Overcoming Apathy

This is my question: I am a 24-year-old woman born and raised in Sweden, never felt I belong there so I left for New York when I was 19 to study photography. Since then I have traveled and lived in places like Ethiopia, Peru, Sri Lanka, Brazil and Ghana. With the motivation to pursue various photography projects but also trying to find a place where I felt like I belonged.

The last four years of my life I have felt this reoccurring state of apathy. I don’t feel happy nor severely sad, I don’t really get that attached to people nor places. I also feel this impacting my photography even though I am able to produce an image with certain sensitivity; I can feel it going through me but it doesn’t stay with me. This is really stopping me in going further with my career because I don’t know what direction to take because I don’t go to deeply into subjects even though I yearn for it.

Sometimes I feel like a dead person, it’s almost like a part of me doesn’t want to be here. I have few friends that I love a lot, but I kind of avoid people in general. It might seem arrogant, but I don’t feel like I get that much out people, and I have a tendency to brush people off as boring and plain. I know it sounds horrible, but that is just the way I feel. I have never been in love and I am wondering if I might be too arrogant for it. I will say, though, when I am interested in someone or something I become borderline obsessive. Everything becomes about that one thing or that one person, but that is a state I haven’t been in for a while because I realized it’s not that healthy, but I do miss the high of it.

I also feel it affecting my body, even though I exercise a lot, my energy is very low, I have trouble sleeping and when I wake up I don’t feel rested. At the moment I am very frustrated because I don’t know what direction to take. The best way I can explain it is like you want to run in the race like everyone else but everything is dark and I can’t see the road in front of me, and I am just sitting there waiting and waiting for light so I can see the road.

What scares me the most is myself and my reactions. I have a habit to isolate myself and to go so deeply into myself that I can’t find my way out again. I have to push myself to leave the house sometimes.

I want to feel connected, alive and joyful. And I guess my question is — do you have some advice how to achieve that?


You are still quite young and are likely to grow out of this sense of isolation, but you should also be able to help yourself overcome this isolation by cultivating self-intimacy. The sense of numbness and distance you feel around others, and your feeling of a lack of belonging to a place or with others, suggests that there is a barrier within you that is also keeping you from connecting with yourself.

If you can learn to remove that wall and accept, acknowledge and love yourself completely, you will find that sense of home and belonging that has thus far eluded you. This self-intimacy will also create the basis for a meaningful and rewarding emotional connection with a partner. And because it will engage you with your core energy, it will also bring back your vitality, passion and joy.

Reestablishing this connection inside you is not difficult, but because you have developed a habit of avoiding yourself, it will require some discipline and commitment to overcome the old patterns and establish new patterns. Begin by writing in a journal at the end of every day all your feelings, judgments and sensations. Pour it all out on the page without worrying about organization or whether it is worth writing down or not. Do this for nine days with the intention of being as complete as you can be each day. At the end of this period you will have noted certain themes that have developed. For example, maybe one theme is that you have written down a lot is that you feel bored by people.

Now during the day, when you notice one of these themes, like boredom, be aware of what you are feeling. Enter into the experience without judgment and allow yourself to feel how your body responds to it. Notice your breathing, your body language, your tone of voice, muscle tension, where you mind moves to distract you-notice everything you can with loving indifference. You are neither approving nor disapproving of your behavior, neither trying to change it nor keep it the same.

Maintain this gentle self-awareness on those behaviors that are walling you off from yourself for two weeks. Without trying to change your habits, you will find that just by being fully present and aware, the grip of the old habits will fade and new fresh and spontaneous responses will take their place. Listen and notice the new growth of what is starting to emerge in you.

You will start to release a lot of physical and emotional tension at this point, so you will need channels to release it through. In addition to the exercise that you do, you may want to do yoga asanas, swimming, massage, dancing, and singing. Let your heart guide you to any music, movies or natural surroundings that can also support your release process. When you feel you are ready, and if you feel you have a friend that can understand what you are doing, tell them that you are working on getting past your control defenses so that you can open up and feel life more completely. Ask for their support and understanding during this transition.

When you wake up parts of you that have been anesthetized for years, the first things that you feel again are not usually pleasant and happy, but these difficult sensations are what you need to go through to reclaim your full feeling and functioning. So if you go through periods of dark despair and self-loathing, know that it is the toxicity of the repression that is being cleared out and that after that is released, the genuine expression of your self will shine through.

Even though I have laid this out as a linear program lasting a few weeks, you will likely find that it takes longer. You will also probably need to adjust it somewhat and mix-and-match the suggestions to what works best for you. Remember that the rewards of freedom and joy are worth the effort.



Stay Calm in the Chaos

"I like what you’re saying but I have a question, what does awareness even mean?"

This is the question I got from a sweet young college girl this weekend during the Yoga Month Festival where we had our own 1800 square foot tent. After a few moments, I responded with "Awareness means being willing to look at yourself, at your life, and at the world. But instead of seeing only what you want, you see what is, and instead of reacting like you have, you respond in a new way that supports and lifts up
everyone and everything."

As though she had been in this conversation a thousand times before, she immediately responded with: "But it doesn’t feel good when I look at those things. Everything I see scares me. How do I become aware when I feel so scared?"

Look deeper.

Our (external) world is in a scary place right now. The political battlefield is raging out of control, the economy has filed for workers compensation, and people’s stress levels are rising by the minute.

Take a deep breath with me: Inhale. Exhale. Repeat.

With the world in chaos, NOW is the time to dive deeper into your self. Regardless of what’s happening outside of you, there is a place inside of you that is calm, cool, and connected, aka selfcentered. It’s always there. It’s always okay. It’s always safe.

Going inside during these troubled times helps. Why? Because it puts things in perspective. Though the outside world is spinning out of control, the world inside is peaceful. While our actions from the past might have been the catalyst for our troubled times today, you see that new creative choices are immediately available as you quiet the mind chatter and open up to what’s possible.

Marianne Williamson once said: "You can’t solve the problems of the world from the same state of consciousness that created them." I wholeheartedly agree, and with that in mind, this is my challenge to you:

Meditate every single day without fail.

Do it for you, do it for your friends, do it for the world. If you don’t meditate every day, contact us and we’ll get you on-track. If you have a practice, stay strong with it. If you see people struggling, send them our way. If there is one thing the world needs right now, it’s to stay calm and centered within
the midst of chaos.

Much love,

Max Simon


The meaning of life in 700 words

What if you could go back to the time before you incarnated this life time and know what you were thinking and what you were aware of ?


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The Quest to Stay Present


My intent is to stay present and to not "merge." I had an epiphany last night about just that. After years of working with Brooks, my teacher, after graduating from his program, after countless private sessions, after all the years I spent on sitting in zazen before I met Brooks, I finally got the most basic, most fundamental, most obvious, really, lesson that Brooks teaches. Talk about slow learners!

I’ve been paying a lot of attention to being myself, staying as present as I could, as unique as I could. And yet I would merge left and right, hardly a week would go by without the warning call from Brooks: You are merging again! With my husband, with my clients, with the society, what have you…

My reaction to those warnings was to stop, turn around and retreat. I didn’t want to merge, I didn’t want to get lost in someone else, I didn’t want to lose myself, start running on autopilot, get controlled by any rules other than mine. I would retreat into myself, hide inside where I was strong and stable, stay where I felt grounded and present.

Last night I realized: This is just another side of merging! Whether I get engaged and lose my presence, or whether I withdraw from fear of losing my presence — those are two sides of exactly the same thing. Both are merging, both are me not being fully myself in a situation, in a relationship.

I realized that being who I am only, fully and completely, means being absolutely present in every situation, with every person, in every place. No matter what happens, no matter what trauma is coming up, no matter how scared I may be or how distasteful or boring the situation, no matter how stupid or nasty or angry the person I talk to may seem.

This is what not merging means — being present at all times. Not just when it’s easy.

Brooks teaches a way of dealing with trauma, with pain, when it comes up. He says: Stay present as who you are and allow the trauma to open, fully and completely. Stay present. Don’t merge. Don’t identify with the pain. Let it open, let it pass.

It isn’t just about dealing with what is happening "inside," I realized today. It also applies to what is happening "outside." No matter from what direction the pain comes, no matter what exactly is scary or angry, the routine is still the same: Stay present, don’t merge, allow it to open fully and completely.

Stay present.

Somebody, Anybody…Can you help me?

I am so confused can somebody, anybody help me? I am confused about the Americans who can’t bring themselves to vote for a black man. Firstly, I don’t understand why the color of ones skin should matter and Secondly; why is Obama black? Did he not come out of a white woman’s vagina? Was he not raised by his white mother and then his white Grandma and Grandpa in Hawaii? Was he not confused by being called a black child in school because he wasn’t raised in a black community with others who looked like him. So my question is why is he black?

Now, I am confused about who am I? Am I "White Trash" because I grew up in a small town and my parents did not go to college. Am I an "Uppity" because I grew up in a ski town and spent my days on the ski hill? Am I a "Hippy" because I wear birks and like to not only hug trees but plant them. Am I a "Red Neck" because I love to ride my dirt bike and shut guns? Or am I an "Environmentalist" because I preach "stay on the trails, pick up your junk, don’t throw your lunch to the animal bunch."?

If Obama is Black then What am I?

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