Navigating the Long Darkness of Winter in the Pacific Northwest

By Sarah Chauncey | December 21, 2015

Confession: I’m not a huge fan of winter. I live in a temperate rainforest, which is gorgeous and lush and one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen on this planet. It also, by definition, requires abundant rain. Like, six months of rain. Yes, I know rain is healing, nourishing and all of that—and I…

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Thursday Tree Portrait 2015-Dec-03

By Sarah Chauncey | December 3, 2015

In nature, love permeates everything.

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How Gratitude Changes the Brain

By Sarah Chauncey | November 25, 2015

Gratitude—the concept and the word—is an important part of my life. It’s not a moral thing for me. I rarely do things because I’m supposed to. It’s an emotional thing, a practice of meaning rather than morality. It genuinely makes me feel better to focus on what’s good, even—especially—when other things are challenging.

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How Doing Less Leads to More

By Sarah Chauncey | November 18, 2015

What continually astonishes me is how much more I can accomplish when I keep my life simple, my mind free from clutter (admittedly, it stacks up pretty quickly) and take the time to get centred before I do any work…

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Why I Stopped Searching for Enlightenment (and Learned to Love Washing Dishes)

By Sarah Chauncey | November 7, 2015

In the summer of 2013, when I was in the midst of two years of financial hardship, someone asked me: “If you could ask for one wish, and know it would come true, what would it be?”

My immediate answer was “Enlightenment.” The questioner was surprised I didn’t say money, but from the times I’ve felt most connected to the universe, I believed that if I “had” or “achieved” enlightenment, nothing else would matter, because I’d be so perfectly serenely accepting and peaceful and understanding.

And maybe that’s true.

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How I Found Freedom by Facing My Biggest Secret

By Sarah Chauncey | July 9, 2015

Owing back taxes was my deepest, darkest secret for a long time. It held me back from pursuing writing that could be successful, for fear I’d be caught (I didn’t know exactly how much I owed, but I knew it was more than I could pay). I hadn’t intentionally avoided taxes–I did file and pay some years; I’d just kind of flaked out here and there. But still, I felt horrible about it.

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What Does it Mean to ‘Wake Up’ Spiritually?

By Sarah Chauncey | May 11, 2015

To paraphrase Ken Wilber in his interview, spiritual awakening isn’t the same as emotional maturity, and those two are distinct from looking at what lies beneath the conscious, our repressed feelings and shadow selves. Awakening doesn’t heal everything or make us perfect — if we were “perfect” (as many teachers say), we wouldn’t be here any more…

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When Thoughts Become Torture

By Sarah Chauncey | May 10, 2015

If you’ve never had an intrusive thought, it’s hard to imagine. These are thoughts that appear, unbidden and undesired, and that (in my experience) are immune to the techniques I usually use to stop thinking. I guess the best way to describe it is the example of “Don’t think about a pink elephant.”

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The Core Dilemma: Everyone Believes They are Right

By Sarah Chauncey | February 28, 2015

This is a topic I’ve been percolating for a long time, and it comes from a teaching by Tara Brach in which she says, “The world is divided into people who think they’re right.” Nothing illustrates this better than our collective reaction to The Dress. It’s the perfect example that shows people have not only radically different perceptions but different *realities*…

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How to Find Calm Through Fierce Presence

By Sarah Chauncey | February 21, 2015

Different teachers define presence in different ways–Dr. Dan Siegel says it’s “being aware of what you’re doing while you’re doing it.” Eckhart Tolle calls it “rising above thought.”  To me, it means being present in my body for all the sensations in and around whatever experience I’m having.

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Gifts of Giving: Kindness as a Wellness Practice

By Sarah Chauncey | February 11, 2015

I’ve discovered the secret to living in a world filled with kindness, generosity and compassion: It starts with me.

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How to Get from Resistance to Acceptance

By Sarah Chauncey | February 8, 2015

Resistance, the opposite of acceptance, is a blockage of energy. Think about how we experience tension, anger and worry on a physical level: the stomach feels like it’s in knots; our throats clench; there’s a heaviness in the chest. All of those are blocked energy. Often, we don’t even realize we’re resisting. Our minds believe that whatever negativity we’re feeling will make a difference, the same way we think that pressing an elevator button numerous times will make it come faster.

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How to Accept Just This Moment

By Sarah Chauncey | February 7, 2015

If I could have a superpower, I would choose acceptance. Whether you call it surrender, alignment, The Power of Now (Eckhart Tolle), “loving what is” (Byron Katie), Radical Acceptance (Tara Brach), non-resistance or getting in the Vortex (Abraham-Hicks), all the teachings I’ve encountered point to the same bedrock principle: Surrender to what exists in this moment, exactly as it is.

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Why It’s Important to Acknowledge Anger

By Sarah Chauncey | January 30, 2015

When I write out why I’m angry in my journal, one of three things happens: 1) I discover that what I need is compassion for the person, not anger (that happens a lot), 2) I see that the trait that’s angering me in someone else is really glaringly obvious in me, too, and/or 3) The anger passes through my hand into the journal, and I feel cleansed.

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How to Become Present Through Physical Sensations

By Sarah Chauncey | January 22, 2015

My mind, when left to its own devices, tends to cause me more pain than joy. It’s a great tool, effective for analyzing data or strategizing, but it has the capacity to bully me, too. The creativity that’s so useful professionally can also create wild stories and vivid dramas that have no root in reality,…

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Balancing Practical and Energetic Actions

By Sarah Chauncey | January 19, 2015

I’ve written about how giving money away has a different energetic charge than spending it on oneself, and I’ve seen how that plays out time and again.

In general, living with one foot on the planet and one foot in the energetic world, we’re always balancing the impact of our actions as well as whether they ‘make sense’ in the context of our day-to-day lives.

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How to Become Present Right Now. And Now.

By Sarah Chauncey | January 16, 2015

Whether you’re trying to fall asleep or just keeping your mind from looping, this is a practice to help you become present in just a few seconds.

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How to Use Mindfulness to Enhance Your Creativity

By Sarah Chauncey | January 9, 2015

Creative ideas don’t come from sitting in a boardroom, at a desk or staring at a computer. These activities – or non-activities – signal our thinking minds to activate, and the thinking mind can’t innovate or create; it can only analyze, strategize and replicate old ideas. We humans are creatures of habit: If we sit in the same place (literally or figuratively), we’ll come up with the same old ideas.

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