Engaged Spiritual Practice

CCRAlogosmallGenuine spiritual practice is a full-time enterprise. The innumerable changing circumstances of each day provide endless opportunities for applying enlightened action. From the yoga mat to the meditation cushion to all Nine Spheres of our life. Walking. Standing. Sitting. Lying down. We’re always practicing.

It’s a matter of applying the teachings in our own daily life and choosing to embody what we know to be true and virtuous. This is engaged spirituality. Everyday enlightenment. The conditions have never been more ideal for this type of awakened action. It’s a matter of gathering our courage and resolve, discarding bargaining and excuses, and deciding to make spiritual life a priority.

As our formal practice matures, it will naturally spill over into all aspects of our life. We find ourselves practicing good posture, natural breathing, and meditative presence in everything we do. Sitting on the subway becomes a practice. Standing in line at the grocery store becomes a practice. In a sense, our practice has gone beyond the confines of a specific time and space. This is a wonderful confirmation that it has become rooted in our bones. After we have practiced consistently for some months, years, decades, there is an unstoppable momentum carrying us forward. Practice has become a central part of our life, forever.

maxresdefaultIt may seem at this point that formal practice is no longer necessary. Nevertheless, we keep practicing. A sincere cultivator upholds their daily formal practice until the last breath leaves their lips (and even beyond). This is not done out of obligation. It is pure joy. There is no denying the fact that practice is difficult at times. It takes discipline and diligence. Sometimes we just don’t want to do it. Facing our laziness, fear and self-delusion can be excruciating. Yet the rewards vastly outweigh the investment of time and energy.

The heart opens. The body heals. The spirit soars.

The result of sincere spiritual practice is incomparable happiness, peace and bliss. Radiant Awakening. This is why yogis place practice at the center of their life, and choose not to live a single day without it.

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Engaged Spiritual Practice

Doubt is Holding You Back

CCRAlogosmallThe path of inner cultivation clears the dust of conditioning from the body-mind. As our practice unfolds, a type of clarity naturally dawns and we see the hidden lies in so many things. Religion. History. Politics. Academia. Science. Medicine. Spirituality. It becomes evident that hidden agendas too often distort the truth. Much of what we’ve been taught is simply not so.

When clarity begins to emerge, an overwhelming sense of doubt arises. We realize that most ideas we see propagated in the world are simply not true. Looking within, we come to distrust the authority of even our own beliefs. We see that the basis of our own thinking is steeped in assumptions and projections, concepts that are pre-established by our culture’s dualistic worldview. Clarity gives us the ability to observe our thoughts closely. We are free to believe them or not. During meditation, as we watch intently, it becomes apparent that we are not our thoughts. We understand that thoughts are temporary, changing and relative, and can never represent the whole of universal truth. Doubt becomes very useful here.

Freedom from identification with your own thoughts is a healthy sign that the knot of self-delusion is starting to untangle.

However, doubt is incomplete without its partner. At some point we must come full circle and rediscover doubtlessness. After the initial stage of awakening matures, the usefulness of doubt wanes. To rely on doubt exclusively produces a new kind of cleverness. Spiritual cynicism. “I’m too awake to be tricked by dogma and spiritual fantasy. I don’t believe in anything anymore.” Although this kind of razor sharpness is helpful in not falling prey to spiritual materialism, it becomes a new kind of guarding, a new limitation. It causes the heart to constrict. Doubt gone stale turns out to be the greatest undermining force for mature spiritual practitioners. Becoming doubtless is the next step we must take on the path.breaking-free-

This requires even more audacity.

There is only one way to become doubtless. Contrary to popular assumption, faith and belief are not the way. Anything that requires faith is somehow defective. Universal truth is self-evident. The need to believe in something co-arises with the intuitive sense that belief is contrived. Belief is unreliable because it is based in thought; and thoughts are always changing.  Behind our most cherished beliefs, we intuitively understand that we actually do not know. Rather than admit “I don’t know,” we try to silence this non-knowing with the boisterous voice of conviction. Yet the silent watcher within us know this is just an act. Belief requires a corresponding concept. Concepts are mind-made models of an incomprehensible reality. They are incomplete. We manufacture beliefs to give ourselves something to clutch to, because we are secretly afraid of three harmless words: I don’t know.

Behind extreme confidence is extreme doubt. The outward display of conviction always co-arises with secret inward doubt. Self-doubt. Perhaps this is most obvious in fundamentalism. With a quick scan of history, it is easy to see how belief in ideas, especially ones set forth by charismatic leaders, can disengage people from their humanity and innate wisdom. Under the spell of concepts, people easily lose their human-heartedness. Ideals place a wedge between you and the immediate moment. They block your ability to feel. And feeling is your umbilical cord to Life it self.

An honest seeker must confront fear and doubt, and go directly to the one thing they can actually be certain about. Certainty must come from our own direct experience, nowhere else. No book, teacher, or doctrine has any business here. This is an intimate and personal meeting between you and the great Unknowable. All spiritual paths lead here: to the moment you confront what mystics call Divine Ignorance. To know that you do not know. You must realize that the observer, limited to the point of view of “I,” cannot comprehend the whole of reality. Only when the certainty of “I don’t know” dawns will you pass through the tunnel of “I” and become truly doubtless.

It is disastrously ironic that the one thing that can restore true courage and establish doubtlessness is “I don’t know.” This is the antithesis of what religion, politics, academia, and advertising have so desperately propagated. Our cultural addiction to ego-glorification makes the story seem believable. Self-cobsession lives within the domain of the hope-faith / doubt-belief conflict. This is the proverbial struggle of good and evil, based in the erroneous assumption of a divided world. God above. Hell below. Sacred. Profane. Such distinctions only exist in the conceptual mind.

To place full confidence in “I don’t know,” and to no longer harbor the secret feeling that something is wrong with you because of it, is the great leap beyond illusion and self-doubt. It opens the gateway to doubtlessness. Once you are doubtless about the fact that you do not know, you can discard hope, faith, belief, and all other spiritual playthings that once kept you seperated from the immediacy of your situation.

When true doubtlessness dawns, you are free to play the ball where it lands. Unfettered by the exhausting game of needing to conceal your doubt with cleverness and contrived confidence, you can live your life with unprecedented openness. You can relate to people and situations with natural presence, and embrace life with an unguarded heart.

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Doubt is Holding You Back

Meditation and Quantum Gravity

CCRAlogosmallIn all mind-body practices (yoga, qigong, meditation, martial arts, dance, etc), we experience a palpable downward force pulling toward Earth. Gravity. We know it exists, and we know its constant influence is relentless: slipping on a wet tile floor, dropping a cell phone, knocking over a cup of hot tea. Gravity is so much a part of our daily life that it is easy to overlook its importance.

Newton explained gravity in a clean and tidy way: a force pulling toward the center of the Earth. Then Einstein came along and turned the Newtonian idea of gravity on its head. He explained that gravity is a product of the curvature of space. Bodies are not acted upon directly by a force exerted on them, but they are compelled to bend along with the curvature of space. Gravity is a phenomenon that continues to cause even the most cutting-edge scientists to scratch their heads. A theory of quantum gravity is in the works, yet much remains unclear. Science is certain gravity exists, but we still know very little about exactly how it functions in the larger view of things.gravity_well_cartography_2_by_lordsong-d5lrxwsLet us turn for a moment to a simple observation about gravity made by ancient yogis and mystics. For a person interested in discovering greater vitality and fulfillment, gravity is studied not by means of instruments or mathematical equations, but within the domain of direct experience. Using the body-mind as a laboratory, yogis understood that gravity was a constant force. As such, they sought to cultivate an active relationship with gravity in a way that supported their practice. They treated gravity as one of the many observable expressions of cosmic energy (prana, qi, ki). They found that gravity could be “harvested” to support the health of body and mind. They explained that gravity’s obvious effect was experienced as the downward pull toward the Earth. They described this as “descending energy.” They also noticed another, perhaps more subtle, responsive force going the opposite direction. They called this “ascending energy.”

Conventionally, we know that there is a reactive force corresponding to gravity. Visualize a falling object, say a ball. Once it hits the floor, it will bounce back up a certain distance, depending on its weight, speed, density, and so on. What yogis discovered is that this reactive force is also operative in objects as they remain in continuous contact with Earth—namely the human body. Because there is a constant “falling” of the body, there is also a corresponding “bouncing up.” This is going on even when our feet don’t leave the ground.

This is not observed visually as an up-and-down movement, but felt inwardly more like the movement of gentle winds. Yogis found that rising and descending energies are in perfect balance in the natural world. Rain falls down to Earth. Water in a pond evaporates up to Heaven. These corresponding movements are the basis of circulation. The same rising and falling energies are moving in and through our bodies. This creates a perpetually self-renewing flow of Vital Force.

Through awareness, proper alignment, and natural breathing, we harmonize with this circulatory flow of energy.

Gravity’s constant downward pull is a big help for spiritual seekers, meditation practitioners, movement artists. By its very nature, gravity can pull even the subtlest of things downward. When we cultivate good body mechanics and natural posture, even thoughts will “descend” to a lower center. The head becomes lighter and the belly more stable. In our practice of meditation, we allow gravity to guide the feeling of Being to a lower point. Gravity assists our journey from identification with thinking (head) to Presence (belly).

As we relax and notice this descending quality, the corresponding ascending property has a spontaneously uplifting effect. If we try to lift ourselves up artificially, we disconnect from gravity and waste energy. This produces, at best, a faint imitation of lightness. As it turns out, genuine lightness and authentic presence result from being grounded.

The force of gravity is operative at every level of our experience: physical, mental, emotional . . . in all Nine Spheres. Learning to harvest gravity is an important, and often overlooked part, of meditative practice.

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Meditation and Quantum Gravity

Perceptions and Projections

Screen Shot 2015-05-11 at 11.39.10 PMCCRAlogosmallOur View has an enormous impact on the way we move, breathe, and act.

There is a classic example used in Vedic philosophy that illuminates this point: A farmer returns to his home after a long day in the fields. Upon entering a dark room, he sees a snake coiled in the corner. He jumps back in fear, heart racing, and lights a lamp. As light fills the room, the man realizes the snake is actually a coiled rope. He sighs in relief. Immediately, his fear is gone. The body, however, continues to tremble for a while as stress hormones make their way through his bloodstream. This affects his posture, heart rate, breathing, and many other physiological and psychological functions. His mental and physical reactions were real. Even though, in reality, there was no snake and no threat.

Our perceptions and projections are kicking up dust all the time.

Many of our worries and problems are simply snakes in the rope. Ignorance causes us to think, speak, and act in disaccord with the way things actually are.

Most of our suffering arises from misperception. Misperception results from seeing the world through clouded assumptions.

The trouble is, our presumptions don’t particularly like to be exposed. Assumptions, like ignorance, function best in the dark. When we begin to shine the light of awareness on our assumptions, they get a little uncomfortable.

As beliefs get challenged, feelings of irritation or defensiveness can easily arise. This is usually an indication that a particular belief is concealing a more sensitive issue. Usually, it’s the fact that we feel confused about more things than we care to admit. Our façade has been breached. We don’t have answers to life’s big questions. We’re not sure who we are. We have feelings, sensations, and experiences that we don’t fully understand. Beliefs and assumptions offer temporary relief. We lose ourselves in them. Like an anesthesia, they buffer the sting of immediate contact with the imperfect reality of our personal situation.

One of our culture’s core assumptions is that life has to make sense.

Society values knowing. We give precedence to people who know. We make a big fuss over faith, conviction, and belief. People with strong convictions seem to transcend the humbling dilemma of non-knowing. They are confident and magnetic. Charismatic. We like that. It’s exciting. Maybe they know something we don’t. Our cultural presumption is that if we can just get rid of uncertainty and feel solid in ourselves, we will finally be comfortable and happy.

It doesn’t happen like that.

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Perceptions and Projections

Self Reflection: Exposure, Contemplation, and Embodiment

Screen Shot 2015-05-02 at 1.29.36 PM

CCRAlogosmallThe art of self-reflection is the central endeavor of spiritual cultivation. It includes three main aspects: exposure, contemplation, and embodiment.

Exposure means making contact with ideas that spark the process of self-reflection. Exposure can happen in many ways: reading books, listening to lectures, making a connection with a teacher, observing nature, and so on. Exposure is exciting and fresh. The inception of new possibilities usually is. Yet every honeymoon period wanes with time. Although exposure is absolutely necessary, it only reaches skin deep. The genuine value of exposure is that it ignites contemplation.

It takes courage and perseverance to touch the depths of anything, especially the human heart. The movement from exposure to contemplation is no exception.

We can easily get caught in the trap of reading stacks of spiritual books, attending endless seminars, and otherwise accumulating a head-full of  theoretical knowledge. Getting stuck in the exposure phase is like never leaving the buffet line. We overeat and then suffer from spiritual indigestion. At some point, we must stop and digest what we have already consumed. Digestion is less exciting than consumption; however, this is how value is extracted and assimilated.

Contemplation, in its early stages, is the ability to entertain an idea without accepting or rejecting it. It is something akin to holding a baby bird in your palm. With great interest and care, you begin to observe closely. The purpose of contemplation is to see things in a fresh way. Premature acceptance of exciting ideas closes the hand too forcefully, crushing the bird. Premature rejection of confronting concepts pushes new possibility away; the bird gets dropped.

The first lesson we must learn in the art of contemplation is to calm down. We have to take ideas in fully, digest them slowly. There is no rush. We do not have to accept or reject. We do not have to label “good” or “bad.” There is another option beyond the duality of choosing this or that. We can simply remain open.

The process of contemplation entails closely observing our own beliefs. The objective is not to acquire a host of new ideas per se, but to find out if the ones we hold dear have any relationship with reality. One of my teachers said it nicely: “Losing ignorance is much better than gaining any wisdom.”

One of the benefits of properly conducted contemplation is that it exposes our own confusion. Contemplation shines the lamp of awareness into the dark rooms of our belief systems. Light can only expose our ignorance; it’s up to us to toss out assumptions and beliefs that are not representative of reality as-it-is.

Although contemplation can bring clarity, it is easy to mistake lucid theoretical understanding for embodiment. Mental certainty of spiritual truth is quite different from realization. It takes courage to move from contemplation to embodiment.

The risk of getting caught in contemplation is that one formulates lofty theories and then stands behind them, aloof from the living moment. This is a common mistake among so-called “advanced” spiritual seekers. Unchecked contemplation can render a person dharma- intoxicated. Blindly adopting spiritual axioms will do the same. This means we have taken on a particular view—usually one that espouses transcendence—and have placed that view between ourselves and the immediate situation of everyday life. Shrouded in spiritual ideals, and armed with objective understanding, a seeker can become distant from immediacy. Untouchable.

This is a common obstacle on the path.

Studying an atlas is quite different from walking in the forest. At some point, we have to fold up our map of concepts and step onto the path-less path. Teachers and teachings can only point in a general direction. We have to step off and trust life itself. With the firm ground of self-honesty under our feet, a profound recognition dawns.

We realize that, despite all of our learning, we actually know very little.

A sense of wonder returns. Freshness. This is how self-honesty and contemplation work together. At the end of the day, contemplation clearly reveals that to satiate our innermost longing we must go beyond concepts and preconceptions. Contemplation must lead to embodiment.

Embodiment is warm and intimate, totally engaged with the immediate situation. To move from contemplation to embodiment, we have to drop our guard. The cloak of self- protecting concepts is disrobed. We become vulnerable. We feel. Contact with life reaches our bones. Embodiment means being fully alive and available. It requires that we remain open to whatever arises.

This might sound fantastic in theory. In real-life application, however, living like this can be quite confronting. It dismantles our built-up mechanisms of protection. It breaks our cover, messes with our cool. It exposes ego’s hiding scheme. Nevertheless, if we are to become real human beings (Chinese zhen ren), we have to take the leap from contemplation to embodiment.

Perhaps Dogen Zenji says it best: “Enlightenment is intimacy with all things.”

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Self Reflection: Exposure, Contemplation, and Embodiment

The View: How You Think the World Works

Poppy field at sunset

CCRAlogosmallThe way we conceptualize ourselves and the world largely affects how we go about doing things.

Whether we are conscious of it or not, we hold a particular mental outlook—a view.

A view is a set of beliefs about how we think the world works. It is a cosmology. A mythology. Much of this view is formulated in childhood by the dominant assumptions of our culture. Many of the core notions that make up our culture’s worldview are established by religion, politics, and advertising. Each of these has its own agenda.

As we mature, we adopt certain beliefs based on what we deem advantageous. Maybe you are an optimist. A realist. A believer. A skeptic. A mystic. Maybe you have adopted science as your chosen mythology. Whatever the case may be, like a fish in water, your view is the medium you swim in. It’s easy to forget that you have a view. If you do not check frequently, you will only operate within the framework of your view. Seems harmless.

Yet, if certain aspects of this view are not representative of reality as-it-is, you will find yourself feeling claustrophobic, uncomfortable in your own skin. No matter what you do—how much success or fun you have—there is a nagging sense of unrest. It doesn’t matter how much others love and respect you, genuine fulfillment somehow seems to elude you. Even though you do everything “right,” secretly inside yourself there is still a sense that something is missing.

The cause of this predicament does not lie with you or the world. Both are perfectly imperfect. The glitch is in the view. We do not taste true satisfaction until we go beyond the veil of our own concepts. We are not free until we cease to be defined by what we believe.

In the next blog post, we’ll see how the art of self-reflection is the central endeavor of spiritual cultivation. We’ll also examine its three main aspects: exposure, contemplation, and embodiment.

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The View: How You Think the World Works

What is Meditation?

CCRAlogosmallThere are many conflicting ideas about what meditation is.

Western culture has adopted meditation as another form of self-improvement. The cultural assumption is that meditation is about stilling the mind or entering altered states of consciousness. There is a common belief that the goal of meditation is to get rid of thoughts, kill the ego, or enter an otherworldly blissful trance.

Such ideas are erroneous and misleading. They expose a worldview based in the cosmology of insufficiency. There is a fundamental assumption—primarily informed by the Judeo-Christian notion of original sin and subsequent need for salvation—that something is innately wrong with us. Theism postulates God and his ordained instruments as the answer to the supposed problem. But what if no such problem exists to begin with?

Popular understanding of meditation often removes the orthodox notion of God and religion from the equation, but fails to investigate the insidious assumption that one is in need of saving. In the core teachings of spiritual traditions where meditation is foremost, no such idea arises. In fact, Buddhism, Daoism, and Vedanta postulate the exact opposite: that everything is just fine.

All things are faultless from the beginning.

The central teaching proposes that it is through mental projection and error of perception that we find flaw with the world and ourselves. Ignorance is the root cause of suffering. A verse from the Pali Canon reads, “The heart’s nature is intrinsically radiant, defilements are only visitors.”

Meditation, then, is not a tool for fixing what is wrong or attaining what is absent. It is a way of directly realizing the truth, of savoring reality as-it-is. Meditation is not something esoteric. It is not an Asian aesthetic hinting at transcendence. It has very little to do with stone Buddha statues and lotus flowers.

Plain and simple: meditation is an immediate relationship with what is right in front of you. Uncolored by culture, religion, or politics, true meditation exists only in the context of your direct experience.

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What is Meditation?

Good Digestion is the Foundation of Radiant Health

CCRAlogosmallEvery cell in the body relies on the digestive system for its supply of essential minerals, nutrients and energy. These are derived mostly from the food we eat and the air we breathe. The cells of every tissue in the body also rely heavily on the digestive system for the management of cellular waste. When the body digests, assimilates and eliminates efficiently, your health flourishes. You have more energy, sharper brain function, better sleep and a renewed sense of youthfulness. Good digestion is the cornerstone of long-term health and vitality.

Digestion is a three-part process: digestion, assimilation, and elimination. Digestion is the breaking down of ingested foods into smaller and smaller particles that the body can use. This starts in the mouth (with proper chewing), and then moves to the stomach, small intestine, and large intestine. Absorption is the process of distributing digested food to the cells through the blood. Elimination starts at the cell site as individual cells evacuate the byproducts of cellular function. Cellular waste enters the blood stream — passes through the liver, lungs, and kidneys — and is eliminated from the body through urine, feces and sweat.

ANatomy of human digestive systemThese three components — digestion, absorption and elimination — form a interdependent loop. If there is malfunction at one level, the whole system is adversely affected. For example, if elimination of waste is compromised due to constipation, then assimilation of vital nutrients will diminish as well. This causes a back up of waste at the cell site, which reduces the volume of nutrients that the cell can absorb. Constipation doesn’t just affect the colon, it affects the whole body. Cells easily become clogged with toxic waste and therefore malnourished. This can happen to brain cells, thyroid cells, nerve cells, and muscle cells. Systemic balance at every level of human physiology is dependent on good digestion.

This is one reason we talk about the Vital Center as the hub of all Nine Spheres of life. Wherever you go, there your belly is. And when all is well in your Vital Center, it shows in every aspect of your life.

Simply put, to digest is to thrive.

Unfortunately, digestive-related health ailments, such as acid reflux, gas and bloating, constipation, irritable bowel syndrome, and Crohn’s disease are extremely common. In addition, there are many frequent illnesses related to malfunction of the digestive system: arthritis, hypertension, low back pain, chronic fatigue, brain fog, chronic yeast infections, and sexual dysfunction.

A large portion of the Radiant Awakening self-care and self-healing practices specifically benefit digestion and elimination. Here are a few examples of essential daily self-care for the improved digestive health:

  •  Drink 20 oz (620ml) of plain warm water upon waking.
  •  Practice at least 20 minutes of gentle movement before breakfast.
  •  Practice at least 5 – 10 minutes of abdominal self-massage daily.
  •  Eat a whole food plant-based diet.
  •  Reduce your intake of wheat, dairy and meat.
  •  Stop eating all highly processed foods, especially sugar and flour!
  •  Eat only until you are 80% full.
  •  Finish your last meal 3 hours before bed (don’t snack in the evening).

Most people see results fairly quickly after starting a self-care practice. However, consistency and patience are key. It takes about 100 days to fully transform the way that your digestive system functions. After you complete 100 days of healing, keep going with the program. Practice the exercise 3 – 4 times per week. Self-care is a life-long habit. Think long-term. By supporting optimal digestion, you are securing a foundation of health and vitality for years to come.

My Digestive Power DVD teaches you easy-to-learn postures, movements, and breathing exercises that will improve your digestion radically, along with 15 must-know secrets for superior digestive health. If you suffer from constipation, acid reflux, gas and bloating, irritable bowel syndrome, or any other common digestive challenge, this program is for you.

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Good Digestion is the Foundation of Radiant Health

The Great Disillusionment

CCRAlogosmallAll methods of spiritual practice eventually lead to the same place: complete failure of the ego-driven search, disappointment with your ability to produce satisfactory results (fruition). This is because what you are seeking cannot be produced. Fulfillment is not the effect of a prior cause. It is not currently missing and later found. It is not originally flawed, then fixed by personal effort. It is not a product of the busy-work of self-improvement. Nor can it be given to you by a teacher, deity or god. Your true original nature is always totally pristine. It is perfect all the time. The constancy of this natural perfection is what is actually going on. This is the only thing that is ultimately true about you. All other so-called truths are relative, dependent and temporary.

Like a fish in water, you are always home. Like a star in the sky, you are always shining. Like the unending expanse of open space, you are always free. Your innate enlightenment is flawless and incorruptible. Even now.

What are you seeking, then? What is it you hope to find through spiritual practice?

To act as if you are not originally whole is a blasphemy. Seeking and grasping are blatant acts of disrespect toward primordial truth, nature, and your own self. The ego-driven spiritual search is a child’s tantrum.

Mature spiritual life begins after you experience the total failure of your anxious efforts to attain peace, fulfillment, enlightenment. The very intent behind this effort denies what is always the case. Only once you pass through the genuine experience of this total failure can you begin to undergo the process of authentic self-cultivation in all Nine Spheres. If you are still seeking a cure for your discomfort — a source of adequate intoxication and distraction — you will only feel frustrated by the teachings I present here. For at the very core of everything I teach is an undermining of this game of seeking and self-delusion, and a dismantling of the Cosmology of Insufficiency (that you unconsciously allow to dictate your life).

Each of us come to spiritual practice with the same desperation and unreasonable expectations we bring to everything else (relationship, sex, work, child rearing, etc). We want a situation that will make us happy, once and for all. We want things to go our way, all the time. Disenchanted with the “material world”, we hope that through the spiritual search we will finally be successful; that yoga, meditation, mindfulness, mantra, or the guru’s magic hug will take away our pain and transport us into heavenly bliss. It never happens. No one has ever succeeded in securing fulfillment this way. The plan is faulty from the onset. The secret agenda behind spiritual seeking is ill-founded. It denies the very truth that is already fully operative. It contradicts what you truly are in your deepest essence.

The game of seeking is nothing but a glorified act of denial.

Let me be totally transparent here: the purpose of these teachings is to end your game, to show you how to cut the knot of suffering, for good.

That is why you will not find temporary satisfaction in what I offer. You will not even find lasting symptomatic relief. You will not find intoxication, lofty ideals, or uplifting affirmations to sedate your gut-level pain.

None of this is what the Radiant Awakening is about.

More than anything in the world, I want you to be free of the inner affliction that torments you. I want you to be radiant and vital in all Nine Spheres of your life. But temporary relief is like giving drugs to an addict to ease the pain of their craving. Each hit is but a moment’s diversion from the root cause. I will not feed your Cycle of Affliction with dishonest promises about spiritual transcendence. I will not participate in your endless seeking. This game of grasping is a great act of disrespect toward yourself. It denies the truth of your intrinsic wholeness and contradicts universal law. I will not be a part of it.

Working with these teachings will provoke you. It will likely ruffle your feathers (and probably piss you off). It will feel confronting. It will undermine all that you have worked to create; the many faces of your facade. It will strip you of your capacity to lie to yourself (and everyone else) about who you truly are. It will flush you out from your hiding place. It will render you utterly naked, and bring you into unguarded relationship with life. It will free you from what you never were; a contracted separate self, riddled with problems, desperately grasping for happiness.

Please do not misunderstand my directness for judgement. I totally accept you as you are. I love you as you are. I am simply making an invitation here. This invitation has no expiration date. But if you prefer to stay curled up in the familiar blanket of your egoic dream, I will not think less of you for that (just don’t come sniffing around hoping to get your spiritual ego stroked).

If you’re genuinely interested, the door is always open. The lamp is always lit.

And if the yearning for freedom is starting to supersede your attachment to the comfort of familiar pain, then you are on the brink of something revolutionary. Change is in the air. With commitment,  guidance, and some sincere practice, you will soon ignite the Cycle of Awakening.

If you are willing to stop resisting life and meet me in unguarded intimacy, I guarantee that your radiant awakening is imminent. It is not a matter of if, it is a matter of when.

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The Great Disillusionment

Heal Neck & Shoulder Pain

CCRAlogosmall A large portion of the population lives with a nagging feeling of chronic discomfort in the neck, shoulders and jaw (ask any massage therapist, chiropractor or acupuncturist). Many people are in such pain that their normal everyday function is significantly compromised. Reliance on pain medicine, whether prescription or over the counter, is more common than any health practitioner would like to admit. Pain in the neck and shoulders is pandemic.

The main causes of chronic neck and shoulder pain are improper alignment of the joints, poor body mechanics during repetitive motion (typing, driving, texting, working), unnatural breathing, and accumulated stress. These three forces combineShoulder Pain to form a powerful vector, a perfect storm. Together they cause immense strain on the delicate joints and connective tissue of the upper carriage, which reduces circulation of blood (oxygen / nutrients) to the brain and important endocrine glands — such as the thyroid, pituitary, and pineal — not to mention the muscles, tendons and ligaments. Unhappy tissues convey their dissatisfaction the only way they know how. Pain!

Pain in the neck and shoulders is not simply a musculoskeletal phenomenon, or a simple case of nagging inconvenience. The negative effects of chronic pain in the neck and shoulders have broader reaching implications.

Over time, chronic pain changes the anatomy and physiology which places the body into a mode of systemic inflammation. This affects mood, sleep, work performance, and vital organ function. The cascade of interrelated symptoms has implications in all Nine Spheres. Needless to say, for overall well-being, it is imperative to break the pain-cycle and allow the body to heal.

In many cases, the application of a self-healing protocol of gentle stretching, mindful movement, and awareness training (of posture and body mechanics) addresses root causes and helps the body to restore balance.  Mobility exercises restore pain-free range of motion. Fluidity exercises improve the functional strength of the neck and shoulders. Awareness training teaches you how to recognize harmful patterns of posture and movement that aggravate the neck and shoulders, and how to self-correct these on the fly.

Here’s what a typical self-healing routine looks like:

Practice short 20-minute sessions once a day, 4 – 6 days per week. Most people see results fairly quickly after starting a self-care practice. However, consistency and patience are key. It takes about 100 days to fully transform the way your neck and shoulders function and completely route out old patterns of chronic pain and tension. After you complete 100 days of healing, keep going with the exercises 3 – 4 times per week. This is the maintenance dose.

Throughout your day, always do your best to maintain correct alignment, proper body mechanics, and natural breathing in everything you do. This type of body-based awareness is a powerful practice of mindfulness in and of itself, and will continue deepen and yield additional benefits the more you practice.

My DVD on healing neck and shoulder pain teaches you how to heal your own neck and shoulder pain naturally, using gentle restorative exercises, breathing techniques, self-massage, and important adjustments to your everyday posture and body mechanics that will reduce repetitive stress and relieve chronic tension.

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Heal Neck & Shoulder Pain