Book Review – The Wisdom of Forgiveness: Intimate Conversations and Journeys

Many of my friends and followers already know that I am intrigued by the Dalai Lama.  I was privileged to hear him speak in person once and have been very moved by most of his interviews and books.  What I have found most compelling is the apparent congruity between his teachings and his life. The Wisdom of Forgiveness: Intimate Conversations and Journeys by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Victor Chan describes this congruence beautifully.

The Dalai Lama teaches about emptiness, interdependence, and forgiveness. He speaks specifically about forgiveness for those who have treated you cruelly or unfairly. In his case, he speaks about forgiving the Chinese people who caused his exile.

The concepts in this book are meaningful all of the time, but seem more so during our current political and social upheaval.  Whether you are Buddhist or not, check it out.

Book Review – The Journeys of Socrates

Book cover Journeys of Socrates by Dan MillmanThis book is a prequel of sorts to the Peaceful Warrior books.  I was quite excited when the book was announced and I haven’t been disappointed.  I’ve now read it multiple times.  Beyond his exceptional ability as a storyteller, Dan Millman succinctly captures the essence of our modern yearnings for lives that make sense, embrace sanity, and cultivate warriors.

The book is set in Tsarist Russia and follows the life of Sergei Ivanov from early childhood through his adult years. He is the one who is called Socrates in the other Peaceful Warrior books.  there is a blend of culture, tragedy, violence, mysticism, and martial technology that keeps the reader fully engaged no matter what their preferred genre.

More than just a novel, The Journeys of Socrates can be viewed as a parable or metaphor for living in today’s complex world. Sergei learns many lessons (most of them the hard way) and they have definite application in our current society.

One of his mentors, Serafim, was a monk. Sergei sought him out because he had previously been a great warrior and master of the martial arts. Serafim obviously believed in experiential learning, but occasionally dispensed words of great wisdom such as this, “In an instant a life may turn around; a heart may open in a moment of grace. But preparing for that moment can take a lifetime.”

The following quote is listed as being from Socrates’ Journal:

“When I was young, I believed that life might unfold in an orderly way, according to my hopes and expectations. But now I understand that the Way winds like a river, always changing, ever onward, following God’s gravity toward the Great Sea of Being. My journeys revealed that the way itself creates the warrior; that every path leads to peace, every choice to wisdom. And that life has always been, and will always be, arising in Mystery.”

For more information about Dan Millman’s work check out


Tapping Video- Anxiety Part I: Sometimes your brain lies

Anxiety is a complex subject.  This video addresses the form of anxiety that is under the surface, but there isn’t necessarily a clear reason for it. The focus of the tapping is focused on reducing anxiety by small amounts without compromising the need for safety that anxiety actually seems to provide.

Tapping Exercise – I Just Ate 3 Brownies: I’m such a failure

Have you ever eaten something you had decided you weren’t yummy chocolate brownie with chocolate drizzlegoing to eat or eaten more of them than you had intended?  Sadly, it happens to me more frequently than I would like.  What usually happens next is the thought “I might as well eat whatever I want because I already blew it.”  The tapping exercise below is a good way to help minimize the damage. These words will work for you, even if what you ate or when you ate it is slightly different.  Or, you can substitute your own words.

Say this statement and rate the intensity or how true it feels to you on a 0-10 scale (10=very true).  “I’m such a failure.”  Now say this one and rate it “I already blew it.”  Write down your numbers.

Tap on your karate chop point and use the setup statements.  Even though I just ate 3 brownies, and they definitely weren’t on my food plan for this afternoon, I choose to love and accept myself anyway.  Even though I ate 3 brownies while waiting for my lunch to cook, I choose to love and accept myself anyway.  Even though I feel like a failure since I ate those brownies, I choose to love and accept myself anyway.

Eyebrow…I just ate 3 brownies

Side of Eye…I can’t believe it

Under the Eye…I had been doing so well

Nose…This seems like a huge setback

Chin…Its not like I was really hungry

Collarbone…I am actually cooking lunch right now

Under the Arm…I’m nervous that it won’t be good

Top of Head…I’ve made two dishes that I’ve never made before

Eyebrow…That always makes me anxious

Side of Eye…But I’m also excited to see what happens

Under the Eye…I know that I often eat when I am nervous

Nose…But I’ve already blown my food plan

Chin…So I might as well eat whatever I want

Collarbone…There’s no point in controlling my food now

Under the Arm…I’ve already pointed the finger of guilt my way

Top of Head…I’m already wallowing in blame

Eyebrow…So I might as well eat.

Side of Eye…I already blew it

Under the Eye…I already ate something that is on my forbidden list

Nose…I ate way too much of it too

Chin…I might as well go ahead and eat whatever I want

Collarbone…That’s what quitters to

Under the Arm…I’m a guilty and shameful quitter

Top of Head…Ouch! That hurts!

Eyebrow…Sometimes I do give up

Side of Eye…Sometimes I don’t

Under the Eye…I don’t have to give up just because I made a mistake

Nose…I have options

Chin…I have choices

Collarbone…I already blew it might not be totally accurate

Under the Arm…I wouldn’t tell anyone else to give up just because of a simple error

Top of Head…I’m not going to tell myself that right now either

Eyebrow…I can start back on my food plan whenever I choose

Side of Eye…Including now

Under the Eye…This is just a setback

Nose…I can get back on track right now

Chin…In fact,, I am back on track right now

Collarbone…And I can stay back on track if I choose to

Under the Arm…I’ve been back on track for several minutes now

Top of Head…I am feeling better already.


Take a deep breath and let it out gently.  Say your original statements again and rate them.  Notice any shift you may have made.  If the intensity is still higher than a 3 or 4, keep tapping with the above examples or better yet, use your own words.  For many people there will be a shift to a slightly different thought, feeling or belief.  Feel free to continue tapping on the new thought or write it down for later work.

Happy Tapping!

Everything Needs Exercise – Even Your Anterior Cingulate Cortex

Meditation is a form of mental discipline.  There are many forms and styles of meditation. One is to follow or focus on your breath.  Other people may meditate while focusing on an icon or object. Reciting a mantra can be useful for other people.  Guided meditation in which one imagines a scene or event can also be used. The regular practice of meditation has been found to be useful in reducing stress, enhancing physical and emotional health, and improving life satisfaction.

It has become common knowledge that meditation masters like Buddhist monks can achieve amazing things through the power of their minds. Now scientists at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center have identified the brain area involved. A report in Science Daily revealed that the anterior cingulate cortex that governs thinking and emotion and the ventromedial prefrontal cortex that controls worrying are both impacted by meditation. The activation of these two areas can reduce anxiety ratings by almost 40%. Just think of it – no medications, no side effects, no doctor bills, increased tranquility, and increased wellbeing.

Give it a try.  I’ve included a basic meditation exercise for you below.

Following the Breath Meditation.

  1. Sit comfortably.  You can sit on a floor, a cushion, or a chair.  Avoid positions that are so relaxed that you might fall asleep.
  2. Close your eyes.  This will help to reduce distraction. If closing your eyes causes anxiety for you, gaze gently at an object.
  3. Take a few deep breaths.  Then, breathe naturally. Some people find it helpful to breathe in through the nose and out through the mouth.
  4. Focus on your body sensations including the points of contact between you and the world.  Is there warmth, tingling, pressure, or vibration?
  5. Focus your attention on your breathing.
  6. Whenever your mind wanders away from your breath (and it will!), gently return to noticing your breathing. It is not necessary to judge these thoughts or reprimand yourself for your mind wandering. The ability to disconnect from our thoughts takes practice.



The complete Wake Forest study can be found at:

F. Zeidan, K.T. Martucci, R.A. Kraft, J.G. Coghill. Neural Correlates of Mindfulness Meditation-Related Anxiety Relief. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, 2013; DOI: 10.1093/scan/nst041.

Tapping Exercise – Nothing calms me down better than food

Start tapping on your karate chop point.  Say these words aloud: Nothing calms me down better than food. Even though nothing calms me down better than food, I don’t like what it does to my body. I am open to learning new ways of calming down.  I’m also open to learning more about the things that upset me so that I don’t even need to use food to calm myself.

Eyebrow…When I get upset, nothing calms me down better than food

Side of Eye…When I get upset, nothing calms me down better than food

Under the Eye…When I get upset, nothing calms me down better than food

Nose…When I get upset, nothing calms me down better than food

Chin…When I get upset, nothing calms me down better than food

Collarbone…When I get upset, nothing calms me down better than food

Under the Arm…When I get upset, nothing calms me down better than food

Top of Head…When I get upset, nothing calms me down better than food

Eyebrow…Food calms me down

Side of Eye…But it also is making me fat

Under the Eye…Food calms me down

Nose…And I often need to calm down

Chin…I get upset pretty often

Collarbone…And I use food to calm me down

Under the Arm…It is quick, easy, and painless

Top of Head…Well, maybe not painless

Eyebrow…Being overweight is definitely painful

Side of Eye…It is painful physically and emotionally

Under the Eye…I probably need to learn new ways to deal with my emotions

Nose…Food is quick, but the side effects are long

Chin…I can learn to manage my stress another way

Collarbone…I can learn to calm myself another way

Under the Arm…Even though I have used food to calm myself in the past

Top of Head…I am excited about the possibility of learning a new way

Take a deep breath and let it out slowly.  What do you notice in your body?  Did anything shift or change?  What do you notice in your emotions?  If new thoughts and ideas popped up, keep tapping.

Did anyone bring the marshmallows?

glowing campfireI tend to be an optimist, but sometimes I have a hard time seeing the silver lining right away.  Thursday morning started as any other day. I got up and showered, fed the dogs, made my breakfast, packed my lunch for work, then went into the laundry room to check the dogs’ water bowl.  I know many people walk through their mornings in a haze, but I literally walked into the haze during my morning. The room was filling with smoke.  In less that a minute the smoke detectors started blaring and smoke started filling the house.

Skipping to the end of the story – everyone is fine and the house is intact.  But a lot happened between the smoke and now.

Our boiler malfunctioned (another long story) and was burning a hole through the floor beneath it.  If this had happened after we had left for work we wold likely have lost everything.  I made it to work, although smelled like smoke) and Scott stayed home, assessed the damage, and went to work on the repairs.

At work I alternated between anxiety and gratitude that this happened while I was at home.  Fast forward to Friday – no hot water and the house smells like a campfire.  I decided I had a picture of marshmallows toasting to make s'moreschoice.  I could either focus on how inconvenient it was to not be able to take a hot shower and how smokey my house smelled or I could close my eyes and imagine cooking marshmallows for s’mores over the campfire.  I chose the latter.

kitchen sink with running waterSaturday – still no hot water.  My natural optimism was returning and by Saturday afternoon I could finally wash dishes again.  Wash dishes? I have never looked forward to washing dishes in my entire life.  Perhaps that is optimism taken too far.

Looking at everything that happened from this vantage point revealed a few lessons.

  1. I really am an optimist.  However, just because I am an optimist doesn’t mean I don’t feel unhappy or frustrated sometimes. Being an optimist just means that it is my default viewpoint.  Both tapping and conscious choice restored my balance.
  2. Looking for the blessings in your life is important. Unless you look for them you might miss out.  It would have been easy for me to focus on the inconveniences of the day but I know it would not have been a good thing for me or anyone else.
  3. I can tolerate more than I sometimes think I can.  I don’t usually like surprises or anything that disrupts my daily routine.  This event was a disruption but I actually bounced back rather quickly.

I hope I don’t have a fire again.  I hope you don’t either.  But if we do, think about marshmallows.

Confront Your Naked Identity

Large rope implying presence of a docked shipDoes that statement scare you a little bit? It did me. I noticed that statement in Jump Ship, a book by Josh Shipp.  I’ve mentioned this book in a few different posts.  What the author was speaking about was getting real with yourself about who you are. He considers this an essential task for becoming successful in life. The question one must ask is “who am I?” The answer needs to be honest.

The question isn’t very difficult, but the naked answer sure is. When you first consider the question you may have some ready-made answers like “I’m a mom”, “I’m short”, “I’m Caucasian”, or “I’m a doctor.” I would argue that these are just the roles you play. Other people come up with answers that include what other people have said about them like “strong-willed”, “efficient”,  “lazy”, or “beautiful.” That may not be who you really are either.

To help with confronting your naked identity Shipp offers these questions:

  1. What makes you unique?
  2. What do you love?
  3. What are you good at?
  4. What do you believe?

I’d like to offer a few more:

  1. What do you dislike?
  2. What are you most afraid of?
  3. What makes you cry?
  4. What makes you laugh?
  5. What are you afraid to let other people know about you?
  6. What brings you the most pleasure?

You might be wondering why this is so important. Consider this. Suppose that I want to make chocolate cupcakes. I have my ingredients all lined up to make them. Unfortunately the canister labeled sugar actually contains salt. What will happen to the cupcakes? You can be sure that I’ll be unhappy with the end product. In life the same thing can happen. If we do not see ourselves with accuracy – confronting that naked identity – it can be difficult, if not impossible, to get the end result we desire.  We must know what “ingredients” we bring to the table.

So, if you dare, confront your naked identity and get “cooking”!