Coming back from Mendocino

20 inner-city youth, 30 and younger
and a bunch of old white guys
trying to cross the chasm of generation, class and color
generally impossible to get all these men in a room together
much less talk about the wounds, bring the rage and the tears.

But we had a master ritualist, storyteller, shamen, and his helpers;
Michael Meade spinning stories, teaching West-African songs
That we sang full throated!-and as the week progressed the harmonies came
We raised the roof on that place!
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Posted by on August 26th, 2013 No Comments

Getting Bigger

…When a person becomes truly big, they can learn to bow to something other than simple self-interest and can serve something beyond themselves. Humanity, if it awakens more fully to the creative ancestral prototype that sleeps within, can act contra naturum and go against blind needs and unconscious, selfish greed. Humanity remains capable of bending to the earth again and learning to assist the little fish of creation to find some refuge and ways to survive the great changes already underway.—Michael Meade

Meade approaches this “biggering” process in a different way than the Buddhists:
He speaks about tapping into mythological realms that are accessible through the deep psyche and are akin to Transpersonal Psychology’s Archtypal realms. He states that there are certain prototypes that live within each one of us, that can inform us how to manage the rising seas of chaos that surround us today. If we can connect with this realm, which can occur through our dreams, depth psychology or hearing a good story around a campfire, we can access the unique gift that we took birth to re-discover and bring out into the world. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted by on July 9th, 2013 No Comments

Ego and Self

Only those convinced by their own dreams can see the hidden designs behind the troubles of the world. To the common eye, Noah looked particularly foolish. Yet he would have been foolish in a worse way had he refused the inner project. Who can explain this to those whose eyes have not yet opened to their own inward seas?
-Michael Meade “The World Behind the World”

I asked a friend of mine recently what she meant when she said she was working hard to keep the ego out of the art she makes. “What do you mean by ego?” I asked. “I find that ego shows up in various ways in my life and some of them are useful and some of them are certainly not”.

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Posted by on July 9th, 2013 No Comments

Scrotal and Phallic Power in Men

This post is inspired by two essays by Michael Meade and Michael Ventura from the late 80’s.

The Ventura piece is entitled “Notes on three erections” and is from a wonderful compilation  called “Shadow Dancing in the USA”.

Scrotal power rests in the present, in the recognition of the continuation of all things, and the celebration of that.  It brings forth nurturing and maintenance of those things we have created, our identity with Gaia, our connection with planting and the harvest, with the animals and the offering of their lives for life to go on.  With Scrotal power we nurture our families, our community and gestate visions of harmonious worlds, stemming from our connection with history and all-that-is.

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Posted by on January 1st, 2013 1 Comment

Making changes

I’ve been running men’s groups in Portland for a few years now and as we progress, I come to see more and more the importance of spiritual practice.

The theme of my groups is “Pushing our Edges” and those edges can be in the realm of relationship, work, creative endeavors, or intra-psychic processes (dealing with mood swings, anxiety, obsessiveness, etc).  We all generally live within our edges, the boundaries that are comfortable to the ego.  And many of us also have a desire to move beyond those edges and to have a bigger life.  I have found that the best way to move those perimeters out is to make a practice of it, and  to come at it with similar attitude that you would with any spiritual practice.

The first step is to get very clear what about what it is you want to change.  The second is to determine what you want the new behavior to be.  The third is, with consistency and kindness for self, to start to practice the new behavior.

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Posted by on June 14th, 2012 No Comments

Growing where you’re planted

Growing where you’re planted means just that.  You use the situation you find yourself in as the growing matter for your own unfolding.  The Buddhist image of the Lotus is so powerful because it bespeaks a flower who’s roots are in the mud but that rises through the water and blooms in the light of consciousness.  This is a great way to think about our own lives and our own journeys. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted by on May 21st, 2012 No Comments

Bringing in the Brain Science

In April and May of this year,I went to a training in a technique called “ReCreation of the Self” (RcS), which is based out of Hakomi Therapy. One of the big tenants of this system is that we have the choice to move ourselves into an expanded state, or to move into, or stay in, a more contracted one. A trained RcS practitioner can show you how to access more expansive states and then give you the tools to get there yourself.

Various people have talked about our ability to do this in different ways over the years: “choose only love”, “love is letting go of fear”, or “you create your own reality” which is a more all-encompassing view of the process. Now, contributions from neuroscience are coming into the conversation and the understandings about how our experiences and behavior patterns are built in the brain, has made it possible to approach this perspective from a more materialistic or scientifically based direction./ Read the rest of this entry »

Posted by on June 15th, 2011 No Comments

Dealing with Confusion

You may be dealing with confusion around many things as basic as who you are, what you’re doing or why you’re doing it. The first thing to do to approach this situation is to get in touch with the fact that you’re confused. Just say it. “I’m confused.” If you can do that, then it can all end right there. Rather than spend weeks or months spinning around trying to figure something out or act like you know what you’re doing, just throw down the anchor and let her rip: “I’m confused.”

That should be really obvious, right? But it’s not, is it? Because no one wants to admit that they’re confused (or they made a mistake). So, in order to do this very simple, human thing, you might need some support. Tom Fuller, or some other therapist might need to be there and say, “Hey Joe, you seem confused. Can you feel that? Can you be with that for a minute?”
Since Tom or whomever, is saying this, and you trust him and you know he’s not trying to disrespect you, you stop and take a breath,and feel it: “Oh wow, man, yeah, I’m really confused!” (what a relief that is!) Read the rest of this entry »

Posted by on May 4th, 2011 No Comments

From the Milk to the Meat

The Buddha provided many ethical guidelines in his teachings about how to navigate this realm; how to conduct ourselves in such a way that we move in the direction of awakening and alignment with the natural way of things.

One way to view this is that we are on a quest of sorts, to develop ourselves spiritually and to wake up from the illusion of a separate self. We’ve done our rebellion and we’ve come back towards a spiritual tradition and are willing to look for guidance from someone who’s gone before. The Buddha went this way before, and left a map for others to follow. The Buddha and many, many, others who came after him woke up. They saw through the ego and became enlightened. We need to check for ourselves, but if we choose to follow this path, we need to develop confidence in these practices and engage in the work of transforming our lives. We do that by taking the first step, or, whatever for us is the next step. As we do that, as we practice consistently, our lives begin to give us more positive feedback. We see that this way makes sense, these practices work, and then we can commit ourselves to it more whole-heartedly.

One of the first teachers that I did in-depth Buddhist study with was Fried Smith. He worked out of his home, with kids running around and doing what families do. He had Multiple Sclerosis and had enough wisdom to keep me coming back almost weekly for five years. Fred had certain phrases like “find out that work works”, “negotiate it (your personal material) to voidness” and “it’s important to develop confidence in the teachings”. These sayings all grew on me over time, but the last one took the longest to sink in. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted by on March 3rd, 2011 2 Comments

Transforming in the Dark

Many people have a hard time with the dark time of the year. There’s so much less energy around to carry on our affairs, or to keep us afloat emotionally. What the dark does provide, however, is an opportunity for deep transformation.
If we know how to go into it, if we know how to work with it, if we know how to let it work on us.

In the winter, because of the lack of light and warmth, there is a general hibernation that wants to go on. Like plants, our energy is in the roots and there’s little going on in the leaves, flowers and shoots. This really is a returning to the dark underground. This is hard for the ego but good for the soul, because just like a good long sleep, deep replenishing is going on during this time.

If you can go with this process and not fight it with constant attempts to “stay up”, then there will be a natural emerging that occurs in the Spring when the light and energy of the sun return. Then, just like the trees that start budding, and the flowers that start sending up their first color, you will bloom as a new being. Literally new! Read the rest of this entry »

Posted by on December 15th, 2010 No Comments