To Set Free

“I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.” ~ Michelangelo “I find it really interesting how Fred Luskin turns forgiveness into something simple that we can all work on. 1. Becoming more grateful, which is (for me) an idea that we always should have in mind. 2. Manage the…

Immersion

“The ancient Irish bards knew the Salmon of Knowledge as the giver of all life’s wisdom. In the salmon’s leap of understanding like a leap of faith, we can see ourselves ‘in our element,’ immersed in the river of life.” ~ Lynn Culbreath Noel “Yet, it’s implication and potential has also forced me to step…

Leaning into Art

“You mentioned in the comment section of a recent post that ‘I’d argue that what is often missing is not a belief in science as much as a belief in art. That is, we don’t lean into art as a means to internal or external resolution (of issues, anxiety, discontent, burnout, whatever).’ This stood out…

Universal Quest

“A chapter in Jung’s book (Modern Man in Search of a Soul) mentions physical and psychic transformations that usually come up between the ages of 35 and 40. After this age, if I understand well, he says that people are exposed to bigger changes than before that they meet with already diminished perceptive capacities resulted…

Cultivating Great Character

“But of all he wrote, one topic alone stands as the most important to him: and this is the question of how one can cultivate a great character.” “When a man can say of his states and actions, ‘As I am, so I act,’ he can be at one with himself… and he can accept…

Compassion Burnout

“The subject of compassion has been a significant conversation in events over the years. Reading the chapters on compassion in your last book, ‘In the Midst of Things,’ has given me a deeper appreciation for how complex the subject is. Recently, I’ve been wrestling with understanding the differences between sympathy, empathy and compassion. I realize…

Past to Present

After some months of work, the new version of my blog is fully updated and running, with some new additions, links and images. This new format allows for (and encourages!) comments, including for all posts that go back to 2014. And it’s a more welcoming interface for newcomers particularly. (Please note that I am no…

Soldier’s Heart

I was recently sitting at a makeshift outdoor bar with picnic tables assembled in a parking lot. At a table not too far from mine was an older man and middle-aged woman. I couldn’t hear the conversation, but I did notice the man listening carefully to his friend, often in silence for three or four…

Poised Patience

The discomfort of waiting you describe is a member of the Paradox family. Waiting is not hesitating or wasting time. In the story Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse, the hero mentions that he can do only three things well; waiting is one of these. It is obvious in how he engages the waiting that it is…

Meanwhile, in the Monastery

“With the COVID-19 pandemic causing increasing restrictions and isolation, including long-term lockdowns, I’m really struggling to find ways out of depression and a deepening sense of malaise. I’m doing my best to keep up with my exercise program, but do you have other ideas that might help during these dramatically oppressive times?” It’s a good…

Bonfire

“During these times of intensified anxiety and social unrest, why don’t you write more about your views on issues of national and international importance? You have a reputation for being a voice of reason, and I’d like to know how you stand on some of the larger controversies we’re facing these days, such as the…

Intrinsic Common Denominator

A few persons have reminded me that it is exactly five years ago that the last Retreat in the South of France took place. That was an extended moment of remarkable harmony and interpersonal cultivation in a community made up of people from all over the world: from different cultures, generations, faiths, beliefs and lifestyles….

Balance

The importance of cooperation to keep balance during delicate times…

Integration

One of the themes I’ve consistently tried to incorporate into my work over the years is that of integration. The idea is simple yet complex in application, especially when we look at the often outward-spiraling, separate and often conflictual motivations and ambitions of the various schools of thought and organizations that make up this world…

Immersive Travel

Pico Iyer on the secret of immersive travel The celebrated writer reflects on how this once-in-a-lifetime experiment of global stillness can teach us to see the world with new eyes. “It’s a relationship that has come to haunt me more and more over 46 years of travel: my capacity to be stirred is in direct…

Remembering Our Humanness

A subject that seems appropriate these days… Image: Altamira cave painting, Spain, circa 16,500 – 12,000 BC

“From electricity, lightning, from lightning, illumination”

My appreciative thanks to everyone who responded to my last blog post. It’s encouraging to hear the perceptive insights and considerate voices of colleagues and friends. Here are portions of a few: “My original intention was to express my thanks for the seminar last month, but I first want to thank you for your recent…

What Can We Do About the Coronavirus?

With the coronavirus and runoff reactions making their way into so many aspects of our lives, I thought I would take the opportunity to highlight actions that we can all take on from a personal skills perspective to minimize impact. The critical interface between this disease (and many others) and our personal and communal wellbeing…

“Courage and Intelligence”

“Thank you for your last post on the blog. I thought it was a beautiful idea and Christmas present. In resonance with your comments, one of my great satisfactions of 2019 was to have finally managed to read Camus’ ‘The Rebel’ entirely, a book that I kept with me since I was 18, and which…

Reality Check

“Books permit us to voyage through time, to tap the wisdom of our ancestors. The library connects us with the insight and knowledge, painfully extracted from Nature, of the greatest minds that ever were, with the best teachers, drawn from the entire planet and from all our history, to instruct us without tiring, and to…

The Three Keys

History is full of exceptional people finding their way to their greatest contributions during unusually anguished chapters of their lives. We see this especially in the arts, where unprecedented depths and intensity of creative expression often seem to have been opened through great personal turmoil. In various spiritual traditions as well, transcendent insights are often arrived…

Gardens

Oliver Sacks: The Healing Power of Gardens “All of us have had the experience of wandering through a lush garden or a timeless desert, walking by a river or an ocean, or climbing a mountain and finding ourselves simultaneously calmed and reinvigorated, engaged in mind, refreshed in body and spirit. The importance of these physiological…

Equanimity

In our tradition of exploring foreign words and concepts, this collection of unique Japanese words was assembled by Mari Fujimoto, a linguist and professor. In my view, all of these highlight and expand on variations of equanimity. There can be surprising benefits in looking through other cultures and traditions toward our daily lives, changing perspectives…

Imaginative Association

In recently reading an excellent passage from Henry David Thoreau’s A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers, I was reminded that the foundational wisdom that makes up current forms of personal growth and development used to be conveyed in more subtly imaginative ways. Where there are now multi-step programs, bullet-point lists with brassy keywords…

Warm Up……………Cool Down

In response to requests over recent years, below are two short videos showing fundamental movement sequences I use for my own overall wellbeing maintenance and within classes, seminars and retreats I lead. The specific exercises are a mélange drawn from multiple disciplines, including Oriental martial arts, yoga, classical dance, modern Western physical training programs and…

Dynamic Application

“I have frequently seen people become neurotic when they content themselves with inadequate or wrong answers to the questions of life. They seek position, marriage, reputation, outward success of money, and remain unhappy and neurotic even when they have attained what they were seeking. Such people are usually confined within too narrow a spiritual horizon. Their…

The Vertical and the Horizontal

“I finally had time to really dive into your presentation of Kendrick and his work, the videos, the articles. His frankness, simplicity, humility — that’s high end stuff. Makes me think of a pearl or gem that gets so sanded down by the elements around it that it just becomes pure, all artifices worn away,…

Accepting Change

“It’s pulling with the experience of going through change and accepting change; that’s the hardest thing for man, accepting change… That can draw a thin line, you know, between you having your sanity and you losing it. And this is how artists deteriorate, if you don’t catch yourself… when we don’t have respect for ourselves,…

Getting Out of School

“In your last workshop you kept pushing the idea of boundaries, particularly self-created boundaries of ignorance and prejudice, and how to get beyond them. Your literal and figurative example of the Great Green Wall was enlightening, not only as imaginative representation but as a significant objective event in the world we live in but had…

Great Green Wall

During a recent weekend workshop attended by a full crowd of very intelligent, for the most part successful, well-educated individuals from many places around the world, I paused at a point early on to ask if anyone had heard of the Great Green Wall. To my amazement, no one in the room raised their hand. The…

The Value of Resilience

Some reflections worthy of exploration from the evolving science of positive psychology, blended with balance to considerations on art, personal development and age-old wisdoms, such as the value of resilience. Framed with a variety of twists and turns via the associated links, making for a nice Sunday afternoon contemplation if you take your time to…

Personal Process in the Questioning

In the spirit of the New Year and in timing with recent highlighted social issues and the Golden Globes, I’d like to give some space here to Daphne Merkin in her attempt to provide some context and wider perspective. I’ve often appreciated her subtle and keen observations on human experience, including her in-depth, honest considerations…

A Great Conversation

“In old notions of growth and development there was always this idea…that somehow we needed something to push against in order to grow. Now there’s almost a feeling that growth should be delivered to us… “Around us, the forces are not kind in terms of either recognizing, awakening or encouraging beauty. But, actually, this should…

Kintsugi

“I started to reflect quietly on my journey…looking at the place I am now. My heart had broken in so many pieces, I never thought it could be mended. And yet, it has…one thread of gold at a time, one thread of love at a time. I remember your talking about alchemy. I think I…

Intent

Here’s a little write-up I prepared for my last workshop that we picked through in detail on Sunday and which seemed to make sense to everyone at the time (although I was also accused of being too abstract). So, perhaps this will help to recall with some clarity what we shared. In reading it again…

“Silences in which you can actually breathe again”

“… Silences in which you can actually breathe again, and breathe in a way in which your body is not tense or set against the world — you know? A silence in which there’s a sense of spaciousness and of discovery … “There’s a way in which we’ve been treating ourselves as some kind of…

The Tyranny of Positivity

A small gesture toward celebrating the young women who go out of their way to include a fuller spectrum of consideration in our questions about personal development. There’s something refreshingly invigorating, and relieving, in a voluptuous dialogue inclusive of the more complex and sometimes difficult aspects of living. Just love these titles… There’s More to…

Human Endeavor

The greatest human endeavor is to bring imagination’s yearning into the preset limitations of a circumstance that won’t allow for it. You could say that this is how we create heaven on earth, at least for and in that moment. Photo from Aleppo by Joseph Eid

Fingerspitzengefühl

One advantage of having an online blog is that you can come back and correct various errors made in public, or at least insert parts to your presentations that you’d forgotten. After my last workshop in Los Angeles, I went back over my notes looking for the usual missing 50% – 70% that I’d accidentally…

Noble Risk

I’d like to take a moment at the beginning of this New Year to appreciatively acknowledge my colleagues and friends who have taken the risk of staying on course with their grander sensibility of life through this past year. I’m not talking of those who implement a modicum of calculated risk as necessary collateral gamble…

Gracious

Here’s a little bridge between my last post and the upcoming workshop in Israel I’ll be leading in a couple weeks. Perhaps it’s interesting for those who follow, consciously or not, the various interweaving threads of themes that we can sometimes perceive in the timing and placement of events around us. I like this conversation…

How it’s Done

Some of you have been so kind as to remind me of some of the exceptional experiences shared exactly one year ago when we were in the midst of the Autumn Retreat in the countryside in France. That was a remarkable week for a number of reasons. One of those is the accomplishment of actual…

What good training have I done today?

“Many, many thanks for the recent seminar. As with all the previous events, I found it overflowing with so much of what I consider to be excellent, necessary, useful and precious content. I’ve been thinking about the weekend and going over my notes on and off since then and I’m constantly amazed at the sheer…

Engaging Reality

“At your last seminar you mentioned the dimensional difference between understanding and engaging reality. I feel I missed the moment. I thought I would find it on your blog. Would you point me to this writing?” I think I hit that theme directly or indirectly in a number of my writings, but here’s what I…

Enchantment

“These are the things that the soul absolutely requires to feel alive, to feel engaged in our life: necessary touch, laughter, condolences and kindnesses in times of sorrow, shared meals, starlit nights that we sit together and tell stories, rituals that mend and tend the whole of our relationships to each other and to the…

Supple, Enduring Concentration

“I’ve enjoyed some time not only on your blog but also the other pages that have come up. The music playlists are a welcome addition to the early morning hours. Sitting quietly with your thoughts on information, consumption, and curious about how that all fits into morning contemplations… It seems like for years now I’ve…

Music

Over the years, many of my friends and colleagues have asked for the playlists I put together for my seminars and retreats. Here’s one that was particularly popular at my recent event last month. I have a lot of luck to have a marvelous spectrum of musical consultants from all over the world (including my…

Conversation

Conversation 1) The action of living or having one’s being in, among. 2) Consorting (with); intimacy. 3) Behavior, mode of life. – Oxford English Dictionary “Your highlighted quotes on your most recent blog post seem to suggest a failure of people to enter into what you call ‘the real conversation of life,’ and also an…

Sublime Precision

We do not need more information, not even insight, but a new determination to sidestep rampant consumption of miscellanea, seize upon one or two intuitive illuminations and make something from them. As I see this, that’s about turning the focus away from consumption, whether that be information or anything else, and begin to draw out…

Bowie

A Star Who Transcended Music, Art and Fashion “I heard the news of David Bowie’s departure and my thoughts and heart are with you… The magical, intense moments, sacred when we heard him live, when every note, every word, every fragment of his voice guided us and invited us to follow him… and I am…

Laughter

“Laughing is the shortest distance between two people.” ~ Victor Borge “Humor is the affectionate communication of insight.” ~ Leo Rosten “Laughter is carbonated holiness.” ~ Anne Lamott “A positive attitude may not solve all your problems, but it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort.” ~ Herm Albright “Humor is, in…

Beauty

“I strongly believe that we need beauty in its many forms, and that when it is missing from our life, we are in trouble: we feel irritated, nervous, uneasy, or even panicky or depressed. The need may be so deeply buried that we are unaware of why we are so upset. “Much of my time…

Life Skills

“Perhaps the most important life skill is the ability and willingness to learn. By learning new skills we increase our understanding of the world around us and equip ourselves with the tools we need to live a more productive and fulfilling life, finding ways to cope with the challenges that life, inevitably, throws at us….

Rituals

“It is up to us to devise our own rituals. I feel that ritual rises from the earth. If we slow down and listen to the land we are on, we will know what to do. Our rituals must speak to the particular ways we’ve been shaped, or misshaped, by our culture. One of the…

Tunnels

By easing away from the mania that pulls on us, recalling and reconnecting with our essential spirit and callings, we regenerate our core inspiration and faith in Life and our place within it…with a purposeful eye toward facilitating evolution toward ‘More capable human beings,’ meaning grander, freer, more authentic and meaningfully effective. How do we…

Presence

“Your reflections on presence ran through many of the conversations during your last workshop and is also a continuing theme in your written works and elsewhere. Could you condense your views on this into an easily understandable, everyday definition? What’s necessary to become more present in every moment?” My personal sense of presence that I…

Mastery

It is important to understand that the experience of joy and grace, as well as contentment and salvation, is not arrived at by the elimination of conflict, but through one’s precision of movement within it. Mastery of anything is, more than anything else, the transformation of work into play.

You have to stand for something

Need More Links and Social Shares? Try Making More Enemies “When you claim authority (not bogus ‘guru’ authority, but real leadership), you’re constructing something. If you aren’t solving a problem for your audience, go back to the drawing board until you can. “Not everyone who builds is a nice guy. Steve Jobs wasn’t a particularly…

Conflict Resolution

By not being fooled or dispersed by the conflict, remaining unprovoked, the force you accumulate naturally works at the foundation of the associated events. Conflict Resolution Techniques to consider: Painting by John Everett Millais

Walking

“I have met with but one or two persons in the course of my life who understood the art of Walking, that is, of taking walks—who had a genius, so to speak, for sauntering, which word is beautifully derived ‘from idle people who roved about the country, in the Middle Ages, and asked charity, under pretense…

Awe

Why Do We Experience Awe? “Awe is the feeling of being in the presence of something vast that transcends your understanding of the world.” “My colleague Jonathan Haidt and I have argued that awe is elicited especially by nature, art, and impressive individuals or feats, including acts of great skill or virtue… Biographers routinely discover this in…

Discipline

Anna Deavere Smith on Discipline and How We Can Learn to Stop Letting Others Define Us by Maria Popova “Art should take what is complex and render it simply. It takes a lot of skill, human understanding, stamina, courage, energy, and heart to do that. It takes, most of all, what a great scholar of…

Quality Fuel

“I’m just discovering your work through your website, which is a refreshingly elegant, articulate and original integration of so much, with this strangely encouraging stream of sincerity running through. You’ve got an enormous, volatile mass of ideas and flashlights pointing in various directions. Part of me isn’t quite sure what to make of it all,…

Intuitive Conscience

Recent discoveries in developmental psychology and other behavioral disciplines have shown that babies are born with a “first draft” of a moral mind. Among others, brain scientist, Gary Marcus, has described this moral understanding as “already defined and organized before experience.” Evolutionary psychologist, Jonathan Haidt, describes this first draft of the moral mind as consisting…

The Gift

“The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.” ~ Albert Einstein (Thank you, Shahar)

The Sweet Spot

Welcome to my new blog, which I hope will provide some compelling insights into human potential, and personal and communal development, through a wide variety of resources and angles of perception. Some metaphorical imagery that was my inspiration in conceiving this blog along with my loyal friends and colleagues who’ve been so instrumental in helping…