Back home..

His Holiness offering a smoke offering before commemorating a Liberation Wall – breaking ground for a memorial wall at the TMC Enlightenment Stupa

I will say more soon… suffice it to say I feel at home around Drikung Kagyu dharma practitioners and at the Tibetan Meditation Center.

2nd picture – the TMC Enlightenment stupa in the mist of a spring Sunday

3rd pic – Lama Dewai Dorje – a unique and special Guru Yoga practice, the permission / empowerment was given on Saturday

4th – nirmanakaya Buddha Amitabha in the midst of the Phowa lineage for the Great Phowa Chenmo given Sunday

5th – His Holiness’ ornate throne with golden parasol over it

It was an awesome weekend! Great company, great teachings, clear exposition, great space, great time, great location, great reunions! ❤


Good recent reads

I have recently completed several incredible books… just wanted to share in case you have a free weekend or an hour a day for the next little while 🙂

The first was Other Powers by Barbara Goldsmith. This is a book about the Women’s Sufferage Movement and how it was intimately connected with spiritualism and in particular with a less-well-known woman named Victoria Woodhull. Woodhull it turns out was the first woman to run for President back in 1872. Woodhull also lived an extraordinary life, one that was heavily influenced by spiritual guides and that was considered quite inflammatory for her time (and quite honestly it would be considered highly inflammatory even today!). But if you want to get another picture of life as a woman in the late 1800’s in the U.S. or you want to get an intimate snapshot into the Women’s Suffrage movement… this is the book for you. I assure you it will not disappoint! Just learning about Victoria Woodhull is incredible and eye-opening! There are some passages of the book where dozens of names are bantered about and you can afford to skip a few pages. But for the most part, I was riveted to this book!

The next book is The Hummingbird’s Daughter by Luis Urrea. This is a book set in a similar time as Other Powers above, but it takes place mostly in northern Mexico as it follows the historical fiction (based on real characters) of Saint Teresa, a young Spanish-Indian girl / woman who learns the ways of the Yaquis Indian medicine. Her father was a wealthy hacienda owner and her mother was an indigenous worker for him. Teresa is a powerful healer, mid-wife and medicine woman before she is left for dead after a violent assault. But then she literally rises from the dead three days after the doctors declare her dead, and she commences to become a renowned healer known for hundreds of miles around. At one point, there were 12,000 pilgrims on the little hacienda where she lived, all waiting for the chance to see or hear her or seek her out for healing.

It is an amazing story written by an artist and poet who has a knack for making his fictitious world come vividly and colorfully alive. The first half of the book sets the context for Teresa’s life and the second half of the book is more about her healing journey and being declared a saint by half of Mexico. It is also quite graphic in showing how hard the non-elite workers had it in their difficult lives. Not unlike Other Powers, it makes me so grateful for all we have today!

I am currently working on the book, The Chronicles of Tao by Deng Ming-Dao, a book about an authentic and humble Taoist and martial arts master who trained with some of China’s renowned masters and teachers in the middle of the 20th century before coming to the U.S. to teach and become a Golden Gloves boxer.

I am just getting started, but the mystical descriptions of Taoist priests, the colorful and lively festival descriptions and the abilities of martial arts masters in the first 100 pages are astounding and keeping me yearning for more!

Fascinatingly, it also centers on how hard things were for many people living in China in the 20th century and how spiritual masters and martial arts teachers could still come out of that highly testing and challenging era of China’s history.

You may not want to hear this… (famous first words?) 🙂

I also share this reluctantly. Please keep in mind that I am not a spiritual teacher – yes I dabble in leading meditation groups, but that is typically from rote, not from realization! Therefore, when deciding when and how much meditation you should engage in, you definitely should seek out a qualified spiritual guide. So many of us here in the West want to do spiritual practice our own way – looking for good books to guide us. We are basically feeling around blindly in the dark, searching for resourcing nectar in all the wrong places if so. Independence – insistence upon our selves, “I know what is best for me (from the get go)!”, attempting to control our spiritual path – is a binder and a blinder, especially when it comes to spiritual practice.

With all that said, I have had private interviews with Tibetan Lamas who tell me that someone who is suffering from a gross (vs subtle) nervous system issue like anxiety or paranoia or OCD or significant depression, they cannot meditate. Why? Probably because once you start to push your mind and stretch a little out of your comfort zone, this nervous system dysfunction will be right up very uncomfortably in your face.

Recently, in the Somatic Experiencing training I participated in back in March, they had a conversation about how meditators are often the best at checking out of their bodies (not all – some of us meditate in such a way as to stay present in and as a body). But the issue is that someone who already has a tendency to dissociate or check out or day dream or numb out who begins to meditate, will usually just transfer their dissociation into this new habit. In other words, making a new-looking groove for an ancient, ingrain habit!

I would argue however, that according to some definitions of meditation I have heard from Tibetan Lamas, this checking out while sitting is also not technically meditation. Yes it may look that way from the outside, but inside their bodies, these people are in a state of freeze, collapse, shock or overwhelm (or a combination of two or three of these!).

I’m not saying “Don’t Meditate” if you have one of these issues. What I am saying is that you need to do something efficacious to work on settling your nervous system. You need to find a skillful practitioner to help you co-regulate, to build resilience in a proven manner and to do the healing / release work to clear these obstacles causing your nervous system to be dysregulated in the first place!

Yoga is a decent place to start. Find a good teacher – someone who allows for modification of poses (not everyone is alike and can handle a harsh or strict form of discipline). You want to find someone who walks their talk – they can be kind and yet have solid boundaries. Maybe you prefer tough love – but make sure you are really experiencing lasting benefits! (How many of us know someone who looks the part of awesome Yogi on their mat but their blind spots are outrageously obvious to the rest of their world…?)

Other options are to work with a Somatic Experiencing practitioner. This is an awesome body-centered therapeutic modality that works with whatever is up in the moment and it tracks very specifically where the client is in their nervous system.

Yet another modality is Working with the Polyvagal System – based on Stephen Porges’ work on the Polyvagal Theory. Kathy Kain’s work on Touch for Trauma is an excellent way to come into your body in a gradual, kind, stable manner.

And then there is always the moving meditation modalities – Chi Kung (Qigong) or Tai Chi (Taiji). Or walking meditation or walking a labyrinth etc. These are excellent starting places (and you can go very deep for a lifetime of learning with Qigong or Taiji).

However, if you have a difficult time staying present in your body and as a body. Then starting out with a shamanic journey may or may not be the best place to start. Yes some people might require a soul retrieval type of session to make progress. But for the vast majority of clients I have seen, this is not the case.

Most of us want to choose the path of least resistance. Unfortunately, that means we have been very adept at sweeping uncomfortable emotions under the carpet as it were. Choose a modality (but not too intensely cathartic) that helps you to gently feel those less-than-comfortable emotions in a manageable, gradual, stable, trackable manner. Like Somatic Experiencing, or Craniosacral Therapy, or Working with the Polyvagal System, or Dream Therapy, or Art Therapy, or Dance Therapy etc.

If it is too cathartic all at once, then that is too intense on the nervous system – it literally can’t digest that much of an emotional outburst in one sitting. So some people get addicted to the feeling, the rush of catharsis. But when it comes to moving out of less-than-healthy grooves and into healthier nervous system rhythms, then a very cathartic modality is NOT the way to go. These look like heavy emotional processing without a lot of time for integration – let’s do four big pieces for four different people in under two hours for instance. I don’t want to name modality names here for obvious reasons – but leave a comment and I will share more 🙂

What I am trying to say with all of this is, Keep Meditating! If you notice other things arising, like persistent anxiety or chronic agitation or chronically tight upper back / shoulder muscles or depression etc, then get additional support! And keep in mind that it is possible that your meditation teacher does not have the knowledge or the experience to recommend that you get nervous system regulation support (most Tibetan Lamas have not done efficacious somatic psychological training). So keep moving forward, but allow time for integration of new big learning, new big experiences. And as always, always lean into support when possible!

Thank you for reading and feel free to leave a comment.


I am excited to add a great product line to my business! Floracopeia oils, flower essences, skin care and other great therapeutic and beauty products are sustainably crafted and made by a company that holds integrity close to its heart. I have been using their Essential Oils for close to two years now and I have not yet been disappointed!

Floracopeia Starter Pack Essential Oils

In fact, these 15 mL bottles have lasted for more than a year now – including using them weekly to add to massage oil! It is pretty amazing – the original 6 essential oils we were given at massage school, in spite of my using them weekly, are still over halfway full! And that was over a year ago.

And because Floracopeia is not a multi-level marketing company, that means the oils are much more affordable than Do Terra or Young Living Oils. And in my humble opinion, these oils are even higher quality than those two companies.

Don’t get me wrong – I use the Do Terra Aroma Touch kit oils to do their Aroma Touch treatment on clients, and I use some Young Living blends as well – especially Release, Gentle Baby and Valor (love them!). But these oils, despite being the same 15 mL, always seem to run out after a two or three months of weekly use.

I like the saying, “Less is More.” I think this proverb applies to many areas of life – including the use of potent Essential Oils. Rather than slather someone’s back with potent plant spirits, it is possible that 3-5 drops would do the trick!

Let me know if you want to purchase some oils! I am happy to send you further info!

Ask me about possible discounts when you purchase three or more oils. 😉

Thank you for reading!


Hello dear readers!

I am looking for people who know a lot about their births and / or ancestral patterns to discuss their astrology charts with me. 🙂

Ideally, I’d like to have 100 people’s charts and birth information to go into research I have slowly started on joining birth psychology and Western astrology. At this point, I already have 10 or 12 charts with solid birth dynamics to go with them.

This is a passion I’ve been nurturing for a while. I have been studying Western astrology (psychological / karmic / spiritual astrology) since 2003 and then in 2013 I began studying pre- and perinatal psychology and birth process work.

As far as I can tell, there are not many people in the world doing PPN Astrology. I have had a couple people inquire as to when will I put out more info about it. Soon, soon I’m thinking.

I normally charge $140 for a full 90-minute astrological interpretation. But if you know your chart and know about your birth and / or ancestral patterns / dynamics, then I’d like to chat with you more! Because I need to be compensated a little for my time, I figure charging $60 for a 90-minute session is appropriate.

If this sounds good, let me know!

Thank you for reading!


I should start out by saying I am not a doctor. I do not treat, diagnose, cure or even prevent any diseases outside of my scope of practice (I’m a licensed massage therapist).

With that said, I have been working with the Polyvagal System – treating nervous system dysfunction and lack of regulation since 2012. And I’m currently taking Somatic Experiencing training – getting more specific knowledge and skills about how to work with the CNS and ANS.

Recently I have treated a few clients who have the symptoms of hiatal hernias – discomfort, acid reflux, pressure up into diaphragm, etc. Their doctors have diagnosed them as having these hernias.

And I should note (immediately and with some insistence) that having a hiatal hernia is complicated. It most likely took some years or even decades (of stress and challenge) to develop. Therefore there is no easy fix. Especially if there is a tear in the tissue around the hiatus – the opening in the diaphragm which is allowing some abdominal tissue to sneak up into the upper thoracic cavity. Ouch.

People with these hernias are often prescribed medicine for the acid reflux and then are given exercises to pull the tissue down from around their stomachs. And their doctors will watch them to make sure they don’t develop serious GERD (potentially damaging acid reflux) or other complications.

I wonder what else can be done for these life-altering types of diseases?

It looks like there is a significant Vagus (ventral vagus) nerve component to the esophagus. The ventral vagus branch innervates the upper third of it, and when working properly, it allows for some appropriate slack in the tissue when taking deep breaths so the diaphragm can descend. When the esophagus is stuck in a tight, shocked, frightened, or feeling less-than-safe pattern, there can be problems with the proper tension in the esophageal tissue. If we are taking deep breaths with a really tight esophagus, then eventually some lower abdominal tissue might start to slip through the hiatus – the opening in the diaphragm which the esophagus passes through. This is where the hiatal hernia begins to develop.

Ideally we want the dorsal vagus and the ventral vagus branch to be on the same page and sending the same messages to the brain. Often times though, in times of stress, the ventral vagus branch gets disrupted. This has many side effects, but one of which is to disrupt communication between the ventral and dorsal branches of the vagus system and to possibly have the sympathetic chain stay “stuck” on – being activated, tense, or anxious for days on end.

It also turns out that if hiatal hernias get bad enough, they will start to affect the breathing capacity – as the diaphragm can’t descend properly. There seems to be evidence that some COPD cases may involve hiatal hernias as well. 

I appreciate all the learning and study and wisdom of Western medical practitioners. They know how to treat the biological body and most of the bio-chemical systems in it, to patch it up, to tweak neurotransmitters, to balance pH, to replace organs, to set broken bones, etc. And yet I wonder if the healing actually happens in the biological body – or does it happen in the psycho-spiritual body? And if it is the latter, why don’t they teach more about this in contemporary medical schools?

So speaking of psycho-spiritual concepts.. working with the autonomic nervous system – building resiliency, tracking where the client is in their nervous system (sympathetic, parasympathetic charge, fight or flight, freeze or collapse, etc), assessing the client’s capacity – how refined is their window of tolerance? – are all necessary competencies to know and understand before putting hands on and saying, “I can resource the nervous system skillfully.”

There is a very easy technique to resource and settle the ventral branch of the vagus nerve. It is called the Basic Exercise. This plus Visceral Manipulation techniques (balancing the sphincters, working with the visceral organs) and other forms of nervous system resiliency building can be really good for potentially managing hiatal hernias (and I suspect in preventing them). What I’m trying to say is: “Go see your doctor if you have unexplained symptoms or pain (especially around the upper left quadrant of your abdomen and which might include acid reflux).” You may also want to work with a complimentary medicine practitioner as well. Continue working with a doctor you trust for sure – you do not want this condition to get worse.

Ideally, you want to calm and soothe your nervous system before the stresses on the tissues, openings and sphincters becomes so great that a little tear develops. If you have pain, try to figure out what is going on, same for acid reflux. The old adage – “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” – can get people in trouble.

So go see your doctor or nurse practitioner first. And then do something healthy and positive (and hopefully efficacious) to reduce your stress. Somatic Experiencing, counseling, meditation (find a good teacher), yoga, qigong are all techniques and modalities which can do this. Having a competent teacher is important however – if they aren’t walking their talk, walk away 🙂

Even if you have a hiatal hernia, you can still manage and soothe your nervous system. You can reduce the stresses and strains on your body. And I wonder – they say that a hernia NEVER improves or gets better (unless you have surgery) and not that I am disputing that (!).. but I wonder what would happen if you did a 30-day yoga-type retreat where you eat extremely easy to digest foods (think zero stress on the digestive tract), you receive shirodhara sessions daily (very relaxing oil treatments coming out of the Ayurvedia tradition), and you have daily access to Ayurvedia doctors and yoga teachers. “Miracles” can happen..

I offer bodywork treatments – Working with the Polyvagal System, Craniosacral Therapy, Somatic Experiencing, Integrated Massage and Asian Bodywork in the Charlottesville, Virginia area. Visit my website to schedule an appointment.

Thanks for reading!


Why I sit

I had an interesting conversation today with a friend and follower of this blog. She asked, “What is bothering you?” This was in regard to my doing so much work on myself over the past 12 – 14 years.

I responded, “What if nothing is bothering me?” As in, I’m doing pretty darned well – I don’t feel there is anything really bothering me.

Edited a day later: Okay, let’s be honest… I do feel an existential malaise from time to time. Nothing overt. Nothing noticeable by a non-spiritual-master. But there is this ache in my heart, a yearning to open fully, completely to love. Which I have not done yet. I have difficulty crying – in the past 3-5 years, I mainly cry when I read inspiring tales of Buddhist masters. That will bring me to tears – like if I tell the story about how I think I knew Patrul Rinpoche (I was a very poor beggar boy at the time). My girlfriend just wrote me a beautiful love song and serenaded me on my 40th birthday – wanted to cry, couldn’t.

So to attempt to formulate words regarding “What is bothering you?” that is a little glimpse into my playground as it were. Also, I would love to be able to practice Dream Yoga on a regular basis – definitely haven’t gotten there yet! Therefore I have lots of “spiritual goals”, some loftier than others. Slowly slowly. End edit.

With that said however, when we start splitting hairs on our spiritual journey, and start walking the razor’s edge as it were regarding our mindfulness and awareness – if the mind is too tight (maybe with extra aversion), we fall off one side. If the mind is too loose (maybe with too much desire), we fall off the other side.

Not to ring my own bell, but that is simply where I am at. Once we take certain initiations in Tibetan Buddhism – the Vajrayana or Diamond path (which is accelerated for a reason) – we commit to doing a certain number of mantras each day. We commit to maintaining mindfulness and Bodhicitta – the wish that all sentient beings attain unsurpassed perfect complete precious enlightenment soon – including ourselves!

I know I have some experience in a past life (lives) where I was a monastic and I made progress on the Bodhisattva path. I would like to at least get back to that level of realization again in this lifetime. I’m not there yet.

I have been so extremely fortunate with my heart teachers, emotional-process-oriented-bodywork teachers, mentors and coaches. And most of all, I am committed to doing my personal growth work. In the past, for a few months during 2007, I was doing so much Dharma practice on a daily basis, that I attained a state of non-conceptuality. I literally was present with my body, as my body, in a state of meta-awareness where I simply did what was required of me. I made breakfast without thinking about what I was doing; I was even downloading (from the ethers) abilities that I had never had before – like I was somehow renovating houses on my own without ever having had that training. I was in school and that is why my practice initially started dwindling – UVa is a difficult and challenging school.

Then in 2009, I really set myself back by being in a lustful, highly erotic relationship for a few months. I’ll leave it at that. Needless to say, I am only now returning to a place where I mostly have daily dedication to maintain a disciplined and efficacious spiritual practice. I don’t know if I can ever get back to that state I describe above – maybe not. I’m not attached to that. But I know that having crystal clear awareness is possible. When I do a daily 10-day retreat each winter, I come close to that. Then about seven days later, it fades back into a busy rat-race, discursive life.

It is interesting. About 10 years ago, I asked one of my teachers the same question – she is a householder, a practitioner who has done numerous 90-day retreats and she teaches meditation and bodywork and trauma resolution. I asked, “Do you ever take a day off?” She pushes herself very hard. But she enjoys life, she eats well, she lets off steam by hiking and (quite rarely) going on vacation, and she plays mental-stimulating games like scrabble.

I remember she responded with one of the 37 Bodhisattva Practices from a small booklet by Ngulchu Thogme Zangpo. I forget which one she rattled off, but they are all pretty strict and poignant. I will quote the opening paragraph here:

“At all times I prostrate with respectful three doors of body, speech and mind to the supreme guru and the protector Chenrezig, who though realizing that all phenomena neither come nor go, make single-minded effort for the sake of all sentient beings.”

It is fitting that I am starting to move into this frame of mind. And honestly, once we realize that life is relatively short (or literally for some), then we will begin to organize our life around spiritual practice and personal growth work. The rewards are so great. Finding effortless, spontaneous, liberated, no-strings-attached bliss is very very rare in this degenerate world we find ourselves in.

It is possible to experience all pervasive loving-kindness, compassion, rejoicing and equanimity simultaneously. Why not work tirelessly to get there? (Within reason, knowing your capacity, finding an authentic spiritual teacher, and taking baby steps from there.)

Thanks for reading!