Displaying 1 - 5 of 5 entries.

Be Here Now, Nonattachment, Huh? Part II

  • Posted on February 18, 2011 at 2:41 pm

For me, the concept of “Be Here Now” is closely intermingled with the Buddhist concept of nonattachment.  When I was first exploring world religions as a freshman in college, I was immediately fascinated by this concept – mainly because it really pissed me off. I found myself in love with so many of the Buddha’s teachings but just could not wrap my mind around this one. I thought, “Who on Earth would want to be unattached? I love life, I love my friends, family, animals, the planet, so deeply that I want to burst. Isn’t that where the joy lies? Wouldn’t God – If God exists (yes, I was totally in that phase) want us to love and connect in this way? Who the hell does Buddha think he is anyway”! Whoooo!  Good thing Buddha couldn’t send me to hell like Jesus could (if hell exists that is).

Seriously though, the whole idea just felt cold and confusing. Do I have to be removed, unaffected, and unemotional to reach enlightenment? Because if so, I’d better saddle up, buckle down, and batten down the hatches because I’m in for a long ride! The nonattachment stuff may work for a monk meditating alone in a cave for 30 years but what about those of us that live in this world surrounded by those that we love deeply?

Then, one evening I was watching an interview with the Dalai Llama. He was speaking about the violence, oppression, loss, and sorrow that his people had experienced in Tibet. He openly described his anguish, heartache, and even tears. Looking at his face I realized that surely there was something I had missed. The idea of non attachment must be far richer than I had ever realized.

To the person I have become, the practice of nonattachment is the very thing that teaches us to live in the here and now. It is NOT being unaffected or unloving but rather being deeply affected, and loving fully with every inch of your being. Loving so much, in fact, that the most humble self comes through, the self that realizes that, though I love this person, situation, life, it is not mine to hold or control. The nonattached self breathes in what it loves and breathes it out just as freely- relishing in the joy of the moment, yet accepting that it will pass.

This is not to say that it is wrong to mourn the passing of these experiences, for one emotion is no less human, divine, or valuable than another. I was just reminded of this today when I came upon an old journal entry of mine that I wrote during a difficult time. It read, “feeling loss is a reflection and a reverence for what you once had.” Loss and grief are real, and painfully beautiful – it is loss paired with regret for the moments we had, but were not fully present for, that is devastating.

So go on- for the love of god – and this crazy realm of ours, love! Love! Love! Feel! Feel! Feel! And wrap yourself up in the sometimes-cozy-and-sometimes-cold-and-wet-but-always-impermanent blanket that is the human experience. Your soul will thank you.

A friend of mine so succinctly put it when she was speaking about a tentative new relationship she was entering. I was setting a bad example of nonattachment and expressing my fear that there was a high risk for heartbreak in the situation. She sighed and said, “I know I could get hurt, but there is something there with this person that’s worth exploring. I’m not counting on it, but I’m thankful for it while it’s here.” Buddha himself could not have put it better.

 As always, just because monkey say doesn’t always mean monkey do (I am the monkey in this scenerio) and I am learning, falling, and growing right along with you. I look forward to hearing your thoughts and suggestions for new entries. Be well, my friends!



Be Here Now? Nonattachment? Huh?

  • Posted on January 22, 2011 at 1:22 am

“Mama, why are you making that face?” “Mama, why did you just make that noise?” “Mama, why did you laugh like that?”

Lately, my newly three-year-old daughter has been observing my every move with a fine-toothed comb. I have to admit that when this phase started my immediate reaction was one of annoyance. I wanted to just be able to wake up in my parent fog and not have to explain why my brow is furrowed and my eyes are bleary and squinting. The honest answer of, “you were up four times last night sweetie, and I can’t see straight because I’m so tired that I have to prop my eyes open with tooth picks”, seemed a little inappropriate.

I felt it hard to explain why I had just sighed, or why I just let out a little laugh, especially when I often didn’t even know myself or was unaware that I had done it in the first place. Then, one recent morning I had a sort of epiphany about the great service that my daughter was actually giving me. Like a little guru on my shoulder, she was challenging me to be conscious, present, and aware of my thoughts, feelings, and actions – she was forcing me to “be here now”.

“Be Here Now”, “The Power of Now” aside from being best sellers, are such powerful “New Age” ideals (I resist that phrase but that is neither here nor there – or is it here or maybe now or- wait I’m confused!) Anyway, they are phrases or ideals that are associated with the expansion of consciousness, the journey toward enlightenment, and they can have deep meaning but sometimes feel so overused that they become diffused. It’s as if they become a tagline or a bumper sticker on our soul’s car on this great road trip (mine is a bright yellow version of my 1987 Toyota Corolla except this time it’s solar powered and can fly – in case you were interested). The concept feels like something we’re supposed to “get” if we consider ourselves to be “spiritual”, or like an automatic response to a tough situation, “just be in the moment” we say to each other- often times when we are lost for another solution. It’s much like responding, “I’m good, thanks” 50 times a day, without really noticing if we are actually good or not- or what it means to be “good”.

So, how often do we really examine the “Be Here Now” of our daily lives and what it means to us to be in the moment? How many of us can admit that maybe it’s really not as second nature as we would like to believe, or maybe it’s even downright confusing or impossible. Perhaps we all just need a little guru on our shoulder reminding us that, “In this moment, I’m annoyed, with the next breath I’m calmer, with the next, I am aware that I’m aware, and now, here I am.”

Being in the moment is one of those concepts that can seem elusive. Like the Sun peeking in and out from behind clouds, there are moments when it is all so clear to me, when I know, “this is it, this is being alive” and I feel the pulsations of life and the magic of it all so viscerally. Then, of course, the shadow sweeps back over my consciousness and I am again lost in my own sea of thought: “What should I make for lunch today? Remember to pick up shampoo at the store. Did Madelyn poop today? (Yes, I mildly obsess over making sure she has healthy poop habits). I need to call so and so…”

Then, of course, there is my wild day dreaming when I can spend 20 minutes of time just creating an imaginary future – where we will live, what my job would look like, and of course, vacations- lots of vacations. Or, worse yet, I am replaying tapes of the past- sometimes good, sometimes bad, sometimes editing, “oooh it would have been really good if I had said that.”

Then, thank goodness (even though I sometimes resent being pulled out of my waking slumber) the little voice comes in, “Mama, Mama! Why are you making that face?” My little guru.

So, I’ve been giving it some thought and wondering, “How do we become our own gurus, our own little voices observing ourselves as if from the outside, nudging ourselves to wake up to the beauty around us”? I don’t know about you, but I find it very easy to get excited and inspired about certain spiritual concepts. I feel on fire about learning, growing, changing, and as a result, I often try to make many huge changes all at once. This works for a few days, maybe even a few weeks, and then ultimately I become overwhelmed or burnt out, it all falls away and I find myself slipping into old, comfortable habits.

So, what’s the alternative? How do we practice really being here now, living the little moments, in the little steps of our every day lives? For me, really bringing myself down into my body helps. As I said, I am imaginative. I am also overly analytical and philosophical. Meaning, I often have way too much energy swirling around up in my head and not enough in my body.

Here are some steps that have helped me:

  1. Learn to meet and then become your own observer (and while you’re at it, be prepared to laugh at your own ridiculousness). Practice stopping and looking at yourself, your thoughts, your body language, your tone of voice, the face you’re making, where you’re holding tension in your body. Start with just a few times a day. Pretend to be your kid, or your dog, looking at yourself with curiosity and wonder (no judgment allowed). If you have to, set your phone alarm – just to remind yourself to stop. Then, just observe. See where you’re at. Just this act of noticing is the beginning of new awareness.
  2. Breathe. Just breathe. Respiration. Re- spir- ation. In other words, brining spirit back into your self again and again. There is nothing that brings us into the moment as quickly yet gently as just being with our breath.
  3. Really FEEL the little details in the mundane tasks of your day. Try for just a few minutes a day, to physically feel more deeply. The soap bubbles popping on your hands when you do dishes, the softness of your baby’s skin, the way the pen drags across the paper, the cold air filling your sinuses when you walk outside, the sound of your feet hitting the floor with each step, the smell of the first peel of the orange…
  4. Remember, this moment will NEVER happen again- in the history of the world. No moment, no matter how trivial, is ever exactly like another. Every moment is absolutely unique and can not be duplicated. When I was in bodywork school at Kripalu, we did an exercise where we stood in mountain pose with our arms above our heads, seemingly unmoving, for 30 minutes. This experience was both excruciating and incredibly moving at the same time. At the end of the thirty minutes, all we wanted to do was drop our arms, rub our shoulders, and collapse to the floor. Instead, she made us lower our arms ever so slowly, so that it took about 3 minutes to get them down to our sides. As the feeling rushed back into them, they were flooded with pulsing electricity – with life. The instructor kept saying, “feel this, this subtle movement, this energy, this moment will never come again.” Do your best to miss less of these unique moments.
  5. Be patient with yourself. Learning to “be here now” is like teaching your brain an entirely new language, but it is the language of your joyful soul- a master teacher, with infinite wisdom, that gives lessons tuition free. However, it takes practice, repetition, rewiring of old patterns – much like kicking an addiction. Be kind to yourself, be patient, keep trying, and one day it will be like second nature- or remembering your first nature.

Good luck doing more living. Let me know how it’s going for you, and I will do the same. Come back to check out my next entry (part II) about how this concept of “be here now” can lead us to the road of nonattachment.



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Unsung Beauty of the Divine Masculine (Merry Christmas Baby, You Sure Do Treat Me Right)

  • Posted on December 23, 2010 at 4:36 pm

Thankfully, I have heard a lot lately about the beauty of the Divine Feminine. This renewed interest in the Goddess and the wonderful qualities of all that is female is slowly helping her to make her way out of the depths from which centuries of imbalance had seemingly buried her alive. There is so much healing still yet to be done to bring balance back to the partnering of the yin and yang of divinity in our world, and in ourselves and I will write more about this at another time. Today however, I want to focus on something that I think is equally important in this healing and is often overlooked – the beauty of the divine masculine.

When we think of masculine energy, many stereotypes come to mind. Those of you who have had hurtful, disappointing, lacking, abusive, or cold relationships with men (or women who embody this in some way) have an understandable mistrust in masculine energy- and often the masculine component of the divine (or God) as well. Images or words such as: a violent, unfaithful, conquering, power hungry, tail-chasing meathead who can’t change a diaper, make his own dinner, or run the washing machine may come to mind and are often personified on screen for us to laugh at.

I think this response is a natural reaction to the pendulum resting for so long in the realm of “male” in our society. The problem is, if we are going to heal and be back into balance (as men and women) we must realize that these images are not a picture of true masculinity. They are what happens when masculinity runs unchecked- and out of balance. True, balanced masculinity, can be a very beautiful thing in deed.

In light of celebrating the birth of one of the great male spiritual teachers of humanity, I would like to paint a different picture of the masculine. I hope you’ll indulge me while, as a note of deep gratitude and as a Christmas present to him, I explain what knowing my husband has taught me about the beautiful, often overlooked qualities of masculinity. I am here to assure you, and I hope demonstrate, that the divine masculine,  and everything that is good and kind that this stands for, is alive and well in our world today. Truly great men do exist. And this is how I know. (I would like to apologize now for the embarrassment to come, Michael- it’s all out of love).

I have been blessed with an incredible husband, and for the sake of recreating a new paradigm for ourselves, it is my deepest wish that everyone will soon experience the presence of a man , such as he, that embodies the spirit and sacred qualities of the great ones like Christ, Buddha, Gandhi, and others. Is it wrong to compare my husband to Jesus? I don’t think so. In fact, I think we should all know and acknowledge these profound qualities in ourselves and others. Maybe these wonderful, balanced men are all around us – in our sons, fathers, and brothers and maybe, we have just forgotten what to look for.

Here is what has been revealed to me about the divine masculine through living with a wonderful man:

Power without power struggle

My husband has a quiet strength and a deep power that I know is there, although he never speaks of it or flaunts it. It is that palpable energy available when we need to feel totally protected and loved. It is the heavenly warmth that he finds within himself to cover us – even when he is exhausted- and even when we forget to be grateful for it.


Lets face it, would any of us even want to live without the divine quality of boyish playfulness and teasing that reminds us not to take ourselves to seriously? Yes, goofiness is divine. My husband and those laughing statues of the Buddha are proof enough for me…

Depth of emotion

Soft emotion, though we may have been taught otherwise, is not only the realm of the feminine. Jesus and Buddha both wept and both experienced and demonstrated the full spectrum of human emotion. The raw honesty and bravery with which my husband owns, honors, and displays all of his emotions humbles me every time.

Compassion over violence

Two of my girlfriends were with my husband the day that the war was declared in Iraq. I remember they told me that when it was announced on the news, he just held their hands and sat quietly, contemplating the gravity of the situation, feeling for those involved and for humanity. To me, the presence and strength of God comes forth most in a man who lives first with compassion. Anger, reactivity, and violence are easy- compassion and empathy are wise. After all, who WOULD Jesus bomb?

Creativity without being competitive

At it’s finest the power of the divine masculine constructs, innovates, invents, and produces incredible things. Out of balance however, it creates enemies, competes, and ultimately destroys. When I hear my husband’s work as a musician- creating landscapes of sound- gathering pieces of the world with reverence- I am reminded of the creative power of God.

Balance and honoring of the Divine Feminine

Man, woman, gay, straight, or in between, none of us can exist in a healthy way without the balance- the completed circle – the yin and the yang- of the masculine and feminine energies. A self realized man (or woman) that is truly masculine is never threatened by the power and beauty of the feminine, but honors her and knows that without her, any power that he has in an illusion. Without her, he has no access to his own divinity. Jesus and Buddha both defied societal norms to teach, love, and honor women. Any man who is whole and evolved does the same. I feel the unconditional love, devotion, and blessings of the divine masculine every day. May it continue to grow and flourish in our sons, grandsons, and beyond so that our daughters and granddaughters may never doubt that it exists. Let us celebrate the wonder and blessings of the great men in our lives this Christmas. In doing so, we also celebrate ourselves.

Deep gratitude to you, Michael, my love (and all of you beautiful men that share these blessings), for being such a powerful example of the true heart of Man to me and to our daughter. May you NOT be one-of-a-kind. Merry Christmas, and thank you with all of my being.



Self-acceptance (and a word about astrology)

  • Posted on December 15, 2010 at 3:41 pm

So apparently astrology is much more than “what’s your sign baby”. I had suspected as much but received confirmation when I had my first astrological reading about a month ago. I wasn’t sure what to expect or what I would receive from the experience. My only prior experience with this stuff was to dabble in the fun little horoscopes that you read in papers or in books that tell you about yourself based on your birthday or sun sign. I always felt very “Sagittarius” – whatever that means- and enjoyed the idea that I was somehow connected to the broader universe out there – and to other people born around the same time. Beyond that though, I didn’t give it too much thought until I had the opportunity to trade an energy healing session for an astrological reading by a friend mine who is an astrologer and transpersonal psychologist. The combination of these two things totally intrigued me because I believe deeply in acknowledging our psychology in the healing work that I do. I was really excited to see how all of the parts would fit together. It seemed timely too, because my husband and I are currently at what seems like a rather daunting cross roads in our life/careers so I figured that anything that may give me some perspective was worth doing.

 Rebecca Crane (the astrologer) hadn’t seen me in probably about 20 years. We went to the same elementary school but never knew each other in depth, so I knew that she would have an objective, rather blank slate to work with. I will spare you the intricate details of the hour and a half reading (that I am still gathering useful bits from myself) and instead, I will narrow down the vast amounts of information that I received into one lovely golden kernel of truth that has affected me deeply. Self-acceptance.

 There are so many endless ways that you can begin the walk of spiritual growth. Yoga, studying, bodywork, meditation, prayer, being in nature, breathing, eating well, blah blah blah. You can do all of these, a few of these, perhaps none of these but I can say with absolute certainty that you cannot make any lasting headway on the path to self-realization without self acceptance, knowing and loving yourself as you are.

 So what does this mean and how do we do it? Hmmmm… well, I can share with you some realizations in my current process that have helped me to make sense of some of this. Firstly, I think I was always prone to trying to reach out of my humanity to become my more “spiritual” self. I always loved the bumper sticker that said, “we are not human beings having a spiritual experience, we are spiritual beings having a human experience”. I still think this is true- the part where I ran into trouble was trying to lift out of (or maybe escape in some way) my human experience and in the process missing a really big point about being here on Earth. I’ve come to believe that fully embracing our humanity, faults, follies, and all, is perhaps the most spiritual thing that we can do.

 For example, I am messy, I lose my patience with my daughter more than I’d like, I sometimes drink too much vodka and eat too much cheese, I have never been able to establish a regular meditation and yoga practice for more than a few weeks at a time, sometimes it feels down right impossible for me to live in one place for more than a year and I wake up much of the time wishing I was taking off on a trip that day. Doesn’t sound like a very wise or spiritual person, does it? Yet, somehow, despite all of this, I have been blessed to feel a strong connection with the divine, and for some reason, people continue to tell me that I have taught them, helped them to have amazing healing experiences, and helped them to transition to a more joyful, spiritual place in their lives.

 I have often wondered, “how can this be?” and in this wondering, I began “should-ing” my spirit to death:  I should be eating organic all of the time, I should be meditating at the same time every single day, I should throw out the television, I should be ecstatically happy at every moment of every day, especially if I’m going to  be a “healer” or teacher of any kind, to anyone. Then, one day I was in natural healing school in Asheville, and I made some self-admonishing comment about having authority issues with myself because I resent any attempt at sticking to a routine and living with more discipline. My teacher Daisy, who I love dearly, said “You know Alise, someone once said, ‘ More can be accomplished with joy than with discipline.’ You’re a Sagittarius, you like being free, and anyone that knows you can see that you have joy.” The words were like an arrow of truth that went straight to my heart and lit it up like the sun (is that what a burst of enlightenment feels like?). Wow, what a relief! I don’t have to be something I’m not to make progress here on earth, or in spirit. Can it be true? In my humble opinion, nothing could be more true.

 I used to think that my wandering spirit, my seemingly chaotic housekeeping, my curiosity, my struggle to balance my extreme love for my daughter with my need to feel free, my inability to pick only one path of interest and focus on it… (the list goes on and on), were signs of immaturity- things that I could expect to grow out of. When I became an “adult” in the “real world” after college and those core parts of my personality weren’t changing, I felt compelled to force them to change in order to fit into what society expected an adult to be. The result was never great, and usually ended in some kind of self-criticizing cycle, a fabulous way to be nowhere NEAR the path of self-realization and enlightenment.

 My therapeutic (and it really was- I highly recommend it) astrology reading drove this truth home on a whole new level for me. It was all there in the planets and stars- from the moment I took my first breath, interpreted in a chart right in front of me. The heavens know that these parts of me are exactly as they are meant to be and it is high time that I know the same thing. It’s okay and perfect that I always want to travel and experience the world; it’s okay that it’s hard for me to want to stay in one place, at one job; it’s okay that at times I philosophize, discuss and over analyze like a nut job; it’s okay that I love a good martini and some nachos sometimes and that I  feel more like myself doing yoga and meditating when I’m inspired to and not because I feel like I have to or should; it’s okay that I don’t think I would be happy doing nothing more than being a Mom with five kids at home. These things don’t mean that I haven’t reached some spiritual or maturity plateau that I must stand on and say, “now I am ready, enlighten me”. These qualities are things that I should cherish, and they make me unique, loveable, adventurous, curious, and maybe even inspiring to someone. And knowing this, I mean REALLY knowing it. has changed my life and the way I see myself on this beautiful path toward oneness.

Does this mean that we should never want to change or grow? Or that we have to love the fact that we ate an entire pizza by ourselves last night (this could be a metaphoric or real pizza – insert vice of choice here)? No.  Loving a habit or seemingly “bad” choice and accepting it are two different things.  I really believe that if we accept that we sometimes eat too much pizza- without guilt or judgment, it is a whole lot easier to choose the salad next time, because self-acceptance then teaches us to choose from a place of love. This is how our beautiful growth and blooming happens – and sometimes without us even knowing it. How cool is that?!

 So, I invite you all to do some searching and dig up those parts of you that you might feel less than fond of. Polish them off and look at them in a different light, the sweet light of and self-acceptance – and let the enlightenment begin. It is not always easy, and you will often forget (as I do) but you won’t regret the trying. There is nothing quite like being totally at ease with yourself and knowing your unique value in this wide, wild, planet of ours. As Rebecca put it, “the world needs people with your qualities” (even my crazy Sagittarius ones!) The world needs people exactly like you.



From Here to Wholeness – The Path of Rememberance

  • Posted on November 21, 2010 at 2:13 pm

Remembrance of what? That’s a great question and one that I hope to explore through these musings. In short though, I can say that, as a healer, I feel I am  here in this life to help people feel better, most commonly by helping them to release and relieve physical pain, mental emotional angst, and come to some form of spiritual clarity. All of these words though, fall short and feel like jargon. What I really wish to be, in my most imaginative and hopeful self, is a tour guide, an usher, on your own sacred path.The path that leads you back to your true nature, your divine self, and the knowing that you are one with love, source,light, expansivenss, your deepest truth, and ultimately – God (insert your word of comfort here- but you know what I mean).

With this statement I don’t mean to imply that I know the way. I don’t even have a map actually and anyone that knows me can tell you I have a laughable sense of direction, but I can be present, hold your hand, and lend you my tool kit as you navigate your way. Call it a journey, a walk, an adventure, a dream, trip, or task. Whatever it is that lights the fire in your belly, makes you stand a little taller, breath a little deeper,or tingle with a bit of excitement like a kid looking at a brightly wrapped birthday present. Look at the process however you like, just be prepared to have fun. Afterall, who among us can say that their fondest memories in this life have been when they were struggling and taking themselves or their work way too seriously? My finest memories are of laughter, tenderness, and downright silliness.

So yes, I am going to say it. Spiritual discovery, the expansion of consciousess, can and SHOULD be fun. Sure, it can be uncomfortable too because as you grow, your old ways (like a your kids clothes from last year) become too small for you and you must shed a layer to be able to breathe again. But, lets face it, sex was probably pretty uncomfortable for most of us the first time and look at the beauty that comes later with deep exploration, yeilding,experience, and surrender. Screeetch! The record stops. All heads turn. Did she just compare the expansion of consciousness to awkward teenage sex? Yes, yes I did.

Which leads me to the point of this blog really. We are human. We laugh, cry, hope, dream, and poop. We build wonders and act wicked. We lift eachother up and hurt eachother immeasurably. We create new life and destroy our bodies. Can you imagine a more vast experience than ours? How lucky, how very blessed we are to be here. To be here now. To me, the golden nugget lies in our ability to love it all, embrace our humanity and squeeze it with all our might. Maybe, if we do it with enough passion, excitement, and acceptance of our faults, we can have a blast on this ride.

From Here to Wholeness is one woman’s healing practice for herself and others but it is also a story that we are all telling together. I will openly share what I discover along the way back to my home in hopes that it will help you on your way there too. I don’t know what it will look like or how long it will take but I do know that the story ends with us all being whole and perfect – because we already are – we just have to remember.