Right behind the Sounds True office backyard, just a hop over tangled barbed wire, run these local railroad tracks:
The other day I was watching television’s most underrated exploration of the Jungian “shadow principle”—Mad Men—and it reminded me of these tracks. In the episode called “The Hobo Code,” we get a glimpse into the protagonist Don Draper’s childhood during the Great Depression. And we learn about a secret vocabulary that was chalked and carved on fence posts and telephone poles across America.
As it turns out, the hobo code was real. It varied from region to region and across the years. Countless souls used it to help each other find food and shelter and to avoid the perils of the day.
Here are some of those hobo signs (scraped from cyberspace) that still feel relevant to me, if only metaphorically:
I spotted one of my first “hobo marks” decades ago. It came as a crackling transmission of Roy Tuckman’s legendary Pacifica Radio show “Something’s Happening.” I was homeless, hopeless, and definitely “hobo” at the time, couchsurfing in a friend’s farmhouse in Carmel, California.
The clock radio clicked to 2:00am and, drifting in and out of the night static, was the voice of Alan Watts. He was chuckling at the folly of “trying to catch an ocean wave in a bucket.” Which is exactly what I was doing with my life at that time—trying to rack up achievements and experiences that would assure my permanent, foolproof success.
Um, yeah, right.
Alan’s “hobo mark” pointed me onto the boxcar of radical self-inquiry, though I didn’t realize it until years later. And ever since, I’ve shared his humor and wisdom whenever it’s felt right to.
In fact, I had the privilege of working with Alan Watts’ son, Mark, to hand-pick the sessions for the audio set Out of Your Mind. Alan’s “catching waves in a bucket” allegory is in there.
Is the spiritual path so different from those rolling train tracks? Maybe the markers we find on our own journey—a haiku by Ikkyu, a meaningful photograph, the advice of a friend—reflect the same pilgrim’s spirit that says “we’re all in this together brothers and sisters.”
If I ever go back to visit Victoria’s family farm, I think I’m gonna chalk this symbol on their fencepost:
So, what was your first metaphorical “hobo sign” on your life’s journey?
After the stillness of winter and the slow waking of spring, summer is a time for getting up, getting out, and getting our hands on what inspires us the most. Here are some recent Sounds True releases for tapping into a life well lived.
1. The Biophilia Effect – Clemens G. Arvay
This is a book that celebrates our interconnection with nature and shows how to deeply engage the natural world wherever you live to dramatically improve your health. Clemens G. Arvay presents fascinating research, practical tools and activities,
inspiring stories, and more in this accessible guide to the remarkable benefits of being in nature.
Human beings are inseparable from the natural world, coevolving with all of life. In order to thrive, we need to nourish this bond. In his latest book, biologist Clemens G. Arvay illuminates the miraculous ways that the human body interprets the living “code” of plants, animals, and our larger natural habitat for healing and sustenance.
“From an ancient perspective, everything—including all natural things, like rocks, flowers, trees, insects, birds, and mammals
—is alive and infused with conscious energy or spirit,” writes Sarah Seidelmann. If you’re one of the many people looking to reconnect with the creativity, wisdom, and vital energy of the natural world, here is a fantastic guide for tapping into the power of animal totems, or “beasties.”
“Making your love manifest, transforming your spirit, good heart, and able hands into food is a great undertaking,” writes renowned chef and Zen priest Edward Espe Brown, “one that will nourish you in the doing, in the offering, and in the eating.” With No Recipe: Cooking as Spiritual Practice, Brown beautifully blends expert cooking advice with thoughtful reflections on meaning, joy, and life itself.
What if you could be happier, right now, without radically changing your life? As nationally recognized happiness expert Nataly Kogan teaches, happiness is not a nice feeling or a frivolous extra. It’s a critical, non-negotiable ingredient for living a fulfilling, meaningful, and healthy life—and it’s a skill that we can all learn and improve through practice. In Happier Now, Nataly shares an illuminating, inspiring, and science-based guide to help you build your happier skills and live with more joy, starting now.
Need some tunes for rest and relaxation? Check out our Singing Bowl Meditation Playlist! A variety of artists who make a soothing mix of infinite rhythms using Tibetan singing bowls. Perfect throughout a meditative practice.
Are you ready to open up to new levels of self-trust and self-love, to get where you want to go?
You vowed to speak up at work, and then sat silent in the meeting yet again.
You told yourself “this time the diet is going to stick,” only to watch the scale inching up.
You felt that something just wasn’t right about someone that—until you learned the hard way that your instincts were right.
“Every time you bite your tongue,” teaches Kelley Kosow, “you swallow your integrity.”
Before Kelley Kosow was a renowned life coach and CEO, she constantly second-guessed herself, let her “to-do” lists and others steer her dreams and passions, and played it “small and safe.”
Inspired by the groundbreaking principles of her renowned mentor Debbie Ford, who hand-picked Kelley to be her successor, The Integrity Advantage is Kelley’s step-by-step guide for facing the fear, shame, and false beliefs that cause us to lose our way.
Through life-changing insights, true stories, and proven strategies, this book will show you how to live on your own terms—according to you—from the inside out.
As modern women, we’re taught that we can do it all, have it all, and be it all. While this freedom is beautiful, it’s also exhausting. Being a “worn-out woman” is now so common that we think feeling tired all the time is normal. According to Karen Brody, feeling this exhausted is not normal—and it’s holding us back. In Daring to Rest, Brody comes to the rescue with a 40-day program to help you reclaim rest and access your most powerful, authentic self through yoga nidra, a meditative practice that guides you into one of the deepest states of relaxation imaginable.
It’s time to lie down and begin the journey to waking up
Teaching mindfulness helps kids learn to stay calm, regulate their emotions, and appreciate the world around them. With Breathe and Be, author Kate Coombs and illustrator Anna Emilia Laitinen team up to present a book of poetry and art for young readers to make mindfulness easy, natural, and beautiful. Here is a book sure to delight parents and kids alike, blending lovingly illustrated nature imagery with elegant verse about living with awareness and inner peace.
A Teaching Memoir That Crosses the Barriers Between Worlds
A shaman is one who has learned to move between two worlds: our physical reality and the realm of spirits. For John Lockley, shamanic training also meant learning to cross the immense divide of race and culture in South Africa.
As a medic drafted into the South African military in 1990, John Lockley had a powerful dream. “Even though I am a white man of Irish and English descent, I knew in my bones that I had received my calling to become a sangoma, a traditional South African shaman,” John writes. “I felt blessed by the ancient spirit of Africa, and I knew that I had started on a journey filled with magic and danger.” His path took him from the hills of South Korea, where he trained as a student under Zen Master Su Bong, to the rural African landscape of the Eastern Cape and the world of the sangoma mystic healers, where he found his teacher in the medicine woman called MaMngwev
The Universe holds us and tosses us about, only to hold us again. With Things That Join the Sea and the Sky, Mark Nepo brings us a compelling treasury of short prose reflections to turn to when struggling to keep our heads above water, and to breathe into all of our sorrows and joys.
Inspired by his own journal writing across 15 years, this book shares with us some of Mark’s most personal work. Many passages arise from accounts of his own life events—moments of “sinking and being lifted”—and the insights they yielded. Through these passages, we’re encouraged to navigate our own currents of sea and sky, and to discover something fundamental yet elusive: How, simply, to be here.
To be enjoyed in many ways—individually, by topic, or as an unfolding sequence—Things That Join the Sea and the Sky presents 145 contemplations gathered into 17 themes, each intended to illuminate specific situations.
Steven Hayes is a professor, the chair of the Department of Psychology at the University of Nevada, and the author of more than 35 books and 500 scientific articles. The cofounder of the acclaimed Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (known as ACT), Steven is a contributor to the Sounds True book The Self Acceptance Project: How to Be Kind and Compassionate Toward Yourself in Any Situation and the author of the Sounds True audio program Acceptance and Commitment Theory. In this episode of Insights of the Edge—which previously aired as part of an interview series on self-acceptance—Tami Simon and Steven discuss his experiences living with a panic disorder at a young age, and how his own bouts with anxiety shaped his clinical studies. They talk about the practice of perspective-taking and how it can be a powerful bulwark against self-recrimination. Finally, Steven offers his perspective on spirituality and how that perspective informs the core tenets of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy.
Karla McLaren is an award-winning author, social science researcher, and empathy pioneer. Her work focuses on a “grand unified theory of emotions,” in which she moves us beyond looking at some emotions as negative and some as positive, and instead helps people see the genius that lives inside every single emotion. In this podcast, Tami Simon speaks with Karla about managing the multiple emotions that many of us are experiencing as we navigate both a pandemic and a time of societal transformation. Tami and Karla also discuss the importance of creating a community that shares an “emotional vocabulary,” the four keys to unlocking the wisdom of our emotions, and much more.
While holding a mirror to our own organizational accountability, Sounds True unequivocally stands in solidarity with the Black community, the family of George Floyd, and the many others who have been victims of police brutality and ongoing racial injustice.
We stand with and for our Black employees, our Black authors and colleagues, our Black customers, and all of the protestors and social change activists—past, present, and future— who are working to put an end to racism in every corner of our society.
And we are committed to not just stand in solidarity but to step up.
Since George Floyd’s murder, we have been having many in-depth discussions among the 125-person staff at Sounds True about the most meaningful actions we can take as a transformational learning company to help educate ourselves and our community and contribute to the dismantling of racism.
We have been asking ourselves questions such as:
How can we best use our platform to better amplify the voices of wisdom teachers who are Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC)?
What’s in our Shadow, as individuals and as an organization? What unconscious areas must now be brought into awareness?
And how do we actively address these areas so that we can evolve as an organization and be a force of genuine service in the world?
The answers to these questions are not simple, quick, or easy. It has taken me a while to write this email to you, our beloved customers and Sounds True community, because we have felt as a team the need to listen carefully and look deeply within in order to lay out an action plan moving forward that will contribute to meaningful and substantive change.
Anything less falls short of what I believe this moment is asking of us.
We also want to learn and evolve in partnership with you. We are learning and growing together as a community, and it has been important for us to create a moving-forward action plan that invites engagement from our entire audience.
With arms wide open, I invite you to witness, support, and step up with us in the following ways:
Over the next two years, Sounds True will be undergoing an in-depth Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Training in the workplace. This training initiative has been in development for over a year, and will be provided by TMI Consulting, led by Dr. Tiffany Jana. Dr. Jana is coauthor of the books Overcoming Bias, Erasing Institutional Bias, and Subtle Acts of Exclusion. As part of the training, we will be uncovering how unconscious bias, microaggressions, and micro-acts of exclusion show up in the workplace, in our personal lives, and even in our products. The training also includes a thorough audit of Sounds True’s hiring practices, HR policies, marketing materials, and more.
Sounds True also wants to include our customers, authors, and partner businesses in the introductory phase of this training process that we will be embarking upon. With that in mind, we are hosting a three-part webinar series on “Healing Racism” with Dr. Jana, beginning on Wednesday, June 24, at 8:00 pm ET | 5:00 pm PT. The series is free, and we are inviting our customers, authors, and business associates to join the Sounds True staff for this online training and to walk this part of our journey together. As someone on our email list, you will be receiving all of the details in future emails.
It is clear to us at Sounds True that we need to publish and otherwise amplify the voices of more authors and presenters who are Black, Indigenous, and People of Color. If you have ideas about new BIPOC authors you would like to see published at Sounds True or included in our summits and online offerings, please write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Sounds True Foundation, formed in 2018, is increasing its efforts to raise scholarship funds for BIPOC students to attend our Mindfulness Meditation Teacher Certification Program and become trained as mindfulness teachers who will bring this practice to diverse communities all over the world. We will be hosting a virtual fundraiser on June 30 for this initiative and will be emailing you with more details.
As I mentioned, working to dismantle and heal racism—in ourselves, in our organization, and in our world—is not a flash-in-the-pan effort at Sounds True. This is a long-haul commitment to the creation of a different world that is just, kind, and equitable. And we have a heckuva road to travel with you to get there.
And we are committed. We don’t want to simply talk about spiritual awakening. We want to embody it … as individuals, as a company, and as a force in the world. Humbly and boldly, we are going to give everything we have and invite you to do the same. This is the time for us to step up, together.
With love on the journey,
Founder and Publisher, Sounds True
Sounds True is a multimedia publishing company founded in 1985 by Tami Simon, with the mission of disseminating spiritual wisdom. The company is based in Louisville, Colorado, near Boulder, Colorado.