How To Be Free: The Three Types of Freedom

We all want a sense of freedom. The ability to do what we want, pursue our dreams and feel present to a life full of adventure and possibility.

But most of us have no idea what being really free actually means.

When I was a teenager being free meant doing what I wanted.

Freedom to stay out late, to date who I wanted to date, to keep my door closed, to drive faster than the speed limit, to skip the homework assignments I thought were stupid or that I just didn’t want to do.

For some people, freedom is just that. Not wearing a mask. Buying a fake vaccine card to get into a restaurant. Cheating on their partners and hitting on servers.

Sometimes their justifications are more complex but the desire to be free is the same. It seems juvenile because it is. It’s a juvenile idea of freedom dressed up in politics and business suits.

Most people who have developed some maturity and empathy see that this form of freedom is limited. The joy of doing what you want doesn’t last long and the pain you cause others isn’t worth it. But not all of us learn this.

When I got out of college and started paying my own way, freedom meant being able to live the kind of life I wanted.

It meant I could pay my bills, I could choose where to go to dinner, or where to go on vacation.

Part of why I started my own business was because I wanted more of this freedom. The freedom to choose when I worked and who I worked with. The freedom to change my location or to do list at will.

I sought the freedom of a particular kind of lifestyle, which while motivating also ended up feeling a bit empty.

But many people stay focused on this kind of freedom as long as their alive.

Part of the reason the great resignation has happened is that the corona virus destroyed the false trappings of this kind of freedom.

Without boozy brunches and business trips many of us started seeing that lifestyle freedom didn’t mean much unless we had constant freedom of movement and an endless supply of distractions.

Working a crappy job to pay for a decent vacation isn’t worth it. Sure losing the vacation made that become clear, but even when we could take the vacations it still isn’t worth it.

I came to realize how empty this kind of freedom was when I achieved more than most people do as a business owner. I consistently earn multiple six figures a year and live on a portion of that with ease. But I still wasn’t really enjoying life that much.

Which is how I stumbled on the third kind of freedom. What I call spiritual or energetic freedom.

It’s the freedom to be or become anyone I want. And I’m not talking about becoming an astronaut.

This isn’t about achieving some title or some state of mind. It’s about the ability to embody any energy the moment calls for. It’s about being able to be my darkness fully. It’s about being able to fully embody my sexuality and desire. It’s about being able to fully embody deep wisdom or deep foolishness.

This is the next level of freedom.

I touched this kind of freedom when I lived at a zen monastery for two years, but without the kind of lifestyle freedom, I craved.

It was only after achieving some of the lifestyle that I wanted that I was able to really see how meaningful energetic freedom really was.

Energetic freedom doesn’t depend on roles or status. It doesn’t depend on age or attractiveness. It’s the most generous kind of freedom, because it’s a freedom that allows you to respond moment to moment in whatever way serves the most.

And yet it’s a kind of freedom very few people talk about because it’s so hard to understand.

So many of the CEOs I’ve coached have achieved full lifestyle freedom but feel trapped in themselves.

So many celebrities live lives of glamour and wealth but seemed hemmed in by their own personalities and habitual ways of being.

At a time when so many of us still can’t go on vacation or return to our normal lives how are we supposed to continue to pursue freedom?

It’s time for us to pursue a freedom of being, a freedom that is accessible to everyone and helps improve the lives of everyone we meet. It’s a freedom that demands humility and practice, but rewards us with a flexibility of thinking and responding, unlike anything we’ve ever known.

If you’re ready for something new consider exploring what it would mean to let go of a fixed idea of who you are and embrace more of yourself not only to experience greater personal freedom and joy, but also so you can give more of what the world currently needs.

Which is people who are brave enough to stand up for something that comes from an authentic care for others and a willingness to not take things personally and instead do what most needs to be done.


What Would I Love, What Would I Limit

Mostly people create from limitation or from dreams. Both are powerful, but both ignore the possibility of the other side.

When we live in dreams we imagine more freedom means better, when we live from limitation we think more clear boundaries means better. But seeking safety in a world that’s never safe or absolute freedom in a world where we’re tied to physical bodies doesn’t honor the wholeness of life. Which is part freedom, part limitation.

Instead, we can create even more when we sit at the feet of each teacher. Figuring out what we dream about and then trying to bound up those dreams into a plan, as well as creating strict limits and then working to fill each little square with as much life as possible. Both can be places of beautiful art and brilliant innovation so long as we remember that it is both the endless possibility of life and the proud presence of our mortality that gives life its sweet seasoning.


10 Mindful Declarations of Independence

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Freedoom,… just scream it loud out

Celebrate Freedom by Freeing your mind
– 10 Mindful Declarations of Independence

This 4th of July I find myself asking this question: How can I honor the freedom I’ve been given?

I’m not going to fight in a war, becoming xenophobic isn’t my style, and just waving a flag doesn’t seem like enough. Freedom means more to me that freedom of speech or religion.

For me freedom means trying to live a life free of all the things that hold me back.
So with that in mind I offer:

10 Mindful Declarations of Independence

1. Declare independence from limiting self-definitions
We are so good at defining ourselves in limiting ways. We are constantly saying what we can’t do, who we aren’t, and what holds us back. But so rarely do we challenge these definitions.

I have had clients tell me they don’t like to exercise and later tell me how much they love to get out and move. When we repeat limiting definitions we only reinforce what holds us back. But when we challenge those definitions in thought and action we often find they were never true to begin with.

2. Declare independence from doing something else while you eat.
We spend approximately 38,003 hours of our lives eating. That’s over 4 years! Unfortunately, we spend most of those hours not paying attention to our food.

When we read, watch, and text at every meal we are loosing all the joy of tasting smelling, chewing, and delighting in everything eating has to offer. When we pay attention to even just a few bites of every meal we grow our capacity for appreciation and add years of pleasure to our lives.

3. Declare independence from stuff you don’t need.
If you have ever taken a long trip, you quickly relize how little you actually need. Yet, we fill our lives with so much stuff.

When we acquire more than we need we lose ourselves. Our priorites get mixed up in the process of buying, caring for, and organizing everything we own. When we let go of the things we don’t need we get more time to do things we love.

4. Declare independence from believing critical thoughts.
We all have critical thoughts. And even though we’d like to get rid of them, doing so is hard and maybe not so beneficial.

When we identify with critical thought we lose faith and become afraid to fail. When we create space from critical thinking and realize those thoughts aren’t who we are. We can learn from their wisdom without being debilitated by their perspective.

5. Declare independence from comparing yourself to fitness models and celebrities.
Aspiration is great, but comparison isn’t. We each have our own paths through this world and each of our stories is as beautiful as it is unique.

When we compare ourselves to celebrities and fitness models we do ourselves the disservice of not honoring our own journey. When we start to look at our own lives and bodies with admiration, we generate amazing energy and find more peace in every day of our lives.

6. Declare independence from your iPod, iPhone, and iPad.
I love technology as much as the next person, but it’s important to be able to put these things aside.

When we spend every moment looking at, listening to, or typing on some device we don’t allow space for reflection or change. When we set these things aside for even a short time, we find we can connect more, reflect more, and be present in a way we’ve forgotten.

7. Declare independence from letting fear stop you.
There is nothing wrong with being afraid. In fact, fear tells us that we are alive and that we care. But we mustn’t let fear rule our lives.

When we let fear control us we shrink the scope of what is possible. When face our fears, we gain the confidence to take risks and the faith to endure whatever comes our way.

8. Declare independence from multitasking
Multitasking should be defined as trying to do many things poorly.

When we try to increase our efficiency by doing two or more things at a time we not only lose our focus, but we also lose ability to perform with excellence. When we unitask we perform better and allow ourselves to become absorbed fully in what we are doing. And full absorption is the foundation of great joy.

9. Declare independence from letting your mind control you
Your mind is not the boss of you. It likes to think it is, but it likes to think all sorts of things.
Although your mind is a powerful ally, its perspective is limited.

When we allow our minds to become dictators of our lives, trouble ensues. But when we balance the power of our minds with the compassion and intuition of our hearts, we learn to live life less like a math problem and more like a creative writing project.

10. Decleare independence from independence itself.
We can’t do any of the things listed above without help from others.

When we think we could or should do everything on our own, we vastly limit our own potential. When we ask for help and acknowledge all we receive, we grow our capacity for gratitude and ability to do amazing things with our lives.

It is my hope that you will join me on this 4th of July in reflecting on our freedom and try to find new ways to expand our horizons. Though I have been given a lot by living in this democracy, that gift pales in comparison to the gift I can give myself and others when I slow down, pay attention, and let go of the things that hold me back.

What do your want to declare your independence from?




Photo Credits


The art of not caring too much.

Seal on a Beach

My United States of Whatever

So it happens to all of us. Work gets crazy busy, we don’t have enough time to exercise, we can’t see our friends, and things just won’t stop.

Stress can make any of us lose it a little bit and the long term health consequences are real. Stress causes all sorts of chronic illness and leads us to engage in unhealthy habits like overeating, drinking, and using drugs.

Hectic times can’t be avoided, but there are some. Here is one practice that is vital if you want to navigate these waters with as little stress as possible.


Hold your preferences and opinions lightly: Ok, so this is one of the toughest practices to develop as a habit, but it’s probably one of the most transformational.

Everyone, and I mean everyone has some perspective on everything that gets done. Even if that perspective is ‘I don’t care.’ Very often people think there way is the best way.

Usually there are several good ways to do something, but we start to identify with our way and then we get upset when things are done differently. Our way becomes us. An attack on our way, becomes an attack on us.

It’s Not All About You

Now the truth. Our way, maybe it’s the best, maybe not, but mostly it’s just one of many opinions in the universe. Also it’s probably not an especially important one.

Now an opinion on whether or not you should give birth to a child, or kill living beings, that is an important preference. Mostly though our preferences are for the way we put silverware in a dishwasher, or the proper way to put on a roll of TP.

I have learned to let go of many these types of preferences. They just don’t really matter that much in the long run and when they are challenged, I go, “You know this isn’t really worth getting upset about.”

It’s a relief to do it, because then I’m not holding up this big sense of self. I don’t have to lug around my silly ego manifested in 1000’s of little tiny preferences and opinions. Life becomes simpler, but I don’t lose my sense of power or self worth.

As Long As It Matter

When something really matters to me I speak up and I speak up loud. When this happens people listen, because I don’t  speak up about just anything. When I speak up I know it’s important because I’ve let go of so many unimportant preferences go. Things that drove me up the wall and things I’ve fought about with ex-partners are no longer a big problem in my life.

So you may be wondering how to practice letting go of preferences. First, just notice when your preferences are coming up and pay attention to if they are really important or not. Next when something rubs you the wrong way learn to breath and let it go. Then repeat until you are getting really reactive then take a break. Finally, learn the difference between boundaries and preferences.


Boundaries keep you safe, but preferences keep you trapped in reactivity. While trying to let go of preferences notice those that make up your sense of integrity and well being. Part of the way you find you boundaries is by letting them get crossed. When I let go of preferences often I find that some preferences think are important, aren’t and some that I saw as silly, are actually important to me.

Experiment and don’t be afraid to talk to someone about getting reactive. It’s not the getting reactive that is the problem, it’s the stewing about it. Letting go of preferences isn’t the same as holding it all in. The key, as always, is paying close attention to the little tricks our mind plays.

Letting go of preferences and opinions is a hard practice, but now that I have done it for years I can stay calm and cool in many situations. People tell me that I’m such a calm person and I’m convinced the reason why is that I have learned to hold myself lightly.


Try letting go of preferences this week. Start with some silly ones and go from there. Put the silverware in the ‘wrong way,’ roll that TP from the underside, and mostly have fun with it. When we see how silly we have been all these years it’s less embarrassing, then hilarious.

Thanks for reading and Be Well


Why is it a good rule to not have rules?

A Blog Without Rules

Rules Don’t Rule the Heart

Sure sure I’ve heard it before RULES! RULES! RULES! THEY TOTALLY RULE! Except  sometimes they sort of don’t. Rules are not a panacea ( panacea – n. A solution or remedy for all difficulties or diseases).

They can be helpful in some situations, but very often they can actually impede the very thing that can create change in your life, AWARENESS!!! (oooo ahhh).

I love rules and who doesn’t, they make life so simple. I just listen to this set of parameters my mind determines and everything will be fine. I mean that’s what makes human beings so great, it’s our ability to blindly follow a set of instructions without question.

Ok ok so you have you have probably picked up on my sarcasm at this point, but maybe not. I don’t really think that following rules are what makes us unique animals.

Bee’s and Ants are great because they follow set rules well and in some ways humans ability to follow rules has helped us, but what really make us unique is our ability to adapt and reflect.

Humans are unique in our ability to problem solve, but even more so we are unique in our ability to be aware of our awareness. We can reflect on whether or not we are being present in a situation and what our motivations are.

The key to adapting successfully is awareness, but all to often we rely on rules instead of awareness to guide us.  So let take the same situation and see what happens when we use rules instead of awareness to guide us.

Sally has lost alot of weight in the past, but has put some of it back on. She works out regularly, but feels like she has lost her way out of fitness. She notices she has some cheese in her fridge. She knows that if she has cheese, she will eat it, so she throws it out. She decides no more cheese, but then another voice arises in her, perhaps one of not wasting food or maybe a voice that is comforted by cheese when she feels anxiety.

She reconsiders takes the cheese out of the garbage, but then the rule voice reemerges, “NO CHEESE!” it says. So back in the trash with cheese. She feels better, but is not quite sure what happened. She wishes she could be stronger, that she was just a normal person.

In this example, we can see all the forces at play for Sally, but she doesn’t necessarily notice them. She is aware of only one kind of hunger: “Mind Hunger.”

Mind hunger is hunger based on rules and regulations set up by our mind. All the facts and figures that you have in your head about how you eat, all the ideas you have about nutrition, and all the articles you have ever read about food are what make up mind hunger.

The problem with mind hunger and the rules that it makes up, is that they can either be followed or broken. It’s a very black and white world, but this world only works we are feeling good and strong.

In the example above, there are all these other hungers and voices that Sally may not see. There is heart hunger, her need to be comforted. There is mouth hunger, her love of the taste of  things like cheese. There is also likely some inner critic, Sally’s internal voice that tells her she will fail. There is an inner coach that is telling her how to get in shape. All of these factors are hidden behind a wall of rules and morality.

Now let’s imagine what might happen if Sally was aware of all of her hungers and the voices that created this internal struggle over weight and cheese.

The situation is the same Sally has lost a lot of weight, but put some back on. She works out, but feels like she has let herself down in the fitness department. She notices a block of cheese in her fridge, she knows if she has cheese she will likely eat it, but she wants to get into shape. The urge to throw it out arises.

This time Sally notices the urge to throw it out and gets curious. Why does she want the throw out a perfectly good block of cheese? She notices that some voices are arising in her.

One voice (the inner critic) is telling her she doesn’t have the will power to have cheese and not eat it. Another voice (the inner coach) tells her she better get with the program, which means throwing out the cheese, getting on a stricter work out schedule, etc. etc.

She notices these voices and first acknowledges that some of the things they are saying really hurt. She is feeling sad and scared that she won’t get her weight down to what she wants. Next she wonders if the voices are telling her the truth.

Does she have no will power? No that’s not true, she works out, she writes a blog, she has run long races before; so she must have will power.

She may be more likely to eat cheese if she has it in her house, but overall she doesn’t have a problem with will power. She can observe that she has a need for competency when it come to healthy eating habits, but she doesn’t judge herself for not always making the best choices.

Sally wonders, Is the inner coach voice helpful? Well it does seem to be motivating her to make healthier choices, but it’s technique is ignoring all of the complex needs that are coming up for her. It only see’s a world where there are rules and she better follow them or else. She sees this voice can be helpful, but if she listens to it, without considering her needs, she will likely burn out and not be able to sustain a life-long transformation.

Next she notices that when she is feeling stressed out or anxious about herself and her body she starts to feel empty inside. When she eats the cheese she is comforted by the flavor and how good it tastes. It feeds her heart hunger.

She realizes that though she may throw the cheese out, she won’t feel any better if she doesn’t also find a way to feed that empty part of herself that is comforted by eating yummy cheese.

She also notices she eats cheese as a reward. She needs to do something to celebrate her successes. Again she notes that she can throw the cheese out, but that she needs to find some other way to reward herself for a job good done. She brainstorms other healthier ways to reward herself.

Finally she notices that she loves the crap out of cheese. She can throw the cheese out, but she can’t throw her love of cheese out. Cheese satisfies her mouth hunger so much.

She realizes that she doesn’t want to stop eating cheese, but maybe she can just eat it less often. When she does buy it, maybe she just buys a bit less.

After all this reflection, Sally feels better, she may not understand everything that’s going on with her, but she has a much better idea. Sally acknowledges that these parts of her need to be honored, but that she does want to make healthier choices.

She decides to throw the cheese out to support her desire to be fit, but does so with the awareness that it’s just cheese she is throwing out, not all the things the get fed by eating cheese.

We can see in the second example how much more Sally was able to observe, by looking into all the motivations that lead to her inner conflict over the cheese. In the first example she wants cheese, but she is weak, so she must throw it out.

In the second example she sees she is strong, but that she needs to find some more awareness to meet the needs she has arising. She wants to be in shape, but she wants to honor all the parts of her that need to be fed.

The key to transformation is awareness.  Until we see a bit of the internal show of our mind we are doomed to repeat our karmic patterns again and again. The world of fitness talks A LOT about will power, will power, will power, but that only takes you so far. The truth is will power is just one part of your mind and you have to honor all the parts of your being if you want to become a new person.

It’s like the difference between repainting a house versus rebuilding it’s foundations. Will power can change how you look on the outside, but awareness changes how you think and feel on the inside in a deep and fundamental way.

Take some time this week to notice a unhealthy pattern you want to change. Reflect on the voices, feelings, needs, and motivations that arise in you. Write down what you notice and try to find a way to honor all the parts of yourself while making healthy choices.

You don’t have to notice as much as Sally in our example. Even just a little small bit of awareness can make a big difference in your ability to transform your life.

Thanks for Reading and Be Well


What’s so great about impermanence anyway?


If you have practiced Buddhism or a few other eastern traditions at all you’ve heard about it, read about it, been admonished about it, and more. Even if you haven’t you have experienced it. The ever changing now, the subtle shift of the winds, the endless march of time, whatever your preferred referent it’s quite clear, all things are in a state of flux.

Often impermanence gets a bad wrap as the thing that takes whatever we love away from us, but from the right perspective impermanence is also what gives life’s it’s special significance.

The moments we cherish very often signify change.  A great example of this is the sunset. People all over the world admire and relish the colors, the shifting light, the change in noises, that the sunset brings. The sunset embodies a moment of change.

The sun moves all day long and maybe we notice the changing angles of light, the shift in temperature, but maybe we don’t. In the Northwest United States, for example, the shift of the sun often occurs behind a curtain of impenetrable grey.

The sun set (or sun rise) is a time when the movement demands our attention, often with a dramatic effect. It signals that this day is ending, that even the huge forces that seem so stable to us are shifting in front of our very eyes.

If you’ve ever sat and watched a sunset you know this to be true. The sun a massive ball of plasma, falls beneath the horizon faster than you realized it could. It’s our attentiveness to this change that helps us see the beauty.

There are many other examples of beauty found this way in change, migrating birds, the opening of flowers, the first snow, the first spring shower, the first warm day of summer, and many more. These moments bring us into the present moment and show us that this flow of life is filled with an amazing vitality.

When I stand in the middle of one of these moments, I can feel my life sliding underneath me. Like that moment when the waves cross over one another at the beach. They seem like they are both coming out and going in all at once. This feeling is raw and scary, but it something I live to feel. It’s this feeling that makes me realize how precious each grain of my life truly is.

Take some time this week and reflect on something that you enjoy watching change. Think about how changes in the day, the seasons, even the people around you create beauty in your life.

Change is what enables us to become new people to learn new things. It keeps everyday fresh and unexpected. It only becomes a problem when we fear it.

Thanks for reading and Be Well,


The Illusion of Choice – Be Happy

I had a conversation with a good friend recently about the nature of choice. I realized that many of us have this idea that choice is a good thing, that helps us find happiness and peace.

After all, if I can choose what I want, then I will choose that which will make me happy. We fear being limited in our choices or from having our choices taken away from us. We are jealous of people who have more talents, more money, more friends, and more opportunities, because we think they have more choices than we do.

We believe if we were like them we would be happy, because then we could choose the things that would make us happy. But is this really true? If we had the ability to choose whatever life we wanted, would we choose one that actually made us happy?

Or maybe even more importantly, why do we think the choice to be happy is the same as the choice to choose whatever lifestyle we want?

Lack of choice is a human rights issue for many people, especially people who suffer under poverty or oppression. I’m not suggesting that promoting oppression would help people be happy, but I think it’s important we dispel the illusion that, more choices make us more happy.

I have had a lot of jobs in my life, probably just shy of 100 or so. I was able to have all those jobs, because I pick up skills quickly, I was raised in a stable healthy family, and I received a good education. I had lots of resources and I could have chosen almost any kind of path I wanted, but for years I made a choice to avoid life in subtle ways and to choose dissatisfaction.

So many people do this in all walks of life. Instead of choosing to be happy with whatever they have they choose to be unhappy with it. We live in a country with untold comfort and luxury.

Most of us don’t have to fear violence, starvation, rampant illness, or societal instability. Yet we choose to be dissatisfied with our lives. We are told that we should be smarter, wealthier, have more friends, drink more kinds of coffee, buy more organic food, be more beautiful, be more fit, and more, more, more.

Yet this more rarely makes us happy. We are hiding the fundamental choice. The choice to be happy.

This is the simplest and hardest choice in a way. It is really a choice of faith. It’s a choice of choosing our own flawed, complicated, imperfect, silly, awkward lives. It’s the choice to smile, simply because smiling both manifests happiness and is the manifestation of happiness.

It’s a choice to appreciate what we have even if others have ‘more.’ It’s a choice to let others have ‘more’ and be happy for them. It’s a choice to love ourselves and our lives just as they are. Sounds simple right? Yet it is a very hard thing to do, because there are so many forces inside and out that point out what’s wrong.

Our civilization is built on the ability to solve problems, but that means sometimes we try to find problems when their aren’t any. We have the brains of people who have tamed nature and crossed the globe, but most of our problems now aren’t at that scale.

At least the problems we focus all of this BIG MIND energy on aren’t aren’t to that scale. Instead of using this sledgehammer to pound at our little anxieties, what if instead we chose to work on a more fundamental problem: the problem of being able to choose to be happy.

Take time this week to look at places in your life where you are choosing dissatisfaction. What if you chose to be satisfied instead? Try smiling during the day even if you don’t feel like it. When you are walking around ask, “What look do I have on my face?” It can feel fake and forced at first, but remember smiling does create happiness. They’ve done studies. It’s like totally science and stuff. Try it out for yourself and see what the effects are.

If choice is something you value, try everyday to make the choice that is always available  Make the choice to be happy, at first is small ways and eventually in bigger ways. You will be surprised how this simple intention manifests itself in everything you do.

Thanks for reading and Be Well.