Ending Suffering by Asking four Questions about a father resentment PLUS we can't love ourselves until we love our imperfect parents


Undoing Suffering

Dad was what he was

What I can’t do about it

What I can do about it


My Dad was a great guy, and a bit mean, especially if he drank. He was hard on himself and hard on me.

His preferred mode of communication was criticism, though he did have his moments of friendliness and curiosity.

In other words, he was imperfect.

And somewhere along the line, I decided to torment myself with this story, this belief, this opinion:

“My Dad shouldn’t have been so critical of me.”

All I needed to do was recall one of his red-faced tongue lashings and I could be unhappy.

Just what everyone wants, right?

To be unhappy.

Joking aside: we spend so much of our lives making ourselves unhappy, that it’s as if that is one of our major preoccupations.


Except we don’t need to go into too long or too severe a weary Alas.


Alas on the upside, we can play this game, the work of Byron Katie game.

As before:

Judge your parent.

Write it down: “My Dad shouldn’t have been so critical of me.

Ask for questions.

Turn it around.

Here goes.


“My Dad shouldn’t have been so critical of me.

Is it true?

Depends what true means.

If true is what I think, then this is true.

If true is what a bunch of people might agree about how fathers should treat their sons, this is true.

And . . .

If “true” means something that holds up no matter what I or others believe, gravity say, then this sentence - - -“My Dad shouldn’t have been so critical of me” - - - is not true.

Much as I imagine I would have been better off (another story that again falls into opinion rather than truth), the truth is this:

He was critical.

A lot.

And is it true that I “deserved” one of the 10%, 20%, 30% truly nice Dads that happen for some people?



Is it absolutely true - - -“My Dad shouldn’t have been so critical of me” - - -?

Absolutely is a neat way of jacking it up to: in the order of the whole Universe, is it true that I should have been in the blessed 10, 20, 30% with the nice Dads.

Somehow God got it wrong when my father and I were assigned to each other.

And still we are back at what I wanted, and what other people might agree about, vs the reality.

Reality: Dad was what he was.

It is NOT absolutely true that he should have been different.

And before three, let’s speculate a little about all the “creeps,” and “jerks,” and “assholes” in our lives.

Can any of them really do better than they are doing?

Probably they are like you and I, pretty decent some days, pretty rotten at some moments of stress. (And some people, themselves unhappy and full of inner stories keeping them unhappy, are almost always in stress. Dad was like that. Hence the one, two, many drinks each night.)

And so, under stress, since they are mindless and unable to chose, they act out programming that is no so great.

And that hurts/ wounds/ bothers us.

Okay, that happens, and then: do we keep up the wounding by repeating sentences like this - - -“My Dad shouldn’t have been so critical of me” - - -. 

Or do we grind this and any stressful thought through the four questions.

(There are other ways out, gratitude for example. And pure, wordless presence for another. 

And . . . know what to do with the - - -“My Dad shouldn’t have been so critical of me” - - -thoughts is crucial to coming back to our natural state of happiness and peace.

The peace that passes all understanding, actually.

Except you can understand it.

If you are making yourself un-peaceful.

And stop that.

You become peaceful.

Back to the 4 questions . Only two more.


How is my life and my inner world when I believe the thought - - -“My Dad shouldn’t have been so critical of me” - - -?

And this question is a good occasion to drag out pen and paper.

Write down the laundry list of how I’ve reacted and felt over and over throughout the years when I’ve fed myself a dose of - - -“My Dad shouldn’t have been so critical of me” - - -.








Feeling I’m damaged.

And so on. The list goes on and on. 

This is worth noting.

In fact, this is one of the most important realizations in life: I can create inner misery by believing a short sentence. In this case eight words - - -“My Dad shouldn’t have been so critical of me” - - -

And now, a different point of view.

A different perspective.

I encourage people to sit or stand in a new spot to ask question 


Who or what would I be without the thought - - -“My Dad shouldn’t have been so critical of me” - - -

who or what would I be?

And this isn’t thinking of my Dad at his best.

This is imagining him at his ugliest, really laying into me with the criticism and the meanness.

And . . .

My game is to feel, imagine, experience who and what I am if I don’t have any belief or thought that - - -“My Dad shouldn’t have been so critical of me” - - -

What happens happens in layers, because with a deep wound like this you do it over and over.

I did it over and over.

The important part is this



With my Dad the first breakthrough came when I could breathe easier, and watch my memory of him being critical, and I had no push back. No idea that he “should” be different.

No demand that he stop this behavior.

I was free.

I was free of wanting him to be different.

I was free of wanting to rewrite history.

I was free of wanting him to be different than he was.

I could begin to let the obvious Reality become clear: he was he; I was me.

His behavior toward me was never and never would be influenced by my not liking it.

When I let go, what happened?

I began to breathe in a new freedom that eventually ended in me having a great deal of compassion and love for him.

And don’t forget:

You don’t, I didn’t, have to “let go of the story.”

You just keep trying out the two:

Here I am believing the story.

Here is where I am when I don’t believe the story.

Back and forth.

Who is the real me?

You try it.

Find out.

Loving Ourselves

Easy to say

Not that hard to do, actually

Here’s a fun way to look at life:

Loving ourselves is over and over proposed as the cure for relationship issues, and happiness issues, and even health issues.

And then, usually, it gets lost in a morass of how can I stop having critical inner voices.

Or even worse, the game shifts to endless “affirmations,” even to the blunt clarion call: “I love myself.”

Humbug, loving yourself is not spouting I love myself, I love myself over and over again.

(Looking in the mirror and feeling love can do some good, but that isn’t what we are after today).

Here’s the way out:

Love both your parents.


Because each one is part of you, a big part of forming who you are. (If they were missing mainly, that missing is a big part of who you are).

Loving them, in spite of their imperfections means you are well on the way to loving yourself, in spite of all your imperfections.

And that’s the path, right?

Not to make yourself perfect, so there is nothing to nag against.

You will get better and better as you love yourself, and the crucial step is to notice your own imperfections and not go crazy on yourself.

You might see some fairly rotten behavior that needs to be cleaned up.

Fine, devise strategies to clean it up.

But hating yourself for messing up is to hate yourself for being human.

Can’t work if your goal is to enjoy others and be kind to yourself.

You are flawed and so be it.

The self-love has to be a commitment to coming back to awareness and the now and acting in ways that you, the real you, want to act.

And what does this have to do with your parents.

Loving our parents doesn’t mean the sticky sweet, “Oh I love my parents,” that denies any of their funky elements.

If you were lucky enough to have really really great parents, then they loved you a lot and you can easily love yourself a lot.

So this section isn’t for you.

This is for those of us who wouldn’t mind loving ourselves more.

And the route: to love our parents more.

And the protests . . . But, but, but . . . they started it, they wounded me, they didn’t love me.

Why should I love them?

Well, the first step, is the Byron Katie step: Don’t love them yet, or even call it forgiveness.

But play often and play hard at noticing the inner weather, your peace/ stress rating when you feel and believe the “should” or “shouldn’t” about them, and when you don’t believe it.

They wounded you, back then, sure.

And now, if you go over and over in your mind thoughts like the last chapter, “My father shouldn’t have been so critical,” who is doing the wounding. My dead father, or my inner beliefs?

And then we can keep working/ playing.

Taking every hurt/ should/ wound/ shouldn’t about both parents and playing the comparison = learning game over and over:

Who am I with the story?

Who would I be without the story?

There are a couple of other ways to improve our love for our parents, even though they, like us, are imperfect.

One, is doing the turn around, which will be tomorrow’s chapter. They were mean. When are we mean? They were insensitive. When are we insensitive.

Two, go outside, look at something beautiful. Sense your breathing and your arms and legs and spine. Notice the miracles of seeing and hearing. Feel the miracle of being alive.

Realize: without them, no life, no you.

Three, get a bit busy writing down 5-9 gratitudes. For each.

If they are alive, mail them to them.

If they aren’t, tell someone else your gratitudes for each parent.

Once a week: write parents gratitudes. Mail them or speak them.

And if they don’t answer the mail and jump up and down with reconciliation energy: so be it.

Your hurt is your work, not theirs.

And until we get the work of feeling bad out of blaming others for that we can’t love imperfect parents, can’t love ourselves.

Life is still good, but it’s a lot harder when we are hard on ourselves.


Enlightenment as Love of Now/ / Now as a sweet path to Happiness


Enlightenment: The Love of Now

Happiness as By-Product

Happiness as Who We Really Are

Peace, too

Who are we really, at the most fundamental?

Waking up Game #1:

Hold your breath.

A little while, a long while

Feel the urge to breathe

Go ahead and breathe

Can you feel, somewhere far below the level of words: I am alive and I breathe. I breathe and I am alive.


That’s a pretty good start to any day, any walk, any hour, any life.

We are alive.


And love is what we all want.

Love, as well as peace and happiness, may very well be part of who we really are.

And . . . we’ve already experienced gratitude as a return to being able to love life.

And . . . we’ve already experienced gratitude plus touch/connection as a way for our love to deepen.

Gratitude and connection both help us return from being lost in believing various words in our heads that generate our unhappiness and un-ease.

We’ll see this more and more as the book progresses: all our first world unhappiness and lack of ease is self-generated. (Being bombed and shot and raped in the third world, starving: all these are part of the messy mess of humanity that me may well want to help correct. They are third world suffering, even if happening in the wealthy countries, and they aren’t self-generated.)

Back from the bombing and stabbing to our lives: our unhappiness is almost always an inside job.

We are telling ourselves various thoughts, beliefs, stories and believing them and we suffer.

This will become radically clear when we start to do the work of Byron Katie, which is a genius mode of contrasting: Who we are when we believe our thinking and Who we are when we don’t.

And gratitude and connection help us not believe our stress producing thinking.

And so does being present.

Being Now.

The Now, if you follow it down and really taste it to its core, is a land free of words.

No words, no thinking.

No thinking, no suffering.

No thinking doesn’t mean mindless: it means being mindful without words to describe or comment on or judge our present real time experience.

Consider the sky.

Look at the sky.

Awakening Game #2:

So to a window, or go outside.

Look at what we call the sky.

Have your experience without using the words, sky, or blue, or vast, or beautiful.

Just experience your experience of the sky.

Maybe follow and sense, also without words, your breathing as you experience, almost as if sensing it, too, the sky.

This is awakened Life.

Life in the Now as experiencing your experience in the moment.

Which of course shifts to the next moment.

And that doesn’t matter, because you aren’t pinning down experience with a clock or with words.

You are just experiencing your experience of sky.

Or your breathing.

Or your feet.

Or the trees.

Just enjoy the fullness of reality without needing or falling into the usual words about that reality.


Why be present?

Here’s a start:

  1. You are alive and in the present you are experiencing your life instead of letting it pass you by, the way it does almost all people, almost all of the time

  2. Life in the word-free experiencing is far more vivid and “real.”

  3. You are as if a child again, free to delight in learning and discovery and play.

  4. Without words, there are no words to string together the thoughts/ beliefs/ opinions that generate unhappiness.

  5. If you are willing to explore my premise that who we really are in peace and happiness, then when we stop generating (with words) any un-peace, we are naturally back in the land of peace and happiness.

How to expand this life of Now.

Read on . . . 

Fourth of July: Freedom and Freedom and freedom and freedom

SunRISE in Boulder, where we aren’t anymore. Back in Austin, where the sunsets are the big deal

SunRISE in Boulder, where we aren’t anymore. Back in Austin, where the sunsets are the big deal

July 4, 2019

Freedom and Freedom

Waking up to our real freedom

Fourth of July is either a big deal or not, AND it could be a reminder that freedom, real freedom, is our birthright.

First level freedom - - you know, freedom from illegal search, freedom of speech and press, freedom to drive down the street and not be stopped because of your skin color, freedom to live where you want, freedom from being thrown in the clinker without being told why - - these and more and a wonderful baseline to good life.

And not everyone has them.

And for most white Americans, they exist, of course with greater and greater reliability to more money you have.


leaving aside my not so subtle political ranting, let’s look at a deeper level of freedom, the freedom of our own soul, the freedom to be at peace inside, the freedom of your own inner weather.

This is our birthright. This freedom is a buddy of our birthrights: happiness, awareness, love, learning.

And the easiest way to talk about and explore this inner weather, inner freedom is to lay out what causes the central slavery of most of humanity:

  1. fear of dis-approval from others

  2. fear of dis-approval from our own inner judgment machine ( and machine is exactly the right word: this inner attack robot is totally automatic)

  3. believing any of our hard-luck, poor-me, victim, should/shouldn’t, life-is-unfair thinking.

Disconnect from these three and we are in the land of freedom and happiness and learning and love.

So let’s check them out, briefly, one at a time.

And you, gentle and becoming more wise everyday, reader, keep checking them out every time you are unhappy. Chances are one of these slaveries is grasping you by the soul, heart and balls.

Fear of outer disapproval. 

Just notice how often this colors, or guides or constrains what we are willing to do, or not to do.

And notice this reality: they can dis-approve until they are blue in the face and we don’t have to believe it.

Or, if it’s true to some extent, we don’t have to think we are unfit as a human. We are just human. We can change.

There is judging: we could have gotten up earlier and gotten a run/ walk/ meditation in.

And that might be true.

And there could be an intonation to the judgment: you are yuk because you didn’t get up earlier.

Nah, we can consider that benefits and disadvantages of getting up earlier to run/ walk/ meditate.

We can chose freedom from yuk and not agree with, or buy into the intonation.

Watch this in all arguing.

It’s vastly more crippling than we realize, not the least of which is fear of improvement because when we hear the yuk intonation we knee jerk reject the possibly useful feedback.

Fear of inner disapproval. That sticky voice of : you are wrong, bad, little, terrible, etc.

Listen for something like that any time unhappiness sneaks in to know you our of a full and delightful life.

And this inner disapproval is actually a subset of believing our own thinking.

Big chunks of this book we be about shift we can make when we get lost in should and shouldn’t about the world, and ourselves and other people.

We will dive deeply into the work of Byron Katie, which to my experience is the quickest way out of first world suffering. (The suffering of people being mean, inconsiderate, or the job not working out, or sickness / death coming at the “wrong” time, vs third world suffering of being bombed, shot, rapped, stabbed.)

This way offers one main thing: freedom.

It offers this by learning, learning the difference between when we believe our poor-me thinking and when we either don’t believe it, or just hop out of thinking into real time, now time present reality.

Let’s talk about this tomorrow.

For today, though, let’s stick with the real freedom of what it would be like to not believe our thinking about how the world “should” or “shouldn’t” be as it is.

This is enlightenment by the way: giving up our struggle to demand that reality be different than it is.

An elephant comes down the road.

We want it to be a giraffe.


The more we think life is cruel and unfair because it isn’t a giraffe, the more we suffer.

This is slavery.

The more we love it being an elephant the happier we can be.

A simple example to be sure.


A friend dies at 52.

The friend should have lived longer.

No matter how much we want that to have been different, the friend is still dead.

Which way is freedom?

Which way is slavery?

Slavery: wanting to control what we can’t.

Freedom: being present to the reality of our life in the moment.

This is big work.

This is enlightenment not “just” to achieve some fancy high grade word. This is enlightenment to return to our birthright: freedom, happiness, presence, delight and love. (And more, and more: great sex - - LUST - - being one. Being able NOT to be trapped in arguments - - LOVE - - is another.)

Consider your life and inner weather in any and all moments: are you free and happy?

If so, good.

If not, who is causing this slavery?

Could be you.

More tomorrow.

Touch as Waking up to the world without words

Mountains near Sequoia National Park

Mountains near Sequoia National Park

Week One - - - Day Three

LUST, part one:

We are mammals. We are meant to. . .



We are often happier when we don’t talk

Touch to the rescue

Today is a day to be grateful. 

They all are.

Today is a day to be present.

They all are.

(Now is the moment to be present.

They all are.)

Today is a day to connect to nature.

They all are.


Today is a day to touch.

They all are.

We are mammals.

We are warm blooded.

We are meant to touch.

And . . .

 not all of us live with someone. And some of us live with someone with whom we’ve forgotten how to touch, or are even “turned off” to touching.

God Bless us all.

No matter what our circumstances: we are mammals. Touch feeds a certain need in us that we all, hopefully, felt as infants, when being cuddled, or nursed, or passed from friendly adult to friendly adult.

Or as children in our silly play as we formed “pig piles,” or concocted other ways of delighting in touch.

If our family was lucky, there were a lot of hugs.

And, one of life’s great truths is this

THE PAST HAS PASSED. IT’S OVER. Good family: great. Not so great family: great. There are people around, right now, dying to be hugged. Everywhere.






Like this:

Nature and Touch as Enlightenment, #1

Stand and go to a window

Look out and see some bit of nature - - - clouds, sky, trees, sunshine, stars

Take a breath as deeply into your belly as you can

Feel that

Feel your belly go out for the air in, and in for the air out

And now,

Take your left arm and bring it a little bit up and forward

Have your left hand in hitch-hiking position

Rub up and down your left arm with your right hand

Rotate your left arm so the hitch hiking thumb is pointed in all the directions possible

And keep rubbing

And breathing

And sensing two things:

The arm as it is being rubbed

The hand as it is rubbing the arm

Do this for NINE deep breaths.

Then switch arms and do it with the left hand rubbing the right arm

That is rotating in hitch hike position

Smiling as you breathe deeply is encouraged

Looking at nature as you feel the nature of you alive as a living mama is good

Life is good

LIFE is good.

Nine breaths on this side


Touch is good.

You are good. Life is good. This touch reminds us of that.

Let the mammal in your enjoy the simple non-verbal miracle of touch.

One reason Carol and I struck gold with our twelve hour non-date that we didn’t plan, and had a lot of talking and listening (and watching the TED talk on vulnerability, twice) and some sweet kissing at the end, and going out to dinner . . .

Okay that sounds great

And there was more, which will more or less form the framework for this book (two Bible verses, listening in turns, you’ll see),


We’d had ten hours of touch without many words in my “Feldenkrais lessons” for her.

These are very much like dancing: touch that is making small movements for her back and neck and shoulders, as she lies down comfortably out of gravity.

I move slowly, not the fix, not to get her to do anything “right,” but to help her explore her own nervous system.

This is amazing, and a rare way of relating.

For people as good with words as Carol and I, with all the perils of that, this was gold: to learn to listen and touch and not explain it, and not have the usual yammer conversations.

Dance can be that way for those wanting to meet a partner.

Dance plus soul work that you share when you finally talk.

More on that as we go along.

But for now

Let’s touch hands.

Hands are a huge part of our brain.

Think how much we do with them.

Toes are too, but fairly neglected in the modern world, so we’ll start with hands, but jump into foot rubs/ explorations/ messages if you have a partner and the hand enlightenment works its usual wonders.

Touch and our human nature as enlightenment #2:

Take your dominant hand. Let it be the recipient.

Take your non-dominant hand.

Set a timer for three minutes.

Explore, caress, touch the dominant hand with your non-dominant hand.

Rub up and down each finger.

Do some pressure circles in the palm with your non-dominant thumb.

Do some sort of rubbing with your fingers and palm.

All the while, be silent and noticing:

What the receiving hand is feeling

What the giving hand is feeling

What the mammal YOU is feeling.


When you are done, enjoy each hand and notice two differences:

One hand to the other

Your general sense of well being now vs before you started





Two more games, if you have a partner, or a friend who is willing to explore life at a more intimate level and can handle touch without having to cash it in as a sexual connection.

Touch and enlightenment game #3:

Touch and caress and explore the dominant hand of another person 

For three minutes.

They notice at the end:

Differences hand to hand

Differences before and after

You notice:

Differences in your hands having done this

Differences in YOU having done this

And then switch.

Three minutes the other way

See what happens if you ask for this a couple of times a day if you’d like.

And here’s a touch and love game.

Touch and love game #1:

Find a friend who is willing or find your partner who is willing

Sit near each other

Share 3-5 gratitudes while looking at each other

Each person shares 3-5 while the other listens

No other conversation

Notice the shift in doing “just” that.

Now, hold hands and share 3-5 gratitudes

They can be the same or new.

Feel what happens by holding hands.

This is what a good parent instinctively knows: a child needs touch much more than words when feeling afraid or scared or sick.

This is what lovers know instinctively: you can tell each other so much without any words.

And the hands are a handy, and deeply important way to start the gift of touch for yourself and for your relationship.

Enjoy your day.

Waking Up to Now: Look, Listen, Breathe, Sense your arms and legs


Week One - - - Day Two

Wake up to Now


It’s your life.

Right now: what do you see?

Who is seeing that?

This is a trick question.


Because being aware in the moment is perhaps the most important choice a person can make about their life.



And guess what?




Back to looking : better out a window.

And come back into the joy of seeing something now.

Right now.

Now, think about what you are seeing: what is its name, what does it remind you of, should it be better or different, should you be better or different at you look at this.

And: drop that.

Let it go, as they say.

Just see, SEE what you are seeing.

No name. No commentary. No associations. No mental jabber.

Just see the thing you are seeing.

(Smiling and breathing more deeply while doing this is encouraged.)

Just see.

Who is doing that?

What is doing that?

Don’t even have a name for an answer, except maybe something simple, like “I am,” or “me.”

Anyway: we see.

In the moment.

Even if it’s just (“just”) the words in this book: notice that you are seeing them now, these little shapes with white all around them.

Then bounce out and SEE something in the room, or in the yard, or in the park, or outside the window.

Enjoy that.




Now add on hearing. What can you hear, right now?

Sounds come in your ears.

Sometimes we notice real time sounds. Often we have a batch of auditory hallucinations in our mind, called “thinking,” aka “words in our head,” and they crowd our listening.

That’s okay.

That’s the human mess.

We have real brains that can do real thinking (which will come in very handy later to do what thinking does best: notice differences) and we waste them on inner chatter.

So what? That’s the trap we all fall into and the cause of most human suffering in the first world.


Want peace.

It’s only when we get free of our words in our head, which doesn’t mean stopping thinking (hard), but not believing them, which is work, hard work, and super well worth it.

Back to the now.

Right now.

And right now, you can see what you are seeing right now and add on hearing what you are hearing now.

Does that have a bit of a delight to it.

Does that world seem brighter and more real?

The middle layer of our body/ mind.

Air and lungs and ribs and chest and BREATHING. 

And that’s just the top layer, the head thing above the neck.

Let’s descend to the torso area.

What’s going on there?


Breathing air in and breathing air out.

Whether we know it or not, whatever the weather, whether we even want to or not, if we are not dead . . . we are breathing.

How about turning the attention / awareness towards that?

Can you delight in noticing right now that you are breathing?

Not just notice, but delight in knowing, feeling, sensing in real time, noticing in real time the old fashioned core of life:

Breathing in.

Breathing out.



You are always doing it.

Noticing it provides a sort of jolt to our awareness of one of life’s central truths, we are alive.

Right now.

And so enjoy delighting in and noticing and deepening and softening your breathing.

And do let it relax and come a little deeper into your belly.

Now you are alive.

You are seeing. And noticing you are seeing.

You are hearing/ listening. And noticing you are listening.

It’s a good life.

And . . .

You are breathing. And noticing you are breathing.

Bottom/ skeleton/ movement body awareness:

Arms and legs and spine

And what else is always true about life on earth?


It’s down there.

Feel your bottom/ pelvis on the chair, if you are sitting.

Feel your feet on the floor.

If your legs are crossed plop the other foot down to the floor and let the bottom of both of your soles communicate with the soul of the Earth. 





It pulls us down, keeps us from floating away. Is crucial in what it means to be a human.

Feel your spine holding up your head.

Arms, floating off shoulder blades, hanging on ribs, hanging on the spine, held up by your pelvis.

Notice your pelvis and the chair and your two legs coming from the pelvis to the Earth.

Always legs, unless we have had a tragedy.

The legs to walk us around and stand us up.

And dance, run, skip, swim, ski, golf walk walk the beautiful walks in nature.

Sense into the five lines of being a human being

Two legs

Two arms

One pelvis/spine/ head.

Think of a child’s picture of a human: a lollipop with two ams and two legs.

Often some fingers sticking out.

The hands are super important. To hold the pencil that draws the human, to hold the spoon that feeds the human, to throw the ball that lets us humans have fun.

To catch the ball.

To caress a lover.

The hold this book, or turn the pages on this book, to dress yourself, or undress yourself or your lover.

To swim, to golf, to play tennis, to ski, to walk, to skip, to hop, to run.

Arms and legs and spine are pretty grand.

Sense them, sense them out to the fingertips and the toe tips.

Sense the spine in the middle and the pelvis holding up the spine and the head at the top, and the eyes and ears in the head.

And the breathing, breathing in and breathing out in the middle air.

Air in.

Air out.

Belly out.

Belly in.

And how about a smile and sensing our hearts?

Now we are alive and ready to go:

Two legs and ten toes at the bottom.

Pelvis/ spine/ ribs/ breathing in the middle.

Arms and fingers to move in the world and hold hands with our friends.

Eyes and ears in the head thing at the top.

And where is awareness?

Maybe nowhere.

Maybe everywhere.

Maybe you ARE awareness rather than having awareness.

Keep open to discovering more and more the delight of life in the now.

And you, sweet reader, what ’s your assignment for today?

Two things:

One I learned in 1966, junior in college.

One I learned in 1976 just as my second child, my son Brendan was about to be born.

They both are crucial to my life long love affair with the now.

Anyway: today is the day to jump into the now.

Awareness Game #1:

Start sentences with “Now I am aware . . . “ and complete them for three, four or five minutes.

Include what you see. What you hear. Physical sensations in your body.

Do not include thoughts, feelings, comments about what you see, hear or feel.

Just the facts of life in the now.

And don’t overthink this: just one awareness after another.

Begin to delight in the wonder of life as one awareness after another.

Occasionally in the background, consider/ inquire who or what is this awareness?


(After the first three days, when you are more or less set for a new life, I’ll wander into the past a little to share where these jewels came from, but for now, be now: what do you see? What do you hear? What does your right leg feel? What is the sensation in the moment in your right arm? Left arm? Spine? Pelvis?

What is the delight and sensation of your breathing, right now?

What is the feel of gravity?

Enjoy, enjoy enjoy.)

And the second assignment is a more systematic version, that more or less comes from the “Gurdjieff” work.

Waking up assignment #2:

The Gurdjieff meditation.

Wake up.

Move a bit in the bed with awareness.

Sit at the edge.


One: your right leg, from toe tips to hip bone.

Two: your right arm, from finger tips to shoulder

Enjoy those two as a team for a bit.

Breathe ease

Three: Sense 

your left arm, shoulder blade down to finger tips.

Four: Left leg, hip joint to the toe tips.

Sense both arms and both legs for awhile.

Get into being into the now of having these wonderful parts.

Add on

Five: Sense your spine.

And two arms and two legs.




Add on listening, with your eyes closed.

Feel listening plus sensing.

It’s a lot.

It’s you alive.


Add on opening your eyes and noticing reflected light coming in your eyes.

Combine it all.

You are now a real animal alive on this planet.


Get up and live your day,

continuing to sense

Arms and legs


Fingers and toes




It’s a lot.

It’s life.

Enjoy the miracle.

Do this as you walk, eat, talk, drive, do anything.

Do everything.

Is this hard?


Is this impossible?


Is this waking up?


Especially if you are just now, and don’t have any commentary about how you are doing.

You’ll forget.

Oh, well.

Smile and come back.

You aren’t meant to be perfect.

You are meant to wake up to the glory of being alive.

Enjoy your day.

Touch as gateway: some games to change your life.

Tahoe during our meditation retreat in May! With Adyashanti. Amazing how fun stillness is and the snow makes it even more still, fun, spacious.

Tahoe during our meditation retreat in May! With Adyashanti. Amazing how fun stillness is and the snow makes it even more still, fun, spacious.

Week One - - - Day Two

LUST, part one:

We are mammals. We are meant to. . .


Today is a day to be grateful. 

They all are.

Today is a day to be present.

They all are.

(Now is the moment to be present.

They all are.)

Today is a day to connect to nature.

They all are.


Today is a day to touch.

They all are.

We are mammals.

We are warm blooded.

We are meant to touch.

And . . .

 not all of us live with someone. And some of us live with someone with whom we’ve forgotten how to touch, or are even “turned off” to touching.

God Bless us all.

No matter what our circumstances: we are mammals. Touch feeds a certain need in us that we all, hopefully, felt as infants, when being cuddled, or nursed, or passed from friendly adult to friendly adult.

Or as children in our silly play as we formed “pig piles,” or concocted other ways of delighting in touch.

If our family was lucky, there were a lot of hugs.

And, one of life’s great truths is this

THE PAST HAS PASSED. IT’S OVER. Good family: great. Not so great family: great. There are people around, right now, dying to be hugged. Everywhere.

Weirdness/ Aliveness Challenge.

Hug someone within the next hour.

Someone you know and like.

Someone you know and don’t like.

Someone you don’t know.

Tell them you are reading a book of transformation and fun, and this is a weirdness challenge. Tell them you love learning and want to discover what happens when you ask a bunch of people to hug. Tell them you are a mammal and feel it’s a duty to the mammal within us all. Or ask: would you like to hug? And skip all the reasons.

They say yes, Hug.

They say no, smile and say, okay, great, I might ask again tomorrow. Thanks for considering. Or thanks for your smile, or your blue eyes, or any damn thing.

They are alive.

Notice this.

And weirdness?

Is this good?


One reason I am in Austin, having “given it a try” in October of 2010, without ever having been here and only barely knowing two people here who didn’t get back to me for about six months after I moved here, one reason I moved here was that I was charmed by the unofficial city slogan: Keep Austin weird.

Please think about what is weird in you and if you don’t yet honor it, consider, with deep and relaxed breathing, and smiling, and even writing gratitudes first: how can I honor and love my weirdness more.

Weirdness Challenge #2:

Right now, think of a weirdness in you that is waiting to be honored, loved or appreciated more.

Do it.

Write it out as a gratitude: I’m grateful for this weirdness . . . 

Find out if you are struck by lightning.

And back to touch:

You’ve hugged someone already, or are going to in the next 55 minutes.

And now it’s time for something very simple.

If you have a partner.

Touch and Truth exercise #1:

Sit across from a friend or a partner.

Share four or five gratitude back and forth twice.

Breathe deeply.


Hold hands.

Share four or five gratitudes back and forth twice while holding hands.

What differences did you notice?

Noticing differences that make a difference is what real learning/ transformation is about.

This book will be full of learning.

Enjoy this.

And if you don’t have a partner, or no friend is around just now, try this:

Touch and truth exercise #2:

Imagine the person you like most in the world.

Imagine doing the above exercise.

First not touching, in imagination.

Then touching, in imagination.

See what happens.

A lot of this book is discovery.

A lot of a good life is discovery.

Basically, this book is a sharing of discoveries I’ve made over fifty years or so. I’ll weave some memoir stuff in to give a little background, but basically, this is games for you to try and to learn from.

And have fun with.

And here’s a weird one.

Oh, well . . . 

Touch and truth and release exercise #3:

If you have a parent, dead or alive, with whom emotions are no overflowing in love, do the exercise #2.

Imagine telling them a few gratitudes, and then telling you a few. Use your heart and creativity to allow them to say some gratitudes.

Imagine these same or different gratitudes while holding hands.

This is weird.


Feel your heart and how it feels and don’t think about it, but breath into any pain or any love or any anything that comes up.

Life is to be lived.

Touch helps get this happening.

(There will be tons of exercises to get us free of the suffering we have ourselves still attached to via our parents and past partners, all crucial work if we want to find a soul mate, or make more clear our love and overflowing with our present mate.  For now, just consider this: just because we have a thought or a feeling, it might not be true. Don’t stew about this or try to figure it out. 

All in good time.)

And now for a quick game to play, touching and all you need is two hands:

Touching and healing: One hand to another, #1

Take your right hand.

Hold it in front of you and smile at it.

Take your left hand.

Hold it in front of you and smile at it.

Not take your left thumb and find three juicy and willing spots in your right palm and do happy circles in your right palm with your left thumb.

Nine times circling one way.

Nine times to other.

Three places.

Second: Take your left hand and massage up and down each of your right fingers twice. Little finger to thumb. Take a break. Then thumb to little finger.


Notice two differences:

How the hands in general feel after aware and touching movement with both.

Notice also the difference between the “giving” hand and the “getting” hand.

(Notice, if you want, the way the giving hand “gets”)

If you are left handed, switch this around.

Touching and healing, #2

If you can’t get to sleep at night, play this game with slow and aware breathing and see what happens.

Huge parts of the brain and devoted to the hand and especially the thumb.

This is a way to calm a big part of you.

Touching and healing #3:

If in a grumpy mood with your partner, ask if it’s okay to massage their hand a bit and then do this.

Don’t discuss the “issue.”

Just touch and get out of your heads and see what happens.

Lots more touch, including genital stuff, and very very simple stuff like sleeping together naked.

And for now: try the thumb to the other hand’s palm.

Try holding hands and sharing gratitudes, or imagining doing that.

You know, it’s kind of obvious that if we do the same things we always did, we’ll get the same results we always have.

Clearly in these first two days, you’ve got a lot of fun and new games to try out/ explore/ discover. This is life, right?

Learning, love, laughing, expanding.   

Enjoy  your day.

Mother's Day story - - - one way to love (and be loved by) a grumpy Mom


Random Musing

Important Real Life (Mother’s Day) Story

(to me, anyway):

Once upon a time, slightly before Carol and I met and struck gold three months after we met, I was home visiting my mother.

Lots of people have stories about how wonderful their mother was, and mine, too, had fine moments.

Though, having been roughly treated as a child, and more or less abandoned by my over-working and then, over-drinking after over-working ( he did at one period become the Assistant Director of the NASA man-space flight center in Houston in the get a man to the moon days), my Mom wasn’t so nice.




Oh, well.

Some have perfect Moms, a great Moms.

I had the wonderful flawed critical Mom I had.

Part of wisdom and loving Life for what it is, is learning to love people for what they are, not what you want or wanted them to be.

Love your enemy.

Unconditional love.

Not taking things personally.

Call it what you may, it’s entirely do-able, as explained and demonstrated throughout this book. You can un-do that suffering, whatever it is.

And I’d pretty much gotten to that place, when I visited Mom some six of seven years ago.

I decided on a deliberate strategy.

And got to put it in place within the first hour.

Mom: grumble grumble, criticize criticize

Me: What you just SAID was grumble grumble, criticize criticize, but what you meant was I love you.

Mom. Hummph  grumble grumble, criticize criticize

Me: What you just said was grumble grumble, criticize criticize, but what you really meant was I LOVE YOU

And so on.

Conversation later.

An hour or two later:

Repeat; grumble grumble, criticize criticize/ what you MEANT was I LOVE YOU

And again,

And again

For about three days.

And on the fourth, until the end of the visit (I think we had two days of this) all she said was I LOVE YOU and I ADORE YOU.

Somehow she’d decided to let down her barriers and say what she had in there all along.

Nice news.

Great feeling for both of us.

And . . .

You sometimes just don’t know how much some grumpy person loves you.

And sometimes you are lucky enough to find out.

This is my mother’s day story, which I’ve told recently several times as we hover around May 12, 2019, this year’s Mother’s day.

Enjoy your day.

Others might love us . . . and not know it


Week Three - - - Day Sixteen


Others might love us and not even know it ! ! !

This has been mentioned before: Everyone loves me, and some/ many might not know it yet.

Is it my problem/ job to make them love me?


Here’s the deal, if they could love me, they would. It feels better to love. It’s more open and expansive and happy and heart filled and life filled.

Love is who we are at the core (along with Peace and Joy and Awareness).

(My premise; you, of course, find out for yourself. Searching for who you are at the Core is a lifelong and sweet and extremely worthwhile pursuit.)

It’s not a job to love, it’s a job to not love. It takes up energy to block and cramp down on who we naturally are.

And so . . . those who aren’t loving us, have disguised themselves from their love. Of us. And probably of many more.

And it’s our job then . . . to what?

Maybe this:

To honor them and have compassion for wherever they are stuck.

This was an amazing revelation when doing the 4 questions from last chapter about my father.

The power and glory of the Byron Katie work is that it is a non-fudging dive into unconditional love.

And unconditional love is NOT loving/ liking/ putting up with people only in their best states.

It’s receiving them at their worst (minus stabbing and hitting us, of course, and then it’s a job for the police) and seeing what’s left if we imagine or actually have to be with them when they are at a non-wonderful state.

Like good old Dad.

He was dead by the time I did this, but I’d still wasted endless hours picturing him being critical of me, and taking it personally. 

He was a wounding me. 

Poor me.

Cheated of the perfect/ wonderful father I “deserved.” 


And then when I put his criticalness, even to the point of visualizing him all red in the face and ranting at me into the “work” things changed.

I put my belief/ story/ wish/ complaint into the four question mill, and everything changed.

This is what I saw, as I watched in memory and imagination him get all red in the face and start calling me names and putting me down.

Without believing my story, I was free. I could watch. I could feel in my heart what might well have been happening.


Unable to love.

Unable not to lash out. A tragic duo.

Without the “My Dad shouldn’t have been so critical” story, what was left was a newfound ability to see his terrible unhappiness and inability to be the love that he wanted to be and to express the love that he wanted to express.

He was trapped.

Poor Dad.

No longer, poor me, getting yelled at.

Instead . . . poor Dad, getting yelled at in his own heart and unable NOT to spew that forth on me.

Poor Dad.

And so it is with anyone what can’t love us.

And here’s our part of the cycle of life and nourishment around other people.

We can be open to people who are loving.


By looking for, waiting for, being open to the love in everybody.

If they can’t express it, we need not take it personally.

If they are expressing it, even a small amount, what can we do in order to be more open to it.

Being in the energy helps.

Being present helps.

Being relaxed and loving helps.

Sensing our heart helps.

Shutting up the words and judgments in our head helps.

Shutting up all words, and just feeling helps.

A lot.

And . . .

And needing/ wanting their approval absolutely must be let go.

Gurdjieff has this very trenchant and wise idea: the main slavey of human beings is wanting outside approval and fear of outside disapproval

Breaking free of that isn’t easy, it being such a deeply engrained habit; and it’s a job that can transform our whole life.

Love game #8: Listen for the love.

Sense your heart around all the other people who you encounter each day.

Slow down your actions and your thinking and see if you can FEEL ANY LOVE coming from each person.

This will take slowing down and breathing a bit more and paying attention to them.

What happens?

What do you sense?

No hurry.

No right. No wrong.

Just slow and open and sense and see what happens.

This is a great game/ exercise/ practice in crowds where you don’t know anyone. And in old familiar places you’ve been a ton of times, your church say.

It takes a commitment to finding the “invisible” and if love isn’t worth searching for, opening for, waiting for, listening for, then I don’t know what is.

Do you?




And almost everyone will think of the person who drives us most crazy, and think, “No way do I love so and so.”

If nothing else, here’s a way to start:

Love and Connection Game #9

Think of or go hang out with someone that you have the story “I don’t like so and so.”

Write this down.

“I don’t like so and so.”

Transform this into the judgement: Either they “should . . .,” or they “shouldn’t . . .” and write this as a short sentence. (Skip the long, endless, boring story). 

Now, ask the four questions.

1) Is this true?

2) Is this absolutely so?

3) How am I and how do I react with I believe this?

4) Who or what would I be if I didn’t believe this?

See what happens.

And do go back and forth between the you that is at question 3 believing the old story, and question 4 where you are trying out the world sans the story/ thought/ opinion/ belief.

See what happens.

This is a pain in the ass, letting go of our conditions to love another.

And it’s always conditions.

They aren’t good enough.

They were bad, mean, selfish, a liar.

All the things we are sometimes, but how dare they act out their humanness on us.


And does this mean we have to forgive? To cover up our news and pretend that they aren’t rats? (If they are, and remember my father. Acting like a rat, and actually a sad and suffering human.)


We don’t have to forgive.

We just have to see the truth: what is our judgment doing to the situation and to our own hearts. (And incidentally, to changing them.)

Do we want to feel free and happy and peaceful and/or whatever we feel when we don’t believe the story?

Or do we want to hang on the the story and be RIGHT?


Here’s a strange game.

Maybe you’ll find it transformative.

Love game #10:

In any argument,

in your head, or out loud,

look for a way to lose.

I won’t give any more specifics.

See what you can invent or discover or uncover.

It just might help you return to why you loved or liked this person in the first place.

And if it’s a business or social thing and you (APPARENTLY) never loved this person in the first place, see what delight and insight you can get from discover the small or large ways that this other person has some valid arguments.

This sets us off on the path of discovery and learning and love and being present and being happy.

A very nice path, indeed.

Enjoy your day.

We are mammals: let's touch up our lives


Week One - - - Day Two

LUST, part one:

We are mammals. We are meant to. . .


Today is a day to be grateful. 

They all are.

Today is a day to be present.

They all are.

(Now is the moment to be present.

They all are.)

Today is a day to connect to nature.

They all are.


Today is a day to touch.

They all are.

And not all of us live with someone. And some of us live with someone with whom we’ve forgotten how to touch, or are even “turned off” to touching.

God Bless us all.

No matter what our circumstances: we are mammals. Touch feeds a certain need in us that we all, hopefully, felt as infants, when being cuddled, or nursed, or passed from friendly adult to friendly adult.

Or as children in our silly play as we formed “pig piles,” or concocted other ways of delighting in touch.

If our family was lucky, there were a lot of hugs.

And, one of life’s great truths is this


No matter how much or how little touch we received as children, we can bring more touch into our lives now.

One is so simple that I’m almost reluctant to offer it.

And yet…IT WORKS. 


Give this a try, no matter how “silly” this seems.

But only if you want a better, richer, more real, more joyful, and delighted, and more sensuous and youthful life.

Want to to be more real?

Want to have more connection?

Good, we all do.

And . . .

Huge portions of our brains are devoted to our hands, which do and have done so many skilled and interesting and complicated actions and learnings in our life. If you doubt this, hand (notice the word) a young baby a spoon.

Enjoy and learn:

Touching Game/ Exercise #1: ONE HAND TOUCHES THE OTHER

Notice which hand is your dominant one. Let’s call it the USUAL hand.

Put it in front of you and look at it.

Feel and even say gratitudes for having this hand.

Now, put up your non-dominant hand and gaze at it. Let’s call it the NON-HABITUAL HAND.

Feel and say gratitudes to this hand.

Notice the difference just this makes, being grateful to both hands.

Your NON-HABITUAL HAND hand is going to explore, massage, and generally “make nice” to your usual hand.

In at least three ways.

Here are some starter possibilities.

One: Your NON-HABITUAL HAND hand squeezes the USUAL hand in three places, over and over, to bring out awareness and ease and ??? in those three areas.

Do this with variation of pressure.

And . . . slow down

And . . . breathe deeply and enjoy your breathing as you do this

If doing circles as part of the squeezing, change directions of the circles.

Make the circles bigger/ smaller/ less round/ more round.

Rest a bit after doing these and feel the difference between the hands. And feel the difference in YOU with two hands more bright and clear in awareness.

Two: Your NON-HABITUAL HAND pets, in a stroking and friendly manner, the top, the palm and the sides of your USUAL hand.

Do this slowly and with a delight in the exploration and the sensations. Sensations in each hand.





Rest and notice the difference in yourself overall, and the difference from hand to hand.

Perhaps experiment with the idea and actuality of “breathing into” each hand, one at a time.

Three: In some way, or ways, use your NON-HABITUAL hand, to explore the fingers of the USUAL hand, one at a time. 


Ring Finger.

 Middle Finger. 

Pointer Index.


Give each USUAL hand finger at least one up and down caress/ squeeze/ exploration/ massage-like touching.

Enjoy breathing deeply as you do this.

Strangely enough, sensing your pelvis and your feet while you do this will enhance the experience.

Or will it?

Explore and discover for yourself.

Take your time with each of these.

Keep delighting in noticing the two differences:

Hand to hand differences.

Start of the game vs now differences.


Let’s put in it bold and give it a number. 

Now it’s official . . .

Touch Game/ Exercise #2

Next time you are awake at night and want to feel more peaceful..

Let one hand explore, caress and otherwise enjoy the other hand

Follow and deepen your breathing as you do this

Notice and deepen your awareness of the bed as appreciating you and supporting you as you do this

To rub one hand with another sets up neurological connections that could well be vast enough to push aside the usual yammer/ worry/ and planning that fill the brain with worthless words in the head when you can’t sleep.

And, if you have a partner, and are halfway normal, you will have times when things get a little funky between you.

Sex might clear and heal, but sometimes we are too annoyed to soften and let that happen.

And so . . .  hand touching to the rescue.

So here’s an optional game, because as the book progresses, we’ll have more and more ways to calm the waters between couples. And to sweeten the waters.

This is a handy start. ( Ha ha???)

Touch/ Healing Game #3:




Take YOUR TWO HANDS TO ONE OF THEIRS, and touch your way back into the present of the present

Don’t talk

Explore, caress, massage, connect with your two hands to one of theirs, preferably the dominant, since it tends to work too hard


Moaning with pleasure is okay.

Do this pretty soon, if you have a partner/ mate/ spouse around.  And . . .

One more game. Let’s combine day one and day two: Touch plus gratitudes.

Touch Game/ Exercise #4


Sit or stand across from another person.

Hold hands.

Share gratitudes.

Alternate a gratitude about the other person, and a gratitude about Life.

Go back and forth a number of times.

Smile, breathe and take in the connection in the hands and in your hearts.

Notice and share what difference this made.

Enjoy your day.

Finding a Soul Mate: Are you doing soul work?


Finding and loving your Soul Mate

Carol and I found a soul mate.

Gratitudes set the groundswell.

Being ready and wanting a lifetime partner, and having mutual clarity on that allowed us to move forward.

And . . .

We were doing Soul work.

This seems kind of obvious, once you think/ feel/ realize about it.


This became starkly clear watching a friend of Carol’s go through online dating, supposedly to find a life partner (marriage as the goal), and a lifetime partner with spiritual compatibility (a go to church and pretty much buy into it all Christina). She was texting.

She was dating.

And what were the dates about?

More or less a job interview of looks and income and church membership.

And no soul work. 

And when we asked her to join us in meditation: no thanks, texts to do, or a book to read.

Oh well.

Dates are interesting and I have found DATING IS A WASTE OF TIME IF YOU WANT TO FIND A REAL PARTNER.

I’ve had maybe six really great women in my life and zero came from dating, or from online.

Life will send you someone.

Someone at a dance.

Someone at a park where you are watching a performance.

Someone buying a house down the block from you, a house you too are in love with.

Someone at a meeting of white people trying to figure out how to move against racism without the usual go into the ghettos and “help” the dark folk.

Someone who is teaching a yoga class, that you just “happen” to go to because someone invites you and you never go to yoga, but decide to say “yes” for the sake of saying yes.

Someone in the house behind a fence you are building that is interested in a conversation on design.

None of these planned.

All of them gifts from Life.





Soul Work.

What was the beautiful chance Carol and I gave ourselves to discover, on that magical one and a half hour lunch meeting that turned into twelve hour discovery session?


In the present.

We spend at least three hours playing a “game” that is one of the best for finding out what another person is really about.

You talk for three minutes. Or four. Or, on that day, five.

I listen.

I am present.

I am following my breathing and looking at you.

I do NOT interrupt.

I make an attempt to NOT think of any responses.

Then I talk for three four five minutes.

I do NOT comment/ help/ hold forth/ give “advice”/ one up anything you said.

I search inside.

What is important.

I make an attempt to be present when talking (very hard, very rewarding. Don’t believe me: make it a central “game” of your life).

I look you in the eye.

I don’t have to hurry, since you won’t interrupt.

I discover as you do, what’s important to me.

I discover, as you do, what’s important to you, as your turns unfold.

This is soul work.

Love is listening, paying attention, caring what another person is really about.

This is almost never done on dates.

Instead it’s all about resume virtues.

As opposed to eulogy virtues.

Mull/ intuit/ don’t think about that.


Toward the end of our back and forth taking turns talking, I asked: what are your favorite Bible verses?

You can ask a question in your turn.

You keep talking unless the timer rings.

They don’t have to answer unless they wish.

She wished.

Hers was from Psalms: 

Be still and know I am God.

That made my heart and soul sing.

In silence is real meditation.

In silence is freedom from the judgments that subvert love and friendship.

In silence in real connection with God/ Life/ Reality.

Ah, she could be the one for me.

What was mine?

The age old imperative, so little achieved:


Very little practiced by so-called Christians, but core to real soul work.

As Jesus says, to paraphrase wildly: anyone can love someone who’s treating you well. 

When they make life hell/ hard/ annoying/ infuriating for you, and you can still love them, then your love muscles are for real.

Carol could sense the power of this as an aim and a life/ soul goal.

And . . . we are still working on these.

Getting silent.

Finding the love behind the nonsense of hurt and judgements.

Good work.

Great work.

Soul work.

And the obvious: once you have a partner, soul mate or not, you can do your mutual soul work.

There are many forms:

Nature together.

Meditation together.

Prayer together.

Cleaning up old grudges.


And . . fun.

Having mindful fun.

Vs mindless fun.

Vs numbing out fun.


You discover.

As part of your soul work.

With your soul mate.