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Tree on the diving board

Face to face with my inner pain

This is the second in a series, Finding happiness in all the right places, by a young female seeker

BEING THERE: EMMA — My decision-making mechanism wasn’t cooperating when I was weighing whether or not to go on this retreat. It was a constant back and forth — I need to buckle down and work, but I’m depressed and not productive, but I’ll feel better if I’m productive, but I can’t even get up before noon because I don’t care, but I need the money, but this trip will be good for me, but maybe I’m just escaping, but the retreat is me facing myself rather than just a distraction.

Eventually, I packed, even as I oscillated between worrying that I was running from my problems and loving the spontaneity of it all. I used to travel constantly — crazy and wild spontaneous trips — and living in Austin I had settled down with all its benefits and drawbacks. I even wrote a poem, senior year of college, called “My trips, my drugs”

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Meditation as a medication: An auto-immune disease called Lupus

JEMMA’S JOURNEY: (The 2nd of 2 parts)

Master Hai Kong is a revered figure in China’s resurrected and re-activated Buddhist community. Seekers from all over the most populous nation-state in the world want to learn from him.

Typically, he performs his empowerment rituals four times a year — and does so for hundreds of students at a time. To have my own personal ritual, was a once-in-a-lifetime gift (and many more if you believe in Buddhism).

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Master Hai Kong and Buddhist monks: Jemma’s journey out of chronic pain

BEING THERE: JEMMA FONG

Jemma’s journey: “I just need to live with the pain” (1st of 2 parts)

Living with a chronic condition resulting in daily pain and periodic acute flare-ups that flatten me in bed for days seemed to be the only “norm” I knew for the past two and a half decades. Increased stress of any sort would worsen the situation by triggering a vicious spiral: as I became frustrated with my inability to perform at my optimum, I added new layers of stress.

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How To Look Good Naked: My private reality show

How To Look Good Naked: My private reality show

GUEST COLUMN: LAURA HOLLICK

Have you heard of the Lifetime network reality series, How to Look Good Naked?

It’s hosted by Carson Kressley from Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, and takes women through a kind of 12-step program on how to fall in love with their bodies.

Two years ago, long before this series ever hit the airwaves, I embarked on my own How to Look Good Naked odyssey. In my case: I set a specific benchmark and goal. By the summer of 2008, I contracted with myself, I’d pose for a nude photo shoot as a symbolic gesture to mark my celebration of loving my body.

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God is in the Details: Mysticism for the Cosmically Clueless

GUEST COLUMN: AMY LEASK

I’ll admit that spiritually speaking, I’m still groping my way through the universe. My soul may have been around the block a few times, but with respect to its understanding of the how and what and why of my existence . . . it still has a great deal of homework to do.

I’ve always taken comfort in the philosophy of William James, who created a long laundry list of characteristics for mystical experience, but who also insisted that contact with the divine was not reserved for the high and mighty. In his view, everyday folks had equal access to the great hereafter, and being human and curious were sufficient conditions for finding it.

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In relationships, besides love, here is the one necessary trait you need to make it last

GUEST COLUMN: VICKI WOODYARD

Vicki is a spiritual teacher and writer who lives in Atlanta, GA

Besides love, what one trait have you noticed in couples that have maintained a successful relationship for many years?

The question in the headline is a common one on dating sites, which probe people for their relationship attitudes when filling in the boxes in their profiles. I was asked the question not on a dating site, but by this site because I was happily married to the same man for thirty-eight years. And I am going to tell you something that will make me blush.

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A spiritual seeker experiences a strip club

GUEST POEM: HUNTER REYNOLDS

Hunter is an astrologer whose practice is based at the California spiritual retreat, Harbin Hot Springs

Here at this strip club,
where the seductive maidens of phenomena
undulate on the lap . . .

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“From my Creative Heart to Yours”: A dancer, writer and artist dishes on her creative process, how to channel your inner voice — and fill yourself with passion and ecstasy

GUEST COLUMN: LAURA HOLLICK

As an artist running my own studio, the conveniently-named Soul Art Studio, I often get asked about the creative process — and how my art comes together. One of the biggest topics revolves around ‘where’ the art comes from.

The questions often have this flavor:

How do you know when it is your inner voice and not just your rational mind telling you another “should”?

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The Tao of Nerds

The Tao of Nerds

There’s something inside the psyches of computer programmers that draws them to the intractabality of Zen koans. Combine that with a passion for sci-fi and faux mysticism and it bestows upon all mankind a prolific online library of teacher-student koan dialogues

Here’s a sample from The Tao of Programming:

A programmer from a very large computer company went to a software conference and then returned to report to his manager, saying: “What sort of programmers work for other companies? They behaved badly and were unconcerned with appearances. Their hair was long and unkempt and their clothes were wrinkled and old. They crashed our hospitality suite and they made rude noises during my presentation.”

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Pastors who are too Busy for God should read David Deida

Pastors who are too Busy for God should read David Deida

Sometimes God’s work gets in the way of a person’s relation with God. In no profession is that more true than being a pastor, a new study shows. Six out of every 10 Christians feel their hectic schedules keep them from spending time with God, it reports. Two thirds of pastors surveyed said their overloaded pace of life interfered with growing in the Lord.

If these people have no time to contact the Divine, how can lay people manage it at all?

The super busy are increasingly multitasking their spirituality. A workout turns spiritual when you do yoga. Artists and politicians mix their religious lives with their work.

Perhaps the best way to retain your connection to God is to try seeing His signature in everything — the Buddhist notion of, “Open yourself to love.”

Picking up from David Deida’s insightful book . . .

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