No one can “abandon” you unless you’ve already abandoned yourself.

The ultimate intent of this program is Awakened Adulthood.   That’s the honest truth. But the safe way to approach it is through achieving dynamic balance FIRST. That means either dealing with the “lower” more foundational drives: survival, sex, power.  Or dealing with the emotional drives: love, fear, and anger.   Connect to the well of love, and then let that spread to the lower drives, then once anchored, spread to the higher drives to find expansion and altruism (identification with Other as Self).  Either works.  But the attempt to “awaken” the higher levels without grounding can be like building a house atop a cess pool.   I got a very typical note from a spiritual aspirant today, who deals with self-loathing (wounded heart) and has begun a new relationship (sex) and has uncovered some sadly common twisted wiring in the process…


Dear Steven.

I found my soulmate – 100% sure…

Now the “shock” – twofold:

1) I am scared to be abandoned again

2) She hast tremendous sexual experience – its hard for me to handle that – she is a fantastic woman, but a part of me is judging her as a “whore” – which is stupid of course – she is a free woman – and she is in a different “mode now”..

Any idea how to handle that?

Love and THANK YOU for the soulmate program.



Simple, really–but not necessarily “easy.”

  1. No one can “abandon” you unless you’ve already abandoned yourself.   They can leave–that’s the risk with relationships. But the “I am abandoned” feeling is the Needy Wounded Abandoned child part of your heart.   This is why the Ancient Child technique is CRITICAL.  You have to love yourself, and nourish yourself, and nurture yourself deeply enough that you have zero doubt that you would be happy and healthy no matter what.   What you WANT is her.  What you NEED is you.
  2. It is not “stupid” to judge her sexual experience.  It is, however, non-optimal, and a sign that you are dealing with conflicting instructions regarding sex.  Where did you get your original programming regarding sexuality?  Parents?  Church?  Friends?  Society?   Clearly, you have a “split” that doesn’t allow you to freely connect your animal, human, and spiritual selves, and see that the energy is all the same thing.   Someone poisoned you against yourself.  I won’t ask you to accept my attitudes, but I WOULD like you to contemplate the following, and see what kind of mental dialogue comes up for you:
  1. Is sex a natural, normal animal hunger? Why or why not?
  2. Is it possible to isolate sex from love, to deal with it as a simple appetite, an art-form in itself, or a stress reduction behavior par excellence?
  3. Can you forgive yourself for mistakes you made in the past, or are they a part of your nature forever?
  4. Is pleasure a positive value?   Is it conditional?
  5. Are two adult human beings free to express their emotions and physicality?  Who has the right to sit in judgement upon them?
  6. Are women the same sensual beasts men are?  And if so, is that a good thing?
  7. Where did you get your attitudes about sex? What exactly are they?
  8. Would you have consciously adopted these attitudes as an adult?
  9. Would you deliberately give these attitudes to your own most beloved child?

Write down the answers to these questions. Engage with them during your meditations.  Do NOT stop your morning ritual. A 100% natural trick the ego uses is to tell you “ah!  Things are better now!   We can stop all this meditation nonsense.”

That is exactly like saying: “ah!  We’re cruising in the fast lane on the freeway.  All is well.  We don’t need this car any more.”

BEWARE.   Begin with love.  Connect your body to your heart.  Then connect your head to heart and body.  You are no longer a child, vulnerable to imprintation by family and strangers. You are an adult. An adult heterosexual female wants an adult male.   The “abandonment” fear suggests that you have maturing to do before you can meet her on her own energetic level.

Do the work.  Then…enjoy the fun.



Emptying the bowl

I’m still trying to figure out how the “Ancient Child” evolved. That’s a big chunk of what this autobiographical effort is about. To that end, here’s a classic column from:

In meditation this morning, I realized why I’ve had so much difficulty getting to the next level of my journey. The ego-walls I constructed as a child to protect me from bullies, the fear of rejection by the male (no father), and the fear that I could not achieve my dreams (cultural rejection) were insanely strong. That little boy, in many ways, was stronger than the man I’ve become. Makes sense: he was closer to being “real.” He was nearer the truth.

And the ego itself has a thousand thousand distractions. Imagine a miner sitting on a “mother load” that is thirty feet beneath him. He digs for ten feet, gets discouraged…and moves to another hole. Does this five, ten, fifty times. If he had ever remained in one place, he would have reached the gold. But it is so seductive to shift around, try something new, start a new hole. We do this in careers, relationships, with physical training programs. In “Mastery” George Leonard talks about this. That few people ever reach Mastery because they can’t bore through the “boredom” and “dissatisfaction with slow progress” and don’t understand that when progress slows, it’s often because we’ve begun to do the REAL work. This is where the rubber meets the road.

As often happens, when I hit a truth I need to look at, one of my friends will drop me a note, describing their own travails. In answering them, I am answering myself. This was waiting for me this morning:

Dear Steve,

I’ve been having a strange experience with meditation lately. It
feels good and yet I run from it; my consciousness shifts with
jarring suddenness like waking from a bad dream. I don’t really know
where to go with it.

A few months back I’d been enjoying “happy liver” meditation. I’d
seen the author of Eat, Love, Pray on tv talking about a man who had
told her that the secret to meditation was to smile; smile from your
scalp to your toes, smile until your liver is smiling. So I would
sit and I would smile, not a “feeling fabulous smile for the camera”
smile, more of a subdued “don’t worry, be happy” smile. I would
smile until my troubles sank out of me and I would think “my liver is
smiling”. One of the great things about ending with the thought “my
liver is smiling” was that I could induce a state of calm in myself
with those four words. My husband and I would be on the verge of
some petty squabble and I would think “my liver is smiling” and I
would just release all of that tension and fear. I would remember
that there is no threat, I have nothing to fear and I would gain that
emotional flexibility necessary to deal with whatever was really
needed and not get caught up in pointless bickering.

Then I stopped meditating ’cause there’s always something more important to do,
right? And I started losing my “happy liver.” I’d be under some
stress and say to myself “my liver is smiling” and from somewhere
deep inside I’d hear the voice of an organ with its hands on its hips
saying “I don’t know where you’ve been lately, but this liver ain’t
smiling.” I’d lost it.

So after seeing you (recently) I got back on myself about meditation.
I saw a tee-shirt ages ago that said “If you have time to masturbate,
you have time to meditate.” Well, honestly there have been plenty of
times in my recent life where I don’t have the time or the energy for
either, but there’s something to the sentiment. It doesn’t have to
be an elaborate ritual, I don’t have to have a big chunk o’ time set
aside. So I steal moments and sometimes I get enough to matter,
sometimes I don’t. It doesn’t hurt to try. So when the kids are
outside playing, or I’m waiting for the dryer to finish so I can
rotate laundry, little opportunities like that, I meditate. There’s
a lot more little opportunities in the day than I would’ve thought.
Only now I’m not doing the “happy liver” I’ve gone back to “I am… ”

Only I think the two are merging. I follow the curves of each link
in the “I am” chain. One day it will be relationships “I am X’s
mama, Y’s mama, Z’s wife,” et cetera. Another day it’s my
resumé ” I am a housewife, nanny, instructor for the developmentally
disabled… ” It’s like a great big bowl filled with little slips,
like fortune cookie fortunes, each one a different part of my
identity. But a couple of times now I’ve gotten to the bottom of the
bowl, no more slips, no more words. The only answer is this warm
feeling– it’s like the “happy liver”, and prolactin (the hormone
that makes frazzled, sleepless moms feel all calm and content when
they nurse), and finding that perfect spot in the bed on a morning
you get to sleep in, all at once. It doesn’t feel wise, I don’t feel
“enlightened”. I just feel sated. And for some reason I find this
feeling very jarring and meditation ends almost as soon as I realize
there are no more slips in the bowl, there is no more bowl. It’s not
a great connectedness to all things, it’s just a being okay with
whatever connectedness is or isn’t there.

So is a smiling liver an adequate answer to “Who am I?” Not that
I’ve been able to just sit and be in this warm feeling, but should
that be my goal? Is this non-verbal outcome a new destination, or a
new wall between myself and my destination? It makes me antsy, I run
from it when it happens and yet those are the meditations that seem
to give the most general clarity throughout my day. It’s just not
familiar territory for me. Any thoughts?


You’re doing fine. Fantastic, in fact. Don’t try to get to “Enlightenment.” The “you” that wants to get there can’t get there. The farthest you can get is “Awake.” The best state to aim at is “Adult.” “Adult” is the precursive state you’re looking for, and from my perspective, it is approached best by looking for light and clarity in the three major arenas. There are doubtless other paths, but I am certain that dealing with your shit in the arenas of body, mind, and relationship will turn all the lights on in your inner house.

THEN you can see what is real, and begin the next step. Until then, you’re just getting ahead of yourself, a virgin who has never had an orgasm trying to understand tantric sex from the ads in the back of men’s magazines.


When you get to the bowl, and it is filled with “slips” and then the slips are gone, and then the bowl is gone, you will glimpse a truth. The ego, at this point, will try to back you away from it. Instead, apply this “emptiness” to the three Gateways. If you are empty, there should be nothing stopping you from achieving a healthy body—it is just clay. Nothing stopping you from feeling absolute love for your partner—he or she is your mirror. Do you not love yourself? What reason is there not to? There ARE no reasons. One might ask what reason there is to LOVE self, either, if there are no reasons. The easy answer is that Love is what is, but that would be a dualism as well. You just have to stay there, contemplating Self, until you get it. And the third Gateway—mind/career. You should either love what you do, or do what you love. Anything else is a waste of your precious time in this world.

The ego has many many tricks. It will present false bowls, like a magician drawing your eye to his right hand while his left sneaks a dove out of his pocket, or showing you the false bottom of a cabinet within which hides his assistant. Keep going. Further. Further.

How? By having delicious goals, tantalizing and motivating, clear, time-bound goals in all three. Goals that make YOU dance with anticipation. That are worth awakening early and staying up late for. Long and short term. Do NOT neglect the physical, M.—that’s where your shit is really hiding. You’ll know the “bowl” is emptying (at least to the next level) when you have lost the weight. Until then, it is a magician’s trick.

But trust me…this is the work, darling. This. Right here. Right now. Every damn day, cleaning the mirror, emptying the bowl, opening the Gates.

You’re doing excellent, excellent work.


The Wounded Child

I 100% agree with what this article says: that behavioral dysfunctions are a form of PTSD, often related to childhood trauma. This is one reason that the “Morning Ritual” concept incorporates both the “Ancient Child”, heartbeat meditation, physical motion, and focus. Why I believe so strongly in dealing with the fear that lies at the base of all negative emotion. Sigh.

I can tell you the first time I realized how bad it was, and how I needed to trust instinct rather than the surface or presenting stories. I was a GOH at a convention in Texas, and teaching a morning Tai Chi workshop. There was a lady on the periphery of the workshop, trying to do the movements. She was extremely obese, and more, her teeth were rotted out. My first impression was that she was like one overweight person pushed into the middle of a second one, a very sweet small face and bright eyes in the middle of a puffy cocoon of fatty tissue. Over 300 pounds.

I am always very connected to the people in those workshops. All kinds of odd subliminal information pops into my head about them, their emotions, sex lives, all sorts of stuff. It isn’t esp. It is that our bodies reflect our histories. They store our emotions.

I worked with her a bit, and in adjusting her body, something horrible happened, horrible because I didn’t know how to handle it. Suddenly, I saw the sweet face as a trapped child within the massive protective cocoon. The bright eyes calling out to me from within a prison of flesh: HELP. A fear of being seen sexually, combined with a deep, desperate hope that someone could see her, and love her, and help her free itself.

And I knew. The teeth. The body. This woman had been terribly, horribly, serially abused as a child. And her brain had done what a brain is supposed to do: do everything in its power to prevent her from ever being seen as a sexual being again, to obscure the secondary sexual characteristics. Yes, I know it is illogical. But that’s what I saw.

Too damned clearly.

After the work shop I went to my room and cried. Just…sobbed. Something had opened inside me, and I felt like I was watching personal histories, not just physical bodies, in that convention hotel. Millions of individual behavioral choices arising from values and beliefs connected to emotional and physical pains and pleasures. If I respected them, I had to believe that they were doing the best they could. There was no laziness, no lack of wish to be healthy and strong and happy.

This was something very different. Post-industrial society has unteathered calories or immediate survival from physical performance for the first time in our evolutionary history, and we are seeing something extraordinary. In a few generations we will have figured it out, but right now…dear God.

I wanted to leave that convention, and if I hadn’t been GOH I would have. So I put on my face and went back down.

And…she followed me. Showed up at panels and signings. Always on the periphery. Smiling shyly at me. And finally, on the last day, she asked me if we could talk.

We had coffee. She said that she didn’t know why she was talking to me. Just…that there was something about me. She felt that I had seen HER, not just her body. And was driven to speak to me.

And there, while I sipped my latte, she changed my life. With only a tiny bit of reassurance and coaxing she described a history of abuse that precisely matched what I had seen. Her stepfather. Her stepuncles. A mother who pretended it wasn’t happening.

Abusive relationships. And a near-suicidal threshold that led to a solution: to become invisible in plain sight. Years of being unseen. And now a heart-wrenching urge to find a way out of the prison she had built for herself. Was it too late? She wanted to know.

And I remembered something that Leo and Diane Dillon, the great, great artists had once said to me when I asked if I had lost my way as an artist: “if you can even ask the question, it’s not too late.”
That was twenty-five years ago. I had nothing specific to offer this lady except hope, and love, holding her hands as we both cried.

But I changed that day. I knew that I saw things that were contrary to social narrative, and needed to trust my instincts more than the popular wisdom. And I knew that I had to find a way to understand what we are as human beings that we can be smart, and good and decent and still hurt each other and ourselves so badly, and remain in denial about it.

That was, in many ways, the beginning of my awakening.

I don’t remember her name. I don’t know where she is or even if she is alive. All I can say is that I hope I touched her as deeply as she touched me.

Whereever you are, my love, I see you. That perfect little girl who deserved to be loved, and held, and cherished, is still within you. And I pray you found a way to both keep her safe, and let her free.


When People Lie to Themselves

The thing about Coaching in comparison to writing is that it uses more of who I am. Check the clinical notes from a patient I worked with yesterday, a very successful man, “N.” who is recovering from a stroke and a lifetime of emotional abuse.

Any instinctive “hit” I get from someone is based on a sense of their imbalance in one of three basic arenas. I assume that 99% of people want:

1) A strong healthy body they would consider sexy, capable of hunting, gathering and either fighting or evading predators.

2) To provide goods and services to their community, supporting themselves with joy and contribution with enough excess resources to provide pleasures and freedom.

3) To find a loving, bonded relationship with someone who appeals to them emotionally, physically, mentally, and shares their spiritual values.

That other 1%? They don’t need me, and are on a rarefied path. But I assume that if people argue with any of this, they are just telling me the “story” they use to bind together the beliefs, fears, values and scrambled intents that keep them stuck.

I don’t buy it, because people lie to themselves, and when they do that, they can’t possibly be honest with others.

It is as simple as that.

And it’s been my experience that when I run into one of those 1%? They know exactly what I’m talking about, why I take the attitude I do, and are not offended in the slightest. Any emotional reaction? They aren’t in the 1%.