Friday, October 1, 2010


               For some of us discipline is a dirty word. It conjures up images of old school principals with pointers in their hands mindlessly insisting that things be done this way because that’s the way they’ve always been done. We don’t want to be disciplined. Discipline is for dogs that misbehave. 
               We’re free spirits, adventurers who need space to roam and discover. What we need is freedom. And freedom, we think, is the opposite of discipline. 
               But discipline, along with truth, may set you free. 
               The teacher Krishnamurti spoke about discipline often. The root meaning of discipline is ‘to learn’. You need discipline to learn about yourself, and discipline to apply what you’ve learned and change your life. It takes effort, energy, attention, time, practice, patience, and repetition—a great deal of it. 
               It’s hard work. You’ll make mistakes. It’s frustrating. You’ll find it difficult to not go back to your old ways, even when you see how those old ways are killing you.  
               You’ll need discipline to stay the course, pick yourself up, and keep going. 
               Discipline is about learning, and to learn you have to be open, flexible. Discipline is as much about staying free as it is about anything. 
               A famous teacher of Zen Buddhism liked to point out that for a cup to be useful, it has to be empty. If we hope to learn we have to have room like that empty cup. And to have room we have to be free from the past, from what we think we already know and are. 
               And that is very hard to do, because we are so full of ourselves. Discipline asks that you leave your self behind, that you be able to drop your mask, that you be open to the demands of the moment in a new way.  
               Discipline requires that you stay open to hints, intimations, guidance, and help from wherever it may come. It asks that you be attentive and aware. 
               Discipline starts to look like a seasoned samurai, an akido master, or a wise grandmother. 
               You have to have eyes on the back of your head. You have to be fit, mentally and physically, quick, focused, ready for whatever may happen. 
               And yet you travel light, both in spirit and in body. Discipline requires that you put down your baggage.
               In some Buddhist circles they use the word ‘practice’ to refer to the sitting meditations, prayers, readings, teachings, walking mediations and other practices a person like the Dalai Lama might do every day of his life (possibly for many lives) as he works to become a truly free human being. Whether you call it discipline or practice, it’s about the same thing: freedom, your freedom, from unnecessary suffering, from the bondage of your story and your past, from your habits and your history. 
             You can see how this is a never-ending journey. And no one does it alone. You take help from others, especially those who are walking the same path, trying to live full, loving lives of service and depth. You stay open to help from this mysterious universe we live in, from the source that is keeping all things in existence, whether we know its name or not. You don’t do all this just for yourself—since you may not even have a ‘self’, but that’s another story. You do it for everyone, your family, your friends, your son, your world. It’s a good job. And we’re blessed to be given the chance to do it well.

Thursday, September 30, 2010


Today, we offer a brief guided meditation that you can do wherever you are, even while riding the bus or sitting at your desk. 

            Please get comfortable. Relax into your seat. Take a moment to check in with your body and your self. Feel the breath as it enters your body. Feel your chest as it rises and falls. Hear the sounds that are near and the sounds coming from far away. Let yourself slow down and simply be where you are for a moment or two.  Let go of the cares of the day. Let your mind slow down and become quiet. As your thoughts arise let them come and let them go. See if you can stay in the moment, not following your thoughts into the past or into to the future. Stay with your breath, your body, and the moment. Be thankful for all you have right here, right now. Open your heart to all that life has given you, your loves, your losses, your gains, your sorrow, your happiness.
          Give thanks for all of it. Your eyes, your ears, your legs, your heart, and everything else you have been given. Give thanks for all that you’ve been able to give to others as sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, fathers, mothers, lovers, workers, artists, inventors, as women and men walking this earth. And ask that you be held and guided by your ancestors, your elders, your parents and great grandparents, and all those who came before you. Ask that you be open to guidance from wherever it may come, from deep within yourself and from deep within the sacred mystery of existence. Ask that your heart and mind be open and that you be strong, honest, caring, loving with yourself and others. And fearless, open to the truth within yourself and in others and that you be able during your time on this earth to do good work for your highest good and the highest good of all concerned. Take your time. Breathe it in. Namaste.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010


He’s known as Joey Pants in the industry, as Ralphie on the Sopranos, as Joey Pantoliano on his driver's license. He's a husband, a dad, a recovering depress-a-holic, and he's got `em big, real big. Joey Pants has made a powerful movie where he shares the intimate details of his struggles with depression and the unhappiness and havoc it brought him and his family.
The term 'mental illness', no matter how you slice it, carries so much unnecessary baggage that you just wish we could come up with new labels, or somehow de-stigmatize the old ones.
Play with me for a minute. Let’s re-brand mental illness as mental diabetes. Watch what happens.
There are different kinds of diabetes, but in general the problem is regulating blood-sugar levels.
Mental diabetes comes in different forms, but in general has to do with problems regulating thoughts and emotions.
Some cases of diabetes can be controlled with medication. Some cases can be controlled by diet. Some can be controlled by a combination of both.
Same goes for mental diabetes. Some cases need medication. Some cases need therapy or coaching, which is a diet of healthy thoughts and behaviors. Some cases need both.
Which would you rather have, mental illness, or mental diabetes?
The challenge is we feel we are mentally ill, rather than we have a mental illness. It’s one thing to say, “My foot is broken.” It’s something radically different to say, “I am broken.”
The opportunity and the stigma of mental illness both stem in part from our astonishing ability to change and heal. The brain can change in ways the pancreas cannot. If we can't change, is it our fault?
We don’t ask this of someone with physical diabetes. 
That’s why it’s so hard and so brave to come forwards and tell your story and do what you need to do to make your life work. It’s not just about the heavy stuff like depression, anxiety and mental illness. It’s about joy, love, awe and gratitude. It’s about being a love machine and a light to those around you. It’s about telling the truth and setting yourself free, and helping those around you to do the same.
Check out Joey Pants and help yourself to a great day.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010


I saw a guy change his life last night. Last week I saw another guy change his life.
Three weeks ago I saw another guy die because he couldn’t see a way of changing his. He was 39 years old. He died because he stopped talking.
How do you have the necessary conversations, the talks that come from deep in the heart and the soul and free the spirits, both dark and light, that reside there? How do you unburden yourself? It’s hard to do it alone. Grace helps, as do other people who care and can listen. This takes a lot of guts, and many guys can’t do it, at least not alone.
A guy at the gym explained to a buddy of mine that they were looking at the football game at 6:00 a.m. because, “Guys look at sports so they’ll have something to talk about with other guys.”
Maybe guys play certain sports so they can touch each other without fear of having their sexual orientation brought into question. I know my son thrives on touching me. He’s eleven. I wonder how much longer that will last.
My dog Iko is a guy. He touches me all the time. But he’s a dog.
Real guys can have it hard. We have a tendency to isolate. As we get older, if we’re not careful, we end up like lone grapes withering on the vine. If it weren’t for our women, most straight guys would have no emotional contact with another human being. Gay guys can have it even harder. I guess that’s why being alone as you age is worse for a guy’s health than smoking and drinking.
So reach out to other men. Figure out how to do it. Have the balls to meet with other guys. Not just to chitchat, but to share the journey of being a man.
Men die, on average, seven years earlier than women. Maybe it’s because women talk to one another, and guys too often don’t, not about what matters.
The right kind of talk is not cheap. It’s priceless.
And sometimes, not being able to talk can kill you. Just ask the family of a thirty-nine-year-old man who lost a son, a brother, a father, and a provider.

If you are interested in joining a men’s group or starting one of your own, please contact me at And help yourself to a good day.  

Monday, September 27, 2010


Religion drives me crazy. I rarely go to Mass or attend religious services. I usually have my heart broken a bit whenever I do. I’m a sucker for lines like, “Come and sit at my table where saints and sinners are friends. O, come, and eat without money.”
The one that really gets me is, “Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me.”
If only we could live what we preach.
But I haven’t given up. And I don’t think most of us have. We still have faith that one day we’ll be better. I know the people at St. Anthony’s believe that. That’s why they laid on their hands, gave their blessing, and said, “Yes!”
 The average member of St. Anthony’s must be pushing seventy. They’re an interesting bunch, including former nuns, former priests, and former priests married to former nuns.
If it’s sounds racy, it’s not. These are committed, loving, long-lasting, exemplary bondings in the name of holy matrimony. They just happen to be between former priests and former nuns who found love for another human being to be a sacred calling to which they had to respond, and they responded, “Yes”, rather than, “No”. 
 After 15 years Father Leo, now frail and aging, left St. Anthony's Catholic Church, and no priest was coming to take his place.
“Take care of this community,” Father Leo admonished the former priests. He gave them his blessing and left.
So, on a hot September Sunday, the members of St. Anthony’s and guests, like Lisa and I, walked to the front of the church where three men sat. One-by-one we laid our hands on their heads and gave them our blessings, and said, “Yes”, without the official sanction of the Bishop or any authority other than ourselves.
We said, “Yes”, to community, “Yes”, to faith, “Yes”, to possibility. “Yes”, to life.
How about you?
Where have you been withholding your blessing? Where is it time you laid your hands, and, as the poet Rumi suggests, said, “Yes”, quickly, as if you have known it since before the universe began?