"Ego says: Once everything falls into place, I'll feel peace.
Spirit says: Find your peace, and everything will fall into place."
— Marianne Williamson
I am a willing and imperfect student on a path of spiritual transformation, and have been involved in various soul-tending modalities for many years now, including yoga, meditation, the Dharma, the Tao, and, newest on this personal journey, a potent & powerful 12-Step program of recovery. And this page is just a tiny offering to you of some of my endeavors on this road of wellness, a subject dear to my heart and which has my membership in a myriad of ways, from having performed with a sacred Kirtan ensemble, to producing CD's on yoga and guided meditations, to making a little documentary short in search of connections, and much more. May we all continue to maintain an ongoing cultivation of wholeness, consciousness expansion, and a vibrant pulsating lifeforce. — XO, ACB
Minutes from home, when I lived in California, between the San Fernando Valley and Simi Valley lay the breathtaking Rocky Peak. One day, a few years ago now, filmmakers Sara Landas and Holli Rae picked me up in their truck and took me to this spot where we filmed a scene for their beautiful documentary THE GODDESS PROJECT. They asked me about my relationship with meditation.
Navigating the murky waters of life is a job with tenure.
All the money and station in this world won’t reprieve us of the task.
Below are 9 simple practices that can mean the difference between the grind of life
(or even the blunt interruption of that grind, as the entire globe experienced in March of 2020)
. . . and truly living. It costs nothing.
Big Pharma has no equity in THIS medicine.
1. Turn away from the anxiety-fueling news programs that litter television and the Internet.
Just refuse them. They are designed for one agenda only—to whip us into a distracted frenzy, and by virtue weaken us and our pocketbooks at the seams, because having an entire culture in panic mode is profitable, and is never about being in the public’s interest. Find your news through more legitimate sources. Do the homework needed to figure out who and what those are. Information is valuable and crucial; hysteria never is.
2. Read for pleasure.
As a writer I want to encourage books. I want to encourage good books. I want to encourage literature. But hey, read a magazine, just read—for pure enjoyment and expansion. And try as often as possible to do it outside the digital and electronic universe. Kindle and iBooks are both fun and convenient, but don’t let them be your exclusive source for reading. The brain needs a good chunk of quality time every day to be removed from electromagnetic energy and social media, and to be reminded of the world of imagination and connection that does exist beyond our digital screens.
Or at the very least, find a way to simply be in silence and stillness for a few minutes every day. The more minutes a day you can find in that quiet, the better able you will be to heed the inner voice, and the better everything will be. Guaranteed! Consider a wonderful memoir by Sara Maitland on her experiment of withdrawing from the world in pursuit of silence. There is a whole world of discussion to be had on the topic and its impact on a society, and which is utterly compelling. For now, for this, simply allow yourself a few minutes each day to power everything down. And listen.
4. Connect with Higher Power.
This term has as wide a berth as the ocean, so even the most ardent atheist can find his or hers. Something that is greater than your pedestrian self and has something to teach you, offer you, feed you. Maybe it’s the Collective Unconscious. Maybe it’s your own higher consciousness, which exists in every human, usually buried beneath all the traumas and dysfunctions, but there, just ripe and ready to guide us, if we’re keen to do some unearthing. Maybe it’s nature. Maybe it’s the source within. Or a source out there. Maybe it’s simply goodness. It will show up differently for every individual on the planet yet is that unquantifiable something that safely maneuvers us around the land mines and connects us to each other. There is no need to affix a label; simply be with it. Find yours, and plug in regularly.
5. Create, even if you’re not an artist.
“Artist” is merely a label. We all have creativity and imagination within us, and it can show up in the most unexpected cloak, which is usually how it works anyway. Feed it. Allow it to feed you. Have fun with it. The benefits to soul are untold.
6. Be a child again (closely linked to the above, and which is not the same as being child-ISH).
There is so much obligation, commitment, management, planning, and fortune making that has governed our adult lives that we can easily allow it to collapse our spirits. Easy to get so caught up in building the life of our dreams that we forget to actually live the life of our dreams. When March of 2020 arrived, and an entire globe locked down, the mandated Stay-at-Home orders forced us to slow down, whether we wanted to or not. As a result, some truly profound epiphanies were had from the many about the lives they’d been living before the pandemic. Connections were STILL able to be forged, because we were creative and playful in finding ways to maintain sanity. Nearly two years spent in the state of severance, we threw Zoom parties. Live-streamed living room performances for friends. Staged social distancing drive-by parades. Played dress-up to come to the dinner table. The ideas were endless, because they woke up our Inner Child. We learned, while surrounded by devastation, to find respite in playing fiercely, because that lifeforce is irresistible and worth it!
The flip side of that same spirit . . . do nothing. The Italians have a delicious term for it—dolce far niente—literally translated as the “sweetness of doing nothing.” They have raised it to an art, yet in our ambition-worship culture we have stapled the label of shame to it. We do not need to be in the constant state of planning, producing, and consuming. Precisely because of this pandemic, we have been in collective trauma. We have been in grief. It is okay to not be okay. So, take the pressure off. Smile for absolutely no reason. Sit and gaze. Daydream. Decompress. It is the crucial yin to our Everest-conquering yang.
7. Be in nature.
Commune with critters beyond your pets or other humans, listen to their concert, move among the wise old trees, stroll along a shore or the banks of a river, even simply just hang out in your own backyard garden, recognize the imperative of taking care of the earth, and understand the dire consequences of continuing as we’ve been, in promoting carbon footprinting and the decimation of the ozone. This daily ritual has inadvertently made me live in and practice gratitude for what I have and where I am in life and what is precious. It has helped me to see that blessings are flying all around me like gnats, and are in everything that happens to me. Not only in the stuff that feels good and is easy to see as a blessing, but even the stuff (or people) we consider challenging or downright awful, because these are what serve as lessons and teachers, and may actually be where the real gold lies. And it’s ours to choose to recognize or not. But why wouldn’t we? It takes a great deal of courage to keep our hearts open. So much easier to clamp the heart down, bear the armor of hurt, be the suffering martyr, and garner the quiet awe of others, because maybe we have no real clue who we are without our wounds. But keeping our hearts open is the greatest kind of surgery our bodies can undergo. And being in nature is quite remarkable at opening up that vessel within, for our daily access.
8. Create a daily gratitude ritual.
It can be a prayer, a journal log, a mantra, a meditation. I once heard that prayer needn’t ever be anything except two words….thank you. It’s simply one thought to consider. Even in the various periods of my life of not feeling especially grateful, and I think it’s fair to say we all had our moments during this pandemic, I, as simply an example, always found great beauty in the tradition of blessing my food. What a lovely idea to express out loud our thankfulness for the bounty on our plates, and for not taking a meal for granted but cherishing it for what it gives us, especially considering how many don’t have this luxury. Now, imagine employing that gratitude practice with everything. Just imagine.
And finally . . .
9. Be of service.
When the pandemic came calling, the displays of altruism were incredibly moving to me. People came together, if not physically, then on Zoom meets, to organize and deliver to their communities what was needed. From sewing and dispensing face masks, to surprise drop-offs of groceries at someone’s door, to making food kits for the homeless, to outreach calls, the Age of Corona showed us what we’re made of, and that it wasn’t only the front-liners who could be of help. We all have the ability to be there for others, whether an individual or our community at large. Service is the most restorative unguent there is for self-absorption or for trying to find meaning in a world that often seems senseless and cruel, especially in these strange days. Maybe you aren’t struggling with that. Many are. Pandemic or no, this might just be the single most potent go-to for establishing or recovering our spirits as persons of value on the planet . . .