The purpose of our lives is to be happy.

– Dalai Lama

It’s a new year and while there is much to be grateful for, there is also a collective fear in the air as wars wage on, ecosystems continue to deteriorate, and inequality grows. If the purpose of life is, as the Dali Lama says, to be happy, we seem to be missing the mark. But, what if happiness had nothing to do with our possessions, outer circumstances or even our challenges? What if it was an inside job? There is increasing scientific and spiritual evidence that we can cultivate joy and happiness by developing presence, perception and practice. There is also indication that joy and happiness are contagious and might very well bring about the shift in direction towards a more life sustaining way of living and being on the earth.

img4As a journalist and researcher I have a tendency to read a lot of scary material about what is happening in the world. My radio show, teaching, consulting and workshops come out of my commitment to make the world a better place – to inform, inspire and support the revolution in consciousness towards a more sane, humane and just world. Recently I realized that I had a belief that with so much pain and suffering in the world it would be arrogant and self-centered for me to be happy. But wait, there’s so much beauty and goodness in the world. Could it be that recognizing and embracing the beauty and joy that surrounds us, pain and suffering could be alleviated? I had fallen into the media trap of focusing only on what isn’t working when there is so much to celebrate and be grateful for in our world.

Our joy and happiness is up to us. Our suffering or well-being is not solely determined by what’s happening in our present circumstances but to a large degree by our relationship with what is happening.
– James Baraz

Christine Price, my Gestalt meditation teacher often used the quote, “pain is inevitable, but suffering is a choice.” But, can we really choose to be happy and joyful? We are bombarded with negativity in our culture. Newspaper editors have a phrase, “if it bleeds, it leads.” Advertisers use our feelings of inadequacy to sell us their products. Our culture encourages self-indulgence and competition over cooperation and reflection in myriad ways. What if our children were raised to put happiness above “winning” and joyfulness was the measure of our success?

img5So what does presence have to do with choice? Most of us spend very little time during our days being present. We are either driven by our past experiences or concerned over our imagined future. These mental states of denial of the now are what constitute the voices in our head, limiting our happiness. We could continue to live as an expression of our egos, or be present, here and now. This is the first step towards choosing happiness and joy in our lives.

The past perpetuates itself through lack of presence. The quality of your consciousness at this moment is what shapes the future.
– Eckhart Tolle

Being present with what is happening moment to moment is a practice. As any meditator knows, the mind is a busy place. It’s like grand central station and there is a new train leaving every minute. The trick is to not get on board! We can choose to stay beside the track and watch the train go by. As the thoughts pass through, we can put our attention on our body sensations, feeling emotions, and focus our awareness on what’s happening in the moment. We can focus our attention on looking for the beauty, love and joy that surrounds us. We can choose to find joy even in the most difficult of times. This is the secret of the sages and why we so often see them smiling, even laughing. It’s not that they don’t see the tragedy, the suffering and the challenges of life. They just don’t dwell in them and instead focus on the beauty, joy and wonder of life itself. Being happy and joyful is something we cultivate by looking for it.

img1Since the beginning of history focusing on the breath has been a way to slow down the chatter and become more mindful, more present. When we slow down and observe what is happening in our mind and body a whole new world of possibility and perception opens up. We come alive and we have the opportunity to make a real choice. It is only from this place that we can choose authentic happiness. Every day when we wake up we can choose life, happiness and joy. We can choose to not deny our humanity and circumstances but to embrace them inside of the joy of just being alive.

Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.
– Viktor E. Frankl

When we choose joy our hearts open, we feel an expanded sense of connection with others and the web of life. We have challenges, but we know we are not our circumstances. We are so much bigger than that! Shamans know the importance of honoring the spirit of the elements and receiving the unseen guidance of the Spirit world and power of nature. Our breath connects us with the spirit of air, our body is the clay that dances with the spirit of the earth, our tears are from the water from which we came and connect us to our compassion and the cycles of life and our passion is the fire that comes from the sun and gives us light and life. Let’s be thankful for the life we have been given and celebrate. We are so much grander when we are joyfully grateful and our life resonates with life itself.

img6It is possible that by stepping fully into the joy of being human we could ignite a fire in the hearts of every person we touch. You know people like this, people you just want to be around because they are over flowing with joy and happiness and it’s contagious. Think of a world gone mad with joy, happiness and celebration. How beautiful life could be if we focused our attention on bringing more joy into the world… I invite you to join me in practicing the cultivation of joy in your life and bringing your happiness out into the world. Let’s have a joy-filled coming out party. Let’s dance and sing to the beauty that surrounds us. Let’s be joyful for the world and the future generations… Know that our joy has the potential to transform the world!

With love and joyful blessings,

Michael

We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think.
When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves.

The Buddha

wol_freedom

I am currently writing a book that integrates my shamanic practices with three decades of Organizational Development work. Organizational Shamanism (OS) is the practice and application of ancient shamanic techniques to solve contemporary organizational and community challenges. It is a whole systems approach to gathering information that can help us to revitalize and energize the spirit of our organizations and tap into new levels of creativity, intuition and wisdom not available with contemporary perception. OS focuses on transforming inner states of consciousness to bring about outer change, and taps into a creative potential beyond limiting beliefs and assumptions.

I am currently looking for companies that are interested in trying these new approaches to solving organizational issues. If you and your organization or any one you know are open to applying this pioneering work in your company to bring about organizational change please give me a call. Or email 530.277.0937 or michael@WellofLight.com

 

 

Artist Intuition: From Inner Access 101
In February I will be attending an inspiring adventure into the heart of creativity with Lori Wilson and Kelly Woodruff. I have worked with Lori Wilson, Social worker, author, weekly radio show, host, trainer and intuitive and want to recommend this powerful journey into the heart of creativity and intuition. This program will be held in Sacramento February 27th – March 1. For Flyer and more information click here (PDF).

 

 

coulter

In Original Mind, neuroscience and learning pioneer Dee Joy Coulter takes us on an odyssey back to our “beginner’s mind,” and into our many undeveloped potentials. Through fascinating research, insights, stories, and engaging practices largely overlooked by other “brain science” books, she challenges us to question the conventional definitions and limitations of our minds, and then to move beyond them into a state of unlimited presence.

What would it feel like to experience the world again like a child-deeply engaged with our senses and filled with wonder and creativity?

Original Mind takes us on an odyssey back to our “beginner’s mind,” and into our many undeveloped potentials. Through fascinating research, insights, stories, and engaging practices largely overlooked by other “brain science” books, neuroscience and learning pioneer Dee Joy Coulter challenges us to question the conventional definitions and limitations of our minds, and then to move beyond them. This delight-driven odyssey explores a vast landscape of untapped dimensions of consciousness, including:

  • How to see again with the fresh wonder of an infant
  • Calming, Enriching, Magnetizing, and Self-Regulating-four keys to character development and emotional resilience
  • How reading profoundly changes our brains, and how to develop the remarkable capacities of the “pre-literate” mind
  • Engaging the body to enrich the art of thinking
  • Boredom, Complexity, Ambiguity, Permeability, and Novelty-five “tolerances” to liberate creativity and joy
  • Protecting-and expanding-our cognitive faculties as we age
  • Blending newfound intuitive skills and “school-learned” abilities to navigate the complex demands of the modern world, and much more

BUY NOW

SEE ALL PRODUCTS BY DEE JOY COULTER

DeeJoyCoulter

Dee Joy Coulter, EdD, is a nationally recognized neuroscience educator with a master’s degree in special education and a doctorate in neurological studies and holistic education. In addition to 14 years as a special education teacher and program director, she served on the faculty of Naropa University for 20 years. She lives in Boulder, Colorado.

Website

journey into now

I hope you will listen to last week’s interview with author Leonard Jacobson, who teaches us how to become fundamentally present and arisein mastery of the mind and ego, so that we are no longer involuntarily pulled out of Presence. His book the Journey to Now

is one you will want to keep by the bedside. Open up to any page and contemplate the wisdom of this master of presence.  Leonard provides the inspiration, challenge, and direction needed to become a “fully awakened Being.”
With perfect precision, the author guides the reader along a path of awakening which leads to liberation from the pain and limitations of the past into the joyful and unlimited world of Now. This book reveals, in the simplest way, how to still the mind and become fully present and awake in the truth of life. Perhaps the most important aspect of this book is the author’s unique insight into the nature of the mind and ego. He describes in detail how the ego’s resistance to Presence is the primary obstacle to awakening and how we can overcome that resistance in a simple and effective way. Each page of this book reveals a part of the mystery. There are hidden keys to awakening on every page. It is like a road map home.

BUY NOW

SEE ALL PRODUCTS BY LEONARD JACOBSON

LeonardJacobson

 

Leonard Jacobson is deeply committed to helping others break through to the joyous experience of living in the NOW. He teaches how to become fundamentally present and how to arise in mastery of your mind and ego, so that you are no longer involuntarily pulled out of Presence. He has been teaching people how to be present for over 30 years. Leonard has the unique ability to support others in entering directly into the experience of the awakened state.

Website

All elsewhere being World,

how many times have I stood

in the bright shadows of a wood,

no track or trail leading in, out-

as though ground coverrenewed as I went through?

I sometimes own the moments where I stand

alone. Everything else is air

and arbitrary firings of neurons

we call memory if they happened,

fantasy if they didn’t- same pictures.

Call it prayer, then,

the moments where I’m not aware

even of how lovely the moment is-

not liking, not disliking-

not aware there is a moment

until I’m back in the world

and remember it- construct it

in my mind as having been beautiful.

 

I’m too often bitten by silence.

My mother called it dawdling,

the ex, brooding. My students call it

absent-minded professor.

The kindest students bring me back gently.

But I live most when silence,

shade, and light like this harvest me,

a kind of prayer I’m gathered to,

not the prayer I clutter with will or words.

 

- Paul Allen

 

Awaken to the mystery of being here

and enter the quiet immensity of your own presence.

 

Have joy and peace in the temple of your senses.

Receive encouragement when new frontiers beckon.

Respond to the call of your gift and the courage to follow its path.

Let the flame of anger free you of all falsity.

May warmth of heart keep your presence aflame.

May anxiety never linger about you.

May your outer dignity mirror an inner dignity of soul.

Take time to celebrate the quiet miracles that seek no attention.

Be consoled in the secret symmetry of your soul.

 

May you experience each day as a sacred gift woven

around the heart of wonder.

 

 – John O’Donohue

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The Well of Light Newsletter: Holiday Edition 2014

We are lost in the mind, which is a world of the remembered past and the imagined future.
– Leonard Jacobson

I have always been a person who liked ideas, to think about how things worked, to figure our why things are the way they are and to imagine a future different than the one in which we are currently living. I have great respect for the power of the thinking mind and yet as I look back at my life I can see that the times of trouble, suffering, conflict and unhappiness had one common element. I was not living in the present moment. I was lost in the world of mind and distracted from the awe and splendor of just being here. Even my quest for spiritual awakening has been a journey of the mind. Recently, I recognized that I could never think my way into an awakened state of being. Cultivating presence is a path of moment-to-moment awareness of what is present within and without, right now.

article_power_trees

For years I have tried to stop the chatter of my mind through meditation, movement and by attending countless classes, workshops and spiritual events. I was trying to stop the mind with the mind, instead of just being a witness to all that was unfolding in front of me. I have been living in a world of illusion and separation, which has become the predominant condition of humanity at this time of pre-awakening as a species. What if we discovered that waking up was no more difficult than waking from a dream and realizing that we have been dreaming? That we had just forgotten that we are the dreamer and all we had to do was shift our attention to the now to break our habitual way of seeing and being in the world.

The only true thing is what’s in front of you right now.
– Ramona Ausubel

We suffer when we are caught up in the endless chatter of the thinking mind. The more we feel separate from the people and world around us, separate from the truth and reality of what is present within and around us the greater the suffering. Mostly we think we have an ego, like a hat we can take off and put on. What we don’t realize is, that for the most part we are our ego and this false sense of self is controlling our life and experience of the world. We are living in an egoic world of illusion and we get along with those who share the same dream and disagree or have conflict with those whose illusion is in opposition to our own. When we leave our separate worlds behind and come into the one world, the world of the senses, we experience each sacred moment without separation.

How did we manage to get into this somnambulant state of non-presence? One of the primary ways is that we were born into it, with parents and ancestors who themselves were not present. As a baby, with an almost magical sense of wonder and presence, we needed love, attention, and connection from people around us who were distracted by their own past issues and imagined futures. So we developed patterns, compulsive ways of being, roles and beliefs about ourselves in an attempt to get the love that we needed and wanted; the same thing that our parents did and their parents before them. These ways of being arose from a growing sense that we were separate, unloved, not enough, flawed or just unworthy… The more we tried to think our way out of this dilemma the deeper we went into our imagined self. We could spend a lifetime trying to heal our imagined wounds and solve our problems, which belong to the past and have nothing to do with this moment. The good news is that this is learned behavior and therefore we can unlearn it.

We must set aside all we know in order to experience
the world with the freshness a baby does. When we look
at the world we tend to see what we expect to see.
– Dee Joy Coulter

article_listen_pinkflowerOne of the biggest challenges to becoming present is in the naming of things. With all the benefits of language, this naming has become a major obstacle to living in the present. When we name things we no longer see them with the fresh eyes of an infant. We close down our senses to the energy and essence of what is before us. We think in language and this thinking keeps us captive to the world of separation. When we relax into the stillness of the present moment we can transcend the thinking mind to sense and see the energy, light, color, motion and form of what is truly present. When the mind kicks in we can also maintain a witness perspective to the thinking qualities without becoming our thoughts. We can notice if it is a thought born of the past or imagined future. Just notice! Don’t get on board the thought train. Presence takes practice. What the thoughts can reveal to us is the story of who we have become.

 When we deny who we have become as personalities or egos functioning in a world of separation we are blocked from recognizing the beauty, magnificence and power of who we really are in the eternal present. When we refuse to see our controlling, manipulative, greedy, fearful, jealous, blaming and angry judgments of others and ourselves we mold and shape the world around us. Our outer world becomes a reflection of our inner world of mind. If we can hold these thoughts and beliefs like a tender baby in relaxed and vulnerable awareness we become liberated from the tyranny of the mind and the suffering that comes with it. We can recognize these thoughts as mental constructs derived from unmet expectations and longings from the past. We can step into the eternal bliss of the now.

“The present moment is filled with joy and happiness.
If you are attentive, you will see it.
– Thích Nhất Hạnh

article_power-berriesI invite you to give yourself and your family the gift of presence in this holiday season. Ram Dass once said, “if you think you are enlightened go spend a week with your family.” Bring a sense of wonder and new eyes to your closest relationships. They may unconsciously see you as the way you were, not the way you are in this moment. But, presence is contagious! Open all your senses to who they are as light, form, energy and motion. See with new eyes the very presence of them and miracles can happen. Blissful joy and infinite happiness can erupt when your presence meets the presence of the sacred other and all separation dissolves into oneness. It is my sincere prayer that this holiday season be one of magic, bliss and the deep and abiding love of the present moment.

Thank you for the inspiration you are to me. Your reading my letters keeps me on the path of truth, authenticity and presence. I am filled with gratitude!

With love and blessings,
michael 

As we let our light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence actually liberates others.
– Marianne Williamson

Click Here to read 

The Well of Light Newsletter: Thanksgiving Edition 2014

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