Down To Earth Change

It’s been one week since I left the Light Tower. I now find myself very close to Earth. I’m renting a cabin in the Pocono woods with abundant deer and wild turkeys. There is a stream and I walk on gravel and damp leaves. I center my thoughts on Native American animal medicine. I know that deer is Gentleness and turkeys are Giving. But still, in spite of all this beauty, this change has brought uneasiness and fragility.

Michael Fullan, the master of change, says we should expect discomfort and a dip before the benefits of transformation settle in.

This morning, I forgot to put water into my espresso coffee pot. I sat at my computer until I smelled something burning. When I figured out what it was, I went to the stove, grabbed the pot and held it under cold water. I noticed the base was dark and stained from the fire and my stomach ached. I love my pot. I travel with it for warmth and familiarity. Now, I know I’m distracted and dipping. I had gone to sleep with Sadness and woke up with Regret and perhaps these lingering emotions had smothered my brain. A calm mind feels like wakefulness and plenitude.

I will meditate.


The sun has risen. The trees let in light marking the sharp angled walls of the teepee cabin like tie die webs and sponge blots. I drink a fresh cup of coffee and I’m feeling calm now. I look forward to a hot shower and I’m planning my day. I’m thinking about the paradox of organizing the future while living in the present, how the future is a clean slate but we are steeped in rich memories.

I think about posture and stance, a dancer poised and balanced, an artist standing in front of a blank canvas, a builder surveying the land.

I recall Antonio Blay’s chapter on positive attitude, which he calls a dynamic stance and I’m thinking about my old friend Chögyam Trungpa’s chapters on perkiness and horse wind.

I’m curious about the impact of our commitment to presence and how that translates into down to earth reality. How important is our posture when it comes to creating? How might circumstances change if we approach the future from a positive stance and a calm presence? What routines should I practice daily that will cultivate beauty, love, abundance and possibility?


When I see life and behavior as a continuous experiment,

When I sit and observe the mysterious forces that alter reality,

When I take the time to breathe, express gratitude and trust everything,

I am part of that glorious sky.

I am walking on good earth.

I am alive and willing.

Everything created is beautiful and fulfilling.

Moving Beyond Best Intentions

Early in my career, I enjoyed reading Melanie Bush’s book, Breaking the Code of Good Intentions: Everyday forms of Whiteness. Many years later, I had the opportunity to get to know Melanie and experience her devotion. Melanie hit upon an important theme–how often our best intentions don’t manifest in reality. This is especially frustrating when our best intentions have the potential to improve our own life as well as the lives of many. How can we strengthen our best intentions so that our vision is likely to materialize?

An intention is a thought about a change we want to make. It is an idea about what we want to improve. We become motivated to make a change when we have insight. When we experience pain, suffering or a void—we get insight and want to make a change. A chronic pain in our wrist gives us insight into how we tap at the computer all day, for example. Loneliness and depression give us insight into our social routine. The loss of a top employee gives us insight into office climate or a business strategy. Insights can also come from positive experiences. When we experience joy, pleasure or an unexpected lightness of being, we want more. If you meet someone and feel inspired and energized, you get insight into the type of person you want in your life. Playing a good game of tennis may give you insight into a new hobby. Feeling calm and peaceful at the ocean gives insight into your ideal setting.

Once you have insight, we reflect on the experience. An intention comes from an insight that endures and there is clarity. An intention statement will be direct, simple and clear. I adjust my posture at work to alleviate the pressure on my arm, for example. I go out and socialize on the weekends. I assess and improve the climate in my office. I prioritize connecting with people that energize and inspire me. I clear space in my schedule to make room for tennis. I’m saving money to buy a house by the sea. All of these are examples of robust intention statements.

There is research to suggest that practicing mindfulness meditation is a viable tool to strengthen a positive intention for change.1 By way of concentrating on a thought and paying attention to it daily, we can gather power, motivation and momentum that cause a rippling affect in how we communicate and behave. Furthermore, mindfulness meditation enhances the executive functioning part of our brain responsible for initiation, planning, organizing and regulating behavior—all of which further our ability to start, prioritize and follow through.

There are several approaches to meditation but they all have a common thread which is to reduce suffering that comes from lack of awareness (insight) and to develop the capacity of the mind. No matter which approach you choose, making a commitment to a daily practice is what matters.

I recommend sitting in meditation for at least 20 minutes a day starting by stating your intention in your mind. In this way, the intention is like a mantra. It is a clear and precise statement that reverberates. I find that setting aside time in the early morning right after you wake works best. In the historical Buddhist context, the term meditation in Sanskrit connotes the notion of “cultivation,” or “causing to become.”2 For this reason, I suggest you pay attention to every detail of your routine because you’re cultivating something of value. Take the time to wash your hands and face with cool water and sit in a comfortable but erect position in a quiet, clean setting. Your ritual and posture matter. In each gesture and detail of your meditation practice, you’re establishing respect and dignity for yourself and your vision. You’re exuding conviction and trust in the process through your personal space and conduct. Later, if you have time, you can repeat the process in the evening before going to bed.

Don’t be surprised if your beginning practice is bumpy. Often, we get invaded by a rumble of thought, discomfort, bias, lack of commitment or disbelief. Stick with the practice daily. If you miss a day, return to it the next day and be gentle on yourself. The best intentions don’t go away and you will be pulled in by this force and care for the outcome.

If you’re curious about your progress, keep a journal of your activities. Keep it simple and brief. Write down your intention and each day document the following:

• your meditation time
• what you noticed about the experience
• how you felt after energetically
• change in behavior and communication with others

Enjoy and please feel free to reach out with your stories!


[1,2] David R. Vago* and David A. Silbersweig, Self-awareness, self-regulation, and self-transcendence (S-ART): a framework for understanding the neurobiological mechanisms of mindfulness, Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, October 2012

Mindfulness, Nature and Time

“There are times in life when we experience a time space warp such that you shift into another dimension that reveals the totality of our existence and immortality.”

Ríos, 2017, TS+EF=SC

It’s morning and I see the full moon setting over my balcony. I’m watching this happen on the same balcony that I watched the sun set last night.

Light streams in from the other side. I run to the window that faces East.

The sun is also rising!

I’m suddenly aware that I’m in that precise moment of time when the moon is setting and the sun is rising and I can see both from my light tower.

I wonder about meaning until I stop worrying about meaning and I just sit and breathe and drink coffee and observe the unfolding of an ending and a beginning.

The sun rises and the full moon lowers in the sky. Its brightness slowly fades, while the other enlarges and emanates.

I remember how I wept death last night and stretched out my hand—

Now, it’s morning and the full moon sets peacefully over my balcony.

The sun rises in the East.

The moon is a pale, circle in the sky.

My eyes hardly perceive it but it is there.