• Jackie Evancho: The Lord's Prayer

  • Emily Dickinson

    A something in a summer’s Day

    As slow her flambeaux burn away

    Which solemnizes me.


    A something in a summer’s noon —

    A depth — an Azure — a perfume —

    Transcending ecstasy.


    And still within a summer’s night

    A something so transporting bright

    I clap my hands to see —


    Then veil my too inspecting face

    Lets such a subtle — shimmering grace

    Flutter too far for me —


    The wizard fingers never rest —

    The purple brook within the breast

    Still chafes it narrow bed —


    Still rears the East her amber Flag —

    Guides still the sun along the Crag

    His Caravan of Red —


    So looking on — the night — the morn

    Conclude the wonder gay —

    And I meet, coming thro’ the dews

    Another summer’s Day!




  • Light of Consciousness Ad


April 02, 2012 By: Mary Lane

Spring is a time for rebirth. Bursting through the obstacles that hold us back is necessary for growth. We are at a time in history that we are doing this on a collective level to the degree some say is unprecedented. Why not use the force of the natural world to support us? It is the time of year the Earth’s energy is rising and she is giving birth to her next generation of seedlings. They are very vulnerable and tender at this stage of their new life. But within that vulnerability they never lose sight of who they were designed to become. They use a force to burst through the encapsulating seed, and the crust of the earth. They dare to be seen in the light of day and risk everything to become their true self, never wavering. Something to aspire to. We are going through the same journey of transformation as the Earth. If we follow her lead, utilize her energy, and live in sync, our journey becomes much easier.


The force the plant kingdom uses in the spring to birth itself is similar to the energy of anger in our human world. Not anger that is destructive to self and others, but the anger that refuses to be held down and stuck in a prison of old limiting beliefs. The anger that says, “No, I will not put up with this any longer, I want something better for myself.” The anger that says, “ I will not live under the thumb of fear and control.” The anger that refuses to be held back and condemned to a life unlived. This is a healthy anger and supports you to burst through the obstacles that hold you back and keep you imprisoned by your own beliefs that you can not do anything about it.

Read more »


Life as an Automaton vs. Presence

March 25, 2012 By: Michael Nagel

  “The context of the general teachings is one of talking to a sentient being who is experiencing uninterrupted bewilderment – one thought or emotion after another like the surface of the ocean in turmoil, without any recognition of mind essence. This confusion is continuous, without almost any break, life after life.”

~ Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche (1920-1995),
Tibetan Buddhist Dzogchen Master,
in As It Is, Vol. II

Perhaps it was in a junior high science class that I first saw this half-minute video of ping pong balls exemplifying a nuclear fission reaction. It comes to mind today when I consider how we live mostly as automatons in reaction to the day’s sights, sounds, and events – mostly devoid of an inner life.

The ball drops into the chamber with the first thought that stirs you from a night’s sleep. Perhaps it’s a worry, or a news item on the radio which woke you, or remembering an early morning meeting for which you need to rush. With that first thought, the mind’s chaos begins, and continues throughout the day until the last thought is expended, and sleep stills the mind.

If we closely examine the mind’s activity, we find it functions mostly by stimulus-response and associative thinking. For example, I see on the TV an ad for ice cream (stimulus) which reminds me (association) that I have chocolate chip cookies on the kitchen counter. As I go to the kitchen (response), I see the day’s unopened mail (stimulus) which I shuffle through (response). I see an envelope from a bank (stimulus) which reminds me (association) that I haven’t paid an important bill which must be paid ASAP. I hurry over to the computer to make an online payment (response). Read more »


Slowing Down in a Culture Built on Speed

March 05, 2012 By: celedra

I excel at multitasking; I am currently training for a half marathon; I have multiple degrees and feel great satisfaction from the sense of accomplishment. Does this sound familiar to you? I think it’s the’American’ disease. Problem is, I’m turning 65 in June and have decided to take the next thirty years to prepare for my death. So, given that multitasking seems to be in direct opposition of cultivating my meditation practice and slowing down, I am faced with a dilemma: If my value has been self-determined by the speed and efficiency of my accomplishments, what will be my value (either self-determined or determined by our society) as a 65 year old woman who opts out of the rat race? Clearly, I have some work to do on myself.

The epiphany about taking the next 30 years to prepare for my death is a great gift that I recently received from two different sources. The first was the very heart-breaking occurrence of a young and beautiful man’s death and the prayer his father posted on Facebook in a letter. It is a poem by the Buddha:

 I am of the nature to grow old.

There is no way to escape growing old.

I am of the nature to have ill-health.

There is no way to escape having ill-health

I am of the nature to die.

There is no way to escape death.

All that is dear to me and everyone I love

are of the nature to change.

There is no way to escape being separated from them.

My actions are my only true belongings.

I cannot escape the consequences of my actions.

My actions are the ground upon which I stand.

The second gift came from an 81 year old wise woman who I interviewed for our Aging With Grace and Glory series. She said that when she turned 50, she made the decision to take the next 30 years to prepare for a strong mind, body and spirit during her 80′s. She succeeded! She is bright and clear and vital. Everyday she practices Qigong. She has a strong spiritual practice that has brought her to a place of peace and a deep presence of awareness. She is prepared for her death.

Today I signed up for Qigong. And so this journey begins. What are your struggles and joys on this path of consciousness? We are, after all, all in this together. Love to hear from you.



Being a Knower Rather than a Believer

March 02, 2012 By: Michael Nagel

“Ye say, ye believe in Zarathustra? But of what account is Zarathustra! Ye are my believers: but of what account are all believers! Ye had not yet sought yourselves: then did ye find me. So do all believers; therefore all belief is of so little account. Now do I bid you lose me and find yourselves…”

~ The character of Zarathustra in Thus Spake Zarathustra,
by Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900),
German philosopher

Currently about 300,000 persons die each day, the vast majority having built their lives on beliefs which never were personally verified. Some believed in reincarnation; others believed in life eternal in heaven or hell. Still others believed that death brings extinction. Hundreds of millions believe in the teachings of Christ, Buddha, Lao Tze, Krishna, Muhammad, Zoroaster, etc….

Most believers take to their graves beliefs which simply resulted from the accidents of their births. They took on the beliefs taught them by the families and societies into which they were born. Were you born to Hindu parents? Then most likely, you were taught to believe in Krishna. If you had left the womb in Saudi Arabia, then most likely you would have been raised a Muslim. But is an accident of birth a rationale upon which to develop an authentic life? Read more »


What is the truth which personal authenticity expresses?

February 10, 2012 By: Michael Nagel

“If you cannot find the truth right where you are, where else do you expect to find it?”

~ Dogen (1200-1253)
Japanese Zen patriarch

I don’t presume to know what “The Truth” is, for I agree with the postmodernist view that there is no such thing as objective truth, a truth independent of the observer. As quantum physics demonstrates, the very act of observing something, alters it, and so you cannot objectively experience or know anything. Moreover in the unity of the quantum soup of existence, nothing exists separate from me or objective to me.

Yet elsewhere I have written of the love of truth as one of the skills which enable personal authenticity (see Some Psychological Skills Which Enable Authentic Living) So seemingly I am suggesting that there is a truth with which our authenticity comports. And I am. But where might we find it?

Perhaps we can agree that nothing exists, except the present moment, the now, this instant which seemingly persists eternally. The past does not exist, except in thought. Tell me about your past, and you speak nothing but a string of thoughts being spun instant by instant in the present. The future too is nothing but fantasy experienced now. There never has been a time that you did not experience yourself other than in the now. So if we are to search for the truth, seemingly it must be found as Dogen suggests, ‘right where I am’ – here, Now.

And the Now, what is it? It is our experiencing as it is in the present moment. Interestingly, the dictionary defines truth “as the true or actual state of a matter” and “conformity with fact or reality”. Yes! our truth is the actual state of our thoughts, feelings, sensations – the reality of our experience as it is in the Now.

If presently I feel joyous, sad, fearful, angry, surprised, anxious, trusting, etc., that is my experience, my truth. If presently I think this or that, agree or disagree, doubt or believe, accept or judge, am willing or not, that is my experience, my truth. If presently I am bouncing with energy, tired, ill, comfortable, uncomfortable, etc., that is my truth, experience. My truth may change or not, from moment to moment. It is a revelation unfolding instant by instant, not a fixed state.

Of course, my truth and your truth will be different, for we experience the present differently. Authenticity asks that I live in accord with my truth and you live in accord with yours; that neither of us be burdened by the presumed obligation to live in accord with the dictates of supposed truths experienced by or asserted by others.

The American existential psychologist, James Bugental, defined authenticity in this manner: “A person is authentic in that degree to which his being in the world is unqualifiedly in accord with the givenness of his own nature and of the world.” Given that our natures and the world can only be experienced presently, authenticity then is living in unqualified accord with the truth of our own experience as it is in the present moment.

That’s my experience, my truth, what’s yours?

Michael Nagel  LLC MA CI CHT

Whole Person Counseling

(:  503.226.2771

*:  michael@whole-person-counseling.com

Website: Whole Person Counseling

Blog: The Personal Authenticity Project

Schedule Your Appointment Here: Online Appointment Booking



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Nourish Your Inner Love Affair

February 01, 2012 By: Mary Lane

The receptive inward feminine, and active outward masculine principles have been estranged for a millennium. It is common knowledge the imbalance of these natural aspects of humanity has created a mess. It plays out in a multitude of ways.

The receptive feminine aspect of ourselves receives Divine guidance by getting quiet and going within. The active masculine aspect takes action, brings this guidance into form and moves it out into the world.

The mind, properly used is in service to the heart to bring it’s passions into form. When we can honor both the heart and mind for their equally valuable gifts to one another we will enjoy a delicious, nurturing love affair within ourselves. This love affair will reverberate out and we will experience harmony in our world.


Transforming Hatred into Compassion

January 31, 2012 By: celedra

Almost 20 years ago now, I rented a lovely garden apartment in a wonderful home in Marin County.  In the midst of internships and work, I passionately created  my beautiful backyard garden.  Parents would walk by with their children to peer through the wooden fence in order to see the beautiful array of colors and textures.  This home nourished my soul and was a place of deep solace.  I often sat upon my eggplant colored zafu in front of my alter and soaked in the silence that was all around me.  My dear Serena was a perfect companion and was enthralled to simply lay her soft little cat belly on a fluffy bed of Lambs Ear to bask in the sun.  I loved my home.

I cannot even remember what it was that came upon my landlord, a local attorney who was known for her sharp tongue and aggressive nature, but suddenly she wanted her house back.  Because I had a lease, she couldn’t force me to leave, so instead she set her mind to get me to leave on my own accord.  My world turned upside down and I was about the receive one of my greatest teachings.


Winter Health (“vata” time of year)

December 23, 2011 By: Patricia Tedeschi


As well as experiencing dryer skin in this “Vata” time of year, do you find yourself more anxious, flighty and spacey?  It is probably more than “the Holidays.”  Your Vata dosha is more than likely out of balance, which merely means nature is delivering an abundance of vata like qualities in the form of cooler temperatures, and blustery winds.  This can tip us a bit over the edge emotionally and physically.

You don’t need to feel blown away by vata’s high season.  Choose nurturing lifestyle choices which will help keep you grounded. Read more »


Is spirituality a matter of becoming less or more human?

November 28, 2011 By: Michael Nagel


Remain true to the earth, my brethren, with the power of your virtue! Let your bestowing love and your knowledge be devoted to be the meaning of the earth! Thus do I pray and conjure you.

Let it not fly away from the earthly and beat against eternal walls with its wings! Ah, there hath always been so much flown-away virtue!

Lead, like me, the flown-away virtue back to the earth- yea, back to body and life: that it may give to the earth its meaning, a human meaning!

~ The character of Zarathustra in Thus Spake Zarathustra

by Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900), German philosopher

For far too many spiritual seekers, their spiritual aspiration is like an iron maiden of virtue whose inner critic spikes ceaselessly stab our all-too-human souls. We envision becoming “spiritual” as transcending our humanity rather than becoming more fully human.

Modeling their behavior according to ideas of spirituality that they have read in books, many seekers I meet are genuinely upset with their humanity. Read more »


Poetics of Aging Conference

November 11, 2011 By: celedra

For the first time in history we are embarking on a new dimension of aging where answers are as mysterious as the questions. What does aging mean to us now? Is it aging or is it opening? What are the possibilities? These are a few of the questions we are beginning to ask ourselves and each other as we co-create a new paradigm in this great adventure.

Join us in our video presentation of Aging With Grace and Glory this November 16th – 19th at the First Unitarian Universalist Church in San Francisco as we present the first in a series of Aging With Grace and Glory.

Nader Shabahangi, CEO of Agesong Elder Communities and President of AgeSong Institute, interviews 97-year young Marion Rosen, originator of Rosen Method for stress reduction, and 90-year young Magana Baptiste, co-founder of Breath-based Yoga.  Both nonogenarians are still working and will be presenting at the Poetics of Aging Conference, November 16-19, 2011, in San Francisco. For more information, visit: http://www.poeticsofaging.org.




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