the mountains all in the same day.” For a taste of the full variety of tea plantation life, Ceylon Tea Trails, a Relais and Chateaux resort, offers tea planters’ bungalows in four distinct zones, set in working tea gardens and connected by meandering planters’ trails that showcase breathtaking vistas of mountain lakes, tiny villages, and hillsides planted with rows of tea that curve with the land’s contours. A stay at Ceylon Tea Trails comes with a resident tea planter’s tour, from planting to harvest to factory processing. Or just have a lie-in, as the Brits say, and let the butler bring you that long-cherished colonial tradition, “bed tea.”

JAPAN Uji and Makinohara

SRI LANKA The Tea Trails of Sri Lanka Just off the southern tip of India, the nation until recently known as the Paradise Island of Ceylon offers good British infrastructure, an exotic melting pot of faiths and traditions, and a tea-growing culture all its own. Its cool, humid climate and volcanic soils have helped make Sri Lanka’s the world’s fourth-largest producer of tea, grown mostly in the birch-dappled uplands that once were the Buddhist Kingdom of Kandy. Sri Lanka is so compact, says Robertson,

South of the cultural capital of Kyoto, on either side of the serene, misty Uji River, lies the town of Uji, home to the oldest cultivated tea gardens in Japan. Founded in the 1100s by Zen masters returning from China, the tea gardens of Uji and neighboring Wazuka have given their name to ujicha, a green tea prized throughout the country for its delicate vegetal notes and brothy, umami flavor. Walk along the river and cross graceful Uji Bridge, mentioned in The Tale of Genji, past centuries-old pagodas and cormorant fishing boats. Stop into one of the town’s many teahouses, which showcase not

UJI, JAPAN: Tea House


PREVENTING CAVI-TEAS White tea slows and fights the types of bacteria that cause strep infections, pneumonia, and cavities in teeth, according to research from Pace University. With these antiviral and antifungal effects, white tea extract may show up in disease prevention efforts in the future. 80

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In the rich volcanic soils of the upper elevations of the Rift, teas grown between 5,000 to 9,000 feet in elevation have flourished, making Kenya the world’s third-largest producer of tea. IVAN KUZMIN / SHUTTERSTOCK.COM

KENYA, AFRICA: Baobab Tree and Tea Plantation

only Uji’s famous tea, but other Uji treats such as green tea soba noodles, tea-seasoned rice, tea-inspired bentos, and the beloved green tea ice cream. An ocean of tea leaves seems to stretch in every direction at Makinohara, a tea-growing region on a coastal plain halfway between Kyoto and Tokyo. At the working plantation Makinohara Greenpia (sometimes spelled Gurinpia), visitors can have a tea picking lesson, pick a basket of tea to take home from April to October, and in season, watch the tea factory in operation before whisking back to Tokyo or Kyoto on the train.

HAWAII Warm Hawaii is one of the last places you might think of as a good place to grow tea, traditionally associated with cool, upland regions. But on Hawaii Island, where the active volcano Kilauea has been continuously erupting since the 1980s, micro tea plantations are beginning to take hold on the volcano’s fog-wreathed, high-elevation slopes. The charming town of Volcano Village, filled with art and gardens, is the epicenter for Hawaii’s new tea movement, which emphasizes hand-picking and handcrafting for superlative black, green, and oolong teas. The prices are superlative, too, but that’s to be expected of artisanally made tea in a first-world nation, says Pettigrew, who works with artist and Hawaii Island plantation owner Eva Lee. Lee’s forested tea garden produces exquisite shaded teas that are higher in theanine, the amino acid that produces a sense of calm. Lee has said: “Both the volcano and the forest are hugely powerful, and help to nurture the tea. And when Pele, goddess of fire, wind, lightning, and volcanoes, is active, the tea absorbs her energy. The character of the tea can magically change when she gives the earth a little shake!” Lee is also a founder of the Hawaii Tea Company, which offers tea products and tea garden tours. Although the tea plantations of Hawaii Island are not

large, says Pettigrew, the locations, with immaculate tea gardens that look out across a limitless horizon of ocean and sky, “are absolutely glorious.”

KENYA Perhaps no tea-growing region is as geologically unique as equatorial Kenya. Divided by the Great Rift Valley, which runs the length of the African continent, Kenya hosts a richness of wildlife that most regions on earth can only dream of. Most of Kenya, including the floor of the Great Rift, is too hot and dry to grow tea. But in the rich volcanic soils of the upper elevations of the Rift, teas grown between 5,000 to 9,000 feet in elevation have flourished, making Kenya the world’s third-largest producer of tea. Most Kenyan teas are hand-harvested and then prepared in a process known as CTC (crush, tear, curl). They are considered among the best CTC teas available. At Kiambethu Farm, take a tour of the tea fields that segues into an easy walk through indigenous forest, where rare flowers bloom and Colobus monkeys call to each other from the treetops. Then, enjoy a drink and a farm lunch with a panorama of the legendary Ngong Hills, made famous in Isak Dinesen’s Out of Africa. Although there is no truly dormant period of Kenya’s tea harvest, Kenya’s peak seasons are January through March and June through July.


o matter where you choose to have your adventure, “Every time you drink a cup of tea,” says Pettigrew, “you’re connecting yourself to 5,000 years of history, 61 teagrowing countries around the world, and the cultures that drink it, which is nearly all of them. You become part of a family.” Lavonne Leong spent almost a decade in England, where she learned to love the gutty black teas of Assam and the delicate brews of Darjeeling. Now she lives in Honolulu, where she is discovering the joys of green and white teas.

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handheld meditation

If you are cold, tea will warm you; If you are too heated, it will cool you; If you are depressed, it will cheer you; If you are excited, it will calm you. —WILLIAM EWART GLADSTONE




ea is more than a beverage; herbal teas contain many medicinal properties. The next time you’re in need of health and healing, head to the pantry—or even your yard—for a cup of tea. Here, a go-to guide for nature’s remedies.

Relieve Inflammation Are you bothered by sore joints? Do as the Okinawans do and drink turmeric tea. The orange-yellow spice, used in Indian curry and to color mustard, contains curcumin, which has a multifaceted, anti-inflammatory agent shown to provide relief from stiffness and arthritis pain. For a sweet, soothing concoction, consider adding coconut milk and honey.

Fight Allergies

Soothe Insomnia

Allergy sufferers should reach for green tea. The brew contains a natural compound that may block the production of histamine—a chemical your body releases during allergic reactions, triggering sneezing or a runny nose. Steep the leaves for three minutes and sip in the morning, before symptoms begin.

Frustrated by counting sheep? There might be a better way to get your Z’s. Studies have shown that valerian can help you fall asleep faster and even improve the quality of your sleep. Before you try it, the Mayo Clinic wants you to consider everything from the possible side effects to the underlying cause of your wakeful nights, such as a medical condition or stress. Fun fact: Though the root stinks, the plant’s flower extracts were used as perfume in the 16th century.

* All teas aren’t right for all bodies, so check with your health care practitioner.


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Boost Memory

Relieve Stress

Good news. In a recent study, participants who drank green tea extract tested significantly better on short-term memory tasks. The reason? MRIs revealed that the age-old brew increased the brain’s ability to connect one area (frontal lobe) to another (parietal lobe). Though you’d have to drink several cups to mimic the study, this is yet another reason to believe a few cups of green tea a day is good for your health—and head.

Arabs, Greeks, Romans. For centuries, various cultures have used lemon balm—a member of the mint family— for a variety of ailments and annoyances, from depression to insect bites. To relieve stress and anxiety, pour one cup of boiling water over a handful of fresh leaves and steep for 5 to 7 minutes before straining. For easy access, add the plant to your herb garden.

Improve Digestion Dandelion is much more than a pesky weed. The root has been used to soothe an aching belly, excrete toxins from the liver and gallbladder, and relieve constipation. If you’re bloated, opt for the leaves, which are touted as a diuretic, increasing urine output. Buy it in a tea bag, or find it in the yard—just make sure it hasn’t been sprayed with pesticides.

Reduce Blood Pressure It’s official. Studies have confirmed that hibiscus (Hibiscus sabdariffa) can lower blood pressure. The reason? The plant appears to have a diuretic effect and can inhibit a natural angiotensinconverting enzyme (ACE), which helps relax blood vessels. For a refreshing, tropical drink make it cold and consider adding pineapple slices and cane sugar.

Gynecological Concerns Native Americans used black cohosh to address everything from kidney disorders to colds and coughs. In recent years, the root has gained popularity for treating premenstrual discomfort, menstrual cramps, and menopausal symptoms, such as hot flashes and night sweats. For the latter, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends limiting its use to six months or less.

Boost Immunity Want to stave off a cold? Brew a cup of chamomile tea. A study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found that volunteers who drank German chamomile tea—five cups per day for two consecutive weeks—had increased levels of hippurate, which has been linked to antibacterial activity. Sniffles be gone.

Increase Energy—and Then Some In the Ecuadorian Amazon, during the predawn hours, the Kichwa people gather around a communal fire and boil the leaves of the guayusa (gwhyyou-sa) tree, creating a drink central to their culture. Now, the traditional drink is gaining popularity in the U.S. since it has twice the antioxidants of green tea, 15 essential amino acids, and as much caffeine as coffee, among other traits. Sheila Sarhangi is a Honolulubased freelance writer specializing in social and environmental change. She sips rooibos tea, which is grown in South Africa.


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handheld meditation


The World’s Meditation



he world was never fast enough for me, especially as a child. I was diagnosed with ADD in second grade and struggled with school

until I was in my late teens. My twenties were a mix of cities, passions, friends, and something new every few weeks.

The life so many of us live is in 10-second increments. The only things somewhat structured for so many of us is our jobs, but even those are becoming more unconventional. Our sleep is often interrupted with the sound of a text message or notification, which we wouldn’t dare avoid. All this, and we are still searching. All this, and I wonder if it is ADD or just life. As a photographer, artist and activist, my journey into the slums of distant lands and in and out of cultures and villages around the world has exposed me to a terrific amount of variety and differences; however, there is one through line: tea. Tea leaves have been plucked and stirred into hot water for millennia, and that is no different today. Now that I am more often stateside, I order teas from around the world to try to take me back in my memories. My favorite is raw pu’er tea, a tea from China picked from the trees planted in the 1800s, or even longer ago. I have tried so many pu’ers but now only drink Misty Peak teas. When I make my tea, I take time to be thankful to the leaves in my hand and especially to the farmers who went out early in the morning, leaving their family and comfortable home, to pick these leaves for me. I’m thankful to the boats that brought the tea to my land and thankful, too, for making this time for myself. Pu’er tea calms me very quickly and activates the theta brain waves. It has huge amounts of GABA, which relieves stress. The tea warms my core and settles my mind. Great tea and a great cup to hold and meditate on—this is all one needs to find peace in a busy day.

Cups, mugs, glasses, pitchers, thermoses, and any other vessel for holding liquid, all these were handed to me in every part of the world, and they always slowed me down. I remember hiking in the cold nights over endless sand dunes in the Sahara desert, when a nomad guide throws a rug on the sand and starts to heat water. Minutes before, we were in a hurry. Now, we sit and watch the bubbles come to surface as he grabs a pouch of leaves from his side bag. He is making tea, and we are slowing down. The bells on the necks of animals and the swooshing of pants and bags has stopped, we hear only our breaths and the kettle. Let this be a testimony more than a thought. I challenge you to think of tea as a pastime, not merely as a beverage. When a moment gets too intense, or even when it is calm, begin to brew water and pull the tea from your side bag. Beauty and silence will follow. I often think of those days when my second grade teacher told my mother that we should work on getting me a prescription. I often think of my friend who gave up a lifetime of alcoholism in exchange for the art of tea. How is it that this leaf is in the cup of billions of people’s lives, yet we are only coming to it now? As with anything, let us focus not so much on the what, but the why. In the beginning, drinking any tea will do for a meditation, as long as it is done mindfully and quietly. Meditation is great, but can be discouraging to new practitioners. Let us not need meditation mats or a Vipassana center to find peace and quiet; let us carry it with us in our side bag. Let us pour tea because we want silence. Let us drink tea. Phil America is an artist, writer, and activist based in California. He has worked with the UN, given three TEDx talks, and published three books.

I challenge you to think of tea as a pastime, not merely as a beverage. LANGDU / THINKSTOCK


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Health Tea Guide


LOVE TRYING NEW TEAS? Join the Plum Deluxe tea of the month club For $10/month, receive hand-blended, organic loose leaf teas made just for the club and enjoy special beneямБts like free shipping and access to a supportive tea community. Caffeine-free, gift subscriptions available.




Try these picks from S&H to transform your culinary creations. With a variety of colors and flavors, the 6-tube Create delectable, warming combinations of the most good-for-you ingredients

Hawaiian Aloha Salt Collection will give you the subtle taste distinction you deserve. ($39.95)

with Superfood Soups by Julie Morris. ($11)

Contribute to

Add unexpected flavor and a

the health of the

healthy dose of minerals and

earth by gathering

trace elements by sprinkling

kitchen scraps

a bit of Dulse into your dish.

in the Stainless

($7.50 for 2 oz.)

Steel Compost Crock instead of sending them to the landfill. ($59.95)

Bring mindfulness into the cleaning process by enjoying the bloom of the Sponge Blossoms before scrubbing the counters, pots and pans. ($4.49)

Add a taste of the exotic with

Indian Green, Madagascar Black, and French Rose Peppercorns, gathered from around the globe. ($3.85 per .5 oz)


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Keep stains off your clothes with the

Full Apron, hand made to order in Portland, Oregon, with organic fabrics. ($62)

“Cooking well doesn’t mean cooking fancy” Julia Child

Created by hand in Japan, the

Suribachi lets you create your own concoctions—grinding herbs, roots, or seeds to that just-right consistency. ($18)

Enjoy a lead-free Balsamic Vinegar and an intriguing twist on Olive Oil made with organic blood

If you’ve given up gluten, the

Inspiralizer will let you enjoy pasta made from whatever

oranges and California mission

vegetable you choose.

olives. ($12 & $14)


Chop everything on the live edge

American Elm cutting board, created using only dead or dying trees, harvested with minimal equipment, and dried in a solar kiln. ($45)

FREE RESOURCES: • Mix your own counter spray and decide which mood you’d like to be in at the same time.

For a subtle, mild flavor, load up the

• Find a wealth of recipes focused on fresh, whole, delicious food. My daughter loves

Vitaclay Slow Cooker and relax while

making their cookie recipes!

the clay pot cooks your dinner for you. —KAL IA KE L ME NSO N


september / october 2016



books // music // film LOOK WITHIN Let these picks from S&H be a starting point for taking your journey inward

A Call to Mercy Hearts to Love, Hands to Serve

By Mother Teresa IMAGE BOOKS BLESSED MOTHER TERESA of Kolkata will be canonized by Pope Francis on September 4th, coinciding with the conclusion of his Year of Mercy jubilee, honoring those engaged in works of mercy. This inspiring book is an ideal way to mark the occasion, reflecting on some of her astounding acts of service and mercy via THOUGH MOTHER TERESA her own words—shared here DIED IN 1997, IT’S AMAZING in material published posthumously for the first time—and HOW RELEVANT THE SOCIAL through testimonies of those ISSUES SHE GRAPPLED who worked alongside her. WITH STILL ARE. A Call to Mercy covers each of the seven corporeal and seven spiritual works of mercy, such as feeding the hungry, visiting the imprisoned, and counseling the doubtful. In each chapter, Father Brian Kolodiejchuk has collected some of her unpublished teachings, along with stories from people who worked with the Nobel Prize–winning nun. Each chapter concludes with an opportunity for reflection, whether it’s a prayer, a quote from scripture, or questions for meditation. Though Mother Teresa died in 1997, it’s amazing how relevant the social issues she grappled with still are. There are always untouchables—in some decades they have leprosy; in others, AIDS; in our era, they are transgender and told not to use the bathroom. There are always refugees, too, from different places, but waves of them. The gaping maw of human need doesn’t close. We need more saints. No, no, Mother Teresa writes, “This is where we need each other. It’s where what we can do, you


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may not be able to do. But what you can do, we cannot do. If we put these two works together, there can be something beautiful for God.” It’s hard to comprehend how she could have such superhuman fortitude; such unbelievable selflessness; such passion for Christ; such an ability to transcend physical disgust. Then you realize, Ah, of course. That’s what makes her a saint. —KATHRYN DRURY WAGNER

The Mind-Gut Connection How the Hidden Conversation Within Our Bodies Impacts Our Mood, Our Choices, and Our Overall Health

By Dr. Emeran Mayer HARPER WAVE MORE THAN 100 trillion microbes reside in the

human gut—if you put them all together, they would weigh about 2.6 pounds, or roughly the same as our brain. More and more, scientists are starting to see this almost as an organ just like the mind, beginning to understand the powerful role these microbes play not only in our physical health, but also in our mental and emotional well-being. In The Mind-Gut Connection, we hear from a leading voice in this emerging field, Emeran Mayer, MD, PhD, a professor of medicine at UCLA and director of the Oppenheimer Center for Neurobiology of Stress and Resilience. He’s a leading researcher examining the way our microbiomes—the ecosystem of thousands of microbes that live on and in the human body—and our brains interplay. It’s no surprise to the reader that diseases such as irritable bowel syndrome are connected to the delicate balance of flora in the gut. More shocking, though, is the role of microbes in disorders such as anxiety and depression, and our reactions to stress.

“Could a regimen as simple as eating fermented foods and taking probiotics help anxiety-prone individuals become more relaxed?” Mayer writes. Case studies he presents suggests yes, it can. This book will have you running out to buy the sauerkraut, kimchi, and yogurt. For millions of years, Mayer points out, life forms on Earth have had a remarkable harmony between microbes and larger hosts. The connection between what we eat, how we feel and the complex interplay we have with our tiny inhabitants is only now coming to light. Keeping this balanced partnership is something well worth exploring. —KDW (READ AN EXCERPT ON PAGE 32)

The Song of Increase Listening to the Wisdom of Honeybees for Kinder Beekeeping and a Better World

Jacqueline Freeman SOUNDS TRUE IT IS RARE TO FIND an author as enamored with a subject

as Jacqueline Freeman is with bees. “Swarm-swooned” is her apt description of the profound love and admiration she feels for these highly intelligent creatures, and in The Song of Increase, it’s clear that Freeman considers bees her greatest teachers—and perhaps ours. Freeman, who became a beekeeper by chance, considers bees her friends. Yet the average bee-swatting civilian may do a double-take reading sentences like this: “Gathering a swarm and inviting them to live in one of my hives is one of the most sense-enhancing, gleeful tasks I know.” But because Freeman is a highly sensitive writer, it is in these tender anecdotes about the daily wonders of beekeeping—observing drone bees on scouting missions for new hives, witnessing their total devotion to their queen and her precious larvae—that bees become altogether different, more complex creatures through her eyes. Bees unfailingly put the needs of the colony above their own; Freeman depicts their process as a master class in cooperation. She also waxes poetic in sections written from the bee’s perspective, which are informed by the messages Freeman says she receives from her hives during her meditative practice. The book is most compelling when Freeman gets specific


about the hive’s collective relationship to light, seasons, and sound, but gets murky when she dips into their higher consciousness and spirituality. However, her larger point about the wisdom of bees—that humans need to carefully consider how we share our resources and planet—certainly resonates. —ALIZAH SOLARIO (READ AN EXCERPT ON PAGE 40)

Inner Engineering A Yogi’s Guide to Joy

By Sadhguru SPIEGEL & GRAU “FUN” ISN’T usually the first word to spring to mind when it comes to the writings of Indian gurus, but that description applies to the latest in a long list of books by Jaggi Vasudev, better known as Sadhguru. As the founder of the international spiritual organization Isha Foundation, Sadhguru has honed his ability to communicate mystical concepts in an informal, accessible way while speaking at institutions like the UN, TED, Google, Harvard, and Microsoft. That skill is evident in Inner Engineering, which makes use of jokes, Mullah Nasruddin–style stories, and section headings like “When the Shit Hit the Ceiling,” all while presenting perspectives and practices designed to further the author’s stated goal of helping “make joy your constant companion.” After offering autobiographical information that includes an account of a time when he claims to have undergone a permanent shift in consciousness, Sadhguru imparts various insights that have emerged from that state of heightened awareness. Among these are the principles that all human endeavor stems from the desire for joy, that enlightenment is a recognition that all experiences come from within, and that enjoyment is maximized when one becomes willingly and actively involved in life. Having laid a conceptual foundation in Part One, Sadhguru then goes into the specifics of yogic practice, suggesting several methods of working with the body, mind, and energies. Part Two of the book covers everything from diet and sleeping habits to more esoteric subjects such as the chakras, Tantra, and various types of samadhi states. With its blend of modern language and ancient yogic practice, Inner Engineering seems at least partially geared toward younger readers. Paradoxically, the author’s use of present-day symbolism and terminology is traditional in itself: As he points out, “The truth is timeless, but the technology and the language [that spiritual teachers use] are always contemporary. If they weren’t, they would deserve to be discarded.” —DAMON ORION

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REVIEWS // music Long Ambients 1: Calm. Sleep. Moby SELF-RELEASED ALONG WITH BEING ONE of electronic music’s most recognizable artists, Moby is an outspoken advocate of healthy living. In one of his latest efforts to promote the use of yoga and meditation for a balanced lifestyle, he has made available for free a four-hour album of ambient music for relaxation, meditation, and yoga: An insomnia sufferer since age four, Moby originally created Long Ambients 1: Calm. Sleep for his own use while doing yoga, sleeping, meditating, or coming out of a state of panic. Consisting of 11 tracks that span approximately 20 minutes each, Long Ambients is refreshingly sincere and tasteful where relaxation music is concerned. More soundscapes than songs in the conventional sense, these minimalistic offerings are numbered as opposed to having conventional titles. Devoid of vocals or beats, they largely

comprise dreamy, atmospheric synth notes and keyboard sweeps; “LA4” features manipulated gong sounds and “LA9” is enhanced with reverb-drenched piano. While they are not listening music in the same way that most of Moby’s work is, these songs are imbued with their creator’s distinct aesthetic, as if made from the components of dismantled Moby compositions. Though Long Ambients is a far cry from the dancefriendly fare for which Moby is better known, it’s exactly what it is intended to be: a soothing, unobtrusive soundtrack to sleeping, yoga, or meditation. —DAMON ORION

Shakti Sutra Sheela Bringi

WITH SHAKTI SUTRA Indian-American vocalist Sheela Bringi and longtime collaborator Clinton Patterson have created a sweet mantra album that is steady and sophisticated. The two honed their musical skills performing together as Premasoul, a group that combined elements of jazz, blues, and Indian chanting. This new offering remains grounded in Hindu mantras with subtle percussion, guitar, and electronics. Bringi’s lovely harp and flute playing stand out—they also recently graced albums by DJ Drez and Dave Stringer, who reciprocates here with vocals on “Krishna Govinda.” Shakti Sutra is calming and uplifting; it’s a journey into peace. “Playing music has always been a way for me to connect to stillness and a sense of expansiveness within myself, and to feel a sense of openness and connection with my family and community,” Bringi told S&H. “These mantras were chosen to involve the listener. They are an invitation to sing along, sort of a private kirtan. These words have been sung in my family for generations.” Bringi’s rhythmic harp opens “Ganesha Sharanam” with vocals by Subhashish Mukhopadhay, Sheela’s Hindustani vocal teacher in Los Angeles. “He’s from Calcutta and a disciple of the great Pandit Manas Chakraborty,” Bringi explains. “It is quite an honor for me to have him on this record.” “Mantras are often as much about the future as they are about the past,” adds Clinton Patterson, who recorded,


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mixed, and produced the album. “This is the first record where we‘ve put electronics right alongside the tabla, harmonium, and violas. It‘s a new sound for us, but who‘s to say what the voice of God sounds like?” —JOHN MALKIN


Franti & Spearhead—soulrocker—continues their great tradition of very sing-along-able tunes ripe with joyful energy and social consciousness. Treat yourself to a live concert and you’ll see how electric this music becomes in a group setting: lots of waving arms and smiling faces. New for this Spearhead album is a pulsing electronic Eurodance sound that Franti actually encountered a long time ago on one of the first records he ever owned, by experimental German band Kraftwerk. While Franti has come a long way since fronting his first bands The Beatnigs and Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy, he continues to be an artist offering vulnerability, sensitivity, and a longing for social justice. “Once a Day” was inspired by his son’s diagnosis with a rare kidney disease. And “My Lord” came out of Franti’s exploration of his own adoption

as a baby by a Finnish American family from a birth mother who is Irish, German, and Belgian and birth father who is African American and Native American. “When I was born I was alone / Spent the rest of my life finding my way home,” Franti sings. On “Good to Be Alive Today” the lyrical lens is widened as Franti and his band tackle some difficult material including Ebola, ISIS, drone warfare, child soldiers, political corruption, and police violence. “People used to feel safer when they would hear a siren / Like help is on its way but now they only think of violence.” A soulrocker is defined in the lyrics booklet as “One who lives from the heart, with compassion for all, and possesses a tenacious enthusiasm for music, life, and the planet.” It’s also a good description of Michael Franti. Enjoy! —JM




september / october 2016


REVIEWS // film Bugs Directed by Andreas Johnsen ROSFORTH FILMS


OPENING WITH A culinary feast involving

bowls of soldier fly larvae, locust tabbouleh, and dung beetle stew, Andreas Johnsen’s fascinating documentary follows the efforts of chef Ben Reade and researcher Josh Evans of the Nordic Food Lab in Copenhagen as they travel the world exploring the viability of insects as the food source of the future. As the film explains, with the world’s population set to increase to 9 billion by 2050, food production has to increase about 70%. Much of the world already eats insects. Could bugs become scalable as a cheap, sustainable new source of protein? It could have been easy for a film like this to become just a one-note exercise, shocking us with the spectacle of what these researchers chow down on as they travel the globe. And, to be fair, they do eat quite a number of amazing and terrifying-looking things—from grilled termite queens (“God’s natural sausage”) to maggot-infested stinky cheese (which apparently stinks even worse when it’s infested with maggots, go figure). But they actually do make a lot of

HappyFilm Directed by Ben Nabors, Stefan Sagmeister, Hillman Curtis SOSO PRODUCTIONS INTERNATIONALLY RENOWNED graphic

designer Stefan Sagmeister’s introspective documentary focuses on his attempts to see if he can be a happier person. As he makes clear, Sagmeister is not depressive, nor is he in any kind of predicament: Indeed, he’s quite successful and well-off and living in New York. What he wants to know is if he can “redesign” his life to make it happier. The film follows Sagmeister over an extended period, as he tries a variety of methods—meditation, talk therapy, and pharmaceuticals—with mixed results. The journey is unpredictable, to say the least: His codirector, Hillman Curtis, passed away from cancer during production. As a look at how an ambitious real-life design project can be taken over by, well, real life, HappyFilm is quite 92


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this stuff look tasty. And as they prepare elaborate dishes using these creatures, the point hits home: Most of our revulsion in the West toward eating insects has more to do with cultural norms than anything else. (At one point, a comparison is made to sushi; just several decades ago, many people outside Japan found the idea of eating raw fish disgusting.) The film raises tantalizing questions: While bugs are in plentiful supply now, how would they scale as a reliable and sustainable food source for masses all around the world? Would they just become commodified and industrialized like everything else? And how would the rural Third World communities where these creatures are to be found be affected by such developments? While it may not provide many answers, the film does offer plenty of food for thought to go with its entertaining journey through the amazingly diverse world of edible bugs. —BILGE EBIRI

interesting. And one must commend Sagmeister for his forthrightness, and his willingness to put himself out there. (That’s nothing new for him, however; this is a man who once carved designs into his torso for a project.) Additionally, it is valuable to see the effects of these different therapies on an individual. Taking meds, for example, leads to a period of euphoria, when Sagmeister is convinced everything is going well—an impression his doctor warns him against. But it still feels like something is missing: So much of Sagmeister’s interest in happiness seems to be founded on his relationships with women—which always seem to fall apart—and there’s a certain uncomfortable indulgence in watching him fall in and out of love with various mates. The problem is, we never quite buy the sincerity of these romances; Sagmeister just comes across as another good-looking, successful hotshot who burns through relationships. The result is an interesting movie with an occasionally insufferable subject. —BE

After Spring Directed by Ellen Martinez and Steph Ching BUSBOY PRODUCTIONS DOCUMENTING the day-to-day lives of the families and administrators at Jordan’s Zaatari refugee camp, directors Ellen Martinez and Steph Ching put a human face to the Syrian conflict. The camp has more than 80,000 inhabitants, most of them children. The vast majority of the families live in trailers, but many of the more recent arrivals are in tents. And although many of them came expectTHE FAMILIES LIVE IN CRAMPED ing a brief stay, SPACES, WITH LITTLE HOPE these men, FOR THE FUTURE. women, and children have now resigned themselves to the fact that they will be here a while, as the civil war in their home country shows no signs of abating. That is both the melancholy and the charm of this film:


As it has grown, the Zaatari camp has built itself a vast infrastructure, with restaurants and shops featuring everything from cellphones to formal wear; you can even order a pizza. But the families live in cramped spaces, with little hope for the future; some will remain, some will emigrate to the West, some will try to return home. Amid that uncertainty, they try to live normal lives the best they can. The heartbreak of the refugee families is palpable; home video footage of life in Syria before the war shows the happiness and security that has been lost. But the film is also at its best when it focuses on the camp’s staff. That includes the hardworking and kindly former manager, Kilian Kleinschmidt, and Charles Lee, a Korean aid worker and tae kwon do instructor whose attempts to teach the refugee kids martial arts provides a touching boost to their confidence and morale. It’s a testament to the fact that even in the midst of the most monstrous conflicts, human grace and compassion can be found. —BE

What if you had the ideal relationship with your children? Is that possible?

With the guidance and wisdom shared in this boxed set, you will find yourself opening to all of your heart’s intelligence and insight, giving you the ability to heal your heart wounds, love more deeply, and connect authentically with others.

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september / october 2016



Why Bears Are Staying Awake and

People Are Hibernating AND HOW WE MIGHT ACTUALLY SOLVE OUR EPIDEMIC OF DEPRESSION “DEPRESSION. DISEASE, epidemic, condition—whatever you want to call

it. Either you’ve suffered from it personally, or you know someone who has.” So asserts the website for the UCLA Depression Grand Challenge, a $525 million, cross-disciplinary initiative to reduce the health and economic impacts of depression by half over the next 35 years. UCLA informs us that “Depression is . . . as old as humanity itself, yet we still don’t even know what causes it.” Really? If depression is as old as humanity (and clearly it is) how can we possibly not know what causes it? I think the simple answer is that depression is a natural and normal shutdown mechanism. I’m not suggesting that depression isn’t painful or debilitating. It is. What I am suggesting is that if you pay close attention to your descent into depression, you can observe yourself shutting down and perhaps do something about it. Ironically, one obstacle to coming out of depression may be the belief that the problem requires half a billion dollars to solve.

The next step to getting out of depression is to understand the fundamental goal of your own behavioral intelligence system: to find the energy necessary to stay alive, manage it, and use it to get the jobs of life done. That goal doesn’t require so much thought in other living creatures—our behavioral operating system is more complicated than others. So let’s look at bears. We don’t say that bears suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), but rather that they hibernate. And the reason they go to sleep is because the long search for food in winter

Little Things You Can Do about the

#1 Disability Worldwide

I tell people to consistently monitor how they feel and to infuse life with little healthy things that are pleasurable: A walk? Sure. A dance? Better! Also, make a list of all of the little activities that give you pleasure. I’ve queried people about this and the range of activities is impressive: massaging with a wonderfully scented lotion, folding warm towels out of the dryer, keeping a box of letters and cards from adoring friends and family. And, of course, keeping a gratitude journal, which is a double accounting for every positive thing that happens each day.


september / october 2016

typically requires more energy than they can expect to find as food. So the bear behavioral intelligence system evolved to ratchet down dramatically, and they sleep through the winter. But something interesting is happening to bears now. In Vermont bears sleep far less than they used to and in other places they no longer hibernate at all. Why? Because winters have become milder and food is no longer so scarce. Bears still have the shutdown mechanism, but it no longer triggers because the earth is warming. Who cares? Well, a large body of evidence suggests that our ancestral hominids also hibernated, so SAD is essentially a struggle against our own shutdown mechanism. Our ancestral system wants to ratchet down in the fading sunlight, but we have to go to work. This brings us to a related point: Could the medical and pharmacological communities please stop calling depression “a chemical imbalance”? Increases and decreases in chemical systems in the brain are information. We need to look at what life events are signaling a shutdown. For example: it’s well known that women are more likely than men to suffer from depression and anxiety, so UCLA might reasonably spend hundreds of millions to develop gender-specific pills. Or they could call Columbia School of Public Health, which studied how gender discrimination in the workforce accounts for gender differences in depression and anxiety. It turns out that when


Bear Rock Sandra Dieckmann

women are paid less than their male counterparts, their odds of having both disorders are significantly higher than in men, but when women are paid more than their male counterparts, the gender disparity disappears. Since women are typically paid less than men—i.e., their energetic return on effort is lower than for men—a woman’s risk of having her shutdown mechanism triggered is higher. New and improved medications would simply mask the injustice. Other studies have shown that exploitation in the workplace—and poverty in and of itself—are determinants of depression. But it’s important to note that a lack of resources is not what triggers shutdown. Hunger is a powerful motivator. What triggers shutdown is the calculation that one’s

efforts to find energy will not pay off: that one is better off going into a metabolic shutdown—as awful as that may feel—until the environment improves. An economy in which the working and middle classes no longer believe their efforts will get them ahead is an incubator for depression. Ironically, a similar shutdown occurs in wealthy people who don’t have to work. Their efforts make no difference, and that can trigger terrible depression. The cure for all this unhappiness is easy: share resources. But first you have to get the camel through the eye of the needle.

If You Have 10 MINUTES… A walk reliably raises spirits. Dancing is better!

If You Have AN HOUR… Go to and watch the training video.

If You Have $10… Give it to a good cause and notice how you feel.


Peggy La Cerra is a research associate at Stanford Center for Mind, Brain, and Computation and coauthor (with Roger Bingham) of The Origin of Minds: Evolution, Uniqueness, and the New Science of the Self.

If You Have A WEEK… Have an adventure like a Path of Love retreat (page 26).

september / october 2016



THOMAS MOORE has been a monk, a musician, a professor, and, for the past 30 years, a psychotherapist practicing archetypal therapy with a spiritual perspective. His latest book is A Religion of One’s Own: A Guide to Creating a Personal Spirituality in a Secular World.

No Need to Explain

RECENTLY I WAS driving home from a gig in the Hudson

River area and was on a road I like in the middle of Massachusetts. The driver in front of me was going a bit slowly, so when I found a straight patch in the curving road I accelerated and passed him. Right away I saw flashing blue lights in the mirror. The policeman described in detail what I had done, noting my speed at every turn. I said, “Yes, I was driving too fast.” Responding to his question, I told him I was heading home after a week of teaching. “You’re eager to get home,” he said. “Yes,” I said. I wanted to be exactly where I was with the situation and hope for the best. I was practicing my zazen style.


september / october 2016

The policeman gave me a warning, emphasizing that it wouldn’t cost me any money. I liked him and would have liked to have a conversation with him, but I remained almost silent. In the end, he lost his Zen mind and couldn’t help giving me some emotional moralizing advice about not passing someone who was going two miles per hour under the limit. “OK,” I said. In my teaching that week I read to my students from Shunryu Suzuki’s classic Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind: “Our mind should be soft and open enough to understand things as they are…. A flower falls, even though we love it; and a weed grows, even though we do not love it.” It isn’t always easy to be with what is. We express our experience and then take it back. “I was envious of you,” we tell a friend and then add: “I know I shouldn’t feel that way.” That’s defending the weeds. Unnecessary and far too complicated. Being simply with what is, you feel yourself and sense the moment. The edges of your experience are intact. You own your world, which is never perfect and is so perfect that way. So delicious. So right. It’s helpful to find the right words for your experience. No jargon. Instead of “I’m so depressed,” you could say, “I feel lost, without a goal and sense of purpose.” That’s a start toward being with what is and describing it accurately, the way the policeman described my bad choices on the road. Then you go quiet. The real art of being with what is is to know when to stop talking. Most add-ons are defensive, explanatory, and escapist. You want to speak without speaking, or

The real art of being with what is is to know confess without being guilty. Better to feel the crisp edge of your reality and be with it, weeds and all. One of the most challenging Zen stories for me is the one in which parents bring their daughter and her infant child to a monk and tell him that he is the father. “Is that so?” he says, and takes the child and raises it. Years later they return and tell him that he isn’t the father after all. “Is that so?” he says, and gives the grown child back. It is so tempting to explain and defend and be in the right. But it might be far better to keep quiet. Use a few simple words. Do what seems unreasonable. Live in such a way that you don’t have to be innocent all the time. Another aspect of this lesson is to stay with your painful issue for a while instead of trying to get rid

when to stop talking.

of it. You’re grieving, so you try to be around friends and have a good time. It might be better to show your grief in the way you dress and talk. Be with it until it is through with you. There are no rules for how long or how strong grief should be. You let it do its thing. You submit until it frees you. You don’t let anyone tell you when it should be over. It has something to offer you in the way of an initiation, a sometimes painful transformation. The poet John Keats says, “Do you not see how necessary a world of pains and troubles is to school an

intelligence and make it a soul?” It’s tempting to avoid what is, to defend and escape, to explain and qualify. Yet to stand quietly in the tense realm of reality is really to be, and that is the beginning of a process of maturing and ripening. You become more a person, more the person you are, and more in the world that is your own. You may think you would like to live in a world of flowers without weeds, but that would be monotonous and boring. There would be nothing to school your intelligence, no way to discover your soul. S&H

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Be happy anyway. The good you do today, may be forgotten tomorrow.

Do good anyway. Give the the world the best you have, and it may never be enough.

Give your best anyway. For you see, in the end, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.

Create a “personal pause” that inspires you…

–Mother Teresa

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EMMA SEPPÄLÄ, PhD, is the author of The Happiness Track (being published September 26th) and Science Director at the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research at Stanford Medical School.

Start Acting Like an Animal A FAMOUS SURVEY conducted in 2004 found that one in four

Americans have no one to speak to about a personal problem, and that seems very sad. So many lonely people! But I think that often-repeated statistic hides something important— something I’m really passionate about: the simple fact that animals are often the ones healing the wounds of loneliness in our society. Pets are often lifelines—fulfilling not just the need for company, not just the need to be loved, but our own profound need to love. Of course this applies not just to people without other people. So many of us who have plenty of human companionship also feel a special bond with a pet.

Such feelings are real and appropriate. Research shows that just looking into the eyes of your pet can lower your heart rate. Their presence alone is enough to calm you down, to give you warmth, to let you feel loved and soothed. One wonderful example is companion dogs trained to recognize an oncoming panic attack who help veterans in their struggles with anxiety. Companion animals help all kinds of individuals with special needs—providing care that we humans can’t or won’t give one another. Now here’s what really makes me sad: When people are doing horrible things, we often describe them as acting like animals. Such language is wrong. Our planet is an exquisite palette of millions of creatures. We are just one among them. And though we are responsible for so much beauty, we are also responsible for terrible destruction. No other animal destroys its environment as we do. In fact, in their natural state, each creature contributes to the overall ecosystem, helping maintain balance on the planet. The only time you see a species destroying the environment is if a foreign species has been introduced, creating an imbalance. So the real question is: Do we continue to take part in the human destruction? Or do we start acting like other animals and create balance? We often think of animals as dangerous. But if you look at the most dangerous animals on the planet—the ones we fear most, the sharks, wolves and bears—they are nowhere near the top of the list. At the very top is the human being. Why is it that we don’t think of other animals as equal to us? Why is it that

september / october 2016


Protective, caring, playful, sad, angryâ&#x20AC;&#x201D; all of the emotions we see play out in ourselves

we also see in our animals. we consider it animalsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; duty to feed or serve us in some way? Why is it that we find sport in killing them? One reason may be that we consider animals to be â&#x20AC;&#x153;base.â&#x20AC;? We couldnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t be more wrong. If you really look at the psychology of animals, you see that they donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t crave more than they need, they donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t take more than they require, and they donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t destroy anything unnecessarily out of greed. In fact, they donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t reflect our basest instincts so much as our finest qualities. If you have had pets in your life, you know that each animal has its

very own distinct personality, and an immense capacity for love and gentleness. Protective, caring, playful, sad, angryâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;all of the emotions we see play out in ourselves we also see in our animals. Our most noble facultiesâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;altruism and compassion, moral states we hold in such high regardâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;are also present in rats. A rat will go out of its way to help another rat that is injured. Perhaps it will take witnessing the nobility in animals to tap into the nobility in ourselves. Ironically, our greed for consuming animals is one of the major ways we are destroying

ourselves. Animal husbandry is the second-greatest source of greenhouse gases in the world. The state of the world, with its enormous human population, will drive us to one endâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;the need to stop killing animals. In a way, our current overpopulation is forcing us to become more compassionate. It takes boldness to go against the grain, to live with compassion, to see nature and the animals in it as deserving of life, not just as commodities here to serve us. But most of all, it takes heart. Animals have an incredible ability to empathize with one another, to help one another, to feed one another. All of our most beautiful characteristicsâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;compassion, kindness, and loveâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;exist in animals too. It is we who stand to learn from them, not the other way around. S&H







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A Little Child Can Lead Them

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In “Sunday Morning” Mingo is a boy with the dreaded specter of Sunday church looming over him. Will he fall victim to the dog and pony show? In “The Great Michael Bane,” Michael is seeking salvation— but will he succumb to his LQQHUSDLQEHIRUHKH¿QGVLW" Paperback: 5.5 x 8.5 Hardback: 5.5 x 8.5

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Nick Olsen inspiration comes from the soul and the heart encourages him to share these inspirational messages with you

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Has Christianity Taken a 2,000-year-old Detour? The Gospel of “Belief” vs. The Gospel of “Knowledge” – You Decide! This is a dialog between Jesus and his disciples. First the Jesus of the Gospel of John answers, then the Jesus of the Gospel of Thomas. You will see the

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PAUL SUTHERLAND is living in Uganda and working to teach the next generation of young people how to turn positive intentions into positive actions.

What If I Never Risk It All?

I’m thinking about what I don’t want to regret in life and there’s one thing that keeps popping up. I’ve always been cautious. I’ve never risked it all. Should I give myself permission to just go for it? Or is that really being selfish or childish?

Paul Sutherland: Such an interesting question you ask. It seems anchored in not wanting to “experience regret,” that silly phrase that pops up on talk shows where the pop psychologists advise you to give yourself permission to not answer the phone, not do the laundry, or not bother with a friend’s greedy/needy nature. But let’s first talk about risk, which is an area I know well because my job as an investment manager is really about risk management. Risk exists in the future and risk is about chance. When you say, “risk it all,” it sounds like you want to do something life threatening,


september / october 2016

like fighting off gorilla poachers. That’s an ultimate kind of choice that I won’t talk about directly. But If you are thinking of risking your financial health, then it is just a cost/benefit analysis: looking at the worst that could happen and “kissing it.” What do you wish to get for your risk? Happiness seems the only real thing worth risking it all for. If you’re not already happy, then I suspect you will not find happiness by taking a loan out on your home for some wild investment scheme. If you ended up homeless and in debt, but felt satisfied that you went for it, would that benefit be worth more than the pain of doing nothing and regretting not acting on your risk-it-all scheme? That’s the question I would contemplate. Notice that I did not use the word “fail.” Not going for something because you fear failure is letting your ego rule you. If your ego rules you, no matter what you risk, you will never fill your “hungry ghost.” I think perhaps you really have a larger question to ask yourself. First, I think you should learn to meditate and acquire friends who are happy. Then you should ask yourself what you really want in life. My straight answer to that question would be “To start living a spiritual life!” Now let’s play with what that means. I am currently living in Uganda, a place where people introduce themselves and then typically ask, “Are you a Christian?” or “Are you a Believer?” “What does that mean?” I answer. “That means you believe in Jesus!” So I ask, “If I followed you around all day and watched how you spend your time and your shillings, would I be able to tell what a Christian is?” Sometimes the conversation stops right there. Or we may talk about something safer. But occasionally the conversation turns to spirituality.

As the Bible tells us, To me, spirituality is about responsibility. Spirituality is about being intentional about our behaviors to do no harm and to help. It is about knowing that life is interconnected and being one with everything—especially with this moment and the situation you and those around you are in. Being rooted in the moment allows us to get beyond professed beliefs and opinions— which are mostly worthless—and to accept the reality and truth of that moment. As the Bible tells us, “The truth will set you free.” To touch reality is painful. It is to “kiss the ugly” in ourselves and others without judgment about whether it is good or bad. In Buddhism it is about what is the right behavior based on the

“The truth will set you free.” current situation without attachment to the outcome. So if a kid is sick, help! Don’t say there are another 1,000,000 such AIDS children. Help the one you’re with. I think the biggest risk one can take in life is declaring to ourselves that we will live a spiritual life. Living a spiritual life allows us to live unencumbered by our opinions and our desire to be accepted by others. We lose the safety net of friends, books, beliefs, and mental habits that allow us to avoid real “risks.” The real risk is in accepting

the fact that we control our actions and responses to events. We are 100 percent responsible for our response or nonresponse to each moment. As you sow, so shall you reap. So give yourself permission to go for it. Go for a spiritual life. And if you’re living a spiritual life, anyone who follows you around will know what that is. S&H

To ask Paul a question, email him directly at paul@

september / october 2016 103

5 Questions for

Emeran Mayer

Researcher and author Emeran Mayer, MD, examines brain-gut interactions in his new book, The Mind-Gut Connection: How the Hidden Conversation Within Our Bodies Impacts Our Mood, Our Choices, and Our Overall Health. ( RE AD AN E XCE RPT O N PAG E 3 2 )



How are our childhood memories relevant to the well-being of our gut?


The most important realization is to view the mind-brain-gut microbiome interactions as a fully integrated system (supercomputer), which is always engaged in its entirety in response to perturbations like food, emotions, and stress. We cannot understand it in health or in disease if we focus on the individual pieces in isolation.

Early adverse life events starting prenatally and into the first 18 years of life have a well-demonstrated effect on our stress system, which in turn has negative effects on the gut and its microbiota. Mouse models of early adversity show features very similar to irritable bowel syndrome, with increased sensitivity of the gut, abnormal contractions, greater leakiness of the gut, and increased anxiety.

The first step is cognitive—understanding the intricate connections with the mind-brain-gut microbiome system. The second step is to become mindful of these events in response to our emotions. The third step is to take control with conscious eating and stress management, including abdominal breathing and autogenic training techniques.

As the science is emerging on the mind-gut connection, what do you believe is the most significant discovery?


What are practical steps we can take to develop microbial diversity?

Our options are somewhat limited as adults to increase diversity. Nevertheless, eating a diet high in a wide variety of plant-based foods and avoiding unnecessary antibiotics as much as possible is the best thing you can do. Also, learning to reduce negative emotions and excessive stress responses through meditative practices provides additional benefits. 104


What are the consequences of our emotions to our gut microbes? The microbial changes in response to different emotional states result in molecules released by the gut microbiota, which then act back into the gastrointestinal tract and the sensors located in it, which sends these signals back to the brain. So every emotion is reflected in an altered state of the brain-gut microbiome system.

september / october 2016

How can we be more conscious of what our gut is trying to tell us?



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