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You Become What You Contemplate!

Do your habitual thoughts lead you to feeling calm, centered, happy…OR

…distressed and anxious?

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Just like with food habits….you BECOME what you think, what you eat, and what you do….

your moment by moment choices shape your world.

Your life is your garden. Over time, what you plant is what you get.

                                                                                          

ASK yourself: What mind am I contemplating?

1. The “I, me, and mine” mind: This is a mind that is always planning, fearful, and obsessed? Maybe anxious? Always concerned with outcomes? Trying to control all things in your life? How do you feel when you are lost in all of those type of thoughts?

2. “Concern for your family and the whole-world” mind: This is a more expansive and broader contemplation, but consider what happens to your mind and emotions when you are watching too much news and seeing directly the distress of the world.  Perhaps your thinking about your family and friends with a caring and open heart? Where does seeing too much suffering, problems, and individual distress lead you? Do you end of feeling discouraged, feeling hopeless, sad, or wanting to run away from it all?

WORLD DAY OF METTA

3. OR, “focus on a VAST” mind: the mind of the still forest or whole Universe: connected, present in the here and now, concentrated, celebrating life! Aware of senses: seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling, and touching. Practice how to cultivate that vast mind:

Winter Stillness: Talk by Kodo Conover

  • Be aware of the 4 elements in everything: earth, air, fire, and water parts of all life.
  • Let go of the thinking/planning mind whenever possible–come to silence–focus on the great VAST mind–just like the sky with stars in it or clouds in it (all floating by)–all levels of manifestations on earth–constantly arising and instantly manifesting…and then…instantly disappearing.
  • All in the VAST space of awareness (my mind)…everything arises in it…and disappears…
  • Allow all to arise and pass away–without preferences
  • Don’t “judge or label” what happens….allow it to be just as it is in this moment.
  • The VAST Universe, world or planet is ONE continually pulsating, alive organism–all with mysterious intelligence that guides it and brings it to harmony. My apparent “life” is intimately and completely connected with the whole world and Universe–it is NOT separate from it.
  • Allow myself to experience the awe, wonder, and mystery regularly…contemplate it and rejoice!!
  • Accept all as the perfect teacher for what I need at this moment.

LIFE GIVES US WHAT WE NEED TO LEARN

LIFE IS FULL OF BEAUTY. NOTICE IT

DALAI LAMA-INNER PEACE

ACCEPT YOU AS YOU

Considering all of these thoughts can benefit the entire world!

WE ARE ALL TOGETHER-1

Do You Need an Emotional-Spiritual Tune Up?

Be the change in yourself that you want to see in the world!  Gandhi

Be a lamp unto yourself!

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Here are my thoughts that I wrote in my journal last summer when I noticed that I was very cranky, reactive, and fairly miserable. I wondered what choices that I had recently made that led me to feel that way. I contemplated how I could change my perspectives and choices so I could feel happier and restore balance to my life. How about for you? Could you use a tune up?

UPDATE: This last season of 2013 and 2016 has seen many opportunities and challenges: increased work demands (and then retirement after 40 years), family, friends, and in-law illnesses came up. I was also attempting to support them too; lots of housework and gardening, shopping & cooking, and other healthy-lifestyle practices, trying to promote my Playbook; friends requests and having a variety of guests over (all fun…and it takes time and effort to plan and implement)…and I arrived at a place of feeling extremely tired and stressed. I realized I was at a place of burnout. OOPS!

I wanted to be compassionate for everyone in the world….and I realized that I was depleted. I took time to remember that the cycle of compassion is not complete without myself. I can’t drown…I need to keep myself afloat too. It’s essential that I heal my own traumas.

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ASK myself: “Is this compassion for me? Can I take on this commitment and not overwhelm or harm myself?” I can remember that it’s not my job to save the world single-handedly. Plant the seeds that I can–do what I can. That is enough.

VOW PLAQUE

It’s essential that I take care of my instrument (my body, mind, and spirit) too so that I can make beautiful music! No one can take care of me–I have to do it. I realized that no one can balance my life for me–I have to do it.

CAR TUNE UP

So I asked a friend if we could stay home today (and not take a whole-day trip to Eugene from Portland OR). I slowed down and actually went to the gym for a short while, visited my spiritual group and meditated 2 hours, and then went home and took a nap! Ah…now that felt better!

I asked myself, how can I create my life more skillfully?

I want to become a doctor to my own mind, emotions, and life!

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  • When life gets challenging (with lots of busyness, suffering, difficult experiences) then I really need extra meditation, contemplation, and time spent on managing my stress (not less!).
  • Set my daily intentionthis is the way I’m going to do it. I’m not creating more separation from myself and others by my choices. ASK: Does this act of body, speech, and mind serve my highest aspirations for my heart and life? It is my intention that you are not going to be harmed by me in any way. It is safe to be with me.

Relax, Work,Play, and Flirt!

  • Practice stress management techniques. Slow down. Release speed. Allow extra time. Release the need to rush to the next thing. Own my place on the earth. Move slowly throughout the day. Contemplate and celebrate my journey of life!
  •  Relax. Observe and allow. Be aware of and stay connected with each of the experiences that I encounter. Pay attention to my reactions to life’s events.
  • Know what enough is. Watch greed (and compulsion) for accomplishment (e-mails, computers, house chores, social activities, etc.). Notice the heaviness of obligation.
  •  Ask where’s my heart? I shut off my heart when I live in my head (constant thinking—remembering, planning, and judging).
  • Remember all of stories and identities I have about me and others are not true! Everyone, everything, and myself are in a constant state of change all of the time. There is no solid and unchangeable core in anything. Everything is in flux.
  • Don’t buy into the idea that I need a long retreat or a special environment to get happy (have emotional and mental balance and peace). It can happen in my daily life—IF—I set up the daily patterns and choices for it to manifest!

ASK: Would I rather be right or happy? Remember, my serenity is inversely proportional to my expectations!

 I SAY YES TO LIFE!

o ASK: Am I happy, peaceful, and contented? Yes/No? If not, what habits or patterns or mind am I cultivating? Notice that attachment to what I want à anger and unhappiness are the result.

o High and unmet expectations lead to impatience and frustrations. When I have lots of desires, wanting to be right or acknowledged, and have attachment to my views and my desired outcomes (“I want or must have…”) I notice that I’m miserable!

o Do I have strong attachment to my projects, views, and perspectives? If I do, what happens to my peace of mind?

  • I’m in charge of making my choices, trying things out—making the effort. I’m not in charge of the results or outcomes. When I’m attached to the results, I suffer and am unhappy.

For perspective, consider the metaphor of looking at a forest floor. You will see trees fallen everywhere, branches, old flowers, shrubs, and leaves all over. They are all in various forms of decay and regeneration to new life forms. So like all of life (humans too) on earth—some falling down, crashing and burning (falling into relapse around harmful behaviors)—going through apparently difficult and chaotic circumstances, there is dying of old ways and regeneration of new forms of life. They are evolving in ways that are right for them!

Perhaps consider too:

Kiss The Earth and Walk as You Touch Peace in Every Moment!

Setting Healthy Boundaries

Various Meditations

On The Spot Stress Managers (new audio relaxation tape)

Prescription for Well-Being!

Overcoming Your Obstacles to Healthful Eating

How to Develop a Loving, Self-Nurturing, Inner Voice For You!

Thich Nhat Hanh questions (Mary shared them with me.)

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Dear Friends,

Consider these questions today. This can apply to a romantic partner, but family or even in the business world…or really to any relationship:

1.      Are you in love?  Creating Healthy Relationships

2.      Are you still in love? Loving-Kindness: Learn to Befriend Ourselves and Others and Love Your Body!

3.      Do you want to reconnect with the person you used to love?

4.      Do you think that he or she is happier than you are now? How to Develop a Loving Relationship with You

5.      Do you have the time for each other or are you both to busy? Overwhelmed? Are You Taking In Too Many Empty Calories? and Help! I’m movin’ too fast! I need to slow down!

6.      Have you been able to preserve your freshness and beauty for yourself and for the other person?

7.      Are you capable to offer him or her freshness and beauty everyday? CELEBRATING The Simple Joys Of Life!

8.     Do you know how to handle the suffering in yourself? Four Foundations of Mindfulness

9.     Are you able to help handle the suffering in the other person? Relax, Observe, and Allow

10.  Do you understand your own suffering and the roots of that suffering?  Getting to Know Your Stress and How to Management It and Out Of Hell, Into Freedom Thoughts

11.  Are you able to understand the suffering in the other person? Make Your Mind an Ocean: Become Your Own Therapist!

12.  Do you have the capacity to help the other person suffer less? Thoughts On Healing and Helping Yourself and Others

13.  Have you learned the way to calm down the painful feelings and emotions? Dialectical  behavior therapy 

14. Do you have the time to listen to yourself, your suffering, your difficulties, and your deepest desire? Mental Nutrients: What To Say When You Talk To Your Self

15.  Do you have the time to listen to him or her and help him or her to suffer less?

16.  Do you know the Buddhist way of restoring communication and bringing reconciliation? Non Violent Communication

17.  Are you capable of creating a feeling of joy and happiness for yourself? Peace!

18. Are you capable of helping the other person to create a feeling of joy and happiness? Be Happy and Contented!

19. Do you really think you have a clear spiritual path to go? What Is Life About? Heart Advice

20. Do you have the feeling of peace and contentment within yourself? Invent A New Life!

21. Do you know how to nourish your love everyday? Rules For Being Human

Benefits of meditation

Explore Making Yearly and Life Vows

SHRINE OF VOWSLIFE VOW SHRINE

I went to the Silver Dragon retreat at the Great Vow Monastery and went outside on a sunny day and visited the Shrine of Life Vows.
http://northwestdharma.org/2014/02/great-vow-zen-monastery-invites-all-peopleto-make-life-vows-at-the-shrine-of-vows/

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LIFE VOW1jpg

A vow is a deep commitment to see something through no matter the obstacles. Vows ask us to continually return, over and over again, to our deepest intentions. Vows help us orient our life to what is most beneficial. And vows emerge from our own unique life and circumstances.

LIFE VOW2

To consider making a vow, perhaps spend time in prayer and reflection about any changes you want to make–major–or minor, lifelong or temporary. Think ahead to the ways this vow may affect your life, your friendships, future plans, etc.

Then work on wording of your vow. Mature planning makes for a mature vow.

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The most important thing about a vow is, don’t take if until you know you will keep it….

or perhaps say “I will strive to..”

Make a practical time limit also…one that you can keep…a day, a week, a month?

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Once the vow has been properly prepared, the next step is to “”declare it” in a little ceremony with one or more friends as witnesses.

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Implementation– Then comes the bottom line: day by day, abiding by the vow you have taken. I encourage you to repeat your vow out loud, along, at the beginning of every day. Read it or recite it as sincerely as you did that first day, and remember the feelings which prompted you to take this vow. It’s very useful to repeat your vow every day…like even taking your marriage or commitment ceremony vows. Both the husband and wife take them every day to actually keep the vows very fresh.

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Remember to respect all vows equally. Whether you vow to stop eating sweets for a week, or to never take a sip of alcohol for the rest of your life, a vow must be respected fully. A sincere vow is an expression of our willingness to work, to sacrifice, to change and grow emotionally and spiritually.

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Adapted from VOWS PRACTICE from Deep & Simple by Bo Lozoff.

WE THEN FREELY SHINE OUR LOVING HEART INTO THE WORLD!

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Our friends, family, and the whole world are affected by our vows to open to life fully!

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Don’t Worry About It!

 Worry

In 1988 (and again in 2013 and 2015 many similar challenges are coming up) I was going through a time of great transition  (I’m retiring at the end of the year) and was worried about everything: finding a new job (or letting go of a former job), my grandmother’s (or mother-in-law’s) care, many friends’ well-being, a love relationship for myself, money for bills, the world’s chaos, and cleaning my messy house! I was an emotional wreck.

I went out on a walk with my mind completely a jumble of distressing thoughts. I was praying and asking God for a sign—please help me understand. Shortly after I looked over towards a truck that was parked on the street and on the rear wooden bumper were engraved the words: DON’T WORRY ABOUT IT! I was astonished! All my thoughts stopped and I smiled. Ah…I could let go of all my concerns. Just trust that things would work out—for me and everyone else. Believe it or not, on that same walk I found a medallion with an inscription on it that said:

 It only takes one person to

change your life….YOU!

 path to happiness

As a postscript—about 20 years later—many things did work out for the best. I didn’t starve, the house did get cleaned, and I did find a wonderful job and a loving companion, and my crazy thinking improved!

  It is safe to let go and relax.

It is safe to let go of the illusion of control.

There is nothing to fear!

FEAR = False Evidence Appearing Real

Be happy for this moment--it is your life!

Pay a visit to: Do you experience overwhelming circumstances and can’t achieve a healthier weight?

Getting to Know Your Stress and How to Management It

What Are We Powerless Over?

Gander at:

Winter Stillness: Talk by Kodo Conover

A few points…

Winter Stillness

 WINTER STILLNESS

All is subject to arising and ceasing—the Four Noble Truths

STILL LAKE

Visualization: see myself as the still water of a pristine lake that is in the forest.

 CALM LAKE

See myself as still water. Be the still water. Still the body, quiet the mind.

 

In the state of calm and stillness…I then reflect things as they are.

I do not distort things as I observe them.

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When I am NOT calm, I distort things and I cannot receive things as they are or see the truth of situations, or experience truth from other beings.

 

Remember I am the still lake—(a calm mind)…

woman meditating on rock

If calm, I will “reflect truth.”

 If the lake is choppy, then I won’t reflect the truth. I will perceive in distorted ways.

 CHOPPY LAKE

If I’m still, then my perception will be correct.

Then I will understand what people reflect to me.

I will receive the truth from them and the cosmos or the Universe.

 MEDITATING DOG

So practice meditation. Sit quietly. Breathe…

 Benefits of meditation

Be still and let life happen.

 

P1040518It is in stillness that I will assist and transform the whole world. P1040518

EARTH 

See that the earth rests in the yearly cycle…about 4 months…

similar to the human being that rests about 8 hours/day or 1/3 of its life.

SLEEP

This cycle is essential for lasting well being and life.

 

Though simple living comes control of desires and calmness and stillness is restored.

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Body still. Mind quiet.

Take Time 

When mind is at peace, then the mind is still.

 I SAY YES TO MY LIFE

 Train the Mind: Explore Spiritual Cognitive Therapy and Mindfulness

Cultivate Daily Quiet and Introspection Time

LOOK INSIDE

Meditation—Why and How—Cleanse and Train The Mind

 Cultivate Your Spiritual Well-Being!

Make Your Mind an Ocean: Become Your Own Therapist!

Explore Various Meditations

Four Foundations of Mindfulness: body, feelings, mind, and all phenomena

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Cultivate Twelve Essential Skills: Achieve a Healthier Life, Weight, and Vibrant Friskiness… Step-by-Step!

Skill Power, Not Will Power, Is the Key to Success!

Discover Below Guidance-At-A-Glance!

Have you ever wondered how all of that excess stored energy (fat) ended up stored on your body anyway? Were you just walking down the street and it jumped out and stuck to you? To learn about what happened–the mystery–requires you becoming a detective. As a detective, you will need some tools to figure out clues to your mystery.

The Twelve Essential Skills below will provide answers for you. You use the skills and different tools to discover how you do what you do, right now.  Then you figure out strategies to practice making healthful substitutions–to substitute new choices that will, over time, help you achieve a healthier weight, a healthier relationship with your food and life. You choose which areas you are ready to look at now.

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Success at achieving a healthier weight, transforming addictions, and finding increased well-being, for a lifetime, requires learning a series of new lifestyle skills. These skills allow us to create our lives in a NEW way. Before I started my weight loss journey, I didn’t know any of these skills. Learning these skills opened for me the prison door to my isolation cell of overweight and various addictions. I was no longer a victim of my out-of-control, unhealthy habits. It was so ENJOYABLE to discover the freedom of new options for living.

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My Web site (Balanced Weight Management) is a blueprint for self-change. It’s a toolkit–tools don’t do anything. YOU do as you use the tools to discover how you do what you do. This is self-directed learning. With self-directed learning you can discover the issues or problems that are most relevant to you at the moment. They are based on your own experience. You set your own agenda and your own pace. Have FUN with your exploration!

Why Would Someone Try My Approach?

How To Use This Site: Where To Begin & What To Do

As you explore below, ask yourself, “What are YOUR root causes?” Your patterns?

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I encourage you to explore  the Resource Sections 1 and 2 for an extensive list of resources in each topic area.  There you will find an invaluable collection of weight-loss and addiction-free life wisdom. I Have learned most of what I know from other people. Many of the resources that I and many other people have found to be invaluable are listed there.

Time and time again, I have seen people’s lives blossom after they made the decision to invest the time in themselves to study and practice the twelve skills listed below.  I encourage you to just pick and choose those themes that you would like to explore. Remember, your health is your greatest wealth! Answer the questions, “Oh my, how did I get to where I’m at now? and How can I begin to make enjoyable and lasting changes?”

  1. Taking the First Steps In Your Journey of Change

  2. Cultivating Balance in Your Life

  3. Write Away Weight: Keeping a Food and Lifestyle-Choice Journal

  4. Discover the Power of FUN: Celebrate Enjoyable Ways to be Active for Life!

  5. Cultivating a Sustainable, Healthful Plan of Eating

  6. Planning and Preparing Delicious Recipes, Meals, and Snacks in a Hectic World

  7. Eating With Awareness and Pleasure

  8. Transforming Emotional Eating and Addictions

  9. Self-Nurturing, Self-Esteem, Heal From Depression, and Transform Emotional Wounding From The Past

  10. Seeking Support, Counseling, and Outside Resources

  11. Maintenance: Learn How to Cultivate Life-Long Well-Being.  

  12. Cultivate Daily Quiet and Personal Introspection Time 

Relax, Observe, and Allow….

Take time to go within. You will find your solutions there.

Often it is easy for us all to get caught up in accomplishing too many tasks during our busy days. We can lose touch with our inner wisdom, peace, calm, and feeling of contentment and joy. Following this practice several times a day allows each of us to stay connected with and present for ourselves. Practice being with what is. Right here. Right now. So for yourself…

RELAX: Release rushing. Hand over my pushing–every minute, every hour, every day–> leads to tensionless living.  Release resistance to what is or what isn’t. Release from all of the entanglements of your mind. Release from fear, striving, and all worry. Have no agenda or judgment about what is happening. Go easy. Let things be as they are. Ah…tension diminishes as you allow non-doing.

Body Scan

  • Slow down. Release all goals and ambitions. Allow yourself to FEEL the process of being awake and alive. Open up to all of your senses. Don’t just live in your head. Feel yourself awake and aware, completely in the present moment. Take time to celebrate your journey of life!

  • Release speed. Own where you are. Release the need to rush to the next thing. Own your place on the earth. Move more slowly throughout the day. Ah…

  • Know what is enough. Watch greed (and compulsion) for accomplishment–things like e-mails or computers, numerous projects, or lists of things to do. Notice the heaviness of obligation that might come over you. Consider leaving your lists behind! How can you allow lists not to run or rule you? Perhaps simplify your life? Cultivate the feeling of inner contentment and peace. Remember: When I get lost in the field of tasks, I feel buoyed up and validated from them…and exhausted by them. Choose to simplify and prioritize, and be still.

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OBSERVE: Tune the light of awareness into your experience. Really notice (look at) what’s happening with your body, your mind, and with your emotions. Check out the Four Foundations of Mindfulness: body, feelings, mind, and all phenomena. Take time to just be present in your life. Open fully to all of your senses. Just be. Through observation you make the unconscious, known. You see your problems and your patterns. Gently look into the areas of your discomfort. Observe and then later transform them through skillful substitution.

  • Be in the moment. Don’t live your life, look at your life through thought. Rest your attention on your direct experience of walking, eating, washing the dishes, etc. Not “thinking about” or creating a “story line” about what you are doing, or remembering the past or planning for the future while you are doing each task. Be in the moment–know where you are at in this life. Be in the “crosshairs” of this moment. Pull in your mind. Stabilize your attention.

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ALLOW: Don’t push away or fight anything. Allow tensionless living. Trust! Release the ego’s need to control or defend! Allow whatever is present in the moment to be there. Perhaps pain, distress, anger, anxiety, tiredness, or delight, appreciation, and happiness. Whatever it is, just be present with it and allow it. Following this process allows ease of well being–a deep acceptance of what is or isn’t– to arise.

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Do You Experience a RAIN of Feelings?

Release the tried and failed method! Move on!

Take Time

This practice was shared by Rodney Smith at an insight meditation retreat. To hear the talk, visit Rodney’s site: http://www.seattleinsight.org/Talks/BrowseTalks/DharmaTalk/tabid/90/TalkID/294/Default.aspx  and go to individual talks to the talk on 7/05 Explore his many excellent talks including Distortions of Mind. Check out especially Distortions of Mind– The Driven Mind

LIVE LIFE

Develop a love for the present moment.

Learn to reconnect with our bodies and our lives.

Come to know what nurtures you and what depletes you.

ASK: What might lead me to greater openness, honesty,

and a deeper capacity to love myself and others?

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Nourish awareness in every moment. Cultivate a peaceful response about your life, acceptance of your present  circumstances, and kindness towards ourselves and everyone else. Frolic around these wonderful books:

Peace Is Every Step (1991),The Miracle of Mindfulness, by Thich Nhat Hanh, (1976), Beacon Press, Boston In Thich Nhat Hanh’s book Present Moment Wonderful Moment–Mindfulness Verses for Daily Living*, Parallax Press, (1990). See also Parallax Press Resources for Mindful Living: http://www.parallax.org/ *From the introduction: This book contains short verses to help us dwell in mindfulness. We often become so busy that we forget what we are doing or even who we are. We forget to look at the people we love and to appreciate them…we don’t know how to get in touch with what is going on inside and outside of ourselves…To meditate is to be aware of what is going on in our bodies, our feelings, our minds, and in the world. This is a delightful book that promotes a feeling of joy and of the sacredness of life.
Practicing The Power of Now, (1999), by Eckhart Tolle, New World Library Sounds True has audio and videotapes of this book, and many other titles. http://www.soundstrue.com 800-333-9185 Provides suggestions and insights to experience the joy of being, to enter the now, to accept whatever is happening (to see impermanence and the cycles of life), and to transform the “pain body” in us.

Stillness Speaks, (2003), by Eckhart Tolle, Namaste Publishing and New World Library. From the Introduction, “The only function of a spiritual teacher is to help you remove that which separates you from the truth of who you already are and what you already know in the depth of your being.” Enjoy discovering your inner being!

  • Namaste Publishing promotes Eckhart‘s books and other materials. Their mission is: “To make available publications that acknowledge, celebrate, and encourage others to express their true essence and thereby come to remember Who They Really Are.” Find them at:  www.namastepublishing.com/  

Delve into other areas for ideas: