Here's How We Built a Vegan Seder Plate

The vegan seder plate

The vegan seder plate

We're prepping for our Jewish Buddhist non-denominational vegan seder led by Sharon Salzberg tomorrow - and did a trial run of the seder plate tonight, managed by our team member Mani Katari!

We have:

  • celery to symbolize spring. It gets dipped in salt water to symbolize the tears of the enslaved.
  • kale & lettuce  bitter herbs to remind us of the bitterness of slavery and captivity.
  • olives the blood-red color is symbolic of the blood shed as well as the blood smeared over the doors of the people the Angel of Death passed over. Olives can also be used to symbolize the commandments of compassion for the oppressed (instead of shankbone).
  • avocado symbol of new life, renewal and hope (instead of egg).
  • Charoset: NOT ON THIS PLATE but will be provided by our chefs: a mixture of nuts, apples, wine and spices.

And, decorated with mint, parsley and thyme.

I love this team.

Best vegan seder ever - can't wait for tomorrow. And only 2 spots left! thepath.com/sharon to join us.

I've never shared this story before...

I come from the fast-paced NYC start-up world. I thought I could never show weakness. Or fear. No feelings!

But let me share a little "secret".

That's all BS.

We all get scared. We all feel alone sometimes. We all have moments of complete terror when we meet one of our heroes.

But here's the cool part ..

The moment we acknowledge it. The moment we allow ourselves to feel it. That's when everything changes.

It kind of blows my mind that I'm hosting a dinner and retreat with one of my mentors this weekend and that's it almost sold out.

Why?

Because the first time I had a chance to actually meet her, I was petrified.

I remember it like it was yesterday...

My hands were sweating. My heart was pounding. I felt like I was going to throw-up.

But I'm getting ahead of myself... let me give you some context.

I first heard about Sharon Salzberg when I was helping to run a tech company.

I was stressed out of my mind. I didn’t know what to do or how to handle it.

I wanted to meditate but didn’t know where to start. 

Every time I actually tried to do it, I thought I was doing something wrong and would just wind up getting more stressed .. and feel frustrated and stop!

I went to guided meditations all over the city but nothing felt quite right. I couldn't connect or identify with these people. I never felt "apart of." 

I didn't feel surrounded by people like me - a founder, super ambitious, surrounded by other entrepreneurs who wanted to learn meditation mainly to feel sane. To stop, even for a second, the churning of my mind which swirled in circles of stress worse than a cyclone.

The teachers whose classes I attended kept talking about the luminaries of meditation in the U.S. I retained only two names: Jon Kabat Zinn for mindfulness and Sharon Salzberg for loving-kindness. 

At that point in my life, I didn't feel any real "loving kindess" for myself, so I began to use Sharon's name as a "makeshift mantra" of sorts, and I would somehow always feel better once I did. 

Crazy, right?

I imagined what it would be like to someday meet her and how I would feel. It brought be calm and peace. But if I'm being honest...

I didn't really think I would ever meet her. I didn’t know where she lived, but I assumed it was on a mountain, maybe somewhere in Tibet or Nepal or somewhere else where she could meditate all day and think deep thoughts. It felt really, really different from my life.

One day a friend invited me to a meditation Sharon was leading. I couldn’t believe she was in NYC! I couldn’t believe I could ever be in the same room with a teacher as famous as she was.

Heck, this was the woman who literally wrote the book on loving-kindness and is often credited with bringing compassion meditation from the East to the West and helping to make it mainstream!

I remember sitting in the back of the room, awed and humbled to be in the same room as this famous teacher. I remember she taught us six phrases we could use to practice loving-kindness meditation on our own: 

“may you [or I] be happy, may you be peaceful, may you live with ease, 
may you be safe, may you be healthy, may you be strong.”

I loved the first three of these phrases and used them for a half hour sit with Sharon that night. Sitting, still, at the back of the room, afraid to move up or to say hi. 

That evening I went back to work, as was my life as a tech founder, and I’ll never forget what happened. I answered emails from partners and from people on our team. 

And I was funny! I was kind. Something had "shifted". 

After this meditation with Sharon, without even trying, I was myself! I was funny and silly and light — and the next day my colleagues commented on how different my tone was in the emails they got from me that night :-)

Sharon’s phrases became my daily practice. 

It was the one respite in stressful days of press interviews, meetings, calls and panic attacks (that I didn’t tell anyone about). 

Then one day, when I had a panic attack and couldn’t cross the street to my office, I left my job and the company I had co-founded and took a 2.5-year trip around the world to get healthy again. To shake off the stress of running my first start-up...

As you can probably guess that’s when I really *found* meditation. I ended up studying around the world. 

And I had the inspiration, on a 10-day retreat in India, to start The Path — and to bring meditation back to the US and try helping people avoid the panic attacks and burnout I had suffered living a hectic "always on the go" life for so many years.

Eventually, I was ready to go back to NYC. As a new, better version of myself. And to launch The Path community.

On our first month, my co-founder and I made a dream list of people we wanted to partner with. Sharon topped the list. 

We laughed and said to each other — if we can ever do anything with Sharon, we’ll know we will have made it. And we will have accomplished our goal of offering to the next generation of change-makers — the best meditation teachers in the country. 

A few months after we launched a friend invited me (yay!) to a gathering of some of the top thought leaders in meditation in the city. I saw Sharon on the invite list, too. I couldn’t believe it. I opened the door to the event and took a deep breath. 

A group of people were there. Including Sharon. 

My hands were sweating. My heart was pounding. I felt like I was going to throw-up. It all felt like a blur...

But within a few minutes, someone introduced us, telling Sharon that I had just started a community called The Path, and asked me to explain our concept to see what she thought. 

Want to know what's so crazy about all this?

I used to be a live TV reporter. I've met some of the most famous and successful celebrities and business people in the world. I’ve given speeches to thousands of people. And yet...

I’ve never been so scared to speak in my life.

My voice trembled, and I said, “I’ve studied meditation around the world. Including your work. My partner and I believe you can put all of the types of meditation into four categories: mindfulness, mantra, energizing and meditation to help you accomplish a goal, like compassion or loving-kindness. We think all four categories are valid. And we want to teach all of them, to help people find the technique that’s best for them.”

And then I held my breath. 
I was, in a word, terrified. 
No one spoke. 

And finally, that famous, awesome, warmth of a Sharon Salzberg smile emerged. “I like that,” she said. “That makes a lot of sense. I support what you’re doing.”

And I breathed a sigh of relief.

I came back to the gathering the next month. As did she. 

We became close.

Now, two years later, Sharon is a dear friend. We know we're both night owls (shhhh), so we email funny things to each other at all hours. I helped her choose the font for her new book. And I forward her silly emails from my mom extolling the virtues of empathy :).

And yet, just last year I was terrified to ask her something once again...

We were both at the Wisdom 2.0 conference and walking to the bathroom after a session. I held my breath and asked her to lead a retreat for us.

And without hesitating — my hero, mentor and teacher said YES!

In that bathroom we closed the deal for her to lead her first retreat for The Path, last September. 

It was amazing.

This year we wanted to do something cool, and she had the idea to lead a seder. I thought she was kidding but said I would call her bluff and say yes, let's do it! 

She wasn't kidding. So on Friday we're doing it. She'll play rabbi and lead a "Jewish-Buddhist non-denominational vegan seder" (her name, her idea). 

I couldn't be more excited for this event. 

Because I know she will help you in the way she helped me. To breathe, live and love again.

And I also want to help her. I want to help bring her new book to bestseller status. 

So I'm thrilled we'll have a "day of love" retreat with her about the book Saturday. And that we're asking everyone who joins to buy a copy of her book. Or two. 

I WANT to help this woman who's changed my life so much for the better to get to bestseller status on her new book the week it's released. That's why we're asking people to buy books to attend the dinner and the retreat.

Sharon is one of my favorite people in the world.

On Friday I almost can’t believe I have the honor of introducing one of my life mentor’s and inspirations.

As our teacher. For the weekend. I hope you can join us and see how she can change your life for the better, just as she has changed mine.

Want to join us?

Click here to reserve one of the final spots...
and experience the "Sharon magic" yourself.
 

Our Thoughts on Real Love (And Why We Recommend It!) by Sonali Nigam

One of the best perks of being part of The Path is the opportunity to get to know some amazing teachers and sometimes even getting a sneak peek into their upcoming books. Needless to say this week, Sonali Nigam, a member of The Path team was over the moon to get her hands on a manuscript of Sharon Salzberg's soon to be released book: Real Love: The Art of Mindful Connection. Here she shares some of her favorite passages from the book and why she considers it to be one of the most important books of 2017!

I have always thought of Sharon Salzberg as a force of Loving Kindness in our often crazy world. Having taught for over thirty years, written New York Times bestsellers, and co-founded the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, Massachusetts, Sharon has created a movement of Loving Kindness and Self Compassion that only gets bigger and bigger with every passing year. And I for one am glad of it.  

I am sure each of you reads a book like Real Love for your own reasons. Perhaps to be inspired, perhaps to fix a relationship or perhaps to help someone else. 

My personal reason for wanting to read this book is that Sharon as an author always keep it real. Her prior books were not only thoughtful, but also accessible and actionable. Pertinent to real lives... Like mine and yours :)

And Real Love is no different. It speaks to real situations that are common to the human experience. Not only is Sharon asking questions that provoke introspection, but she provides simple tools to attend to the thoughts and feelings that come up as a result. 

Sharon tackles a very relevant theme early on in the book, the curse of advertising, 

"Have you ever wakened in the morning feeling contented and quiet, and then, within fifteen minutes of checking your phone, felt out of sorts and jealous? Longing for something more? 

By asking these questions, Sharon brings awareness to the mindless thoughts and actions we each take without considering their impact. Next she points out, 

"Many of us now spend as much time immersed in images on a screen as participating in the world outside our devices. Whether subtly or blatantly, ads tell us that our bodies need making over, our clothes just won’t do, our living room is a mess, and we’re not invited to the right parties—all as a way to sell us more and more. Along the way, what might be a source of pleasure becomes infused with anxiety."

Sharon's wisdom highlights the consequences of our mindless immersion in a seemingly benign medium. Thankfully, she follows up with a set of practical tools to help the reader undo these toxic patterns and develop better ones. 

An important tool Sharon describes is the Freedom of Imperfection. She begins by sharing her own struggle, 

"When I first started to co-lead meditation retreats, my perfectionism caused me a lot of suffering... I worried that I would lose my train of thought or state something so ineptly that my mind would freeze. The image of me standing there speechless was so vivid that I refused to teach. I was silenced by my own perfectionism. Eventually, I decided I could try to give a talk on lovingkindness and lovingkindness only. I figured that if my mind went totally blank, I could launch into the traditional lovingkindness meditation, and maybe no one would notice my imperfect performance. Then one day I realized that all our talks were basically about lovingkindness. The point wasn’t to give a perfect performance, it was to connect with the people gathered to listen and to extend a sense of inclusivity and care to them. 

My ability to share my insights with more freedom came about when I started to connect to myself and to that space of care from within. I shifted my attention away from self-protection and needing to be perfect and focused instead on giving what I had to offer. It was a big shift in intention, a move away from the lonely self to a space of connection. And when I came to this recognition, I found my voice."

The beauty of having Sharon as a teacher is that she walks the talk. Her honesty and compassion make it easier for her readers to believe that the tools she provides are tested and proven. Then she encourages us to give it a shot? And instead of saying eek that's too hard, you probably come away thinking hmm ...maybe these thoughts are easier to overcome than I thought? 

Bottomline, Real Love is full of ideas, questions, and tools that can transform the way we love and connect with ourselves and others. Which is why we at The Path highly recommend that you pre-order a copy right away. And ping us to let us know what you think about the book too!

Interested in learning more about Real Love and Sharon's teachings? Join The Path for an in person celebration of Real Love with Sharon this weekend at Primary and Neuehouse!

"Our Lives are Interconnected..." An Exclusive Interview with Sharon Salzberg on her new book "Real Love"

From The Path's joyous retreat with Sharon last year!

From The Path's joyous retreat with Sharon last year!

We had an extraordinary chance to connect with Sharon Salzberg today, in advance of our retreat with her this weekend, to chat about her soon-to-be-released new book "Real Love."

And we learned? A lot. That love is about everyone. Everything. We are all connected. Here's more. And for the incredible opportunity to spend time with Sharon in person, join us Friday night for a dinner party with Sharon and Saturday for a "Day of Love" retreat at Neuehouse. Register here to join us.

And, now, enjoy words of wisdom from one of the greatest teachers of our time: 

The Path: Can you talk a bit about the inspiration behind this book? Was there a specific event or experience that led to Real Love being written?

Sharon Salzberg: I found myself, through years, just wanting love to be part of different conversations: love for oneself as distinct from narcissism as we try to find balance in life; love for another that doesn’t feel like being awash in fear; love for all even as we face and challenge actions and views we in no way agree with. couldn’t love play a role in all these explorations? i was convinced it could, and wanted to help contribute to that.

The Path: Many of the people in The Path community are striving to bring change to their workplaces and communities. Can you share how the principles of Real Love could also support them as entrepreneurs and leaders? 

Sharon: What I’m calling real love is a profound sense of connection. it doesn’t mean we like someone and it certainly doesn’t mean we approve of them or will support them, but we know deep down our lives are interconnected, they have something to do with one another. Knowing the truth of interconnectedness actually helps perspective taking, inclusiveness, less fear, less alienation. All of that is good for business decisions and leadership.

The Path: What's next for you on your journey as a teacher and an author? What are your hopes and wishes from putting this book out in the world?

Sharon: I can’t imagine writing another book right away! Having just read the entire book aloud for the audio version just recently, i had the radical thought that i wished it had been three separate books — one on love for oneself, one on love for another (whether parent or child or lover or colleague or pet), and one on love for all, which opens us to a love for life itself. Especially in that third section, I wrote about social movements and efforts to create change in this world base don love. i wished that was its own book….so maybe that’s next. One of my hopes for the book is that people, in addition to buying one for themselves, will buy one for someone they love. Another hope is that people will buy copies to be given away — to public libraries, cancer support groups, schools, prisons etc. That latter wish is kind of complex, but we’re working on figuring it out. 

To buy an advance copy of Sharon's book Real Love, the Art of Mindful Connection, click here.

And to meet Sharon in person this weekend, please click here.

Neuehouse (yay), a great teacher & an online course

Neuehouse meditation

Ooh...

I'm excited.

To invite you to join us here (yes, this cozy spot)!

On Tuesday we're bringing The Path to the spectacularly beautiful Neuehouse — for a meditation guided by an INCREDIBLE teacher.

Amy Gross is the former Editor of Oprah Magazine, and she learned meditation from Jon Kabat-Zinn himself. She was my MBSR (Mindfulness-based stress reduction) teacher, and I was blown away by her during the class. I believe she is one of the best mindfulness teachers in the country.

I hope you can join us as Amy guides us in a relaxing, transformative meditation — in one of my favorite places in the city:

And, many of you have been asking about Finders Course. It's a really intense and SUPER impactful online meditation course. I'm doing it now, and it's rocking my world. 

A new round starts March 25th, and a few members of our community have already enrolled. It is a real time commitment — an hour of meditation a day plus positive psychology exercises each morning and evening to skyrocket your well-being.

I can't say enough good things about Finders Course .. but I know not everyone can do an hour of meditation a day. SO I'll only mention it this one time, and if you want to learn more please respond to this note and we'll speak directly about it. If you feel ready, apply to participate in this new round of Finders Course here.

Cheers to feeling great. To an amazing teacher Tuesday. To YOU taking steps to become the best version of you.

Cheers to taking time for relaxation. Stillness. And insight. 

You are amazing.

Conversation with a Meditation Teacher: Dr. Home Nguyen of MindKind Institute

The Path community was fortunate to experience a beautiful meditation led by Home Nguyen on Tuesday, February 21st. Sonali Nigam, a community member of The Path and graduate of our teacher training program, asked him a few questions about his life and work afterward. 

Dr. Home is the founder of the MindKind Institute and has over 20 years of experience in personal leadership, mind-body practices, career development, executive coaching, and facilitating organizational effectiveness. His mission is to develop mindful, influential, and compassionate leaders, and to help them master their power so they can make a real difference in the world.

The Path: Can you tell us about how you began on your path towards mindfulness?

In my 20s, I was going through a difficult period in my life – traveling, working too hard, experiencing insomnia and a very painful ulcer. I worked as an Artistic Director for a theater company and one evening a young actress came to me. She said, “We need to talk now, “and I tried to brush her off. But she was very insistent. She said to me, “You are very charismatic and you get people to do what you want, but I don’t feel loved when I work with you.” At the time I didn’t understand, but this conversation stayed with me. Soon afterward I checked myself into a Vipassana retreat for 10 days. That was the beginning of my meditation practice as an adult.

The Path: So that was a turning point in your life that led you to meditation…

There is one more event I would like to share. I was thirteen years old, and I was on a boat lost in the middle of the ocean – a refugee from Vietnam. We were lost at sea for 19 days. One day there was a huge wave coming towards me, and I was certain it was going to kill us. I thought that all 91 people on that boat would die.  I saw death up close and had to face it. In that moment I let go, I decided to accept death. In that moment I felt a very deep peace that I had not experienced before. From there the boat drifted into southern Thailand where I lived in a refugee camp for a year. For a thirteen-year-old boy that was a very profound experience. But at that time my brain was not developed enough to understand the significance of that moment.

The Path: What has your personal meditation journey been so far? Any challenges, any unexpected outcomes?

I have been exploring and practicing meditation for over twenty years now. After all these years, I still face difficulties. There are days I am distracted by the phone, Facebook, the news. Often, I still wake up in the morning not wanting to mediate. The difference for me is that when I find myself stressed or avoiding meditation I respond differently that I did before. In the past I used to judge myself, I was harsh. I would tell myself, “What’s the matter with you, what's wrong with you, you are weak, you have failed, you are not doing this right”. But now the judgement is still there but I can recover much faster. I tell myself that this period of struggling will pass. I will forgive myself. I will start again.
 
The practice of mindfulness is about letting go of what was and starting again in the present moment. In taking that approach of starting again, I use a beginner’s mind. I let go of achievement, I let go of measurement. I show up and do my meditation as I am in this moment. Even if it was for one breath, that is good enough to start again.

The Path: What advice would you give to those who are at the beginning of their path towards mindfulness?
 

My advice for a new practitioner is to allow yourself to start over again. The second tip is to find a good teacher. Think about learning to swim, when you are beginner you need a good coach. Once you learn how to swim you can surf, you can dive and do so many other things. But at the beginning, you need a good teacher to help you learn the foundations, and helping you to be safe and sane as you starting the exploration.

The Path: Can you speak about the work that you are currently doing in the field of mindfulness?
 

I recently finished my PhD at Columbia University, and my doctoral research was on mindfulness and how it relates to leadership, in particular how leaders can create environments that help their organizations become mindful. I have been teaching students at the Columbia Business School and Law School on how to develop mindful leadership practices for about 6 years now.  My research and practice is to understand how we can incorporate mindfulness into everyday life and how we can influence others in a positive and healthy ways.
 

On Meditation Teacher Training :: Sonali Nigam

It's hard to believe our second meditation teacher training has come to an end! We're beyond proud of all the students who took this journey. We'll be sharing interviews with some of the recent graduates, to celebrate. 

Read below for a beautiful essay by Sonali Nigam. 

Sonali has an interdisciplinary background in the technology, policy and business of healthcare. She has always been obsessively curious about the intersection of wellness and technology and geeks out on reading research articles on this topic. Sonali lives in New York City with her husband and their cat Naomi. You can find her on instagram @sonalaholic  

One of my earliest memories is of 7-year-old me sitting cross-legged on the cool floor of my aunt's meditation room, chanting mantras with my eyes closed. At the time I didn’t necessarily understand what meditation was supposed to be but it felt like a happy space, so the practice stayed with me. 
 
Fast forward twenty-five years later, I found myself wishing for more of that space and (some sanity) in New York City. The meditation apps and weekend retreats were helpful but I wanted more. I was constantly reading the scientific research about how great meditation was for my brain. But I couldn't quite figure out how to integrate it into my life in a consistent way. 
 
That's where The Path came in. I had heard about a meditation community through word of mouth and signed up to attend an event with a friend. I instantly loved the accessible nature of the Weekly Sit. It was held in a friendly and secular community, with wise teachers and a beautiful setting. To me, it was the perfect way to get away from the stresses of the city and incorporate a few moments of contemplation. 
 
So a few months later when I received an email about their upcoming Teacher Training program I felt goosebumps. The time felt right to take a deeper dive and immerse in a meditation practice. I wasn't 100% certain that I would want to teach afterward, but I knew that the training would support my desire to create a daily practice and also provide me tools for contemplation and self-reflection. 
 
The training was a three-month long commitment: four weekend retreats in addition to weekly Monday night classes. On my way to the first class, I witnessed two women on the subway trying to pull each other's hair out. 

Ah, the joys of living in New York City... I walked into class that night eager to find some quiet and compassion.
 
Happily, I found the teacher training to be that and much more. Each week, we learned core meditation concepts and discussed how they were applicable to modern life. The teachers Dr. Loizzo, Geri Loizzo, and Marlie Mcgovern were knowledgeable and approachable. In particular, Dr. Loizzo would break down the science into more palatable pieces which meant that everyone could follow along easily. The class discussions were friendly yet wide-ranging. We discussed everything from Buddha's life, to how to teach non-meditators, to the neuroplasticity of the brain!
 
Our homework was to meditate each day in order to practice what we learned that week. Of course, it was not always easy to find the time. There were many tempting distractions to deal with every single day, but I stuck with it and slowly began to feel the changes. If I didn't meditate one day, I felt like I was missing something. Over time I became creative with the practice. I tried meditating in the park during lunch my breaks, while sitting on a plane, and walking meditations whenever it was possible.  
 
Every few weeks we would be asked to lead a group of our peers in teaching a meditation and provide each other constructive feedback. Initially a nerve-racking experience, this quickly became one of my favorite aspects of the course. 
 
The training went by so quickly that before I knew it the twelve weeks were over. I look back now and am amazed at how many unanticipated changes took place in that brief period of time. Before the training, I didn't think that I could teach at all, much less teach meditation, but the positive experience of teaching my peers combined with my teachers’ support gave me the confidence to believe that I could. 

The bigger change was even more unexpected. As an introvert, I had always struggled with faking extroversion in order to fit in. The mindfulness training helped me to become aware of this struggle between my authentic self and the image I wanted to project to others. And the loving kindness practice we learned continues to help me be more accepting of myself the way I am.
 
I remember Dr. Loizzo saying during our last class, "The world will be a better place if there were more people meditating and teaching others how to meditate." I couldn't agree more. For me, the teacher training was a critical step on my path towards mindfulness and compassion. As I continue my practice and begin to teach, I firmly believe that the tools I have been given will continue to support me and the communities that I live and work in. 
 

Why I'm smiling...

I'm sitting in my favorite cafe, enjoying a green tea ... with a big smile on my face.

Why?

Because I'm looking at the site we're creating for the next Path Experience .. which we're doing again March 11th.

We'll finish the site soon and make spots available WEDNESDAY AT NOON (set that calendar alert...).

If we missed you the first time around and you're wondering what The Path Experience is .. 

I wanted to create something that provides the benefit of a multi-day retreat .. in just five hours. And do it in beautiful spaces, with great people .. so it's fun, social .. and transformative.

And .. it worked! 

People REALLY connected and said the meditations flew by .. they loved them, felt a profound impact, and actually wanted more! 

By the end people said they felt:

"really open and a bit blissed out"
"Loved it! Felt really great after."
"I felt relaxed and good."
"Elated. Peaceful. Connected."
It's hard for me to describe how I felt ..

Maybe the word is serene. Like I had nothing to prove, no need to be charming or funny. For maybe the first time in my life I felt ok 'being' rather than 'doing.'

It also had a big effect on people's work. You meet great people at the Path Experience (I'm working now with three of the people who joined the last one!). But it also affected people's productivity. One woman wrote me a few days after:

"I've had one of the most productive and crystal clear weeks in ages. I'm overwhelmed by the amount of progress I've been able to make in a week in my work and in my love life, and I think part of that is having a clear mind."

Our next Path Experience will be even better.

We're gathering in a jaw-dropping home off Union Square featured in The New York Times. We hired a chef to prepare dinner. And we'll serve gourmet snacks, organic home brewed coffee and Kombucha made by members of our community.

I'm SO excited for this. We're going to keep it intimate again — just 25 people. Spots will sell quickly, and we're raising the price to cover the chef and dinner, but I also want to make this accessible.

So we're going to offer TEN spots at $250 Wednesday at noon before we raise the price to $300.

It's the benefits of a retreat. In a stunning home. With amazing people. And a dinner party. Can't wait.

anything is possible

It's been years since I was a big football fan...

A little kid in Pittsburgh waving the terrible towel :).

But I couldn't take my eyes off the Super Bowl. 

Tom Brady saw an impossible situation. A game that was clearly over. Defeat.  

And he saw a window. Light. And he believed. 

He made the impossible .. possible.

You have this power too. It's within you. And it's amplified by meditation. 

If you're having an awful day, you CAN change it.

Meditation gives you the power to turn a bad mood into a good one. It's a choice. Just like Tom Brady's choice to go for it.

If you think you can't get that job, that date, that trip, whatever you dream of...

You can.

The power to get it, to GO FOR IT, is in your mind. If you believe it, you can manifest it. Just believe in yourself, know that things can turn around, and realize that many things we think are impossible .. can happen.

Tom Brady engineered the biggest Super Bowl comeback in history. 

What comeback or goal do you want to engineer in your life? If you're open to sharing, please respond to this email and let me know. I'd love to hear it and support you.

I'm inspired to write a book. I've thought about it for years, and now it's time to do it. What's your inspiration?

It could be smiling more or changing jobs. Big or small. You decide. 

The Benefits of a Consistent Meditation Practice :: An Interview with Culadasa (John Yates PhD)

Students of Dr. John Yates (Culadasa) — including, by coincidence, one of my best friends from college — describe him as a sweet, humble teacher. Who looks a bit like yoda :).

For decades Culadasa taught meditation in Arizona, beloved by his students but relatively unknown.

He spent years writing a book, then self-published it. 

And it sold 18,000 copies in a year.

Suddenly people took notice. Simon & Schuster picked up the book. And now it is being translated and distributed around the world. You're invited to his coming-out party :)

Culadasa is not a grandstanding, boastful teacher. He is simply good :: and clear :: and humble. A neuroscientist, he demystifies "awakening" and shows how each of us can get there. If you follow the subreddit Meditation, you've seen The Mind Illuminated mentioned every day. People are calling it an "instant classic". We were able to speak with him for this exclusive interview in advance of his talk to The Path community tomorrow evening. Read on for priceless advice on growing your practice.

The Path: How long do you recommend householders (normal working people) meditate each day?

Culadasa: I recommend a minimum of 45 minutes to an hour each day. More is always better, of course, and experienced meditators will often sit for longer or add a second sit when they can.

However, new meditators may need to work up to this, both in terms of adjustments to their daily schedules, and how long they are comfortable sitting. 

Consistency should take priority over duration, so when it isn't possible to sit for the usual amount of time, it's better to sit a little while anyway, rather than skip it. 

The Path: How can we maximize each minute that we meditate?

Culadasa: To maximize the value of your meditation time, be diligent about actually practicing when you sit, but relax and accept whatever comes without judgment. The only "bad" meditation is one you didn't do, and no matter what happens during a sit, it was a "good" meditation. Don't create expectations of how your meditation should go, just trust in the process and follow the instructions.

The Path: Do you think some people have more impactful experiences with mindfulness meditation, others with mantra meditation, and others with loving-kindness? Or should we all know many types and practice what feels most charming to us on a given day?

Meditation systems like the one I teach and write about in "The Mind Illuminated" include a variety of techniques appropriate at different Stages and for different purposes. The various practices you mention have different purposes and are more suitable to different people at different times. This is where having the guidance of a teacher helps enormously. But knowing many different practices and doing "what feels most charming" on a given day won't get you very far. It takes time and consistency to get the real benefits of any practice. 

The Path: What is the path towards becoming more "awake" // "self realized" // enlightened? What do you recommend for people holding normal jobs and living in a place like NYC?

Culadasa: The path to becoming "awake" // "self realized" // "enlightened" is one of developing powerful mindfulness on the cushion and applying it throughout your daily life, combined with the practice of virtue and compassion, and some degree of intellectual understanding of the delusion you are living in and the wisdom you seek. All of this can readily be accomplished by lay men and women with jobs and families, regardless of where they live. But notice the emphasis I put on doing these things in daily life. Don't compartmentalize, making meditation some separate activity you do for a little while every day. Extend it into every moment of your life. Then Insight will arise, mature, and give rise to that profound inner transformation we call Awakening. It's available to anyone who dedicates them self to it fully enough. You just have to make your job, family, and other worldly activities a part of your practice. And avoid the time-wasting, mindless, and unnecessary activities that consume most of the ordinary lay persons' lives. 

The Mind Illuminated

If you joined us Saturday for the first ever The Path Experience...thank you...

For an AMAZING day of meditation and hanging... I left feeling clear & centered & relaxed to my core. 

And I could NOT stop smiling. The feedback has been extraordinary... we're excited to do this again soon.

But today I'm excited to share something we've been planning for MONTHS. 

If you've had trouble meditating or want to get more from each minute you meditate...

So you can change your thoughts, feelings and habits for the better...

We are SO HONORED to invite you to meet and learn from a master teacher, one who has taught meditation and neuroscience for decades. We're talking way before it went mainstream :)

And who has finally written down his learnings.

The Path is HONORED to host the official Simon & Schuster book party for Culadasa (a.k.a John Yates, PhD)'s The Mind Illuminated.

This gathering will be our January social and first event with our new friends at Primary (a cool co-working space promoting health and wellness, yay!). We'll enjoy:

* an amazing talk, meditation and Q&A with master teacher Culadasa
* healthy dinner courtesy of our friends at sweetgreen
* desert treats (organic cookies!) and other snacks
* yummy drinks

We're keeping the cost SUPER low on this... the entire event will be the price of a regular Tuesday evening meditation, just $24.

Mark your calendar for January 31st, we are so excited!

Click here to join us for The Mind Illuminated

Abundant Thinking for 2017

As we enter a new calendar year, we're excited to try new things. And so, for the first time, we're sharing a note from a member of our community, Katia Verresen (an incredible executive coach), on cultivating abundant thinking.

Read below for a toolkit to powerfully shift your mindset to abundance. Speaking of starting the new year with a strong mindset, don't forget to join us for our weekly Tuesday sit in NYC. Extraordinary teacher Dr. Home Nyugen from the MindKind Institute leads us at...drumroll please...the stunning penthouse of The Standard, East Village. Click here to join us for the perfect start to 2017.

A message from Katia...

"Happy holidays! I wanted to share with you one of my favorite year-end rituals and how I use Abundant Thinking to complete my year. You may have heard of how unconscious bias warps our experience of reality. We weigh heavily negative events and more recent events more heavily, so at year end we don't have a realistic experience. What would it be like to review your year, gain lessons, empty your cup and feel ready to fill it back up with 2017? Here's where your bonus challenge comes in: you can leverage abundant thinking as you complete your year and benefit from the full 52 weeks you just had! So warm up the gratitude, take in the good and have self-compassion.  

Ready to play?

1. Go back to your photo stream and/or calendar starting January 2016. Be ready for “oh wow I forgot about that” or “that was really cool." Reviewing in this way allows you to fully appreciate all that you created and experienced. It empowers you to review with more neutrality.

2. Start to notice and take in the good as you complete these sentences:

Relationships I am grateful for....

Experiences I am grateful for: big and small...

What was meaningful for me this year was....

I am so proud of....

What I found challenging this year...

I overcame these challenges by...

What I learned about myself is (pro-tip: you'll leave the suffering in 2016 and take the power of your new gained wisdom into 2017)

New ideas and skills I developed - at minimum each of you can say “Abundant Thinking"

I'm excited about XYZ in 2017.... 
     And finally...

Based on 2016 what I take with me is...."

Did you answer the questions? How do you feel? Let us know!

 

Judging Others, Judging Ourselves

I've been thinking about resolutions and realizing how easy it is for our minds to judge everything around us. It's natural to judge strangers and friends and family .. what people wear and do and say .. and all this can spin our mind in circles, causing clutter and cacophony.

What if all this judging was a manifestation of judging ourselves?

What if we stopped judging others and ourselves?

What if we started with a minute, then tried an hour and eventually, over time, a day?

How would that change our energy?

This week I'm going to try. If it sounds interesting, I invite you to join me. And let me know how it goes by writing to sit@thepath.com

Letting Go

Be like a tree and let the dead leaves drop 🍃〰 Rumi.

Meditation helps us observe our thoughts and in doing so, notice those that no longer serve us. Today, notice one negative thought and commit to letting it go. Just as trees shed their leaves each fall in preparation to eventually sprout anew, you too can shed old patterns so a better YOU emerges.

Art via @thisisrange

Un Petit Recap : Sleep & Dreams

Our holiday party...and talk about sleep and dreams...was incredible. We learned so much, met such great people and left feeling high on good energy. Thank you to everyone who joined!

For most, it was a night that addressed so many misconceptions about our sleeping selves. What did we learn?

That sleep and dreams can (and should) be valued as much as our waking life. That sleep is not just a service to our waking life but extraordinarily important on its own. And that dreaming is a sign of health. So many of us struggle with sleep and often resort to medicine, but sleeping pills prevent us from having natural sleep and also benefiting from dreams. We left with a new understanding of our sleeping lives, as well as a renewed sense of hope on how to manage sleeping issues.

We also learned beautiful tips about how to bring about lucid dreams! You can place post-its around your house, your office, your car, in places that you frequent throughout the day saying, "Am I sleeping or am I dreaming?" Eventually you'll see likely one of these in your dreams.

What magic!

We gathered for a shared meal. 

We gathered for a shared meal. 

Discovering a Whole New World of Sleep

"We are in dire need of restoring our sense of sleep’s mythic dimensions – of reimagining our personal experience of sleep. I believe this can be best accomplished through poetry, spirituality and, ultimately, personal investigation." Dr. Rubin Naiman

This Thursday, our community will gather for an event with Dr. Rubin Naiman, one of the country's preeminent sleep specialists. Despite being a doctor, Dr. Naiman believes we have to take a much wider approach to understanding our sleeping lives than that which we learn from a strictly scientific perspective. Read on for a short, fascinating Q & A that barely scrapes the surface of what we'll discuss Thursday. 

Tell me a bit about what brought you to your work?

My primary interest since I was a teenager is consciousness. And that is really a question about aliveness, sentience. I wondered, what do these come from? Early on in college, that led me to an interest in dreaming. I worked for ten years with a focus on the relationship with dreaming and health. Specifically, I did a lot of work with cancer patients and the connection between cancer, health, and dreaming. I joined the staff of Canyon Ranch (a world-renowned health resort) in 1990 and opened the sleep center there. I began looking at sleep and dreams from what we today call an integrative perspective, which is we used to call holistic. It’s a comprehensive approach that brings together the worlds of science/medicine and consciousness/spirituality. If you triangulate it, it looks different than what most of us have come to believe and what our culture believes. Merging the scientific with psychological and spiritual approaches has some pretty profound implications. We have some raging issues surrounding sleep, and despite what we’re doing it’s not getting better. We’ve overly domesticated sleep. It’s almost like sleep is this wild consciousness that can’t be contained in the realm of waking. 

Which spiritual modalities are most valuable to our sleep? 

So much has been written about sleep from eastern traditions, specifically Buddhist and Hindu. Some of these writings go back four to five-thousand years. The science emerging in recent decades matches up with what these ancient meditators found; it’s not a surprise. The problem today is we tend to approach things just with science, which gives us a limited, myopic view. Today, there’s so much effort to reduce consciousness to the brain. What we need to understand is that the brain doesn’t sleep, the body doesn’t sleep, we do. As humans. And we’ve lost sight of that. Sleep science has taught us a lot about what sleep looks like in the brain, but very little about the sleepy people. People think sleep lies outside their grasp. This opens the door to people relying on alcohol and medication. When we reduce it to its biological function, people lose faith in their ability to sleep. Our personal experience, our sentience, and what we feel is equally important to the objective experience of the science. We need to find a balance between the experience and science. The reason most people stumble when trying to sleep is that the part of us we call I, the waking self, is totally incapable of sleeping. From the perspective of the waking self, falling asleep is an accident. The part of me that I call “I,” we cannot make an accident happen. It requires a relinquishing of waking self. 

I’ve always wondered about the connection between sleep and death, and have had experiences where I felt like in going to sleep; I was completely resetting my life. What are your thoughts on that? 

Sleep and dreams are lot bigger than waking. Some cultures call it cleaning! Many say the psyche leaves the body when we sleep. Sleep is an out of body experience where cleaning happens. The cleaning crew comes to us. Here there needs to be a separation of body and mind. The body goes down to sleep. We let the body go and in a sense return the body to the earth. Then mind rises. For many, the body and mind get stuck together. They float up a little bit.  People stuck in limbo. From the Greek mythological perspective, the Greek god of sleep was Hypnos, but his brother was Thanatos, the God of death. 

We're so excited to learn more at our event with you. Can you recommend any first steps we can take on our own to better understand our sleep or dreaming?

Yes! The last large piece I wrote is published on the British website Aeon. It's called "Falling For Sleep and is an overview of the relationship of spiritual and mythological perspectives. It’s a great place to start! At the event, we'll talk about liberating sleep and dreams from the constraint of common consciousness and how to make sleep a benevolent force in your life!

To join us for Wild Sleep and Dreams : thepath.com/sleep 

Sleeping & Dreaming

I hope you enjoyed a great, cozy Thanksgiving.

And now, a question for you, especially during this time of change:

Do you have trouble falling asleep? Or do you wake up too early?

Stress about sleep is one of the top reasons people turn to meditation. But what if we have sleep all wrong?

I met Dr. Rubin Naiman years ago at an ashram in the Bahamas. He was the featured speaker, giving lectures to hundreds each evening. He was thoughtful and non-obvious, an academic but also a great speaker. I thought he was amazing but didn't think I'd have a chance to thank him for the knowledge he was sharing.

But one day we caught each other sneaking out of the ashram in search of caffeine and cappuccinos at the Atlantis resort down the beach (shhhh). We recognized each other, yelled "gotcha!" and became instant friends. Through this friendship, and years of attending his talks, I've finally internalized his message. And went from a seven year addiction to Ambien to, for the first time since being a teenager, freeing myself completely from insomnia (with the help of nutrition, too).

Dr. Naiman says our sleeping, dreaming and waking lives are three equally important threads in the braid of our lives. He believes sleep is not in service of our waking life but a valuable entity unto itself. And that dreaming is an indication of sleeping well, and there are steps we can take to dream more and remember our dreams.

For years I've wanted Dr. Naiman, an internationally recognized sleep and dream expert, to speak to us. Finally, on December 8th, he will travel to NY and talk with us about the latest research on sleep and dreams and answer your questions, too. We'll have a meditation. Then we'll enjoy a festive holiday party with awesome people and treats. Our last two socials sold out, and we've gotten a huge response to this one already. So please act quickly if you'd like to join us.

CLICK HERE for Wild Sleep and Dreams

If you want to ask more personal questions about sleep or dreams, or to learn from Dr. Naiman in a more intimate setting, we invite you to join him for a private tea, limited to 12 people, before we open doors to general admission (this ticket includes your entrance to the talk and party).

Wild Sleep and Dreams

If you have questions about sleep.

Or dreams.

We have good news.

For our December social we're bringing one of the top sleep and dream experts to NYC. If you have trouble falling asleep. Staying asleep. If you have questions about sleep aids. About dreams. About lucid dreams. If you've wondered about anything and everything related to sleep and dreams, this is the man to ask.

Dr. Rubin Naiman is the sleep specialist and professor of medicine at the world-renowned University of Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine. He writes books about sleep. And interprets dreams.

On December 8th, Dr. Naiman will speak with us about why we don't get sleep because we don't 'get' sleep. He'll teach us to honor sleep and dreams as much as our waking life. We'll have a meditation. Then Dr. Naiman will answer your questions. 

If you want to ask personal questions about your sleep and dreams in a more intimate setting, we're offering a chance to spend time with Dr. Naiman before the event at a private tea, limited to 12 people.

This is also our holiday party. We'll enjoy dinner (included). Drinks (included). Festive people. And happy vibes. We're offering 10 Early Bird tickets at just $50. And please keep in mind that our Friendsgiving sold out. Most of our socials this year have sold out. This will sell out. So please act quickly if you'd like to join us. And get ready for wild sleep and dreams of your own.

Click here for Wild Sleep and Dreams.

Gathering in Community

If you're feeling emotional.

Angry, sad or confused. Stunned, gleeful, numb or anything else.

That's ok. 

Whatever you feel, it is good to feel.

It's all part of being human. We feel. We process. And then we feel more. Maybe it's more of the same emotion. Or a different one. Maybe an opposite one. And then we feel more.

All week people have asked, "what should I do?" And my answer is different than it's ever been. 

I often suggest sitting with emotions. Feeling into them, because then they pass. But this time, my intuition is different.

I think it's time to come together. To be in community. And especially because you're on your path, it's soothing to spend time with other people on theirs. Never in my life have I felt so drawn to other meditators. Because they have a glow, an inner light, and I want that light to reignite mine.

On Tuesday, we're hosting a special meditation, led by the extraordinarily Donna D'Cruz, on acceptance. We'll gather in community to meditate and feel what we're feeling, with the soothing energy of each other's presence. 

Click here to join us Tuesday 

And then, I can't think of a better time for us to come together for a Friendsgiving. This coming Sunday we'll gather for delicious food (thanks to our friends at Dig Inn, yum), mulled wine & hot cider & special treats. We have only 20 spots left and really hope you can join us for this special, cozy gathering of our community, so full of awesome people like you, ready to meet and hang and meditate and eat together. 

Click here to join us for Friendsgiving 

It's been a wild week. Emotional for people on all sides. Let's come together. And enjoy, simply, being together. 

With love for community,
Dina

Friendsgiving

For weeks people have been asking..

Will you have another Friendsgiving?

Last year we planned a little dinner. And it became much more. People met life-long friends. Love interests. Business partners. The vibe was ridiculously good.

And so...

We're doing it again.

This time we'll be at Gramercy House. For a cozy environment with new and old friends. We'll enjoy mulled wine, delicious dinner, and some of the best people in New York. We're reserving 10 "early bird" spots at a special price of just $75 (which includes dinner + drinks + treats). So please act quickly if you can join us for our coziest night of the year.

Click here for Friendsgiving

And see what unfolds.