Beyond belief (systems)

So I’m driving along when it hits me: “Belief systems are effects, not causes; everyone has the wrong end of the stick.”

The paradigm of the last decade or more has been to think in terms of belief systems (programming packages from childhood and current environment), then to examinine, expose, and consciously replace outdated thinking with new. But lately I notice a lot of us giving up on overtly changing others’ thinking by reasoning and argument, aware that thanks to media filters for one thing, we are truly living in entirely separate worlds. Words, even words communicated in the same language, often mean completely different things.

Yes, I do worry that resistance fatigue in itself is part of authoritarianism creeping in.

Perhaps one thing left to do, is go even deeper. When I think about my own belief systems, they often are much more about resonance than something I was convinced of. Or, if I was convinced, I was already drawn into listening. I’m drawn to teachings that feel like good music to me, that affect me energetically. I’m drawn to people who remind me of what I want to be, and be doing… people I feel sparked by. It was a tiny photo of people sitting at a small make-shift desk in an airport, embedded in a random article about deportations, that sent me back to school for paralegal training, for instance.

Beliefs are not irrelevant, but there has always been a sense of not quite hitting the right spot when trying to get at things by working with past traumas and limitations in some logical way. This must be true on a larger scale as well? Things like EFT Tapping and Myofascial Release have shown me how much more effective it is, to go deeper than thinking, then deeper than even ‘patterns of thinking’. Then, the screwy thinking comes up and shows itself and you can deal with it, or say goodbye. 🙂 Meditation has always been about this, but personally I was too disconnected from BODY for a long time.

Anyway, just some thoughts this Saturday morning as I get ready to move my body outside into the uncharacteristically GORGEOUS weather.

>much love<

Streams and Channels

Guess who took a “cosmic channeling” course!

I know, weird, right? I, who overloads and blanks out when confronted with public speaking, even went “LIVE” (with my real face, but in a closed group) to talk about intuition. It was playful, lighthearted, and may have liberated me (even if just for that window of time) from self-seriousnessness dragging down efforts of late. I really needed to PLAY.

What I found most fascinating, was that my usual fear was almost neutralized in this context. Why was that? And can I bottle it somehow?

watercolor painting of a flowering plant in a red pot, with orange yellow green teal blue purple moving upward.
Chakradoodledoo

Along the way, I was taken under wing by others in the course who, without hesitation, offered their love and their time freely out of kindness, and because in this context the flow is kept going by sharing. There was an incredibly contagious feeling to it all!

I didn’t change paths in this process; it was more like tapping in a missing puzzle piece, which allowed the more complete picture to be realized.

Yet, I still feel an almost irresistible pull to fit each new component into previously acquired knowledge. I want to justify this kind of exploration without alienating aspects of my ‘quite rational’ self. But the truth is, that’s impossible.

Although the people I met during this process don’t necessarily think in ways I would find concerning, I did follow a few lines of thought that sort of ‘checked’ my assumption there couldn’t be anything but “love and light.” People are embedded within contexts, after all. My main hesitation is that it seems really easy to get sucked into conspiracy theories I felt could manipulate well-meaning, perhaps mentally or emotionally vulnerable people. I traveled down some rabbit holes when searching for new terms, and was newly astounded by how deeply political agendas can infiltrate.

GLITTERING SEA STARS (life of pix)

Still, I do hope many others will come to the kind of place I find myself, no matter how proselytizing that sounds: uniquely personal practices, uniquely tailored expressions, and cultivating the patience to let the energy of those expressions and practices come forward without owning or making them permanent in any way.

In that regard, the course was a gift, loosening aims or expectations of changing minds in favor of communing with hearts, which is something I’d almost forgotten how to do, 2+ years into trying to keep up with our times of political dissent. I’m weary, I guess, resisting, and need to find ways to recharge and restore my joy about this life, myself, and the people around me.

There’s so much going on underneath that can be affected, even when the surface feels intractable.

Image result for singing bowls ceremony
Henrietta Wildsmith/The Times (Shreveport)

The metaphors and language of everything as energy, and expressions of energies arising and passing away all the time that we can channel/give voice to, hold a sensible, lively harmony. We become instruments for and with each other, and what might once have been taken as objects, become more like musical notes with fluid boundaries flowing through (what Buddhists would call) our mindstreams.

Force and Movement

I watched the documentary Mr. Gaga today. At first, I watched with the sound off and subtitles on, while listening to a podcast. This is an objectively terrible habit I’ve gotten into, of taking multitasking to absurd and undermining ends, but I thought the film might be atmospheric and give an experimental air to the room.

Wonderfully, however, it was the sort of documentary which won’t stand for that treatment, which makes one want to engage with what is happening on screen, inside of the other lives, as though one’s own. And I did!

Eventually I stood up and shook my body convulsively, turned my limbs in odd directions this way and that. It felt great, though I stopped short of practicing the fascinating falls (you’ll have to see the documentary)!

dancer with very little hair, very little clothing, reaches back. Her hands are almost to the floor behind her but she sustains a pose that brings all bodily strength and discipline to the fore.
Image from Stanford University promo

I didn’t know much about Gaga as a dance style, or as a language, as the film suggests. Until taken by friends to see the last Pina Bausch choreographed show Vollmond, I’m embarrassed to say that I knew little of the modern dance world beyond outside of parodies, which always gave the impression of a frivolous world of privilege far far away from my own.

Like many little girls, I had desperately wanted to be a ballerina when young, but it was because I was drawn to the beauty of the sets and movements, the hypnotizing and grand lyricism of it all. In fact, when I was about 13, I followed behind a girl at my church, learning to walk and hold my posture just like hers, pretending that I was also a dancer… a form which stuck and I still haven’t quite broken. I even learned to swing my ponytail like hers, while appearing to hold my head perfectly still.

So I remember feeling confused and overwhelmed after the Pina show, as though my mind had been curled and pushed backwards and all my linear lines of thought thwarted so much that they just wouldn’t work anymore.

Walking out, my sophisticated friends long immersed in the Art World asked what I thought, and I remember trying to compose a sentence or two that might give the impression I understood “the story” at all. I couldn’t. Looking for the story was the story, which was a koan to me.

And because it was a koan to me, for months afterward I felt and dreamed the splashing waters and the whooshing in everything, feeling the force Pina was trying to show, of destruction and resilience, embodying rather than ‘thinking’ about it directly.

Image result for vollmond pina
Image from dansedanse.ca

This is my sense of things right now… an urgency that has me trying everything under the sun to get out of my head and onto the page, the stage, the whatever-it-takes. I feel like I’m trying to break into my own life, defying convention and my own accepted wisdom to do so.

Golden Moments

I felt restless. The beautiful day was calling me out into the flow of it all, and I needed to clear my head.

We passed each other in the hallway, hesitating to go by. Then turned, at the exact same time, to more politely say, “Hello.”

For five years in this apartment complex she has been one of the only friendly souls toward me, although a few have smiled at and snuggled my dog, and recently I’ve been making more connections. She however, has always smiled at me, has always asked about my day, my plans and thoughts.

Whatever I’ve said, she’s always cheered me on. “I know you’ll do it.”

I guess she can tell that it hasn’t always been easy, that sometimes I feel dragged down by the responsibilities and puzzles I’m juggling (mixed metaphor intentional), but that I’m still ‘showing up’ for life. Perhaps she relates to me, remembering when she first moved to America from another country many years ago. Newly divorced with two sons, she went back to school and became a translator for the court system at just about the age I am now, a job she genuinely loves.

Today, she was wearing a tigers-eye coordinated suit, fancy but not pretentious. I was attuned to the colors because I was about to drive to a small crystal shop that holds weekly yin yoga classes on a “show up and pay” model. I was definitely not fancy, in fact I’d just changed because my daughter had strongly expressed earlier, that I must have gotten dressed with my eyes closed.

Tiger Eye Stone Slab
Sparklegemstoneslab.com

So here’s the heart of this post…

While we were talking, there in the hall of this far too beige apartment building on this gorgeous Florida day, I felt my heart open in an unusual way, and found myself inquiring more deeply about her life and family. She misses her grandchildren lately; though they live nearby, she hasn’t seen them in a month or more. I asked, although I already suspected, that it was a matter with her daughter in law keeping her at a distance. Then I surprised myself to tell her something that I myself hadn’t integrated and *known in full* until sharing it with her.

(Paraphrasing) I said, “When the kids were little, I was very sensitive to feeling like I wasn’t doing a good job. I was hyper-aware of every movement, wanting to do everything perfectly and cover all the bases. Back then, *everything* reflected back at me, my own inadequacies. It has taken more than 20 years to know that was rarely true.”

She relaxed a lot, and started nodding, saying that she really does think her daughter in law is a great mother, and doing everything well. She respects her, although she sometimes gets the impression that her daughter in law feels intimidated by her resourcefulness… that she’s able to sew and cook and learn just about anything she sets out to. She’s isn’t offering help to be critical, it is just her way of things.

“It is really something going on with herself, something she needs to work out,” I said, “but I can tell you that what I really needed was validation.” It is always hard to describe these things, but I had chills during our conversation. I knew that some shift of perspective was possible for both of them, and that things would get better.

I felt better too. I can’t go back in time and speak up for myself, or accept the guidance some of the elder women in my ex’s family tried to give me when much younger. I can’t be the woman I am now, then. Still, it heals a sore spot deeply embedded in my tissues, to suddenly expand in vision that way, so clearly, ‘on the spot’ for the sake of someone else. Sometimes I feel rootless and aimless, but this was a reminder that indeed, we’re all needed in this life, this world, even when finding it hard to affect the seemingly bigger things.

I love that feeling. And actually the little moments are what spark hope that the bigger things can be affected, too.

finishing Harari’s lessons

The Play-as-Being book group is finishing up its reading of 21 Lessons for the 21st Century today. It’s been an interesting ride, but as I write this, I have the feeling that the book is already outdated. Which is scary, because I don’t think enough people are thinking yet about the range of questions he brings to the fore. The only thing I feel sure of (inasmuch as I feel sure of anything), is that he ends the book in the right place, with what individuals can do.

I’m a big big fan of the ‘free will or no free will’ question and discussions that come up around that question within both science and contemplative circles. Free Will belongs to a self that doesn’t exist in the ways our systems tend to program toward, so Harari’s angle is a technological one, drawing attention to the role algorithms have in our lives already, then imagining the directions they are heading in. Importantly noting that they are not heading in these directions on their own, but at the direction of ever more consolidated powers.

He touches on but doesn’t fully address (how could anyone?!) the role of the unexpected in all this. Would any of us have imagined the scenarios we’re in right now, a decade ago? At any second, massive changes can and will occur.

So what CAN individuals do? Harari says, “Get to know yourself as well as ‘they’ do.”

You can tell by my posts perhaps, that this is what I’m working on: meditating more, leaning on and relearning what ‘intuition’ is in light of changes in complexity as a person, but also as a person within a family and friend network, as a member of larger society in my country, and within the world/cosmos.

I don’t have the capacity to mentally encompass all that! Indeed any of those categories when combined with any of the others can shut down my feeling of ‘free will’ about anything and be quite paralyzing! “No wonder that Hindus and Buddhists have focused much of their effort on trying to get out of or off of this wheel (entirely)” says Harari, of fathoming the myriad posited schemes of meaning.

Image result for I'm trying to be good the good place
From “The Good Place”
A deceptively ridiculous and timely show about deep ethics and existential questions.

My question is then, how to take it all lightly and keep perspective, while not distracting nor entertaining myself away from the questions or buying into one scheme or another. The PaB group I mentioned above is the closest thing to a community that can embrace so many contradictions that I’ve ever come near, yet Life seems to be kicking me out of that nest too.

exposure, grief & integration

It began to dawn on me late last year, that I had changed ‘spiritually’ again – that in the way one’s palate develops with age, I had begun to crave new flavors of life, or more sophisticated blends of the flavors I’d been drawn to before.

Vegetable Paella
(Food Network)

As with food, this often means working with contradictory ingredients to discover the new. An intuitive chef begins to know how ingredients are brought forth or subdued by context, and is able to flow with that knowledge to great effect!

That’s the upside. The downside is that it can be super confusing too, and one can make ruinous mistakes. When holding tightly to what one has already learned about what the ingredients mean and are supposed to do, it is hard to be experimental without feeling wasteful.

—– Once, someone threw a surprise party for me. They brought together people from my family, my hometown, then church and work place, to celebrate my, if I remember right, 24th year of life. It is hard to remember right, because I spent the entire evening in a haze, completely overwhelmed by disharmony reflected back at me, suddenly aware of the many selves I’d constructed and the many walled off lives I’d been leading.

Each person seemed to see a different me, and I wanted not to disappoint any of them! Afterward, I actually felt angry at the person who had gone to all the trouble. COULDN’T THEY SEE it would be a disaster? DIDN’T THEY KNOW me at all? Ever since then, I’ve been working on integration.

The truth is, it probably wasn’t a disaster. That sense of things was probably me amplifying every small confusion, which made it seem so. I just didn’t know how to facilitate the connections, or work with the chemistry of the situation to draw out the complimentary and complex flavors. Not in them, and certainly not in myself.

And, far too aware since childhood of undercurrents, I gave the many questions I sensed others asking, too great a spotlight, feeling responsible to answer each one fully in some way.

No wonder I burnt out.

There is a lot to see here, my experience as microcosm, about the dramatic change and sometimes really ugly process that our fragmented society is going through now. Social media (for one) has thrown everything in a big pile for us to sort out, revealing more than we ever wanted to know.

Now our personas beg to be opened up into more dimensions.

glittering mosaic shards with the appearance of glass
Image from JasonBrickhill.com

The hardest part so far? For me it has been accepting that my idols are imperfect (some are even sex offending monsters(!), and that emperors are not always duped. Some are actually proud of having no clothes, and delighted to have so much power they can make humiliated others join their farce.

Some idolize a more compartmentalized time when much more was hidden and controlled, but we can’t go backwards. There are also LOTS of reasons we should not want to.

In some ways I have to recognize fragments of myself out there, reflections of my own valuing and idolizing without question, and not wanting to know more. And I have to wish for their personas to be shattered to themselves as well, so the patterns don’t perpetuate indefinitely. [“me too”]

Kali


In relation to Shiva, she [Kali] appears to play the opposite role from that of Parvati. Parvati calms Shiva, counterbalancing his antisocial or destructive tendencies; she brings him within the sphere of domesticity and with her soft glances urges him to moderate the destructive aspects of his tandava dance. Kali is Shiva’s “other wife,” as it were, provoking him and encouraging him in his mad, antisocial, disruptive habits. It is never Kali who tames Shiva, but Shiva who must calm Kali.[11]

(Wikipedia), (image: Buddhagarden.com)

I think we have to find some way to recognize the expressions brought forth, without disconnecting from the reality that humanity is hecka-flawed. We have to appreciate what “sparks joy”, and keep a place for it, while exposing the rest. The time between exposure and letting go will be longer than sorting our sock drawers. It is a grief process.

Perhaps there is a next level to things where both the dark and light are held openly with ruthless compassion, rather than pretend forgiveness based on hierarchies (who has the power). If so, I wonder how long it will take us to get there.



Also, why have I been singing “Send in the Clowns”, since yesterday?

What we cherish

No bigger than a jelly bean and shot through with a web of delicate imperfections, it wasn’t something most women would write home about. Still, I found its warm, pink glow irresistible.”

– Christian L Wright, in an article for Conde’ Nast titled, “How to Hunt for Gems”


Christian L Wright wrote the above lines to describe a captivating topaz cabochon gemstone discovered in Ouro Prêto, Brazil, but I found the lines themselves just as precious as gemstones, when I first happened upon them back in 2011.

I was sitting in a lawyer’s waiting room, somewhat disconnected from my body, hoping to be given a five point plan and to receive assurance, even if untrue, that everything would eventually be okay. My mind was aswirl with questions and regrets, yet somehow amidst all that, I felt reading this, seen and known.

Imperfections, yes. Contradictions, yes. A life and meaning others may not understand, yes! Which might be more beautiful for that misunderstanding! More captivating, yes!

Sherry Topaz Cabochon Natural Untreated Gemstone Volodarsk ...
topaz cabochon, untreated

But why am I thinking about this tonight?

I’m thinking about specifically, the feeling of being known and seen… of someone unexpectedly having just the right words or reaction. I’m thinking of life taking one utterly by surprise as though reaching in from another time and place to intervene right into where and who you are.

I used to feel that as a child more often. I would pray to the moon outside of a high slivered window as if needing to connect with that tangible illuminated body, to feel my prayers were landing somewhere. When the prayers seemed answered I wouldn’t necessarily think the answer had come from the moon, just that she had been there to hear me.

I knew that out my line of vision she was also shining down on the gardenia bush below, bathing everything in love.

There’s so much I miss about my childlike faith, and yet I have so much anger toward what has come of the temples and churches that were meant to impart and nurture that kind of openhearted intuition and trust. I was taught such loving stories (often on felt boards), as a child. They were stories of kindness and the *hidden heart*, and I believed them, really wanted to let my “little light” shine. What happened to the protectors of faith, hope, and (“the greatest of these”) love? What is this cruel revelry that has replaced it?

On my better days, I consider that structures oftentimes have to crumble and corrupt leaders be exposed, before the treasures they’re hoarding can be released into the wider world to be discovered by travelers-by who may have opportunity to set them in new contexts. I consider the Dalai Lama especially, and the way Buddhism returned the core of loving faith to me.

There is still a process going on, an integration between the emptiness of that open heart with courageous knife wielding wisdom… my love for science and philosophy, and my rage at injustice clashing at times, with an innocent pursuit of direct play and wonder that I do think holds some cure. But always preserving my autonomy to morph and change, to be full of contradictions and imperfections as I find my ever-more authentic way.

I’m not sure what sinister force first came up with such cruel means of control as to monitor others’ moment by moment beliefs. I’m even more perplexed by how, with so much knowledge abounding and so many avenues uncovered, so many seem to be turning back toward giving away their most intimate power… okay with having less control over their own imaginative faculties and minds.

I understand struggle. I mean, I want someone to fix it all for me too, but not not at the price of the very context in which ‘it all’ lives and breathes.

Something else I remembered tonight, was the beautiful speech of Yeonmi Park, a young girl from North Korea, who described the way she thought the “great leader” could read her mind.

We need to cherish and share the beautiful jewels of our essential freedoms.


Well that was unexpected. I signed on to write about channeling, which I guess will wait for another day. 😉

*Featured image is from Shellyeah on Instagram 🙂

Romancing the Woo

I try to keep in mind the ‘decidedly non-woo’ when I write blog posts about meditation or insight, because there isn’t much out there aimed at secular practitioners of contemplative arts, aside from some (great) Zen practices like koan study and Just Sitting.

That said, I think it shows sometimes, that I’m holding myself back, which isn’t as much fun as I’d like it to be. So here goes:

🙂 I like the woo.

Almost the only thing I don’t like about the woo, is explaining how the woo doesn’t mean buying into every new-agey idea uncritically, to some who have already solidified their opinions.

For some of us, it simply means being open to direct impressions which are often then described in symbols and metaphorical terms. It is a way of communication.

Some ‘believe’ that those metaphors and symbols (fairies, angels, etc.) are indeed real; some don’t, but like the practices and fantasy of it all; and some (me) have learned not to believe or not believe… to dive in and out as drawn, and to appreciate what resonates with others.

I have trouble sometimes setting firm boundaries and not second guessing myself, examining everything from a million angles. Woo is visceral.

Swirl of gold and glittering stars.

Also, I must say, people who move in these waters tend to be open-hearted, lovely people.

I think this is the reason for learning detachment early on in one’s meditation practice. When detached (notice I didn’t say unattached), you aren’t fixed to any one way of being or choosing teams. You may enjoy and be drawn to certain expressions, but it is more important to respond moment by moment. Life becomes less linear – often far less limited.

“When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you.”

— Lao Tzu

One seemingly ‘woo’ thing I’d like to write about soon, is channeling, and the various expressions of channeling that are actually everywhere, but we may not think of them as channeling. I always share the Elizabeth Gilbert TED Talk, which I watch every few months because I just find it so inspiring, but you know, until last month I would not have said that what she was talking about is channeling as most think of.

She describes creative process and communicating with, indeed romancing the muses. She even dips into the ways whole cultures find, to enter into ‘creative’ and ‘awe’ful states, so they can offer what is needed to their people in their times, seeking not too interfere too much in what appears.

From the outside, it all may seem strange, but when letting go into a state of sheer appreciation, there is an inclusive magic, a deep life dance we are reunited with, or shown as part of already.

Also, and stay with me now: MR. ROGERS! I’d never seen it before, but during the film “Won’t You Be My Neighbor”, it comes really clear that using puppets was a way for the adult Fred Rogers to channel the child Fred Rogers. Through especially one puppet, he was able to express the deep vulnerability he felt as a child and never lost touch with, which in turn became a voice for many of us as children. We were able to imagine ourselves into those scenarios and to receive real love.

Fred Rogers left the show at some point, and began to try new things. But he returned when children, imitating fantasy characters like Superman, began to hurt themselves. It disturbed him that the new shows made for children seemed to have no character-building element, and that no one was teaching the kids to discern between what they saw on TV (for example, magic capes) and reality.

And actually the film is informative to this topic in another way, too.

Playing in capes and imagining themselves to be heroes, may expand children’s capacities for imagination, but the child must also learn to put the cape away and come back to this world. Each world sort of preserves and enriches the other.


Find out what makes you kinder, what opens you up and brings out the most loving, generous, and unafraid version of you ― and go after those things as if nothing else matters. Because, actually, nothing does.

-George Saunders

Forget monkeys, what about spider mind?

Although I’ve loved meditation for a while, I had begun to coast with it, keeping it as mostly a tool behind glass in case of anxiety emergencies. It wasn’t that I wasn’t sitting, but rather I’d stopped exploring with wide-eyed curiosity. No more. I’m having a great time again, like greeting a long lost best friend anew. : )

For instance, I was in the middle of a guided practice yesterday when I just started giggling! Ever the attentive student, I was trying to do things ‘right’, not following thoughts or making them into stories, but fancy thoughts, life-changing insights, kept flooding into the scene.

I LIVE for insight, so this was like a marshmallow experiment for grown-ups. I recognized this subtle ‘trap’ however, which left the two intentions in a kind of face off.

image from awesomestories.com

Just then, the image of a spider came to mind. She was contented, resting happily in the middle of the web she’d worked on.

But suddenly lots of insects are flying by and getting stuck to her web! She can’t help herself, so begins to chase down each one, wrapping it up for later. She isn’t ending the rest, she tells herself, just putting it off to take advantage of the opportunities.

“Aha!”, I thought.

This was a really clear snapshot of my mind at work. Meditation teachers often talk about monkey mind, but some of us have spider minds! It isn’t easy to set aside gathering and storing, but it’s crucial to develop trust that everything won’t fall apart the second we take our eyes off the ball.

We let go of the one thing (in my case, that pattern in that moment), to refresh, which ultimately renews everything else. We ourselves are part of the equation, after all.

Comparing ‘Waking Up’ and ‘Insight Timer’

I stepped up meditation practice recently, beginning with using the new app from Sam Harris, Waking Up, but also continuing with Insight Timer. Along with just giving more time.

Things I appreciate about the Waking Up app:

  • It is NOT a social media app.
  • There are no ‘rewards’ like stars or trophies for meditating more or less.
  • It is rather single focused.
  • The lessons and meditations are a closer study of ‘nature of mind’ than almost anything I’ve come across so far. This app works well with science-based consciousness explorations.
  • My decidedly ‘non-woo’ friends might find a more comfortable home in this app, than in communities sprinkled with chakra and spirit guide talk.

Waking Up is NOT FREE, however if you have a genuine desire to use/try it, but financial limitation is the obstacle, you can send an email and will be, at least for now, gifted a grace period.

Things I appreciate about the Insight Timer app:

  • It IS a social media app. I enjoy ‘seeing’ friends’ names and faces pop up once in a while, and trying out the meditations they seem to like. I really love the ‘who is meditating in your area’ feature.
  • It is FREE unless you purchase courses.
  • It contains everything under the sun, from a wide range of teachers and guides. You can set a simple timer to track your own activity (with or without music), or at the other end of the spectrum, you can be led through elaborate visualizations and shamanic journeys.
  • Chanting. Insight Timer offers courses, and my favorite so far is a course on mantras and chanting. I go back to it often and feel instantly de-tensed. Mantras are a really nice way to get into the flow of a new day.
  • Music. Some friends don’t use the guided meditation feature of the app often, but instead they listen to meditative music. Although you can find similar offerings on YouTube, these are contained (not leading into auto-play algorithms), and you can bookmark your favorites easily.
  • This is the big one. Insight Timer is hugely helpful for INSOMNIACS! There are so many guided ‘yoga nidra’ or ‘music for deep sleep’ options! This is actually what prompted me to begin using it a few years ago.
  • I must not be alone, because just this morning the Insight Timer folks shared their billboard in San Francisco, contrasting it with “Calm”, which I’ve never used (below).
Image shared from Insight Timer’s Instagram page.

I am ambivalent about the rewards and trophies Insight Timer offers. In the beginning, this feature did help me to create a good habit, giving the feeling of moving toward a goal.

I’m just not sure it is a great thing to be encouraging in the long term. In the end, meditation isn’t the kind of thing that can be measured by how much you do it, and intention is important.

So much in our culture is already about striving for improvement instead of acceptance. Validation is great, but if it becomes just another hit of adrenaline, I think it is missing the point.