There’s Never Been a Better Time to Find Your Center…

 

 

These are unprecedented times.

The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic are far reaching and complex, and no matter what your personal circumstances may be, it is easy to become overwhelmed by it all.

As always, but especially now, we encourage you to treat yourself with gentleness, compassion, and care. Take time to rest in simple silence, and consider the idea that any answers you seek are already inside you.

This resting in silence and finding the wisdom within is the foundation of Buddhist meditation.

If you would like to learn more about this timeless practice, then our new title, How to Meditate Like a Buddhist by Cynthia Kane, is a perfect place to begin this work. Backed by years of experience as a mindfulness and meditation instructor, Kane has crafted the ultimate beginner’s guide to Buddhist meditation. Straightforward and easy to read, this powerful book answers many common questions from first-time meditators, and offers clear instructions on how to begin a regular, lasting practice.

An excerpt from How to Meditate Like a Buddhist by Cynthia Kane:

Maybe you believe, like I do, that some opportunity, a signal flag marking a new path, will often appear in your life when you need it most. Mine came in the form of a note from a friend…when she forwarded me an email about a writing and meditation workshop at the Shambhala Meditation Center of New York. I had never been to the place, or even heard of it. But the idea of writing about my loss coupled with the meditation benefits they described felt like it might be a port in the storm for my hurricane mind.

That very first night at the Shambhala Center I began a meditation practice that, over time, would change my life. Today, I’m happy to report that I spend the vast majority of my days away from the path of the hurricane mind. I am calm, present, relaxed, joyful, and connected in a way I could only dream of before. And while I still have anxious and stressful moments, they are moments instead of days—and, most importantly, these feelings no longer paralyze or derail me. If you had told me eight years ago that I would find peace in my life, form deep connections with others, see beauty in the world, stop judging and evaluating myself constantly, and change my relationship to fear, death, stress, and anxiety, I would never have believed you. Yet, here I sit, writing this book to let you know that this is exactly what happened, and that beginning a meditation practice was the cornerstone to this new way of life.

The impact on me was so profound that in no time I became a certified meditation and mindfulness instructor. And for those I work with, meditation has had similar benefits, helping ease their social anxiety, insomnia, and stress. I’ve seen meditation help people tap into their creativity, be more productive at work, and find overall well-being greater than they have ever felt before. I’ve seen marriages grow more intimate and loving, and parents connect with their children and grow more peaceful within their families. I’ve seen people accomplish more with less effort, reduce their blood pressure, start sleeping better at night, and reset their relationship with food. Many say that they’ve started taking the worrisome thoughts that occur in their minds less seriously, which has created more joy, laughter, and adventure in their lives. Just imagine for a moment what any one of these benefits could mean for your life.

In addition to my own experience and that of my students, countless studies have measured the benefits of meditation on the body, mind, and spirit. In fact, it’s difficult (if not impossible) to find a scientific study that hasn’t concluded that meditation is good for you. A cursory internet search will deliver a variety of peer-reviewed studies showing physical, psychological, and spiritual results.

On a physical level, meditation can make you healthier:

On a psychological level, meditation can change the brain:

And finally, on a spiritual level, meditation can enrich your practice:

In addition to all of the above, there are some key benefits to meditation from a Buddhist perspective. We will go deeper into these in the chapters that follow, but for now I’d like to start with the idea that meditation helps you to rediscover the quietness that lies inside you, and provides access to an awareness and presence that is not affected by your past or the uncertainty of the future. Through meditation, you begin to connect with the inherent goodness within, or what Buddhism refers to as your Buddha nature. While you may be accustomed to looking outside yourself for answers from others, Buddhism contains the radical idea that you already have the answers you seek, and meditation is a tool by which you can access your own truth.

Buddhism also teaches that each of us has the power to relieve our own suffering. We are our own healers, and we have everything we need within ourselves. Suffering in this context refers to anxiety, discomfort, pain, embarrassment, shame, and/or self-loathing. Meditation is a way to change your relationship to this suffering, because it changes your relationship to your thoughts and your emotions. By practicing meditation you become a witness to whatever is happening, no longer attaching yourself to it or resisting it, but simply observing it. You are able to observe difficult thoughts and emotions and allow the sensations to be there, without letting them lead you. The more you observe and the less you judge, the more you heal.

Meditation invites you to find out who you are, and to be who you are, exactly as you are, without judgment. In my experience, meditation can help restore what stress, anxiety, and overwhelm has taken from you, by bringing back peace, tranquility, and meaningful connection with others, as well as ease, energy, and joyful living. During meditation, we learn to be with ourselves in the best and worst of times. We accept ourselves as perfectly imperfect, dynamic, and ever-changing. This in turn allows us to see others in the same way, bringing a sense of compassion and connectedness into the world.

You may not believe that the practice I will teach you in the following pages can bring the same to you. But if you’re willing to commit to it and stick with it, meditating like a Buddhist will change your life.

 

 

Ready to read more about how to begin your own regular meditation practice? How to Meditate Like a Buddhist will be released on April 28, 2020 in all major retail outlets and on our website.

 

Has Science Proven the Ego Is an Illusion?


Stop thinking, and end your problems.

-Lao Tzu, The Tao Te Ching (Stephen Mitchell translation)

 

Who are we? Why are we here? Why do we suffer?

Humans have grappled with these questions since time immemorial. Philosophers, spiritual leaders, scientists, and artists have all weighed in on them. In Western philosophy, the best answer to the question of who we are is that thinking is the defining characteristic of humanity There is no more concise example of this than philosopher Rene Descartes' famous statement cogito, ergo sum, or, "I think, therefore I am."

This reverence for thinking is in stark contrast to the tenets of Eastern philosophy found in traditions such as Buddhism, Taoism, and certain schools of Hinduism. These traditions at best advocate a distrust of the thinking mind and often go further to claim that the thinking mind is part of the problem rather than the solution. Zen Buddhism offers us the saying, "No thought, no problem."

The brain-powered individual, which is variously called the self, the ego, the mind, or "me," lies at the center of Western thought. In the worldview of the West, we herald the greatest thinkers as world-changers. But who is this? Let's take a closer look at the thinker, or the "me," we all take for granted. This definition will be essential throughout our discussion.

This "I" is for most of us the first thing that pops into our minds when we think about who we are. The "I" represents the idea of our individual self, the one that sits between the ears and behind the eyes and is "piloting" the body The "pilot" is in charge, it doesn't change very much, and it feels to us like the thing that brings our thoughts and feelings to life. It observes, makes decisions, and carries out actions-just like the pilot of an airplane.

This I/ego is what we think of as our true selves, and this individual self is the experiencer and the controller of things like thoughts, feelings, and actions. The pilot self feels like it is running the show. It is stable and continuous. It is also in control of our physical body; for example, this self understands that it is "my body" But unlike our physical body, it does not perceive itself as changing, ending (except, perhaps for atheists, in bodily death), or being influenced by anything other than itself.

Now let's turn to the East. Buddhism, Taoism, the Advaita Vedanta school of Hinduism, and other schools of Eastern thought have quite a different take on the self, the ego, or "me." They say that this idea of "me" is a fiction, although a very convincing one. Buddhism has a word for this concept-anatta, which is often translated as "no self'- which is one of the most fundamental tenets of Buddhism, if not the most important.

This idea sounds radical, even nonsensical, to those who are trained in Western traditions. It seems to contradict our everyday experience, indeed our whole sense of being.

This book will explore strong evidence suggesting that the concept of the self is simply a construct of the mind, rather than a physical thing located somewhere within the brain itself. Put another way, it is the process of thinking that creates the self, rather than there being a self having any independent existence separate from thought. The self is more like a verb than a noun. To take it a step further, the implication is that without thought, the self does not, in fact, exist. It's as if contemporary neuroscience and psychology are just now catching up with what Buddhist, Taoist, and Advaita Vedanta Hindu­ ism have been teaching for over 2,500 years.

This may be a difficult point to grasp, chiefly because we've mistaken the process of thinking as a genuine thing for so long. It will take some time to see the idea of a "me" as simply an idea rather than a fact. Your illusionary self-the voice in your head-is very convincing. It narrates the world, determines your beliefs, replays your memories, identifies with your physical body, manufactures your projections of what might happen in the future, and creates your judgments about the past. It is this sense of self that we feel from the moment we open our eyes in the morning to the moment we close them at night. It seems all-important, so it often comes as a shock when I tell people that based on my work as a neuropsychologist, this "I" is simply not there-at least not in the way we think it is.

On the other hand, this will come as no surprise to those who have studied Eastern religions and philosophical movements, since all of these take as a basic premise the idea that the self as we most commonly think of it does not exist. If this is true, one might then ask, what is left? This question is definitely worth pondering, and we will look at it later after we approach the idea of "no self' through the landscape of scientific findings that point to the unreality of the self and the possible presence of a different model of consciousness.

As I mentioned in the preface, the great success story of neuroscience has been in mapping the brain. We can point to the language center, the face processing center, and the center for understanding the emotions of others. Practically every function of the mind has been mapped to the brain with one important exception: the self. While various neuroscientists have made the claim that the self resides in this or that neural location, there is no real agreement among the scientific community about where to find it-not even whether it might  be  in the left or the right side of the brain. Perhaps the reason we can't find the self in the brain is because it isn't there.

Yet even if we accept as true that there is no self, we cannot deny that there is still a very strong idea of self. While neuropsychology has failed to find the seat of the self, it has determined the part of the brain that creates this idea of a self, and we will examine this in detail.

Why does all of this matter? In much the same way I found myself deep in suffering after the loss of my father, each of us will experience plenty of mental pain, misery, and frustration in our lifetimes.  Mistaking the voice in our head for a thing and labeling it "me" brings us into conflict with the neuropsychological evidence that shows there is no such thing. This mistake-this illusory sense of self-is the primary cause of our mental suffering. What's more, I contend that it blocks access to the eternal, expansive thread of universal consciousness that is always available to us.

To be clear, mental suffering is different from physical pain. Pain occurs in the body and is a physical reaction - like when you stub your toe or break an arm. The suffering I speak of occurs in the mind only and describes things such as worry, anger, anxiety, regret, jealousy, shame, and a host of other negative mental states.

I know it's a big claim to say that all of these kinds of suffering are the result of a fictitious sense of self. For now, the essence of this idea is captured brilliantly by Taoist philosopher and author Wei Wu Wei when he writes, "Why are you unhappy? Because 99.9 percent of everything you think, and of everything you do, is for yourself-and there isn't one."

The Structure of This Book

We will start by looking at the brain, its left and right side, and its effects on human cognition and behavior.3 There are certainly other ways to organize and divide the brain that are important to the process of cognition, such as the hippocampus and the prefrontal cortex mentioned in the preface, but it is my aim to make this topic understandable and enjoyable for everyone. For simplicity's sake, we will mostly talk about the left and right sides of the brain and how they affect our thoughts and behaviors.

First, I will explain the idea that the left brain is an interpreter or story-maker. Pattern recognition, language, mapmaking, and categorization are all located in the left brain, and the evidence suggests that it is exactly these types of functions that collectively lead to the sensation of a self and the strong belief in its absolute truth. We will explore how the unique functions of the left brain give rise not only to the sense of self but also account for why it is so difficult to see beyond this illusion and why this sensation creates so much suffering in the human condition.

Once we understand how the left brain operates, we will take a closer look at the  right  brain and how  it works, which includes things such as finding meaning, our ability to see and understand big-picture ideas, expressing creativity, experiencing emotions, and spatial processing. These are all functions that rely on the right brain. After we have examined both sides of the brain and the processes associated with each, I will speculate on what this information may mean for consciousness and how it could also point beyond the ego illusion and toward the mystery of who we really are.

At the end of each chapter, you will find a section called Explorations. These are exercises or simple thought experiments that provide a chance for a deeper, more hands-on understanding of the concepts dis­ cussed. Through these Explorations, I hope you will be able to access the central ideas of this book in novel and exciting ways that go beyond merely thinking about them.

What we discuss here will show that specific studies in neuroscience and psychology strongly suggest what Eastern philosophies have been saying for millennia: namely that this idea of "me" or the "self'' that most of us take for granted doesn't exist in the way that we think it does. This may be a new idea for you, and before we begin, I want to make clear that I am not simply trying to convince you that your ego is an illusion by heaping mountains of research on you. Rather, I want to guide you to new experiences and open pathways to using different parts of the brain so that you can determine for yourself whether all this is true or not. Einstein said that a problem cannot be solved with the same level of thinking that created it. In this way, the sense of self created by the left brain cannot be unveiled by hammering away at it with even more thinking from the left brain. My wish is to guide your consciousness to a different way of looking at your experiences and, in so doing, allow you to go beyond the thoughts of the left brain. I believe this can greatly reduce your mental suffering, as it has mine.

As the ancient Zen axiom states, "No self, no problem."

 

 

No Self, No Problem shows how findings in neuropsychology suggest that our sense of self is actually an illusion created by the left side of the brain and that it exists in the same way a mirage in the middle of the desert exists: as a thought rather than a thing.

 

Intrigued? This title will be released on September 10th and will be available from all major retailers!

 

Break the Grip of Past Lovers

A Year for You

To the Son I Never Had: A Love Letter to Men and Boys by HeatherAsh Amara

 

Last year I wrote a blog called “To the daughter I never had” where I shared my experiences spending time with an ex-boyfriend's budding-into-teenager daughter (read that blog here).

I received so many emails from women who were deeply touched by the writing and message of that blog and were so grateful to share it with their daughters. I also received several emails from men asking, “can you please write a blog like that so I can share it with my son?”

So here are my thoughts on what I would want my son to know as he grew into adulthood.​​​​​​​

​​​​​​​This is also a love letter to all men who are on a path of healing and working toward dismantling the old paradigm of domination, patriarchy, and repression. I see you and am grateful for you. May these words help clear the old structures and wounding so that we may all step beyond the shackles of harmful gender-based roles and agreements.

An important reminder: there are many beings who do not identify with the limited and binary definitions of men and women. These people are the visionaries and leaders of a new way of being, the vanguards helping us all to move beyond the stereotypes and false simplicity of masculine vs feminine. I'm not meaning to exclude anyone from this blog. “My son” is for anyone who is male-identified or gender fluid.

------------------------------

Dear One,
​​​​​​​

We live in changing and exciting times. We are in the midst of a paradigm shift, and you are a part of that new wave. And while this time brings new possibilities and ways of being it can also bring confusion, mixed messages, and a sense of not knowing where you fit in or how to respond.

In my parent's lifetime, your grandparents, the world was very different. Roles for men and women were highly segregated and formulaic; men were supposed to make the money and take care of all the finances and women were supposed to stay home and take care of the children. Men were seen as superior; women were seen as inferior. Men were taught not to have feelings or get too attached; they were supposed to be stoic, solid, and always in control. Women were seen as overly emotional, needing of protection, and weak. And women were believed to be good at housekeeping and child raising only, except when we were at war and women were brought into the workplace.

Of course, there were exceptions even 50 to 60 years ago; women became pilots or doctors, men stayed home and took care of the children. However, it was extremely rare, and there was a lot of pushback whenever someone stepped out of those old designated roles.

I'm telling you this because it is important to understand where we have been, in order to know how to step more mindfully into where we are going. The attitudes and beliefs of your great grandparents, your grandparents, and your parents will continue to be carried forward by you in many subtle ways unless you very consciously choose to change them. Many of these old beliefs are still held in obvious and subtle ways by our culture and by the people in power. And you also need to understand, so you are not surprised or confused by people's reactions to you, why there may be times you get very strong messages from your elders or your peers to be different or “toe the line.” You might be called “sissy” or “pussy” or “just like a girl.” You might be harassed for being too “feminine” or for “being pussy-whipped.” But these insults only work if you believe that being likened to a girl is bad. And that is what the culture is still trying to use to keep men and women in boxes and behaving “as they should.”

Being a man does not mean you have to be tough or unemotional or responsible for everything. Growing from a boy to a man is about finding your center, living from your heart, and fiercely loving.

Whether you are sexually attracted to boys or girls, how you choose to dress, what you are passionate about, and how you want to show up in the world is part of the adventure of learning who you are. Please don't let anyone outside of you tell you that you should be different. There will always be people who will tell you that you are doing it “wrong” or who will judge you because of your choices. I will always stand by your right to choose. That is your birthright. And your choices are precious and powerful and I will support them unconditionally.​​​​​​​

Know, however, that not everyone will. If you stray from the invisible line of what is “proper” according to someone else’s standards, you may find they demean or even actively try to hurt you. But there are also so many role models that can inspire you to be fully yourself. These are people who have gone against the old rigid definitions of “masculine” and “feminine,” people who step outside of those fixed and tiring gender lines, and have blazed a new trail. You will also be blazing a new trail with your being.

In regards to your sexuality, which is a beautiful and powerful part of you...

Get to know your own body. Everyone is different, and as your hormones come on line you'll find lots of things changing with your body. It is natural and beautiful to feel desire and to feel turned on by some of the people around you. And it can be confusing to know how to be in those relationships. Start by getting to know how you like to be touched, where your body is sensitive, and what makes you feel good. Pleasure is one of the greatest gifts of being human, and your body is a buffet of sensations and experiences, from learning what textures, smells, and colors you like, to learning how to bring yourself to climax using your hands while being connected to your heart.

Take your time being sexual with others. There is no rush to connect sexually with someone else; no end goal as to what it should look like. Go slow. Listen to your own body and heart. Learn to “court” lovers by getting to know them: what they like, where they struggle, what they dream about. Share who you are. Be vulnerable. The best sexual relationships come from intimacy, though there is nothing wrong with being sexual with a willing partner that you don't know... this can be a wonderful exchange of energy and passion! But always remember there is no rush. Savor the moment of touch and connection.

Why consent is so important. This is hard to talk about, but it is so very important. There are as many as 1 in 3 girls and women who are sexually assaulted at some time in their life, and as many as 1 in 8 boys and men. There is a tremendous amount of wounding around sexuality for many people, both intentional and unintentional. Women are especially wired to “freeze” if they feel they are in danger. There is an old belief that women should be sexual even if they don't want to be. It can be easy to overstep boundaries if you fail (even unintentionally) to communicate clearly with your partner. First, never be sexual with someone who has been drinking or doing drugs and cannot truly give consent, because their normal functioning brain is impaired; they may not be acting from their most centered place. If you are not sure, ask. If you feel there is a wobble or a hesitation, ask more questions or wait until your partner is clear headed and they tell you they are really ready and willing. And always check in with yourself about whether or not you are wanting to be sexual; never let yourself get pressured to do something you do not want to. Honor your body.

Learn to hold your desires and respect others. Being sexually turned on by someone does not mean that you must be sexual with them! You will be excited and lit up by many people in your life, whether you are single or in a committed relationship. This is one of the lovely things about being in a body, feeling that sense of desire and yumminess around other people. You don't have to repress it or pretend you are not turned on, and you also do not have to act on it or share it with others. Learn to feel that inner fire and use it to fuel your joy, creativity, and passion for life. If you are in a committed relationship take the energy that sparks you and share it with your partner (I mean share energetically, not necessarily verbally unless your partner is very open!) Don't be ashamed of your sexuality or feel you have to deny that life force moving through you. And know that you get to decide how you run that energy through your body.

Get to know your partner's body. In movies and books, people effortlessly and passionately fall into each other's arms and know exactly how to please each other. That is not always the reality! Sometimes it takes time to learn how to pleasure your partner, and to show them how to pleasure you. Be an open-minded and open-hearted student of each person you connect with sexually, as all bodies and people are different. Ask questions, try new things. Variety and exploration are the spice of sensual connection. And know that especially for women, you can do something one day that will drive her wild, and then do the exact same thing the next day and she will hate it. Women's hormones change so drastically from week to week that you will need to learn to read where she is in her cycle and how she likes to be touched or held, for example when she is ovulating vs when she is menstruating. There are books and videos that can help you learn how to pleasure a woman or a man to have multiple orgasms, to ejaculate (woman), or to orgasm without ejaculating (man).

Lead with kindness and compassion. The old model of “manhood” is tied up with always being strong and never showing emotions. Many men have not been allowed, or have not allowed themselves, to connect with their emotions and inner needs. Because this is modeled so strongly by many men in business, in the movies, and in the media, the old model can be easy to slip into. Always remember that knowing your emotions and being vulnerable is your superpower. When you are in touch and fluid with your emotional body you are connected to your intuition, your wisdom, and your heart. Emotional intelligence is a kind of literacy that you can learn; it will serve you well, so don't be afraid to get the support and resources you need to connect and work with your emotional body.

Many thanks to the women and men I've talked to who have raised or are raising boys, who are not afraid to be their full selves. It makes me cry every time one of my students writes to me to share how her son is saying things like, “I don't mind if you call me a girl, girls are powerful” (from a young boy with long hair who is called a girl by a stranger) or “Yes, I'd like the pink shirt, mom. I'm not insecure around my masculinity” (from a young man whose mom double checks his choice of shirts). The paradigm is shifting, boy by boy, man by man. Yes!

High five to everyone raising conscious boys, and to all the men reparenting themselves and healing their wounded inner child. We need you. We see you. We love you. Thank you.
​​​​​​​
​​​​​​​
Blessings,

P.S. If you are a woman who has a male-bodied or gender fluid partner, friend, or sibling, share your love and appreciation with them today.

Resources for boys or for raising boys:

https://www.fatherly.com/parenting/teach-young-kids-consent-respect-sex/

http://rolereboot.org/family/details/2018-01-teaching-boys-consent-needs-start-earlier-think/

https://goodmenproject.com/families/the-healthy-sex-talk-teaching-kids-consent-ages-1-21/

Guy Stuff: The Body Book for Boys by Cara Natterson

It's Perfectly Normal by Robie Harris

Resources for men:

Fire in the Belly by Sam Keen

The Superior Man by David Deida

The Mask of Masculinity by Lewis Howes

Hold Me Tight by Sue Johnson

The Hidden Spirituality of Men by Matthew Fox

King Warrior Magician Lover by Robert Moore

To Be A Man by Robert Augustus Masters

The Mankind Project: https://mankindproject.org/

The Good Men Project: https://goodmenproject.com/

Ask Men: https://www.askmen.com/

Lewis Howes' podcast: https://lewishowes.com/podcast

HeatherAsh Amara is the bestselling author of the Warrior Goddess Training books as well as the recently released Big Freedom: Discover the Four Elements of Transformation, and the coauthor with Don Miguel Ruiz Jr. of The Seven Secrets to Healthy, Happy Relationships. You can find out more about HeatherAsh’s powerful work here.

 

 

What are the Secrets to Healthy and Happy Relationships? Find out below...


 

The seven secrets to healthy, happy relationships—commitment, freedom, awareness, healing, joy, communication, and release—can help you at any stage in your intimate partnering, whether you’ve been with someone for many years or are currently single and want to prepare for a partnership. While much of what we have to say will focus on romantic relationships, the truth is that these seven principles can help you create deeper and more meaningful connections in all of your relationships.

The first three secrets— commitment, freedom, and awareness̶̶̶̶—are what we call the foundational secrets.  In our view, these are the bedrock upon which all healthy relationships are built. As you read them, you may notice some areas in your thinking and actions around relationships that need improvement. The good news is that these first three secrets can show you how to repair  faulty foundations, and replace old ideas and beliefs with new and stronger beams of support going forward.

Commitment- This foundational secret is not what most people think. Making a commitment to yourself rather than anyone else is the first step in creating a healthy and happy relationship. Instead of trying to change or mold yourself into who you think others want you to be, commit to finding out who you really are and what you really want. From this place of self knowledge and self love, you can then fully commit to another. The key is in releasing the areas in which you judge yourself or play the victim, and taking full responsibility for your own happiness.

Freedom- As you commit to loving and accepting yourself for who you really are, your next step is to extend this same freedom to your partner, supporting them to be true to themselves. This includes giving up any of the subtle or not so subtle ways you may try and manipulate them into behaving as you think they should. This doesn't mean you won't set boundaries of what you will and will not accept in a relationship, but in allowing your partner the freedom to be their true self, you will instead reveal the deep truth that intimacy thrives when couples feel free to be who they really are.

Awareness- Until you become aware of what is going on inside you, including things like your unconscious beliefs, subterranean fears, and old emotional wounds, they will continue to pop up and create problems in your relationships, making it very difficult to form a deep partnership with another. The good news is that the very act of becoming aware of them lessens their hold on you. Awareness also helps you expand your conscious understanding of your own strengths and weaknesses, likes and dislikes, and your relationship deal breakers. This self-knowledge is crucial in building a strong foundation to your partnership.

The next three secrets— healing, joy, and communication—are the transformative secrets. When you bring the teachings and tools we provide in these chapters into your interactions with others, you can prepare for a future partnership, improve and enhance an existing union, or rebuild the framework of even the most damaged structures, transforming them into a clean, spacious, and sturdy way of being.

Healing-   By the time we reach adulthood, virtually all humans have experienced some type of profound loss, traumatic experience, or deep emotional wound. If we push these experiences deep inside us rather than heal from them, that trapped pain will fester and eventually erupt in the form of an emotional or even physical outburst, often at the expense of our unsuspecting partners. Healing from these past experiences, as well as any unhelpful beliefs they have created, is the first secret to transforming your relationship with others and yourself.

Joy- We’d all like to experience joy in our lives, and this is especially true for our relationships. In fact, the pursuit of joy is often what prompts us to seek a relationship in the first place. This chapter discusses concrete ways to cultivate joy in your romantic relationships, such as creativity, play, and sexual pleasure. Creating joy is often the key to transforming relationships that have grown stagnant, and the regular practice of it will help your relationship feel fresh, new, and vibrant.

Communication- While communication is one of the most useful human gifts, it’s surprising how many of us struggle to communicate in healthy and productive ways when it comes to our intimate relationships. Sure, most of us do well when it comes to things we agree about or that we share in common— but the greater challenge is to converse with each other in the midst of issues or topics that challenge or divide us. Learning how to speak our truth, even when our partners don't like what we have to say, is often the most difficult. The tools in this chapter will help you do exactly that.

The seventh and final secret— release—provides guidance on nourishing your relationship on an ongoing basis. This last secret is where you learn the skills to perform the necessary and sustaining maintenance that will keep the construction of your relationship solid, even in the midst of changing and challenging times.

Release- This secret can seem paradoxical in nature, because it often involves not doing rather than doing.  Our relationships offer us hundreds of little ways to release what we often want to hold on to, such as the need to be right, the need to have the last word, and most importantly, the need for things to stay the same. The truth is that change is a constant in life. Sometimes these changes are trivial, sometimes they are momentous; but couples in happy and healthy relationships embrace the constant of change rather than fight it, while simultaneously honoring the part of each other that stays the same. Release is the key to balance between loving the static and the loving the change.

Ready to dive in and learn more? The Seven Secrets to Healthy, Happy Relationships is available now from all major retailers as well as from our website here. AND, if you order a special multi-book package from our website, you can order The Seven Secrets to Healthy, Happy Relationships for just $10 (including free shipping the US)!

Or click here to read the first two chapters and learn more about the foundational secrets, Commitment and Freedom!

 

Talk to Yourself Like a Buddhist

Change Your Words, Change Your World

There are hundreds of books, workshops, and classes that teach us how to communicate effectively with others, but very few of us pay attention to how we speak to ourselves.

Best-selling author and communication expert Cynthia Kane believes this is a travesty, and she is sounding the alarm! Kane writes that there is an unreported epidemic of negative self-talk in our culture today.

Many of us speak to ourselves in demeaning and hurtful ways, using language we would never use with anyone else. To make matters worse, we often don't even realize when we are doing this, as these old mental tapes play in repeating loops without our awareness.

In Talk to Yourself Like a Buddhist, certified mindfulness and meditation instructor Cynthia Kane introduces the Middle Path of Self-Communication, which consists of five mindful practices--Listen, Explore, Question, Release, and Balance--all of which are grounded in Buddhist principles.

This book will show you how to:

  • Identify your negative self-talk and explore the underlying self-judgments that produce it
  • Release the judgments that are poisoning your self-communication
  • Practice a system of balanced internal communication based on truth and compassion

When we speak to ourselves negatively, we set a tone for our day and our interactions with others in the world. Talk to Yourself Like a Buddhist can teach you how to turn off the enemy in your mind--and create a new relationship with yourself and the world around you--simply by noticing, investigating, and changing the words you use to speak to yourself.

About the Author:

Cynthia Kane is a certified meditation and mindfulness instructor. Her work has appeared in numerous publications, including The Washington Post, Yoga Journal, and the Huffington Post—and is the author of the bestselling book,How to Communicate Like a Buddhist. She lives in Washington, DC, and offers workshops and private programs.

Visit her at www.cynthiakane.com

Awaken Your Inner Fire

Your Inner Fire is the vital energy within you, the unseen force that gives life to your being. Perhaps because this energy can't be measured in a lab, many people live without any idea of its existence, or the importance of tending to it.

In this groundbreaking book, best-selling author HeatherAsh Amara introduces you to the fundamentals of your Inner Fire, and explains how the four major aspects of your being--the mental, spiritual, emotional, and physical--all interact with this powerful energy.

Amara teaches that when you view these four aspects through the lens of your Inner Fire, you can radically change how you think, feel, and live in the world. In these pages, you'll find practices, meditations, and explorations to put the concepts to work in your life.

By tending to your Inner Fire, you will learn how to:

  • Find your true work in the world, regardless of any job you do or role you play.
  • Use your Inner Fire as your own personal North Star, allowing it to guide you when making important decisions.
  • Move beyond busyness, stress, and overwhelm and live in joyous creation
  • Implement a new daily practice to live in balance no matter what life brings.

Learning how to tend your Inner Fire in a world that is constantly trying to hook your attention is a challenge--but this book invites you to take new perspective on who you are and how you relate to the world.

About the Author:

HeatherAsh Amara is a teacher, guide, and author of numerous books. As the founder of the Toltec Center for Creative Intent (toci.org), she has facilitated hundreds of workshops in the Toltec tradition and taught extensively with don Miguel Ruiz.

Warrior Goddess Wisdom

A Daily Dose of Warrior Goddess Power

HeatherAsh Amara's Warrior Goddess Training has helped thousands of women all over the world harness their divine feminine energy and take control of their lives. In Warrior Goddess Wisdom, Amara has created a package of daily encouragement and insight to help you progress on your own Warrior Goddess path. Each page contains a quote, a reflection, and a daily action or mantra, all of which are designed to guide you back to supporting yourself, finding your inner truth, and deepening your self-love.

"Let this book of daily inspirations be a guide and friend that is always there when you need support. Let it help you peel back the layers of everything that is not you to reveal the core essence of your radiant, powerful, and authentic Warrior Goddess self."

— HeatherAsh Amara

HeatherAsh Amara is the founder of Toci—the Toltec Center of Creative Intent—and the author of a number of books including the 'Warrior Goddess Training' series.

She brings an openhearted, inclusive worldview to her writings and teachings, which are a rich blend of Toltec wisdom, European shamanism, Buddhism, and Native American ceremony.

She lives in Austin, Texas, and travels extensively.

Visit her at www.heatherashamara.com.

The Seven Secrets to Healthy, Happy Relationships

Relationships: An Integral Part of the Human Experience

As humans, most of us yearn for fulfilling relationships. They provide unlimited ways for us to learn, grow, thrive, and have fun!

Yet, as we know, relationships aren’t always a “bed of roses”—especially romantic ones. They don’t make themselves, nor do they continue happily on autopilot once they begin.

In this one-of-a-kind book, bestselling authors don Miguel Ruiz, Jr. and HeatherAsh Amara share their seven secrets to healthy, happy relationships:

  • Commitment
  • Freedom
  • Awareness
  • Healing
  • Joy
  • Communication
  • Release

Understanding and enacting these principles can help you at any stage in your intimate partnering, whether you’ve been with someone for many years or are currently single and want to prepare for a relationship.

The authors make clear that the principles in this book aren’t secrets because they are hidden away, but are more akin to undiscovered focal points that can lead to deeper, more meaningful connections.

Part of the secret, as you will see, is in the art of putting these ideas into practice day after day and year after year.

About the Authors:

don Miguel Ruiz, Jr. is a Nagual, a Toltec Master of Transformation.

He is a direct descendant of the Toltecs of the Eagle Knight lineage and is the son of don Miguel Ruiz, Sr. He is the author of four books.

Visit him at www.miguelruizjr.com.

HeatherAsh Amara is the founder of Toci—the Toltec Center of Creative Intent—and the author of a number of books including the 'Warrior Goddess Training' series.

She brings an openhearted, inclusive worldview to her writings and teachings, which are a rich blend of Toltec wisdom, European shamanism, Buddhism, and Native American ceremony.

She lives in Austin, Texas, and travels extensively.

Visit her at www.heatherashamara.com.