“Suffering is necessary until you realize it is unnecessary.” – Tolle

Good Morning Today I slept extremely late. Having a day free from work and obligations is a beautiful thing and I usually relish it.  But today, instead of enjoying the time off, I decided to make a big “to-do” list to keep unsettlingly at the forefront of my mind, while feeling completely unmotivated to accomplish any of my tasks.  I kept wishing I had the motivation to get things done while I actually had the spare time.  At the same time I felt nervous knowing that if I didn’t complete my “to-do” list today, I would be in a panic later on when I would be busier.

Does this sound at all familiar? Have you ever woken up in a funk?  Have you ever wished you could just feel better or feel more motivated?

This morning, in my day-off funk, I decided the least I could do was watch some videos on YouTube in the hopes that something inspirational would pop up.  If you’ve ever watched an Eckhart Tolle video, and if you read this blog regularly you most certainly have, you will know that each video starts with the sound of a bell, a high-pitched “ping,” which is coincidentally now the iPhone alert for a text message.

The second I heard the “ping” I realized what I had been doing all morning.  I was hoping that at some point the feeling of motivation would overtake me, and I’d get up and take action.  I was waiting for this feeling to happen.  But feelings don’t just fly through the ether and enter in through your ears.  They are created and experienced from within your very self.

All morning I was waiting for an emotion to happen to me, when the only way to feel that emotion was to create it myself.  Waiting to feel motivated is a trick.  It won’t happen.  You have to make the decision to invite that feeling forth within yourself.  The good news is that this is not as big of a task as it may seem.

Feeling the way you want to feel only takes one small step in this one moment you are experiencing.  That small step may be washing your face and brushing your hair, or going to a cafe to get some tea or coffee, or searching YouTube for an inspirational video.

With that being said, I now relinquish my big “to-do” list, and am finding my motivation right here with this one task of typing words on a keyboard.  The next step will take care of itself; the next task will happen in the moment that it happens.  Until then, I will work on creating the way I want to feel in each small act.

Understanding that emotions are created within, and choosing which emotions you want to feel, are the first steps to getting out of a funk.  I invite you to make that choice with me.  What inner feeling do you want to cultivate today?


Eckhart Tolle’s “Secret Formula”

Photo by Peter SperoEckhart Tolle has a “secret formula” for navigating the myriad of changing forms we call life.  I’m going to give it away, even before the video: what is is.  Ok so the formula is no secret, it is pretty obvious that this moment is how it is.  Such a perspective could not be more basic.  But when you actually feel that “what is is” a momentous transformation takes place.  You have allowed your experience to be as it is, and in surrender have placed yourself at the seat of power. You can now witness your situation and allow the highest potential response to emerge from that awareness.  Burden and effort are replaced by ease, spontaneity, and creativity.  In the following video Tolle offers how to enter this state in any given situation:


Why News Commentary Is Made To Fail

AC360I rarely watch television news, but that wasn’t always the case.  For one year in college I was a news junkie.  Throughout that transformative, yet tumultuous, year in my life, I watched hours of news programming each day.

This was partly a form of comfort. While immersed in the news, the voice in my head was temporarily replaced by that of the news anchor.  Instead of learning about the nature of my mind, and the suffering created by thought, I was trading in an unsatisfactory identification with my life situation for a new identification with the stories on the news.

The energy of past pain, the pain body, that is strengthened and experienced anew by the energy of current suffering, was awake within me and relished this new identification with news stories.  After all, those stories carried the same low frequency energy of the past pain; they were its new lifeblood.

A few nights ago I felt compelled to watch Anderson Cooper 360.  After hearing several stories and endless commentary I realized why news commentary is often detrimental and unhelpful to the situations they discuss.

What do Fox News, MSNBC, CNN, and even local news have in common?  They all consist of people discussing the ins and outs of other people’s situations.  To the ego life is a mental screen of thought. Yet, real life is that which is felt, witnessed, and experienced by an individual.   The surest way to pass on those uniquely experienced and understood life lessons is to share from the depths of your own experience, or as a commentator to reflect on your shared human experience.

When we hear commentary trying to assess, label, and judge a situation we get further and further away from any real meaning. Commentators transform into voices identified with mental positions, and are no longer engaged in a discussion about a real human being’s unique life experience.  News commentary is the collective ego, strengthening the ego in all those they debase to a mere story.

What is really going on in any given situation can never be fully understood.  Without that felt realization, news commentary will continue to be void of conscious awareness, ignorant of the beings it has turned into objects, and continue to strengthen the collective human ego.

Full disclosure, I am writing a commentary on why the current state of commentary is unhelpful.  While I attempt to offer the best and most honest areas of my current understanding, I too know the excitement and strong appeal of purporting opinions on the lives and actions of others.  With that in mind, I acknowledge the state of the exchange of ideas that we are currently experiencing in this day and age, which I am not separate from, but wholeheartedly envision a world of communication with a remembrance of the unity and profundity of each human being.


The Meaning of Spirituality


When studying poetry in college I often heard, and posed, the question, “what does this mean?”  

One of the more commonly frustrating aspects of poetry is that, as a reader, it is natural to want to know the meaning of a poem when the meaning can be fluid and not obvious.  This begs the question, what is the meaning of poetry altogether?

It was only through the act of writing poetry that I began to truly understand the answer to that question.  More intelligent and creative poets are able to articulate their answers exquisitely, and while I cannot yet satisfactorily answer that question through prose I nonetheless have the understanding, the essential first illuminating step that precedes a verbal explanation.

What does this have to do with spirituality?  Like poetry, spirituality can seem elusive, vague, and unsatisfyingly fluid in its meaning.  But just as the act of writing a poem can help a person understand the meaning of poetry better than any cerebral exercise, the practice of spirituality is the basis for gaining a real understanding of the meaning of that word.  In the following video Eckhart Tolle beautifully articulates where the true meaning of spirituality can be found:


5 Minutes That Can Make Your Dreams Come True

photo by Peter SperoWhat runs through your mind five minutes before sleep?  I used to be in the “can’t stop my mind from racing so I can’t sleep” club and am very relieved to have stepped down as a member many years ago.  Even if you don’t have a problem falling asleep at night your thought pattern right before sleep is affecting your waking life more than you may have realized.  Sleep is the time where our subconscious mind reigns.  We go back to the spacious ether from whence we came for regeneration, and emerge with fresh life force energy each morning.

I recently finished reading Dr. Wayne Dyer’s Wishes Fulfilled, which I cannot recommend enough, where he talks about the ways in which we train our subconscious mind with the thoughts we have right before sleep.  The subconscious mind is the deep end of the mind, which contains all that we have learned and programmed ourselves to know automatically, like driving a car, riding a bike, or answering “Well, and you?” when someone asks how we are.  The subconscious mind acts through us without us having to vocalize the instructions with thoughts.  The actions prompted by the subconscious mind creates the majority of our experience. Dr. Dyer calls it our “automatic pilot.”

So what is important about the five small minutes before falling asleep?  According to Dr. Dyer, “In this brief portion of your day, you are going to tell your subconscious mind how you feel and what wishes God (the universal one subconscious mind) is to fulfill upon awakening from your deep slumber.  This five-minute segment of time in your bed, about to enter into your subconscious and marinate for the next eight hours or so, is the most crucial segment of your entire 24-hour day,” (Dyer 136).

I am not taking Dr. Dyer’s word for it.  I’m going to embark on a 30 day before-bed challenge, in which I use the last five minutes of my waking day to imagine my wildest dreams and assume the feelings of those dreams as if they were already my reality.  Will this change what my subconscious mind manifests throughout my days?  Will those positive emotions merely cause pleasant dreams, or will they permeate my waking experience?  

I encourage you to join with me on this 30 day before-bed challenge, and see how five minutes can change your whole reality.  It may be helpful to make a list of the thoughts and emotions you will fill your mind with before bed, and recite them to yourself each night right before sleep.  If nothing else, this nightly ritual will surely help those of you still in the “can’t stop my mind from racing so I can’t sleep” club to resign your membership and embark on your new journey in the “wishes fulfilled” cohort!


Spilled milk: to cry or not to cry?


Today I almost cried over spilled milk, literally.  I splurged on fancy organic milk and as I was walking through the door to my home it fell to the ground, broke open, and spilled everywhere. It wasn’t just a trivial problem, it was the trivial problem.  Yet, that didn’t matter to my thoughts which easily picked up on why this was an issue I should be upset about. When I am easily upset by small things it is a reminder that I’ve forgotten who I truly am, my infinite true self.  

When I try to remember the problems I had a year ago today, or even last Sunday, I have no inkling of what they were.  Can you remember what problems you had last year?  Can you remember the problems you had five years ago, or ten? The only problems I think about are those I am experiencing now, which will soon fade with the passage of days and be replaced with new issues to be bothered about.  The situations themselves are not problems, they are how they are.

Problems are created by thoughts about a situation.  Suffering, and negative emotions, are created by judgement of an experience.

It is easy to see how spilled milk is only a problem when I make it so through my thoughts.  It can be more difficult to watch experiences without judgment when the stakes are high.  I am grateful for this passage from Swami Satchidananda’s Weekly Words of Wisdom, because it is a great reminder to stop grasping at outer solutions for peace and happiness and remember who we really are:

“The teaching in the Bible, just as we find in the Bhagavad Gita is: Don’t look for the fruits of your own actions. You are made in God’s own image. You don’t need to look for fruits from outside. But Adam forgot that he was God’s image. And forgetting is what you call avidya, or ignorance. You forgot your truth. The minute you forget it then you look for it from outside. So Adam thought, ‘Ah, by eating the apple I’ll be happy.’ That was said to be the first ‘sin.’ Eating the apple was not the first sin. Forgetting his true nature was the original sin. Once you forget your true nature, you will commit face many, many problems. So, remember who you are.” (Swami Satchidananda)


“The blossoming of your full potential is made possible by faithful tending to your inner state.”

Photo by Sally Spero

The inertia of my long winter break has a gravity that I find very inviting.  It is easy to want to stay at home in my robe and slippers; in fact it isn’t something I can talk myself out of desiring.

Last night I asked myself if there were any job in the world I would feel like going back to after my year-end break.  I could not think of one.  If Professional Netflix Watcher were a job I would probably be okay with going back to that, and do quite well, but that is not (yet) in the realm of possibility.

I had two extra days off from work because of the bitter cold here in Chicago, and while I relished the prolonged period of rest, I found that my anxiety about returning to everyday life grew. The inertia of stagnation is powerful.  This object needed a force to act upon it.

I decided to commit to listening to another round of “Deepak Chopra’s 21 Day Meditation Challenge,” since any step forward would begin to create my future.  While my winter break mentality still lingers quietly in the periphery of my consciousness I can act upon my own state of being by taking just one small positive action at a time.

photo-16There is nothing too flashy or exciting about spiritual growth from the outside.  In fact everything on the outside seems to get a little bit quieter, even slower.  The same is true of the inner experience of spiritual growth at times when you are making the quiet effort to regain balance in life.  During today’s meditation the voice in my head was noisy, my eyes even fluttered open a few times.  There were no flashes of enlightenment or miraculous insights.

This is the quiet road to experiencing the true, inherent fullness of life.  It is in these internal pursuits that the real work of your soul, with its experiences, karmic obligations, and purposes can come to fruition.  The blossoming of your full potential is made possible by faithful tending to your inner state.  When you ask what lesson you are meant to learn in each life experience, you set yourself on the road to “graduation.”  You embark on the path of your reason for being.

In this small moment in my life where I am gently being guided back to balance I am reminded that the only necessary step is this one step.  What happens next, what will be required of me, is not my business.   My business is the present moment.

Whether it is focusing too much on “the big picture” or losing focus altogether that is causing stagnation in your life, choose one small step to gift to yourself.  Each conscious attempt truly will be a gift to your life, and the lives of everyone else, whom you are intrinsically connected to.


How To Be Abundant In The Midst Of Lack

photo-14In the middle of the night as I lay in bed drifting off to sleep during a particularly humorous episode of Futurama, I had the idea to check my bank account and bills.  This one small thought, instantly acted upon, led me to attempt to figure out how everything is going to work out with a looming credit card bill, rent just having been deducted, and a future with a job funded by a grant that is a few months away from ending.

In unconscious moments the ego easily gains a strong hold on your attention. It presents thoughts that you already strongly identify with, in moments where you will follow those thoughts to the point of action, creating a reality not based upon real life, but upon a thought pattern.

It was all too easy to stay awake even longer with a train of thought that I kept running after as if it could somehow help me.

That is the illusion.  Identification with thought always seems like it will benefit you, because thoughts are created to promote themselves.  Thoughts are quite good at convincing your attention they are important and necessary often to the detriment of your actual welfare and living reality.

I could see, as the night dwindled, I was being taken in not only by thought patterns but also by negative emotions, and however attractive that negative energy may seem at the time, it cannot improve any situation.  The night eventually set me about sleeping.

SnowToday Chicago is a blanket of luminescent snow, a task to navigate through but incredible to behold.  The abundance of life is making itself impossible to miss.  It is everywhere and affects everything around it.  An abundance of snow is an outward manifestation of the nature of the universe, of life itself.  The fact of the outer existence of form is the evidence of the overflowing abundance of the ether, of God.

Creation, abundance, life begins in the formless, it begins within.  The formless is the foundation from which all outer form manifests. For all of the things in this world, like money, love, enjoyment, knowledge, we first must set the platform from which it will manifest outwardly in form.  There has to be an inner reality first.

No matter how many reasons your mind gives you to worry, and believe that your immediately perceived situation is your end-all be-all, you will not achieve change or prosperity until you experience the reality of abundance within yourself, as yourself.  You are living proof of an abundant universe where we have the opportunity to exist and thrive, and for our needs to be met and exceeded.

Experiment with feeling abundance in the present moment.  Look around and see the abundance of things, of electricity, of water, of snow, of people, and know that it is your reality.  For me, when I get into a place where all I see is lack I take a little while to snap out of it.  Listing in your mind what you are grateful for can help bring you into a prosperous state and give you a real experience of the abundant nature of the universe. Then with a clear mind and an open heart you can observe the transformation of your situation, however it may look.


What Just Happened?


New Year’s Eve Dinner at Bop and Mimi’s

It seems only a moment ago I was sitting in front of the fireplace at my grandparents’ house feeling completely at ease with my loving family all around me.

Annually in the weeks leading up to New Year’s Day my cousins from New Jersey stay at my grandparents’ house in the Chicago suburbs, along with my Uncle Joe from California, and we truly have ourselves a time.  Every day is filled with one delightful activity after another, always followed by a home cooked meal, and lounging around while enjoying each other’s presence.

Pancake House

Brother Joey, Cousins Jessica, Miriam, and Annie

After our time together we all return to our respective locations; I leave the suburbs and return to my apartment in Chicago.  Hopes and dreams for the new year usually don’t begin to creep into my consciousness until several weeks after my cousins have left.

When launching back into my usual situation I have to first focus on acceptance.  Good or bad, when change occurs I easily identify with the situation.  My thoughts and feelings become based upon the change I experience.  Whether I react to the transition with great sadness, or with great expectations for the future, the nonacceptance is the ego taking hold. Because I hold onto nonacceptance, my actions become out of alignment with the present moment.


Joey, Miriam, Katie, and Jessica on Christmas Eve

It is now my intention to send love to what has been, and allow myself to return to the only moment where such joy and love as I experienced with my family can ever exist, right now

Is there anything, good or bad, on which you have a strong internal grip?  Take a breath and allow it to be as it was.  Now give yourself permission to come back to what is real, come back to the present.