thinking man vector 285x300 Air Head Is A Compliment....Really!I frantically told someone shortly after my brain injury “I’m in here!”  It was hard for anyone to tell for sure because I didn’t sound, move, nor act like I did before, and my eyes had that blank look like nobody was home.

Let’s see if I can even try to explain this. Even though huge chunks of my personality were missing and my mental processes were all messed up as well as some physical functioning, my spirit or soul or essence or whatever you want to call it was always in tact and fully aware. This higher me was never damaged or injured and remained whole.  As a matter of fact, the entity became stronger and more defined as my ego and physical self were less imposing.

I recall wondering “What part of me is observing me?”  It was as though some other me was watching the new pitiful, damaged me in an unattached and objective manner without emotional reaction, but with compassion.  To actually view myself kindly instead of criticizing my every move was a new perspective for me.

I was brain damaged, but, in a way, I was more introspective and more thoughtful.  The injury had slowed my mind which, before, had constantly raced like a Jack Russell tirelessly chasing its tail in circles. Now, it was more like an old, fat, hound dog who can barely muster the energy to get up and waddle somewhere else only to plop down again.

While I surely wouldn’t have been a winner on “Are You Smarter than a 5th Grader?,”  as suggested by reading, I challenged Descartes’ “I think; therefore, I am.” While my thinking was impaired, I knew that “I” still was, and that “I” wasn’t effected.

I’ve often thought that recovering from my brain injury was the painstakingly slow process of coming back into my body.  After a week filled with lots of what I came to call, “tinglies,” which were, I believe, nerves coming on board and beginning to work again, I remember telling my brother “I came back into my body this week.”

Although it may sound kind of twilight zone-ish, I now think that I wasn’t too far off. Traditionally, the brain has been thought to be the source of the mind.  However, that’s like insisting that a radio is the source of the music which comes from it.  While it may seem to suggest causality because the brain is active during thought, but then a radio is also active during a broadcast.

Quantum physics is confirming that there is a field of energy everywhere called “The Zero Point Field.”  Rather than the old way of thinking that the mind is what the brain does, now, science is proving that the mind is the controller of the brain.  Imagine that there is a cloud of possibilities – words, memories, ideas, images -  from which your brain can choose at every moment.  One of these possibilities becomes an actuality in the brain.  Like the quantum field which has been scientifically proven to generate real particles from virtual ones, the mind generates real brain activity from possible or virtual activity.

Quantum physics is proving to have many new mind-blowing (pun intended) discoveries which are radically rewriting our understanding of the basic principles of our world and universe.  Lynn McTaggart‘s book, The Field, totally altered my perception of reality with the information within its’ covers.  There’s growing evidence to suggest that, in fact, we all do share the same mind field which might explain prodigies like Mozart or savants who can tell what day of the week November 16th falls on in the year 2135.

No physical process has ever been identified through which memories are transferred from neurons which die naturally every day to new neurons in the brain.  Perhaps, memories exist and persist on a nonphysical level. The existence of a common mind field outside of the body would also explain, how someone can relay what dead Uncle George has to say from the beyond and other phenomenon such as distant seeing and mind reading.

We can use CAT scans and MRIs to show the activity of the brain, but that doesn’t prove that the mind arises in the brain.  These are maps showing the terrain of the brain as a thought or emotion crosses it.  Deepak Chopra writes in his book, Life After Death, ”They don’t prove that the brain IS the mind any more than a footprint in the sand is the same as the foot.”

I see my recovery as a matter of getting my equipment to better receive and express the signal of me which was always there, strong and clear.  I’ve gone from a crackly, antiquated radio like Grandpa had to an iPod. icon smile Air Head Is A Compliment....Really!

imagesCA3TZZDV 150x150 Is That A Light At The End Of The Tunnel Or A Train?There’s always a light at the end of the tunnel, right?  Faith is believing that it’s not a train barreling straight at you.

Somewhere in the first year after my serious brain injury, I quit running like hell, scared to death, all panicky and sweaty through the tunnel in the other way.  I slowed down, calmed down, and began to develop the innate knowing that a train wasn’t racing at me and that, somewhere down the tracks, the darkness was going to lift and I’d feel sunshine on my face again.  I’m at the point now where I am walking, kind of sauntering and whistling even, and I can see the suns’ light streaming in at the end of the tunnel and feel its warmth.  Behind me is pitch blackness.

Believe it or not, I’m grateful to have had the brain injury and wouldn’t go back to being the person I was before, even if I could.  “If you like where you are, then you can’t complain about how you got there” is one of my favorite sayings these days.  (Wouldn’t do any good anyway.)  Now, don’t get me wrong.  I’d rather have my fingernails pulled out with tweezers than go through the gut-wrenchingly difficult ordeal again, but it has had its benefits.  Like any other seemingly “bad” thing in life, the experience came with some profound gifts.

Let go of the past.

A large part of my memory was wiped out along with the brain cells. What I can remember follows no rhyme or reason as far as I can tell.  While I can recall the words to almost every inane song that comes on the radio, the memories don’t really solidify in detail for my sons’ births.  Pictures have become my memories here. Thankfully, I also don’t remember a lot of the little and gaping wounds that amassed ugly scars over the years.  The accumulated burden of these eventually sunk the boat.  While I know they really happened, I don’t carry their emotional weight and feel so much lighter now.

Appreciate the little things.

When you’ve hit rock bottom there’s nowhere to go but up.  After the brain injury, my arms hung limply at my sides when I walked instead of swinging naturally.  Therefore, I used to “chug” them because I didn’t know what else to do with them. I sure appreciate the cool way they just automatically swing now effortlessly without me even having to think about it.

Going to the grocery store used to make me break out in a sweat and had me summoning my courage all the way from the soles of my feet.  Because of a speech impairment, I prayed, “Please don’t let the cashier be chatty.” Now, while my speech is still affected, I’m the one with witty banter.

Focus on the abundance.

Before the brain injury, I had so much overwhelming abundance in my life, but all I saw and obsessed over was what was absent. I didn’t have to go shopping, except for necessities, in the years after because I already had so much.  Every time I opened my closets, it was like going shopping.  “Where did all these clothes come from?” I marveled.

Before the injury, my two sons lived with me.  While I doted on them and my life revolved around them, like any other full-time, single parent, I’d get annoyed easily by the little, every day things. I took their presence in my life everyday completely for granted.  They now live with their Dad in a different state.  When they come in for a visit, I revel in the energy they exude, appreciatively notice so many little things I didn’t before, and even secretly enjoy the seeing their socks strewn about the floor.  Now, farting in the car, I don’t think I’ll ever learn to appreciate.

Face the fear.

I used to be afraid of life.  Anyone who knew me, though, I don’t think would’ve suspected as much because I played a convincing tough girl.  I put up a brave front, and, while part of it was real, I wanted the other part to be real very badly, but inside I was terrified.  In the years after the brain injury, I had to draw on strength I didn’t even know I possessed learning to trust and depend on myself.  For a person who had perfected playing the victim, that has proven invaluable.  Now, almost nothing scares me. (Well, OK – maybe bungee jumping) and I have confidence that I can wade through whatever comes my way and even find some joy along the way.  Bring it on!

I can often be seen smiling or giggling to myself these days because, while I know it sounds corny enough to make you wanna throw up – me too, I actually see joy all around me in the mundane everyday.  And the best part is that, no matter what happens, this happiness can never be taken away.  As they say in yoga class “The better it gets, the better it gets!”

stoneCutter01 300x183 Masterpiece or Mess?In every moment of your life, every single thing of which you are aware – sounds, sights, thoughts, feelings – and even that of which you are not aware  – unconscious mental and physical processes – are based in and can be directly mapped to neural activity in your brain.  What you do, experience, think, hope and imagine physically changes your brain through what is called experience-dependent neuroplasticity. The neurological explanation of how this happens is complicated, but the basic concept is simple: every minute of every day you are shaping your brain.  The question is: What are you making?  A masterpiece or a mess?

In his book, Just One ThingRick Hanson describes how to undertake the process of “developing a buddha brain one simple practice at a time.”  The book outlines 52 brief actions a person can do several times a day to craft a brain that is less stressed, happier and more resilient with a deeper sense of well-being.

Hanson writes:

There’s a traditional saying that the mind takes the shape it rests upon; the modern update is that the brain takes the shape the mind rests upon.  For instance, you regularly rest your mind upon worries, self-criticism, and anger, then your brain will gradually take that shape – will develop neural structures and dynamics of anxiety, low sense of worth, and prickly reactivity to others.  On the other hand, if you regularly rest  your mind upon, for example noticing you’re all right right now, seeing the good in yourself and letting go…then your brain will gradually take the shape of calm strength, self confidence, and inner peace.

It almost seems too simple…too easy….and it really is, but is also sooooo challenging!  What you pay attention to, what you think and feel and want, and how you react and behave all physically shape your brain.  “As your mind changes, your brain changes; and as your brain changes, your mind changes.” Hanson cites many ways in which this is accomplished:

  • Busy regions get more blood flow, since they need more oxygen and glucose.
  • The genes inside neurons get more or less active; for example, people who routinely relax have improved expression of genes that calm down stress reactions, making them more resilient.
  • Neural Connections that are relatively inactive wither away; its a kind of neural Darwanism, the survival of the busiest, use it or lose it.
  • “Neurons that fire together, wire together.”  This saying from the work of Donald Hebb means that synapses – the connections between neurons – get more sensitive, plus new neurons grow, producing thicker neural layers.

Neuroplastic change works like physical exercise for the body.  A single zumba class or one run is not going to make any difference.  However, the same things done with consistency, over time, will gradually have a noticeable, lasting effect on a body.  The same is true for the practices which shape your brain.

It occurs to me that self-discipline, then, is not so much about control as it is about the conscious creation of yourself.


Eckhart Tolle 1 Eckhart Tolle: Reincarnation, Karma and PresenceEckhart Tolle, Ramana and the Zen Master Dogen

The following statements by these gentlemen on the topics of reincarnation, karma and presence reflect my own views. Many years ago as a young man I had a vision of great magnitude in which I was standing on a wide path, a road, which came spiraling up from below. It was like an endless funnel and this road, this path, was spiraling around and up the inside of this funnel-like landscape. I recognized it as the path of time and of myriad past human generations. As I gazed mesmerized by the sheer magnitude of this scenario, someone on the opposite side of this ‘inverted mountain’ waved to me. In that moment I waved in return and recognized that the one ‘over there’ was me in another life. (more…)

Are you listening?… for real?

listening Are you Listening? For Real?

“There are people who, instead of listening to what is being said to them, are already listening to what they are going to say themselves.”
Albert Guinon

I love this quote, because it is so true, most people are much better at talking than at listening, most of us have an innate need for approval, support, understanding, etc., and we often express it by talking. However, there is an imbalance between these needs and their fulfillment, because true listening is a rare skill. True listening is a great gift. (more…)

krishnamurti black and white cropped Krishnamurti and Dogen: The Movement of Discontinuity and The Trap of NeedinessThere is a Movement of Discontinuity

This short excerpt on J Krishnamurti’s understanding of the movement of discontinuity reveals to me how much my view is conditioned by that which apparently continues from one moment to the next. I see my wife and the mental/emotional habit is to see her as the one I know and have known for some years now. It is the same with most everything in my life; I take it for granted that most things will be as they were the last time I encountered them. (more…)

Right Communicationwhite stone on the sand 200x197 Zen: Right Communication – Shunryu Suzuki

“The more you understand our thinking, the more you find it difficult to talk about it. The purpose of my talking is to give you some idea of our way, but actually, it is not something to talk about, but something to practice. The best way is just to practice without saying anything. When we talk about our way, there is apt to be some misunderstanding, because the true way always has at least two sides, the negative and the positive. When we talk about the negative side, the positive side is missing, and when we talk about the positive side, the negative side is missing. (more…)

3187207970 7dd7c42426 m How to Deal with Information Overload Today

We all have to deal with potential information overload nowadays. Every time I open up my laptop I am confronted with the Universal Brain (the Internet). In order to not become a victim of this amazing new power of humanity I find it necessary to be very clear about my relationship to “information” and knowledge in general.

Shunryu Suzuki Zen Mind and ExcitementThe following story is found in “Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind” by Shunryu Suzuki. It reminds me of something Eckhart Tolle said: “Life isn’t as serious as you think it is.”

“There were two good friends, Chokei and Hofuku. They were talking about the Bodhisattva’s way, and Chokei said, “Even if the arhat (an enlightened one) were to have evil desires, still the Tathagata (Buddha) does not have two kinds of words. I say that the Tathagata has words, but no dualistic words.” Hofuku said, “Even though you say so, your comment is not perfect.” Chokei asked, “What is your understanding of the Tathagata’s words?” Hofuku said, “We have had enough discussion, so let’s have a cup of tea!” (more…)

zen circle 6 small Zen: ControlThis post contains a little over two pages from the book “Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind” by Shunryu Suzuki.

At the bottom you will find the YouTube video of Peter Coyote reading this chapter.

“To give your sheep or cow a large, spacious meadow is the way to control him.”

To live in the realm of Buddha nature means to die as a small being, moment after moment. When we lose our balance we die, but at the same time we also develop ourselves, we grow. Whatever we see is changing, losing its balance. The reason everything looks beautiful is because it is out of balance, but its background is always in perfect harmony. (more…)

Buddha simple drawing Posture and Asana in Zen and YogaAt the bottom of this article you will find the Posture chapter of Shunryu Suzuki’s book Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind and also the YouTube with Peter Coyote reading this chapter.

This short chapter is remarkable in several respects. Superficially it seems that he is describing the recommended zazen posture for the body. Looking more deeply at several statements in this talk, however, I realize that he is presenting us with non-linear Zen thoughts. Many statements impact me as wake up calls, directing me to leave my conventional thought patterns. This short talk is very rich and deep in its potential to show me the multiple levels that his communication contains. Here are some of my reflections on his statements from this point of view.


kapleauroshi summer1993 small Zen: Everyday Living and WorkingThis article: “Zen: Everyday Living and Working” is an excerpt from the introduction by Roshi Philip Kapleau to Thich Nhat Hanh’s book “Zen Keys”:

“It is well to note that while Zen Keys often presents weighty aspects of Buddhist philosophy, Nhat Hanh begins his book with the concrete, practical aspects of life in a Zen monastery, where the emphasis is not on the learning of philosophic concepts but on simple labor and a life of awareness. For in Zen, intellectual learning is nothing but the studying of the menu, while actual practice is the eating of the meal.

confusion Thought Going Where It Doesn’t BelongThought going where it doesn’t belong… Thinking about things that thinking was not made for… It was Krishnamurti who first made me aware of the fact that thinking is a tool that has its place but in the course of human development thought became perverted. Who was it that said “language is a virus from outer space”? I don’t agree, and it was probably said to make a point, which is that we have lost our sense of the true value of thoughts/language.

Sun2a 200 x 200 Solstice 2013 and Transcendence

Solstice Two Thousand and Thirteen


Standing among the driftwood

On the southern Oregon Coast

These white-dried bones of once mighty trees

Watching the sun set

It sears my soul with a deep golden-red fire

The dense black of the charred tree stump

Gives me a strange solace

I wonder why?


immortal jellyfish 300x286 Immortality and the Immortal JellyfishThroughout history are stories of mankind’s attempt to find the secret to immortality; this desire has known no geographic, religious or time related boundaries. (more…)