Friday, February 08, 2008

Find a Deeper Love this Valentines Day 

It’s Valentines Day and love is in the air.

Actually, love is always in the air and in every particle of creation, but sometimes it takes a holiday to get us to shift our focus and see it.

Society and greeting card companies have seen to it that you'll be feeling disheartened on Valentines Day if you don't have a partner or significant other with whom to celebrate. Yet, you don't have to be held hostage by commercial interests that may want to limit and define this holiday to a very specific configuration that requires purchases of flowers, chocolates, and jewelry. Just as couples rekindle their love for one another on this day, so we can also rekindle our love for this entire universe, our love for ourselves, our natural state of lovingness. A true celebration of love can be so much more than an obligatory sharing of chocolate hearts, champagne, or candlelight dinners, and this celebration of love doesn't require anything more than the depths and richness of your own sweet heart.

Here are some alternate ways you can celebrate this day of love and deepen your experience of love on Valentines Day and every day:

1. Love your life! Spend time this Valentines Day enjoying the peacefulness and love of your own company. Take a walk in nature, contemplate your life and feel gratitude for the blessings you have and the challenges you've overcome thus far. Love yourself just as you are right now -- flaws and all. Light a candle inside yourself and sit quietly, taking stock of what you love most, and contemplating how to give more goodness to yourself, and others.

2. Love everyone! Go through this Valentines Day focusing on the feeling of love in your heart. Imagine that this was your last day on earth and with this exercise, see each person you meet with fresh eyes. Instead of going though your day with usual formalities, look into the eyes of every person you come in contact with, and bring an appreciation of them and their life story into your heart. Look at the supermarket cashier with the eyes of your heart, and buying milk will become an act of divine love.

3. Love anything! Whatever you naturally love in your life, focus your attention on the love you are feeling for that object, person, or situation. If you have a pet that you love, then hold your pet and allow the feeling of love to expand. One ancient technique is to feel the love you have for anything you love, and then to move your focus from the object of your love and onto the feeling of love itself. This practice helps you to strengthen your connection with the experience of love, so your intermittent drops of love can eventually expand into an ocean of love that stays with you all the time.

4. Love SPIRIT! Whether you consider yourself to be a spiritual or religious person, you can still love God, either as a religious persona, or as the formless absolute force of nature that creates and sustains everything. Feel how your heart connects with the universal heart. Love the divine, and become divine -- this is one of the great secret alchemies of spiritual life. The poet Hafiz said, "Someone inside of us is now kissing the hand of God and wants to share with us that grand news." On this Valentines Day, turn your attention within to taste this part of you that is kissing the essence of love.

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Sunday, February 03, 2008

My Valentines Day Story with Arnold 

In this excerpt from the still-in-progress sequel to my memoir, Never to Return: A Modern Quest for Eternal Truth, you can read about what must have been my most intriguing Valentine's Day to date. This event took place several years after I'd left the monastery and moved to Los Angeles. It was early in the morning on Valentine's Day. I'd recently finished co-producing and editing a feature film with Arnold Schwarzenegger's best friend Franco Columbu, and was at the local gym, running on a treadmill next to my Italian actress friend, Jo.

It was Valentines Day, and as we ran on the treadmills, Jo was telling me about all that she was going to do to celebrate the day with her wealthy, studio executive boyfriend. Now, I'd never had much interest in relationships or Valentine's Day, which had made ten years of monastic life quite natural and agreeable. Nevertheless, this move from from ten years of monastic life right into the middle of Hollywood definitely gave me a chance to see how easy it is for our interests to be swayed by the interests of others.

While running on the treadmill and listening to Jo's romantic plans for the day, I started to feel a little sad about being alone on Valentines Day. Now, this is coming from someone who very much enjoys solitude. A new idea was being born in my mind. I was at a crossroad of what could have become a new pattern of intention and life direction for me -- a wish, a prayer, a decision. One strong thought or intention can sometimes change the whole direction of our life. Just imagine how many people have spent decades in unhappy relationships due to what may have been a strong, perhaps hormone-based reaction to someone's physical appearance or attracting smells (and you know that some perfume companies have no qualms about screwing around with your instincts by adding sex smells from various animals to their nice little bottles of fragrance -- a strange lot we human beings are!) In this case, the power of company was sparking new thoughts about wanting to have a partner for Valentine's Day, bringing me to the precipace of possibly wishing for something for the wrong reasons.

Maybe the universe or God had to go out of its way to come up with something drastic to pull me back from getting off track. At that very moment, I looked forward into the mirrored wall in front of our treadmills, and saw that Arnold had entered the gym. We'd met many times before, and had spent the previous Thanksgiving chatting together at Franco's house. Arnold and I had hit it off, and he always seemed very enthusiastic to see me when we happened to run into one another at a restaurant or gym. This time also, he entered the gym, saw Jo and I running on the treadmills, and headed straight toward us. As I continued to jog, Arnold walked up behind me and checked my gluteus maximus muscles, or in other words, he grabbed my butt, while commenting on how well I was running. Anyway, I didn't really mind -- he was, after all, Mr. Universe (this was more than a decade before he became the Governator).

After Arnold walked away, I remembered how I'd been feeling left out of having any action on Valentines Day, and thought, "Okay God, that worked!"

Years later, when all the accusations about his groping came up during Arnold's gubernatorial campaign, I remembered this and a few other incidents, and -- while I understood how some women might not appreciate the "boys club" mentality of Arnold, Franco, and some of the other body builders -- I had also seen that body builders tend to have a very different concept of the physical body than most of us do. Touching one another is part of their work -- like running your hands on a classic car to check the wax job. But yes, I suppose that you could technically say that I was officially groped on that Valentine's Day.

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The New Spirituality For Dummies Book/CD Set! 

For the past year, I've been writing the new 2nd edition of Spirituality For Dummies and producing the CD of inspiring music from Christian, Hindu, Jewish, and Buddhist traditions that comes in the back of each copy. The book/CD set is now available at online and physical bookstore venues around the world. Amazon is offering an excellent discount price of only $16.95 for this 384-page book and full-length CD that will be a friend on your spiritual journey for life.

Here, I'll share an excerpt from the first chapter of the new Spirituality For Dummies, which explains part of the reason why I felt it was so important to create an updated 2nd edition of this book for today's world circumstances:

Finding Authentic Spirituality

Today’s topsy-turvy world brings a unique array of spiritual challenges. Religions east and west stand accused of indiscretions and violations, while spiritual teachers who should be lifting seekers into higher wisdom aremore often concerned with uplifting their own bottom line. Modern prophets cater to desire-obsessed audiences by teaching a kind of “Santa Claus” theol-ogy that is guaranteed to get you that new car you want, or if nothing else, that will get these prophets the new cars they’ve always wanted.

Newsflashes warn about small and large apocalypses that could happen at any moment in-between investigations about which star has revealed which bad quality to the paparazzi. Countrymen don’t trust their leaders; family structures are crumbling; autism rates are climbing, children are being over-medicated, and people feel cut off from their divine spiritual heritage.

The key to turning things around and bringing greater light and healing into this world is through authentic spiritual knowledge, awareness, and blessings.

What the world needs now is the kind of spiritual love, wisdom, and practices that provide an anchor into the peaceful, sublime happiness of the eternal universal soul. People today need authentic, intelligent explanations of higher-consciousness spiritual principles that honor, support, and guide them right in the midst of their lives. The goal of Spirituality For Dummies is to be a helpful guide for your journey — a friend on your path that opens new doors of awareness, understanding, and experience.

Find more info about the book, read more pages, the table of contents, and the index, and play tracks from the CD that comes in the back of every book at

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