Category: Mindfulness

Free guide to meditation

When creating the (free) With Insight Guide to Meditation for Sounds True, I wanted to include a short quote for the front page, to summarize at least one way of approaching the meditative journey. When I came across the following description by my friend Shinzen Young, I knew I had found the right one. Nicely said, brother Shinzen:

“The ultimate expression of meditation comes when we can feel all the pains of the world, experience them with mindfulness and equanimity so they dissolve into energy, and then recolor that energy and radiate it out as unconditional love, moment by moment, through every pore of our being.”

Access all of the With Insight Guides here.


Love the Ones You’re With

Despite the fact that I’ve worked at Sounds True for more than five years now, I am continually awed by the depth of connection and adoration that my fellow employees and I have for one another. I’m not talking about the standard workplace relationships that we’ve all experienced at one time or another—these aren’t your average water cooler discussions, folks. I’m talking about a genuine (and, in my experience, unparalleled) level of care, compassion, and investment that we continually take in one another’s wellbeing and in paying attention to our feelings.

If I’m honest, after working for other organizations—particularly in corporate America—this modus operandi can take some getting used to. I distinctly recall my first team meeting here at Sounds True, which started with a check-in. Check-ins are an opportunity for each person in the meeting to take a moment to express how they’re doing. I incorrectly assumed that each check-in would be project or deadline related—instead people were talking about the challenges of raising a teenager, caring for a sick parent, their impending divorce, or simply feeling stressed and overwhelmed. Imagine my surprise!

You may be asking what these kinds of check-ins have to do with work…the answer is absolutely everything. This simple act of sharing not only encourages us to really show up and to authentically express ourselves, it goes a long way in helping us understand why someone may take a bit longer to respond one day, why they may react a certain way, or why their level of engagement may vary—and, instead of feeling offended or taking that behavior personally, we’re able to respond with compassion and empathy. While it may seem the contrary, this honest expression actually makes space for the human experience and ultimately leads to a more productive and cohesive work environment.

As Fred Kofman, Sounds True’s author of Conscious Business: How to Build Value Through Values says, “Culture is as essential a part of the organization’s infrastructure as its technology; perhaps it is even more essential.” I have no doubt that one of the most essential aspects of Trueski culture is our ability to feel and to truly empathize with one another. We mourn the passing of parents and children and beloved canine/feline companions. We console through heartache and divorce. We unabashedly ooh and aah in celebration of babies. We cheer for marriages and anniversaries and love. We make mistakes and ask for forgiveness. We express appreciation and admiration. We express frustration and exasperation. We dance at company parties. We drink scotch in honor of triumphs and defeats. We show up and love the ones we’re with…and, boy, are we lucky to be with them.


Happy 78th birthday to His Holiness the Dalai Lama!

Wishing His Holiness the Dalai Lama a joyful 78th birthday today, and praying for his long life! I’ll never forget the one and only time I met the Dalai Lama, at his residence in Dharamsala many years ago. I was quite young, coming off a difficult break-up, and broken wide open alone in the mountains of northern India, just sort of wandering from place to place. He held my hand and just looked at me. He wasn’t scrambling to try to make my heartbreak go away, he wasn’t playing the wise guru offering me some subtle teaching on the empty-luminous ground of awareness, he wasn’t hurling blessings at me so that all would be made right and I could enter into some other state of consciousness. He simply spent a moment with me, all the way through, totally human, fully there with everything in the space between us. It was a short moment of time, but in another way it was totally eternal; those sorts of rare meetings, heart to heart, are rare and precious, and not easily forgotten. In my experience, the Dalai Lama is a holding environment of love, in and of himself; a totally real, humble, open-hearted, incredibly warm, authentic human being. May you live long, your Holiness!


Confessions of an “Aha Moment” Junkie

Perhaps the most priceless moments of our lives are when we get the big “aha!”—when we hear for the first time a radical truth that allows us to experience and be in the world in a completely new and freer way. For me, it’s the ultimate high.

Halfway through my second decade at Sounds True, I’ve listened to hundreds of hours of teachings, and with each season’s offerings I am always excited about the next “aha” that might be around the corner. Here are a few of my favorites from over the years:

1. The universe is big, and I am old.

Scientists estimate that our universe includes a trillion galaxies. (That’s 1,000,000,000,000 if you’re into zeroes.) Depending on which way you look at the night sky, the light reaching your eyes may have been traveling for millions of years … completing a journey that began long before any of our opposable-thumb-blessed ancestors decided to trade the treetops for caves. Even more astounding is the fact that the cosmic dust in the form of the “you” perceiving that light is even older—as ancient as the universe itself, or an estimated 20 billion years old. Remember that the next time you get one of those “over the hill” birthday cards. (I encountered these “aha” moments while listening to Brian Swimme’s classic audio program Canticle to the Cosmos.)


2. I can change my mind…and my brain.

Many Sounds True programs talk about our beautiful and mysterious brains, from how much we’ve learned in the past twenty-plus years to how little we may really understand about this amazing organ. I’ve lost track of the “aha” moments I’ve enjoyed listening to teachers like Dr. Rick Hanson, whose practice of “taking in the good” can literally rewire our neural pathways to help us experience more joy and less stress — or to Dr. Kelly McGonigal, with her empowering wisdom on making changes in alignment with our values — or Jon Kabat-Zinn, whose mindfulness meditations for pain relief have helped me manage migraine headaches.


3. The heart knows best and we’re all in this together. For me, the teachings of Jack Kornfield are like rich nutrients and cool, clean water for the soil of the garden of the heart. Although we might think of “aha” moments as a mental phenomenon, the heart can certainly have its share of “aha” moments that leave one utterly speechless. Jack’s program The Jewel of Liberation has many such moments, reminding us of our fundamental interconnection and our boundless capacity for love, wisdom, and compassion.


Maybe the essence of spiritual awakening is the “aha” moment—or whatever it is that we experience that finally and utterly shifts our perspective beyond any individual limits once and for all. Do you have any memorable “aha” moments you’d like to share? I’d love to hear about them!

Transformational Speaking

Tami Simon speaks with Lee Glickstein, the founder of Speaking Circles International and an authority on bringing authentic power and presence to public speaking. Lee’s success at overcoming his own chronic stage fright led him to develop the unique teaching method that he calls Transformational Speaking—a method he teaches in the Sounds True audio program Be Heard Now. In this episode, Tami speaks with Lee about the key idea that you can stop performing to listeners and start connecting, how early childhood issues affect us as public speakers, and why the skill of listening is the most important asset for becoming an authentic presenter. (53 minutes)

It’s okay to be broken

It is okay to be broken, to allow yourself to fall apart
You need not hold it together any longer for you were never together to begin with
Fall apart and resist the temptation to put yourself back together again
See what is forever untouched by the concepts “together” and “apart”
It is okay to be broken, for it is through the cracks in you that light can pour through