November 7, 2011
On November 7, 2006 we published our first Meditation Oasis podcast episode. We had no idea that 5 years later, there would be over 8 million downloads and that people all over the world, of all ages and backgrounds, would become listeners. Our podcast meditations have been used in ways and in places we would never have imagined. Everyday we hear from people through emails, Facebook, Twitter, website comments about how they are benefitting from the meditations. At times we are moved to tears — both awed and humbled, knowing that these reports are a testimony to the power of meditation and the tremendous capacity we have as humans to grow.
Our meditations have been used both by people wanting to enrich their experience of life and by people overcoming all sorts of challenges. Counselors and psychotherapists use them for their clients; women have used them in childbirth; they have been used in clinics and human resource departments, recovery programs, hospitals, and by troops in Afghanistan. We hear from people who are grieving or facing medical problems and surgery. Artists and musicians tell us how meditation has helped them create. And we also hear from people who simply say that life is easier, more rich and fulfilling and that they have more inner peace.
Our work has developed and expanded because of what we hear from listeners. Many of the podcast meditations came about because of listeners’ requests. The podcast has been a launching pad for our online meditation course, anxiety relief program, as well as our smartphone applications. Much of Richard’s music has been inspired by the podcast meditations.
This has been an incredibly fulfilling five years, and it’s all because of of our listeners’ openness. Richard and I feel grateful to all of you who have opened your minds and hearts to be on this journey with us.
February 5, 2010
If you are reading this post, chances are you are someone who likes my voice, the style of my guided meditations and Richard’s music. I get lots of comments about how soothing and reassuring my voice is. That feels good, of course. But everyone’s reaction to my voice isn’t so favorable.
There have been reviews that said I sound like a Valley Girl, a Saturday Night Live skit, too sing-songy, aggravating, irritating, annoying, even drunk! Reactions to a person’s voice and style of speaking, especially in a guided meditation, can be so different. Something in a voice can trigger a difficult or unpleasant association. What soothes one person annoys another.
Obviously, there’s no “best” guided meditation style or “right” voice for everyone. People’s tastes are so varied. Nevertheless, the first time we got a negative review on our first CD, it made me want to quit. I listened to myself and thought “oh my they’re right, I sound ridiculous”. It didn’t matter that many people were already getting benefit from the meditations. My confidence in myself was so low. On top of that, I have a way of seeing things from all different sides. So I could easily feel that someone’s criticism was the truth of the matter.
Thank goodness I didn’t give up. It took a lot of reminding myself that a few people not liking what I do doesn’t negate the value many others were receiving from my work. It took accepting that as soon as you express yourself fully, in your own unique way, some people are not going to like what you do. It also took understanding that the more you express your true self, the more you had to offer those who resonate with you.
For much of my life, I didn’t fully express my creativity and talents because I preferred to hide and not give anyone the chance to criticize me. But that is no way to live. We all have gifts and we need to share them to be really fulfilled. If you express yourself and share your gifts, not everyone will enjoy them, but some people will absolutely love what you have to offer. And that’s what matters – that you give what you can to those who can benefit from it. Perhaps what matters even more is that you give the gift of yourself to yourself!
Now when I hear a criticism, it doesn’t phase me. My perspective is much more balanced, and my self-love and respect so much stronger. Day by day, I gather more courage to be more fully myself. The more I express myself, the less I care what others think, the more fulfilling life becomes. It’s an on-going journey for me. Some fortunate people grow up with that kind of confidence, but others have to gain it later. How about you? What has your experience been?
January 15, 2010
A friend just shared a beautiful poem she wrote about winter. Although the title of the poem is Winter’s Resurgence, I titled this post “Winter as Meditation”, because for me winter is a season of meditation. It brings an invitation to go within.
In the dormancy of winter, all sorts of things are going on underground and these underground stirrings are the foundation of the blossoming of spring. In the same way, the deep rest of meditation is a foundation for creativity and productivity when meditation is finished.
Here is K’s poem. It spoke to me on so many levels and in so many different ways, but I’ll be quiet now, like winter, and let the poem reveal its special meaning for you. I’d love to hear what it means to you…
Winter has come upon us with her
majestic stillness and fierce storms
Blanketing us in her winter’s lair
Beckoning us to breath in rhythm
And it is here that I speak my prayer:
‘Take a part of me deep into your forested womb
Keep me there, giving me rest, away from worldly
desires and despairs
Cover me with your insight and love
Hold me like there is no where else to go, nothing
more to become
Heal me of my tired and disenchanted ways
Let me be still inside, my belly connected with yours
like the dormant snake of winter lying securely in you’
And when your mists begins to lift, may your
nurturing womb flow me out and birth me new
September 30, 2009
These words — “in life, as in music, the pauses make all the difference” — floated into my mind a few weeks back. I tweeted them on Twitter and started a post about them. The post has been saved as a draft since then, barely started and abandoned. Checking in with my drafts today, the words were quite welcome, as I am in a place where I need to pause. There have simply been too many things going on and my mind and body need a break. Reading these words was a good reminder, since everything in our culture demands that we constantly do, do, do, and then do some more.
We think that when we pause — whether for a brief break or a week-long retreat — we are losing time that could be used productively. We think we’re making progress when we’re in motion — moving forward, as it were, on our way to our goal. In reality, it’s often when we pause that the most progress is made. It’s common wisdom that discoveries are made and insights come when we stop working on something and let it go. Inspiration and insight spring from deep within. They can’t be reached through mental focus, thinking and logic. They are accessed when the mind is relaxed and creativity can flow.
Pauses refresh and renew, hence they actually contribute to our productivity. But even more important, they bring balance and an enjoyable rhythm to life. We can’t live at all without the long pause of sleep or even the tiny pause between the breaths. Pauses give life. Why not honor and allow ourselves to relax into them completely? Today, instead of lamenting the fact that I need to take some time off, I’m relishing the hours ahead. And when I’ve had enough r and r, I’ll relish plunging back into work.
In music, it’s the pauses that make the rhythms. It’s in the pauses that the notes settle in and have time to reverberate in our hearts. It’s in life’s pauses that we find the silent background of our being. Today I shall delight in pauses!
August 3, 2009
Blackberries can be sooooo delicious when they’re soft and sweet, and sooooo disappointing when they’re not. I’ve been picking them on a nearby road where they grow on a fence by a field. It’s a great summer for blackberries. There are tons of them, enough to lure me back into berry picking after having given up on it last summer when I seemed to always come home with a bag of tart berries. But this year I discovered bring sweet, juicy berries home. What’s more, honing my fruit picking skills has given me insights on creativity and life.
It all began with our plum tree in June. The plums are outrageously delicious — incredibly sweet, juicy and perfumed with their own unique fragrance, but only when they’re really ripe. We learned last year that when they fall off the tree, they are just perfect. Only problem is they often split open when they land, and a bagful of split plums soon degenerates into a mess. The trick then is to get the plum when it’s just getting ready to fall, and you can do that by grasping them ever so carefully and giving just the slightest tug. Not a tug even, a faint whisper of a tug… If the plum falls into your hand, it’s ripe. If it resists your tug, it’s not ready. It may still be good, but not incredible, and why settle for good?
Having mastered plum picking, I was ready for the more delicate task of picking blackberries. One has to be ever so careful, not just dodging thorns, but tugging on the berries just right, being careful not to mush the ones that are truly ripe. It’s a delicate operation. It takes patience, sensitivity to the bush’s readiness to let go of its fruit. After all, the bush thrives by having bird’s eat the berries when they are ripe, when the seeds are ready to be dispersed. There’s a reason the fruit gets sweet when it does.
It takes patience to cooperate with the timing of the bush. It takes respect for its natural rhythms to enjoy the treasures it holds. You learn to listen, to cooperate with the life cycle of the bush, and when you do you are rewarded with a berry that drops effortlessly into your hand and tastes incredibly delicious.
Picking berries this way has allowed space for reflection as I pick. Since I am still in the midst of creating a new set of meditations, the parallels in the process of berry picking and giving birth to a new project became obvious. The ideas have to gestate and grow, and when they are ripe, they come easily. Like the berry bush that I return to day after day to cull the berries that are ripe that day, I have to leave the project to mature and ripen at its own pace. I spend time with it and then leave it. It percolates inside me and then when I work on it again, the latest “fruits” are ready for the picking. Inspirations come in their time, and I can’t force them.
Letting the new project grow requires the same respect and trust that I’m learning in berry picking. I can’t make the berries ripen faster. It’s always tempting to try to pull off a berry that isn’t really ready. It just doesn’t work. It’s not fun, actually. It feels as if the bush is resisting. If I do manage to get one off, it doesn’t taste good. Creativity can’t be forced. It comes in its time fueled by the same vital force that ripens the fruit. Sure, you can make sure a fruit tree is planted in the sun and gets enough water and fertilizer, but then you just have to wait. You can nourish yourself with adequate rest, exercise, meditation — but you still have to wait.
My fruit picking is teaching me that patience, respect, and trust. The blackberry bush is teaching me its lesson as I learn to listen. The new project will be finished on its schedule, in its time. I can try to push it, but it will only result in frustration and will get me nowhere. Or I can surrender to the process. I don’t have any more ability to hasten the creation of my new meditations than I have the ability to make the fruit ripen. This realization is humbling, and it’s also a relief. If I don’t seem to be making progress on a project, I can just let it go, knowing it will come in its time.
July 20, 2009
It’s always a surprise to me. Every single time. I record a guided meditation, do some editing and pass it on to Richard. And then before I know it, he’s added some music and voila — it’s done. Just like that, he listens to the meditation at his keyboard and the music seems to get composed effortlessly. And I always love it. It always feels just right for the meditation. And I’m always in awe. How did that happen? How is it that every single time, on the spot, the music comes?
Even though I’ve experienced how effortlessly things can get created, I’m still amazed. And yet, when something new does come into existence, it is by nature a spontaneous, effortless event. If it’s new, it’s never been seen, touched, heard, known before. How could that come with effort? When we make an effort, we are working at something. We have an end in mind — we draw on everything we know and have experienced before; we use our logic; we try to connect the dots. But something completely new can’t be found in what we have heretofore experienced and known. It comes from the source of all of that, and the functioning of the source lies outside the functioning of our own will and actions, even though it influences them. So “true creativity” can only be effortless. While we may work at shaping an inspiration once it arises, we cannot force the inspiration to come.
While that explains to me the effortlessness of Richard’s composing, it doesn’t explain the consistency of it. And here I turn to my understanding of meditation for answers. Meditation can align us with the source of all creation (and hence creativity). The mind shifts into a more open, intuitive mode, beyond intellect and logic. Composers have to “get out of the way” for their music to come into being. Meditation in its most essential form gets us out of our own way.
Richard gets into a meditative state to compose. After all the years of meditation, it’s easy for him to do that. So Richard gets out of the way and the music comes. I should understand that — it’s how my meditations come. It’s how everything I’ve ever accomplished creatively has come. And yet it still surprises me when it happens. It is always a wonderful, awe-inspiring mystery. It is always a gift.
Richard’s beautiful, meditative music is available on our Pure Light album (a compilation of background music from our podcast and CDs.)
May 22, 2009
We’re all creative. Life is naturally creative and so are we. And yet so often our creativity seems to be stifled. There are millions of hits on Google for “creative blocks”. Once you’ve tasted the joy of creativity flowing easily, it’s extremely frustrating to hit those blocks. And if you are an artist, writer, musician or anyone whose work requires a lot of creativity, there’s a sense of pressure to create that in itself can hamper the creative process.
When the creative juices are flowing, it’s a high. It’s effortless. In fact, artists describe the creative process as one in which something simply comes through them. There’s a sense that “I” didn’t create this, it came on its own. It feels like a gift that comes spontaneously from a source outside ourselves. In fact, it’s the bypassing of the “me” who gets involved in trying to control the creation that allows the creativity to happen. It’s the “me” with all its doubts and anxiety about outcomes that becomes the block. It’s the “me” who wants to control the creation that gets in the way.
This latest podcast episode is designed to disarm the me, to help you drop into the natural flow of creativity that’s going on all the time in your own consciousness. Life is a flow of creativity. Our own consciousness is a flow of creativity. Ideas come, things get created naturally when we get out of the way.
Hope this meditation helps get your creative juices flowing. If you wish, you can use the meditation right before you do your creative work. Just let go of any expectation of outcomes and enjoy the process!