Friday, September 23, 2016

Self worth and the zodiac: the conditions we place on loving ourselves

We all know people with obvious low self-esteem and issues of self worth but I'm guessing we all have our own criteria for judging our worth. If we work around the zodiac we find that each sun sign's ego is a little bit different in how they judge self importance.

Aries values winning, whether their battles be romantic, business, sporting or military. They have an ability to fire-up and motivate others, to get things started. The problem for their self esteem comes when they lose.

Taurus values their own strength, their ability to protect others, to put food on the table and acquire property. The self esteem suffers through the loss of the very things the value. Old age, frailty, children leaving home, poverty can all dent their self-worth

Gemini values intelligence, vocabulary, fluency, their ability to communicate ideas, to have their stories heard and enjoyed, their ability to charm and entertain others. Their problem comes when they lose their audience, when people walk away because they've got things they'd rather do than listen.

Cancer values their capacity to nurture and care for others, whether as a good cook, a mother or carer. Their problems come when they either lack a caring role or others push them away for being too mothering.

Leo values their pride, their ability to organize, lead others. Their worth is tied up in how much others recognize their importance. wounded pride is their greatest threat. Their pride can built on shaky ground making their fall from grace even worse. Mistakes found out leave them defensive or fudging to cover up.

Virgo values health, neatness, order and perfection. Possibly the hardest set of conditions for maintaining self worth.

Libra values beauty, their own and that of their environment, harmonious relations with their lover and extended family. Old age, the natural wear and tear of material possessions, arguments - all leave them rattled, denting their self confidence. Beauty is transient.

Scorpio values power, their ability to know secrets and getting others to bend to their will. At a higher level their worth is in arising above that by transforming themselves. Their greatest fear is a competitor acquiring more power than them. Unfortunately, unless you emperor of the universe someone is always going to have more power.

Sagittarius values exploration, the chance to grow and explore, honesty and directness. Learning and teaching also come into this. Conversely if they fail to achieve academically, morally or lack for experiences they are inclined to see themselves as dumb, ignorant or uncultured.

Capricorn values achievement, through work, their ability to solve and rise above problems, to achieve and acquire, for their own benefit and for the benefit of those they are loyal too. They value loyalty to and from their family. They like their criticisms and suggestions to be appreciated as the help they intend them to be. Being beaten by problems is their greatest danger. Being unappreciated for their advice leaves them cold

Aquarius values being unique, being loved and understood because of and despite their innate nerdiness. They value the ability to innovate, to break down and challenge the old on the way to making something new. Their greatest fear is being ordinary. An environment that does not allow them to innovate and individualize can leave them withdrawn.

Pisces values compassion, reflection, dreams and visions. Most of all they dream of a  world without suffering. Realism and skepticism can leave them doubting their innate intuition. The limits on their capacity to solve suffering of others could leave them frustrated and questioning their relevance in the world. Death is the ever present threat, the ultimate suffering that threatens to beat them.

All these ego mindsets are traps. They all have built in conditions that leave the individual vulnerable to a dent to their self esteem

We are all vulnerable to all of these traps but usually the one that matches are sun sign will predominate. 

The only fool proof way to value yourself is unconditionally. Not requiring certain external conditions to be met in order to love and be compassionate towards yourself.
Everyone has their own favorite answers. For me, I find that Anam Thubten in "no self, no problem" effectively outlines the benefits of transcending our frail egos. Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche, in his many books videos and online courses shows how to find that inner stillness, silence and spaciousness that can effectively get us in touch with an unconditional source of love, joy, compassion and non judgement we can realize as our true "self". The Toltec tradition of Don Miguel Ruiz (aka The Four Agreements" and "The Mastery of Love") and Heather Ash Amara ("Warrior Goddess Training') provides a philosophy that empowers the individual. And astrology helps us see with greater clarity and self awareness the karmic ego traps we are working to transcend. 

Monday, September 12, 2016

Re-evaluating the metaphysics of star wars

Like many I was entranced by the star wars movie when it first came out. It spoke to me at a deep soul level and I've watched it many times since. I watched it again over the last few days, the original ones anyway. I didn't much like the so called prequels. However, I'm no longer fully comfortable with the portrayal of "the force". They made a polarized dualistic entity out of it. The so called dark side is not the opposite of any good side of a force. Rather it is the closed down, contracted, rigidly controlled experience of one who has placed or acquired barriers, including self imposed labels and misperceptions, that obstruct the free flowing connection with that absolute infinitely that is most tangibly understood as limitless light and unconditional limitless love. That which exist within the stillness silence and spaciousness at the core of our being.

Individually and collectively we are all to some degree obstructed. The more obstructed the more fearful and controlling we become in an attempt to survive perceived threats to our existence. It can become a vicious cycle but you are never as fully doomed as Yoda would have had you believe. You always have the option of letting go. Letting go the tight reins, the strivings, the goal seeking, the possession acquisition, the avoidance of what we fear will cause us pain, the avoidance of responsibility, of potential loss.

Let go, be, notice the moment. Whether painful or joyful rest in the moment.
Yoda says do or don't do, there is no try. The problem is we do try, often with lots and lots of effort and a head full of either doubts or pride. The problem of trying comes from us trying to do or achieve some Thing rather than letting go into the process of the action of doing. Yes we need some knowledge and intent Before we perform a task but at some point we have to release the analytical aspect and step into the process of the action. This is where the magic happens and this is where an aspiring Jedi finds herself.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Enlightenment, lets do it together

In my lucid dreaming time this morning it came to me sharp and clear that enlightenment is not something we have to do alone. It is not a competition. It is not a goal to be achieved to add to one's imagined self worth. It's something we can do together. Sure there are solitary practitioners out there who might get there on their own through extreme focus and discipline. But for the rest of us it's a damned site easier if we connect, at least on a psychic or imagined level to all those out there seeking awakening from the limits of their self. This connection can be across space time to all those teachers, wise people and their students, is anywhere in the universe, anywhere now, past or future and with any sentient species. We're all encouraging and helping each other. We're waking up together. Because we are together, one and connected.

It was a full moon last night. A huge one. In May. I looked that up on Google this morning and noticed it is wesak. The Buddha's full moon. Other great teachers seem to have been allotted a full moon, eg Christ. Anyway, I suspect I was really feeling the moon's energies in the early hours this morning.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Meditation as a brain training

Brain games are popular in the digital world but what about analog, non-digital ways of training the brain and shaping it in ways we might desire?

Every time we practice something for real OR by doing it in our mind our brain assigns more neural connections to help us with that activity. It's like walking a path. Every time you walk that path it gets a little more permanent and a little wider. Driving, swimming, playing an instrument, speaking a foreign language etc all become better and easier with consistent regular practice. The brain says "aha! this person is serious about this thing. It's not just some one time event. I'll do some rewiring behind the scenes to make it easier."

We once believed that the brain only assisted babies and children this way but these days we know about neuroplasticity. Even adults can nudge their brains into rewiring. This has been especially good news for stroke sufferers, giving hope where there was little before.

So aside from doing things like playing a musical instrument what else could we get the brain to help us with:

  • quelling the constant chatter in our mind as it chews over past events and consider for the future. This is useful when it helps us learn from the past or plan for the future. It's not so good when it bogs us in a quagmire of regret and fears.
  • enhancing our skills to understand others, to put ourselves in their shoes, to empathize with their struggles and their pain as well as their achievements and their joy. Building our emotional intelligence may increase compassion and reduce jealousy. Making the world a better place for not just us but also those who might otherwise suffer or incur our discontent.
  • distancing ourselves from our inclinations to rage when that rage cannot improve our circumstances. 
  • mindfully participating in life with full awareness, being in the moment without judging our circumstances. Mindfulness has been shown to reduce stress, give a richer experience of life, provide emotional perspective etc but more than anything it cures of that great plague that's afflicting post-modern humanity, multitasking. Burnt your lunch lately? I just did. Try to split yourself between two tasks such as writing and cooking and it is likely only one will be done well, the one you are focusing on.
  • understanding the nature of our very mind, the illusion of the constructed self (our habits and the labels we have given ourselves), even enlightenment.
I was reading The emotional life of the brain. The author, Richard Davidson, mentioned how they had gotten the help of a seasoned meditator to help with their initial experiments. They got him to switch between different meditation states to see what might show on their equipment. It occurred to me that this could be the equivalent of a kind of meditation gym. Yoga practitioners practice asanas, different physical poses. Why not also use different meditational asanas.

The Tibetans have gifted us with a number of these mental postures: 
  • Calm meditation, being with the breath. This is thought to calm the default mode network of the brain which is involved in mental chatter.
  • Concentration meditation. Focusing one's attention on an object, real or imagined.
  • Reflection on the flimsy nature of what we call self (our collection of beliefs, habits and self labels), our branding.
  • Devotion, such as to a teacher or someone who inspires us
  • Compassion (Tonglen)
  • Mindfulness, being in the moment
  • Resting in stillness, silence and spaciousness aka Dzogchen (variously pronounced dzochen or tsochen)
To these you can add practices inspired by recent neuroscience which shows that while we feel with the right side of the brain we give meaning to our emotions with the left. Unfortunately many of us can get trapped in right-brained states such as depression. By using facial experiences, visualizations and vocalizations we can reconnect with our analytical left side of the brain an gain some perspective on what we are feeling.

So here's my simple meditation gym - I may refine it over time.

  • Get yourself in a comfortable position. Seated usually helps with staying awake as do things like keeping your eyes very slightly open.
  • Take a few deep breaths to oxygenate the body. If you know any pranayama or the Tibetan nine breaths do that.
  • Take a moment to mentally catalog the sensations in your body. Any tension, tingling, agitation or relaxation. Don't do anything with it. Just observe it. Imagine you are your own scientist. You are going to observe and note any changes your meditation practice causes in you. You may wish to keep a journal. This first body scan is your benchmark. No you haven't got a control group but lets not get carried away.
  • Think of someone, something or somewhere that you enjoy. Smile. Voice your like, saying something like "I like xxx", whatever xxx is. You've just lit up areas in the left front portion of your brain. (yes I am being simplistic here. In truth anything we do uses a number of areas of our brain but predominantly the activity is here.). Buddhists might complain that by focusing on a conditioned like we are only strengthening an arbitrary attachment. It is not the aim of this step to untangle you from your attachments and aversions, only to shift you into left front of brain thinking. Facial expressions, vocalizations (including chants and affirmations) or considering the meaning of something will all get you to the left, touching your logical and often more positive side. You need the right side too but many people get trapped there and we are laying down a neural pathway to help us to switch.
  • Scan your body for any changes.
  • Now imagine someone you know and like reasonably well but someone who is also doing it tough (you can try this step with strangers and people you don't like later but lets take baby steps first). Take a moment to consider this person; their habits of response to life, their struggles, their frustrations, their pain and suffering. Imagine yourself as this person, living their life. What does it feel like. How do you feel about them now? Imagine you are sending that person all the care and attention you are feeling right now? How do you feel in your mind, your chest, your belly?
  • Do a quick body scan. Note any changes.
  • If this last step has left you feeling sad repeat the smile step we started with.
  • Now think of someone you greatly admire. Someone who has helped you in your life. Imagine them in as much detail as you can and imagine you are sending them gratitude for how they helped you. Even if they are no longer living. If you wish to take this further you can imagine being them, thinking like them, having their wisdom and skills. What does that feel like?
  • Do a quick body scan. Note any changes.
  • Become aware of your breath. If you are feeling dull and sleepy give slightly more focus to your in breath. If you are feeling agitated give slightly more focus to your out breath. Just be with your breathing. If the mind drifts into thinking about other things that's fine, just gently bring it back to the breath. Do this for a couple of minutes. Don't berate yourself if your mind has drifted often. It will but it will get easier. When you become proficient at this step you can watch the mind itself, watching the thoughts, like clouds, drifting through a blue sky.
  • Bring your awareness back to your body and scan it.
  • To finish off we will use a visualization that connects us with the four elements as a way of naturally moving into Dzogchen (still, silent and spacious state of mind). For this one close your eyes fully. Imagine yourself on a high mountain plateau. There's a stiff but refreshing breeze blowing. It's blowing away all the obstacles and impediments in your life. Feel the wind. Be the wind. Be free. Give thanks for that. Come back to your self and go to the lake that's in front of you. Take a plunge in its cleansing waters. Feel all your old habits and pains washing away. Feel how the water surrounds you and nourishes you. Each cell of your being is filled with water. Be glad of that. Feel the water. Be the water. Feel loved and nurtured. Return your awareness to yourself. You've built a small fire to dry off in front of. Feel its warmth penetrating your body, into your very bones. Watch its magical flames. Give thanks for its light. Feel the fire. Be the fire. Be warmed and inspired. Awaken to a spark of joy within your solar plexus. Return your awareness to the body. Become aware of the ground you are sitting on. A mountain that has its roots all the way into the earth. Immovable, solid, stable, supporting you, grounding you. Feel the earth. Be the earth. Feel its still bulwark of strength. Give thanks for that. Return your awareness to your body. Remembering the immovable still strength of the mountain visualize that same stillness within you. Or maybe you focus on your spine, straight and strong like some ancient oak tree. Feel that stillness. Be that stillness. Experience that. Keeping that awareness of stillness focus on your throat. The space in your throat. It's like a vast cavern, deep in the ground of your being. Still, quiet. There's a warm red glow. Experience the silence there. Be the silence. Staying connected with the preceding stillness and silence move your focus to an imaginary space in your heart. Not your physical heart but the sacred heart which you can visualize in the area of your sternum. That bone that divides your ribs. Maybe about four finger widths, more or less, from the top of the sternum will be about the right place. Imagine a cavity under that. For Tibetans that is where your mind resides. Imagine it as a vast clear blue desert sky. Open. Spacious. Empty. Observe that space as if you were looking at a clear blue sky. Connect with that. Be that. As you watch it ask yourself where the mind is that is looking at it. The more you look for that mind all you find is more spaciousness. More emptiness. Spaciousness observing spaciousness. Awareness of awareness. Primordial mind. Experienced dzogchen practitioners will go beyond this to touch the limitless light and love, joy and unconditional acceptance that resides within that space but for now that is enough. For more about this read Tenzin Wangyal's Awakening the luminous mind
  • To finish off you may like to strengthen the neural pathways that are associated with compassion and love by making a wish. For example wishing for the happiness of all sentient beings (humans, dolphins, whales etc and yourself included).
  • Return your awareness to your body and do a scan of your feelings and sensations. Has the mind gym changed anything for you. Make some notes. If you've found it beneficial you might wish to put together your own mind gym and run your mind through it once or twice a day. If you truly want to rewire your brain remember your gym practice needs to be consistent and often.
It all takes time but so does going to a gym for the body. Mind fitness is just as important as body fitness. The ancient mystics knew the two went together.

I didn't include concentration meditation in the above because for beginners the breath as the object is probably enough for most. Experienced meditators who've gotten used to following the breath can do an extra step if they wish, focusing on other objects, something you might place in front of yourself like a candle, a statue or a picture. Or you could visualize and object. This is concentration meditation. It hones the mind's ability to be attentive. Experienced practitioners may also wish to include a step of reflection, using their self as the object of the meditation. Take a moment to consider your ingrained habits of response (both good and bad), your opinions and beliefs, the labels you apply to yourself. They are a product of a lifetime, your upbringing, peer group pressure, your culture, your humanity, your education. How do you label yourself? What is your brand image? Have you ever dared to ask someone else if they see you this way? What would happen if you got alzheimers and lost all your memories or a stroke and your personality and ability to do things you considered you were good at changed over night. What would your self be then? Changeable or unchangeable. Really, do you want to be limited, indeed imprisoned inside what you consider your self to be or would you rather connect with that in you which is infinite, unbounded and connected to what is all. But that is going down the rabbit hole. 

There are lots of books out there on meditation and neuroscience. There are also free online courses such as those on Coursera: 
These are mostly from the buddhist perspective but you will find that other Indian traditions use many of the same techniques. You may wish to explore the non-dualist traditions of Advaita, Ekhart Tolle, Adyashanti etc. Don't be limited by what I have written here. No limits. No labels. You are infinite.

    Sunday, July 26, 2015

    Compassion as a healing tool

    I've been doing the year long free course on soul retrieval that the Ligmincha Institute has been offering in 2015

    The early parts were about getting to know the elements and how they relate to us and the world around us. I'd found that connecting with the elements within the spaciousness, silence and stillness that the practice teaches to be very powerful. One thing I had particularly noticed was an enhanced sense of smell. I looked on the web to see if the senses had any elemental correspondences. Going by the sense of smell seems to be connected with the element of water. In the tibetan tradition taught by the Ligmincha Institute the element of water is equated with home and comfort. A place to rest and feel safe. Since I have always sought out water, either for a swim or a bath, when stressed this came as no surprise.

    This month, July, the course is dealing with relationship - to self and others and expanding the practice to include an awareness of the suffering and striving of those we have particularly challenging relationships with. That awareness grows compassion and becomes a powerful way to heal. I had been feeling particularly at odds with myself due to the ill health of a significant other. Yes I know I shouldn't but I had been blaming myself. Surely I could have done more to prevent it, cared more, loved more, prevented more. I guess I'd been peeved at my own helplessness in the situation and that had made me angry with myself. Doing the practice that went with this month's teaching I chose to focus on my relationship with myself as my first relationship to repair. I first used the prescribed breathing and visualization to center myself. Becoming clearer and more open. From there I went into the awareness of stillness, silence and spaciousness and rested in it. I let myself become aware of all I'd been feeling (my relationship with my self), without judging or engaging with it. A warmth washed through me, a releasing of sorts that left me at peace with myself. I had done my best, as we all do our best, within the day to day conditions and context we live in. If I want to support greater healing in those I love then I need a whole and healthy relationship with myself AND them. Knowing we are all doing the best that we can. Letting that understanding and the compassion that flows from it send healing energy towards them and the world that is the context for their own dis-ease.

    Monday, May 25, 2015

    Its never too late to learn music using apps and online resources

    Last year was a bit life changing. I reached that critical threshold point where I felt I could no longer thrive in my paid part-time job. I guess the public service worldwide is facing the same pressures: diminishing budgets, over-regulation, micro-management, politicians in crisis mode meddling in the day to day running of departments and constant restructures that dis-empower anyone who actually provides real services to the public. So it was time to leap into a new life, one as a full time housekeeper, edible landscape gardener and indie writer. But what to do for R&R. Running got knobbled when my right knee packed it in, complaining that I was never designed to be an athelete. Knitting complex cable jumpers is fun but I only need so many. Gardening is nice but then there are the long days over winter where it struggles to get to 10 degrees Celsius outside. Writing is my passion but sometimes you need a break to let ideas percolate. Cleaning up our old house to sell I found my old tin whistle, one my dad had bought me when I was a teenager. Never had a clue how to play it so I would just go up the bush and make sound, enjoying myself but rather unproductively. The thing is, despite the interest, I didn't seem to have inherited any nature musical ability, I couldn't tune a guitar to save myself and the choir teacher at school prefered, well, that I didn't sing.

    I had one last attempt to learn music in my early twenties, taking singing lessons and buying myself a keyboard but really I had no clue if I was on key or not. In never learned anything more than the right hand melodies. I certainly didn't seem to have a feel for rhythm or timing or any of the other skills a musician is supposed to have. So I sold the keyboard and put the tin whistle into my glory box.

    Then apps happened. Having finally learned enough Spanish using Duolingo that I can actively use the language I wondered what else apps might help me do. Could I learn to hear when a note was in tune? If I could do that then maybe I could look at getting a musical instrument and trying again to learn some music, at least for my own pleasure. After a bit of a look at potential apps I settled on the Functional Ear Trainer. It promised that ear training could be taught. I doubted that very much but thought that it might be a good brain game. So ten minutes a day I started with it. I was appalling at first I must say but surprisingly I quickly started making some progress. Okay this was good. It was obviously possible to learn to hear relative pitch at least. Maybe I wasn't a total lost cause.

    While working with the ear training I started looking for apps and resources that would teach me some actual music theory. Here are my favorites:

    A visit to my local library got me a copy of "Idiots Guide to Music Theory" which pulled all the bits together for me.

    Feeling empowered I installed a piano app (there are many to choose from) on my tablet so I could start practicing reading some sheet music and playing some actual music. I also unearthed my tin whistle and started considering what music instruments were out there and what might suit me best.

    Keyboards are pretty much the go for music beginners but seemed pricey until I found out about the Casio LK120 which, on special, sells for under $100 Australian dollars. The keyboard is specially designed for beginners as it has a memory bank of 100 tunes, has a three step learning process and allows you to practise the left and right hand separately. In the first step you hear the tune at the pace it is meant to be played, keys light up showing you which keys to press but if you make a mistake it still plays the correct one. In the second stage you play the notes as best you can at your own pace but you will hear mistakes. In the third step you perform the piece at the pace it is meant to be played. Correct fingering is also taught through and on screen display and a voice guide which is annoying so I switched it off right away.

    But keyboards, while good in the home, aren't something you can readily carry around with you. That led me back to considering a second instrument I have with me most of the time. Actually I settled on two: the tablet keyboard and the tin whistle.

    Pianist HD learn Piano, like the Casio keyboard has a memory bank of a hundred songs (the usual copyright free kids tunes, carols and classical pieces) and access to others you can download. It is actually a very similar teaching approach but getting the timing right is more intuitive as the length you need to hold each note is shown visually. I think it is a good way to learn note measures. As I'm not into carols and the kids tunes quickly became boring I drifted into playing with the classical pieces and found I loved it. I didn't realize I was already familiar with so many. We must hear them all the time in advertisements and tv shows. A lot of classical doesn't do it for me, frankly I never got the whole scene, but I do enjoy these popular pieces. The thing is now I am learning their names, their composers and the magic in how they are pieced together and played. Another app called Piano sheet music has quite a few more classical pieces and shows how the notes relate to the sheet music but unfortunately it gives no way to play along.

    Back to the tin whistle. I quickly discovered my Bflat tin whistle wasn't in the standard key for tin whistle music. Fortunately that doesn't really matter as you can play standard tin whistle fingering in any key, just cover the holes as indicated. Much of the music around for it is they copyright free stuff which initially limits you to the ubiquitous nursery rhymes and carols but fortunately also a large amount of traditional Irish and Scottish music. Not knowing most of these tunes it pays to look them up on Youtube and listen to a performance first before trying to learn them. I've since bought a Feadog Pro D tin whistle in the key of D. It is higher pitched and therefore more of a challenge to hit the high notes without causing what my partner nicely calls a cat squeal but otherwise it does have a nice tone. Since most tin whistle pieces are written for the key of D. It is possible with some practice to create semitones which allow you to play a greater range of sheet music. Your main limitation is the lowest note in whatever piece you are playing can't be lower than the lowest note on the whistle so if you want to adapt a piece of sheet music to the whistle you must transpose it to the key of your whistle. Fortunately their are apps to help you do this too. The other limitation is that a musical piece must cover no more than two octaves. Those restraints aside the whistle is something you can carry with you anywhere and I believe there are also two piece ones that fit in your handbag for transport.

    My next job is to learn some of the tin whistle ornamentation such as tonguing, tapping and rolls. Tonguing allows you to cut the air flow when you want a clear transition between two wide apart notes. Tapping is as it sounds, a quite double tap on the desired note which is useful for giving a held note a beat whereas otherwise you would just get a long drawn out note. Rolls are short musical pieces, a series of quickly played notes that, well to be honest I'm not sure where you'd use them yet but I'm guessing they are useful for adding interest to an otherwise boring patch of music. If you do opt for a tin whistle check out the collections of tin whistle music on Pininterest. like my favorite pieces such as "Country Road" and "Ode to Joy." And for the more traditional Irish stuff check out The book of sheet music he has is a good collection for beginners but you will find many more on his website including modern popular pieces

    One day I'd like to try a Dobro or slide guitar. Being sometimes a massage therapist I don't fancy what the average guitar does to your finger tips but the slide guitar and its variations look possible. Something for later on though. At the moment cost is a deterrent. If a second hand flute turned up cheap at a garage sale I might try that too but I hear they need specially shaped mouth for you to play them well and I have no idea if I qualify. Refer Embouchure: This is not an issue with the tin whistle or oriental and native American Indian end blown flutes.

    You may ask why I haven't gone to someone to learn music. Well the fact is I live in a remote wilderness area with a dearth of music teachers. That aside I've never enjoyed the whole being taught experience. I prefer the direct nonjudgmental feedback of apps and my own ears. My approach wouldn't work for everyone but as a brain game and a personally pleasurable experience its enough. In the meantime I'm having lots of fun.

    Wednesday, March 11, 2015

    Sacred Space: The Practice of Inner Stillness Album

    It would come as no great surprise to readers of this blog that I am a great fan of Tenzin Wangyal's books and other material. Yet I would not see myself as a Buddhist or indeed a Bon practitioner. I prefer to take my wisdom where I find it and feel no obligation to filter it to just one "brand", pagan, secular, religious or otherwise. I do however entwine many of Tenzin Wangyal's meditations, philosophy and body yoga with my own practices. Previously he has produced meditative CDs attached to books such as "Tibetan Sound Healing" and "Awakening The Luminous Mind: Tibetan Meditation for Inner Peace and Joy" but this is the first issued as a stand alone. It builds nicely on his earlier work and I think it is even an improvement in certain aspects. The hemi-sync binaural background is deeply relaxing. He leaves ample space/intervals in the meditation for you to sink deeply into what he is asking you to do. It is also a version you can recommend to your staunchly secular friends as it is jargon free and the dedication at the end is only in English. Personally I enjoy hearing the Tibetan language used in prayer and chant. It has a power and resonance that is awesome. I often listen to Tibetan Bon chanting even if I do not understand a word of it. But some may find the use of a language they don't understand alienating so I think the English dedication at the end in this one will broaden this CD's appeal.

    The essence of the meditation is still that same freeing connection with inner space, stillness and silence that you will find in his other works. I would recommend them all as they overlap in their wisdom.

    Given the prohibitive postal charges between the US and Australia I obtained my copy as a digital download direct from the Hemi-Sync online shop.