Category Archives: LifeArt

June Workshop at LifeArt Studio

imagesIf you think about it, most of us seek more freedom, in one way or another—from habitual negative thinking, from annoying relationships, from disappointing ourselves, from worry and despair. We spend so much time in our heads stressing and planning and controlling and judging, and mistakenly thinking these states of mind are going to get us out of the funk we’re experiencing. But the only thing these states do is gobble up the precious energy we need to create a life that is full and happy and beneficial.

LifeArt Studio offers a two-day intensive workshop that explores some of the reasons we find ourselves in this unfortunate state, and examines practices that quickly disarm the conditions of this unfortunate state.

The workshop is called “Living the Beautiful Questions,” and it shows how asking a powerful question can disarm obstacles and direct us to new ways of thinking about what is possible. The quality of your life is directly related to the quality of the questions you’re posing to yourself every day. Think on that!

What Will I Learn?

In this workshop, you’ll learn how you are resisting, how to stop blaming and judging , what issues or conditions trigger you into negative states, the role focus plays in creating artfully, the mistake we have all made about cause and effect, and more.

The workshop is limited to 5 participants, giving us the time necessary to identify patterns in your own thinking that are keeping you from living your life with more ease and joy.

When Do We Start?

We’ll meet on Saturday, June 24, from 9-12 and 1:30-4:30, and again on Sunday, June 25 from 9-12 and 1:30-4:30. This is a deep (and fast) immersion into the core ideas of the great Wisdom Traditions and how the lessons of these traditions are valid and constructive for many of the negative states of mind we find prevalent in the 21st century.

What Does This Workshop Cost?

The fee for this two-day workshop is $195 and includes a celebratory happy hour on Sunday, and a follow-up practice session in July.

If you’re ready to live your life with more freedom and more equanimity, join us for this weekend of “living the beautiful questions.”  Please contact me here to register.  Your place will be secured upon payment, which is non-refundable after June 19.



Contemplations on Death

images-1When I returned from retreat in Nicaragua back in February, I wrote a blog post about my experience in retreat, and in that post I mentioned the Buddhist practice of the “three death contemplations.” Since that post, several people have written asking about “the three death contemplations,” so I thought I’d elaborate upon them a bit.

As we know, many spiritual traditions place a good deal of attention on death as a point of contemplation, as a pathway to living more fully. The Christian Bible says “Anyone who wants to save his life must lose it. Anyone who loses her life will find it.” (Matthew 16:25) Most traditions of Buddhism speak of dying to the false self and taking refuge in our essential self. Meditation is often used as a practice in dying. Kathleen Dowling Singh calls this form of meditation a way to “relieve ourselves of all of our mistaken identifications, loosening our attachments to them, letting them go.” And in some sects of Hinduism, monks sit in the presence of bodies being cremated on platforms—a practice of becoming profoundly intimate with dying.

All of these practices are designed to teach us not to recoil from death, but to use it as a reminder of how we want to live in this moment. The traditional Buddhist practice of the “three death contemplations” poses three questions we can (and should) use every day to bring alertness and awareness into our lives.

1) Is death inevitable?

2) When will death come?

3) What will be meaningful to me when death does come?

I think it’s obvious that we move through the first two questions fairly quickly. Of course death is inevitable. And of course we never know when death will come. (Even though most of us act as if such an inevitability is way off in the future.) We have a keen array of defenses surrounding our fragility and mortality.

The third question, though, is disturbingly provocative, and not so easily addressed. And as it is phrased by Buddhist nun Pema Chödrön, it instills a high degree of urgency: What is most important now? We have to ask this question (over and over) while we still have the capacity to thoughtfully make decisions and choices.

So here’s a common Buddhist teaching designed to help us address this last question without becoming overwhelmed by its enormity.

First, ask yourself, What do I care about above all else? Make a list of those things.

Next, ask yourself, What exactly am I giving priority to in practice in my daily life? Make another list. Be honest about the ways you spend your time, your money, and your energy.

If you find a striking mismatch between these two lists, you are not alone, and your work is cut out for you. If you find that the two lists look pretty much the same, you are well into sainthood.

Now you’re in a position to decide how to adjust your practices or your lifestyle or the company you keep so that these two lists align. What needs to change to allow you to live the life you say you want to live, and be committed to the ideas you say you want to be committed to?

No judgment allowed in this exercise. No denigrating yourself or others. Simply use the exercise to learn how your aspirations and your habits are aligned. Each day, we get to choose what we do and what we say and what we think. And if we do that daily, with care, devotion, and compassion, our final death contemplation will be much, much easier. It will be simply another practice.



The Last List of the Year!

images-1In February and March, LifeArt Studio will be offering a 5-session course called “Living the Beautiful Questions.” It will introduce core concepts that run through all the wisdom traditions, and offer ways to apply these concepts and bring ease, joy, and benefit into your life.

For instance, here’s a question we’ll be exploring: What is the conversation you need to stop having (either with yourself, or with someone else)?

How often do we wrangle with a problem—analyzing it, probing it, poking and provoking it, dissecting it, and suffering under the lack of clarity we hold around a repetitive conversation? And yet, in spite of our frustration about this kind of repetitive behavior, we can’t seem to break the pattern. We just keep talking!

In this course, we’ll discuss age-old strategies for disarming such patterns, and thus pave the way for something new to rise up in your life.

My friend Scott Bowman recently shared a blog post by Morgan Robson called “13 Things You Should Give Up If You Want to Be Successful.”  I’ll have to admit, as much as I love a good list, I’m growing weary of yet another list telling me what I have to do to be successful! But this one is actually pretty darned good. It might be the answer to another good question we could pursue in this course: What do you need to let go of in order to live the life you keep saying you want to live?

Check it out below, or at this link, and see if this list and these questions resonate with you. If they do, you might want to think about joining us in February as we follow “the beautiful questions,” the pathway to a life of flourishing!

Happy New Year to you all! May we all choose love over fear in 2017.

13 Things You Should Give Up If You Want To Be Successful

”Somebody once told me the definition of hell:

“On your last day on earth, the person you became will meet the person you could have become.”Anonymous

Sometimes, to become successful and get closer to the person we can become, we don’t need to add more things — we need to give up on some of them.

There are certain things that are universal, which will make you successful if you give up on them, even though each one of us could have a different definition of success.

You can give up on some of them today, while it might take a bit longer to give up on others.

  1. Give Up On The Unhealthy Lifestyle

“Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live.”Jim Rohn

If you want to achieve anything in life, everything starts here. First you have to take care of your health, and there are only two things you need to keep in mind:

  1. Healthy Diet
    2. Physical Activity

Small steps, but you will thank yourself one day.

  1. Give Up The Short-term Mindset

“You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.”Mae West

Successful people set long-term goals, and they know that these aims are merely the result of short-term habits that they need to do every day.

These healthy habits shouldn’t be something you do; they should be something you embody.

There is a difference between: “Working out to get a summer body” and “Working out because that’s who you are.”

  1. Give Up On Playing Small

“Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people will not feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone, and as we let our light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” Marianne Williamson

If you never try and take great opportunities, or allow your dreams to become realities, you will never unleash your true potential.

And the world will never benefit from what you could have achieved.

So voice your ideas, don’t be afraid to fail, and certainly don’t be afraid to succeed.

  1. Give Up Your Excuses

“It’s not about the cards you’re dealt, but how you play the hand.”
Randy Pausch, The Last Lecture

Successful people know that they are responsible for their life, no matter their starting point, weaknesses, and past failures.

Realizing that you are responsible for what happens next in your life is both frightening and exciting.

And when you do, that becomes the only way you can become successful, because excuses limit and prevent us from growing personally and professionally.

Own your life; no one else will.

  1. Give Up The Fixed Mindset

“The future belongs to those who learn more skills and combine them in creative ways.” Robert Greene, Mastery

People with a fixed mindset their intelligence or talents are simply fixed traits, and that talent alone creates success — without effort. They’re wrong.

Successful people know this. They invest an immense amount of time on a daily basis to develop a growth mindset, acquire new knowledge, learn new skills and change their perception so that it can benefit their lives.

Remember, who you are today, it’s not who you have to be tomorrow.

  1. Give Up Believing In The “Magic Bullet.”

“Every day, in every way, I’m getting better and better”Émile Coué

Overnight success is a myth.

Successful people know that making small continual improvement every day will be compounded over time, and give them desired results.

That is why you should plan for the future, but focus on the day that’s ahead of you, and improve just 1% every day.

  1. Give Up Your Perfectionism

“Shipping beats perfection.”Kahn Academy’s Development Mantra

Nothing will ever be perfect, no matter how much we try.

Fear of failure (or even fear of success) often prevents us from taking an action and putting our creation out there in the world. But a lot of opportunities will be lost if we wait for the things to be right.

So “ship,” and then improve (that 1%).

  1. Give Up Multi-tasking

“You will never reach your destination if you stop and throw stones at every dog that barks.” Winston S. Churchill

Successful people know this. That’s why they choose one thing and then beat it into submission. No matter what it is — a business idea, a conversation, or a workout.

Being fully present and committed to one task, is indispensable.

  1. Give Up Your Need to Control Everything

“Some things are up to us, and some things are not up to us.”Epictetus, Stoic philosopher

Differentiating these two is important.

Detach from the things you cannot control, and focus on the ones you can, and know that sometimes, the only thing you will be able to control is your attitude towards something.

Remember, nobody can be frustrated while saying “Bubbles” in an angry voice.

  1. Give Up On Saying YES To Things That Don’t Support Your Goals

“He who would accomplish little must sacrifice little; he who would achieve much must sacrifice much; he who would attain highly must sacrifice greatly.”James Allen

Successful people know that in order to accomplish their goals, they will have to say NO to certain tasks, activities, and demands from their friends, family, and colleagues.

In the short-term, you might sacrifice a bit of instant gratification, but when your goals come to fruition, it will all be worth it.

  1. Give Up The Toxic People

“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”
Jim Rohn

People we spend the most time with, add up to who we become.

There are people who are less accomplished in their personal and professional life, and there are people who are more accomplished than us. If you spend time with those who are behind you, your average will go down, and with it, your success.

But if you spend time with people who are more accomplished than you, no matter how challenging that might be, you will become more successful.

Take a look at around you, and see if you need to make any changes.

  1. Give Up Your Need To Be Liked

“The only way to avoid pissing people off is to do nothing important.”Oliver Emberton

Think of yourself as a market niche.

There will be a lot of people who like that niche, and there will be individuals who don’t. And no matter what you do, you won’t be able to make the entire market like you.

This is entirely natural, and there’s no need to justify yourself.

The only thing you can do is remain authentic, improve and provide value every day, and know that the growing number of “haters” means that you are doing important things.

  1. Give Up Your Dependency on Social Media & Television

“The trouble is, you think you have time”Jack Kornfield

Impulsive web browsing and television watching are diseases of today’s society.
These two should never be an escape from your life or your goals.

Unless your goals depend on either, you should minimize (or even eliminate) your dependency on them, and direct that time towards things that can enrich your life.

See Robson’s full post here: