Thursday, January 30, 2014

February 2014 Local Talk and Meditation

This February I'll be hosting a free talk called, "Opening Your Heart to Difficult Moments." So often, I get questions about how to deal with difficulties from death to trauma to troublesome co-workers to bad relationship break-ups. All of these moments and more require us to be open-hearted to fully be with the moment and to naturally release it. Otherwise, we tend to hold onto these things and torture ourselves with "what-if" statements and mental regurgitation that serves no purpose but to continue our suffering.

Obviously, being open-hearted in a difficult moment doesn't always mean that we enjoy it, so in this talk, I'll offer some ideas about becoming heart strong and how we can step into and out of difficulty with loving integrity.

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Local Newsletter Sign Up Link

Opening Your Heart to Difficult Moments
Opening our hearts when we feel loved and supported can be a natural thing (although it is often a big issue for many people). However, to be open-hearted when we are feeling attacked or otherwise maligned is challenging. In this talk, I'll offer some ideas about:

  • How the nature of being open-hearted can change in emotional and mental tenor beyond the typical way we feel open and loving
  • How we learn to notice our initial reactions in stressful situations
  • How we can learn to hear wisdom and inspiration in the things we don't like
  • How we let go of another person's issues when they may be trying to off-load their concerns onto us
  • How we practice staying open-hearted in easier situations to build up our "heart strength"


Sunday, February 16, 2014


10 am to 12 pm PST


Pleasant Hill, CA (Full details are available after registering)


10 to 10:15      -- Meet and Greet
10:15 to 10:30 -- Introduction
10:30 to 11:00 -- Guided Meditation
11 to 11:10     -- Short Break
11:10 to 12     -- Talk and Q&A

Number of Attendees

5 to 6

I won't go above 10 people because I want to create a safe intimate environment for people to connect.

What to Bring

I have lots of chairs and a big couch. I will be offering some tea. In general, these are some good items to have with you:

  • Pen and notebook to talk notes
  • Comfortable clothing
  • A cushion if you have a specific type of cushion you like to sit on when meditating
  • Food to share if you so choose



But donations of $5, $10, $20, or another amount are deeply appreciated.

Register Below

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The old building picture accompanying this post is a gift from Becky Stiller. You can see more of her lovely work on her Flickr account.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Spirituality Webinar: Developing Your Emotional Strength

We live in a very emotionally immature culture. Many people have their hearts completely closed up and wrapped in barbwire, so they barely can feel anything from anyone else much less the vastness of their own love. Others feel broken and abused. Yet others are easily washed away by even a little emotion, and they have no center to hold them steady in the seas of feelings.

In this webinar, I'll talk more about what it means to become heart strong so that we can more fully embrace the whole spectrum of feelings that we are gifted with. I'll also offer some ideas about letting go of old pains and how we practice staying open with appropriate boundaries.

Webinar Title: Developing Your Emotional Strength

Monday, January 27, 2014

The Newness and Uncertainty After Releasing an Issue

Whether you are moving through a spiritual awakening, healing, or going through a spiritual growth spurt, you may have the wonderful experience of releasing an issue. Congratulations! You probably have already felt the release, the openness, and maybe a surge of "you" that makes you feel fresh, vibrant, and alive. It is truly amazing what we feel when we allow ourselves the permission to be ourselves. So much of the spiritual path is much more of an uncovery than a discovery. We are uncovering ourselves buried beneath the rubble of ideas, karma, pain, trauma, and suffering.

But we've always been here, and when we let go of some of this junk, we feel like we've struck gold. We have, but it is nothing special. It may sound strange to say this, but the more you are just you, the more this is nothing special. The initial euphoria of finding oneself melts into the naturalness of being.

Yet, part of that melting away of the old also involves continuing to develop our willingness to go into the unknown. You see, now that you've dropped part or all of a major issue, you're probably also finding yourself in a new part of the woods. All the old sign posts that you were used to following--no matter how much discontent, pain, or misery they used to offer--are gone. Gone with them are familiarity and the comfort we derive from familiarity, which we generally associate with safety even if our lives are miserable. And a part of you may want to run back to this familiarity because suddenly you are in a brand new space and don't know what to do.

No Idea What to Do? Take a Deep Breath

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Student Perspectives on Working with Jim Tolles

I know that stepping into a session with me can be a new and sometimes unsettling experience (both in good and upsetting ways). Below I've posted perspectives on having a session with me as well as pre- and post-session care from three of my long-time students:


They offer interesting differences and similarities because of the nature of their individual work. Mary is coming from a path of gradual self realization. Brandy had a spontaenous awakening, going from 0 to 60 in her spiritual path, and Tina has needed a lot of support in healing sexual abuse.

I hope this is helpful for those who are about to work with me, those who already working with me, and those who are considering stepping into these sacred depths on a regular basis. 

(FYI: I do have water and tissues for my local students. This topic gets brought up because many of my students work with me via Skype.)

Working With Jim: Tips from Mary

For me, working with Jim has been all about rhythm. There has been the almost unbroken rhythm of a one hour session every two weeks for over a year [soon to be 2 years], and within this, there quickly established an ebb and flow of issues arising, healing, and letting go.

I have never taken notes, but found that after a session, certain things Jim had said or issues raised would naturally float into my awareness. I would take these and focus on them, both by just holding them in my thoughts during the course of the day and by really getting into them in my journal at night. These things would also naturally lead to other areas that needed my attention. I have found that everything has arisen as it’s needed to, and on the occasions that Jim has said something that has jarred me or I have thought “That can’t apply to me,” then that’s a sure indication that it definitely does apply to me and in a way that I might not recognize until quite a bit further down the line.

Showing Up Regularly

There have been plenty of times where I have sat down to a session in a hurried, breathless state due to last minute rushes around childcare or technical hitches, and Jim has encouraged me to breathe and calm myself into them. When I have allowed plenty of time, I sit for ten minutes or so and let myself wind down.  I still find I get butterflies in my stomach as it approaches session time. One thing I've always done is shown up. I think this is the most important part because you are honoring yourself with this simple commitment.

When I first started working with Jim, there was a lot of silence. Partly I just enjoyed the space and the fact that there was no pressure to say anything, but mainly I was encountering my own issues with expressing myself. Over the year or so of working together, I have been able to open up and communicate more and more freely as I've learnt to trust the loving space and myself. Often when I speak in the sessions, I feel like I am rambling, struggling to express myself clearly, but I have learnt to go with this as often I surprise myself with what comes to light. If I am unconsciously glossing over or missing something, Jim has a gentle but direct way of bringing my attention to it, taking me deeper into it.

Energy and Post Session Shifts

Regardless of what is said, a whole lot of energy moves during a session. Between sessions, I have found that it’s generally followed this pattern:

  • a couple of days ‘sitting’ with what’s come up, 
  • a day or so of shifting or realization around the issue,
  • a few days to a week of feeling absolutely crummy--tired, depressed, discouraged, and then
  • a settling or normalizing before the next session.

As my time working with Jim has gone on and with talking to his other students, the crummy times have got easier to deal with in that I have become more skilled at seeing them for what they are (not me!).

Top Tips for a Session With Jim

Show up. Schedule and keep regular sessions. If your intuition says you need an extra session, ask for it.

Bring tissues and water. But don’t have any expectations. I haven’t cried as much as I thought I would have, and when the real pain came out, I think I wiped my nose on my sleeve. Also, I find I feel much more comfortable and grounded if I take off my shoes.

Maintain a private space. For me it’s helped to keep the same place and set up for each session. It doesn’t need to be anything special except private and as free as possible of distraction and interruption.

Trust! Trust yourself, trust the process, and trust the loving space that Jim holds. Keep going, keep looking deeper. Much more will be happening than you realize.

Spiritual Session Preparation Tips from Brandy

Do your work 

“Your work” consists of your daily spiritual practice and whatever else your inner knowing is asking of you. Having done the work in the days and weeks beforehand will make space for much-needed clarity while maximizing session time.

Issues begin to move involuntarily in Jim’s company. If one hasn't been doing their work, it’s easy to get lost in the uncomfortable spaces. That makes it almost impossible to unpack and/or work on issues because one has even less access to their personal clarity.

Meditate/Prep your inner self before the session

Take the time to meditate or whatever you need do to meet your Self just before session. It just goes more smoothly, and the heart space and issues are more accessible.

Come Equipped/Take Notes

List of supplies: 

Pen and Pad of Paper
- Having had no spiritual foundation when I started with Jim, it seemed like I had to write down just about everything. Whether you’re a spiritual novice or not, you will have a lot going on when the camera goes off. Write down what is moving inside. It’s a great way to work more deeply after the session since you’re already in that space.

- Bring the Costco-sized box of tissues; don’t even try to get away with simply parking a few next to your chair. This is not to say that there will be crying every session, but true healing incites the (unexpected and inevitable) “ugly cry” from time to time.

Glass of water
- Some of us have been known to sweat out most of our valuable hydration during a session. Even if you don’t, it’s a good idea to flush the system anyway since all kinds of internal debris get dredged up.

- Working through journal entries have been some of my favorite sessions. This level of vulnerability lends space for a beautifully intense healing session and makes it easier to remain open in future sessions. There is an opportunity to learn some practical journaling techniques as well, such as how to go more deeply in your journal.

What to Expect

  • Expect to learn a lot about yourself--good and bad
  • Expect to hear the truth, and not all truths are attractive and comfortable
  • Expect to cuddle with vulnerability
  • Expect loving support not answers, predictions, and bullet-point task lists for healing and spirituality
  • Expect that you’ll only heal as deeply as you’re willing to dive
  • Expect to feel uncomfortable, frequently. This discomfort belongs solely to the individual. Jim happens to be the healer supporting one in discomfort that was there before he came; he is not the cause of this discomfort.
  • Expect that just when you think you are all healed, it’s actually time to go deeper and explore places you really, really don’t want to go into
  • Expect to also feel really good. I have felt inexplicable joy in sharing the expansiveness that follows breakthroughs with someone that has not only sat in the trenches with me but also helped guide me through them
  • Expect to be energetically held and guided by a true Teacher while healing the issues obstructing your soul’s path

Post-Session Shifts

I have definitely experienced shifts after sessions, and some of them have lasted a week or more. Some of these shifts were good, and some were not so good or comfortable. Whether they’re good or not, it’s a great opportunity to delve more deeply into your work in the privacy of your own safe space. As I work through these shifts, I have found it important to take notes, and post-session shifts have made for a very powerful next session every time, if I step into the fear rather than stepping out of it.

Regular Sessions

Post-session shifting brings to mind the importance of regular sessions. Many questions, emotions, and issues will arise very rapidly at times and sometimes all at once. I have learned that regular support and guidance is necessary. Regular sessions also really help to keep a good rhythm going--if sessions are sporadic, a portion of session time inevitably gets spent on “catching up.”

Sexual Abuse Healing With Jim: Tina’s Thoughts

When I began working with Jim, I wasn't setting out specifically to heal from my sexual abuse, though I knew that was part of my stew of ailments in this life, and I’d been in and out of therapy to address it. I just knew that something was deeply amiss, and a mysterious, extended illness I’d had the year prior confirmed that on an intuitive level for me.

Jim and I have worked together via Skype every two weeks since we began in November 2013. No two sessions are exactly the same, although they share a basic framework:

  1. I sit and drop into whatever’s going on in my body, whatever’s coming up;
  2. I narrate it to Jim; and
  3. we ease towards whatever the work of the day wants to be. 

Gradually, as we worked, the sexual abuse started to take center stage. The abuse happened when I was very, very young, and the abuse itself was shocking enough that I’d buried it deeply in my memory, to the point that I couldn't access it volitionally. It was too large to process, so it both went underground and became the entire backdrop of my existence, which sounds paradoxical but is true. All of my ways of being in the world stemmed from this early, traumatic experience. My identity was defined by this thing I couldn't see, couldn't properly remember, and so the sexual abuse was unconsciously driving most of my actions.

Slowly Working Through Pain

Jim worked with me very slowly and carefully as I descended further and further into the source of the pain—which was at some points pretty excruciating, both physically and emotionally. Jim always guided me to breathe and keep going deeper, and as I did that over the course of our sessions, clearer insights and more distinct pictures of the abuse arose.

During this process, the agreement was that I would

  • meditate regularly (daily whenever possible),
  • journal, and
  • receive bodywork to help release the trauma (all of which I’ve done).

Our work plus my own homework along these lines made a sturdy frame for the healing to take place in.

Releasing the Pain

As we've worked, the sorrow and pain and anger that have always lived in me have come to the surface, flared, and—to an amazing degree—dissipated. Jim and I are still working together, and we have lots of areas of growth left to explore. But it’s starting to look like the lion’s share of this problem has been transmuted. Now I get to see what it’s like to participate in life without looking/feeling through that perpetual prism of old trauma. To say that this is an enormous blessing is the understatement of the century, and because of this healing work with Jim, I’m ready to enter a different phase of growth.

My gratitude for Jim’s steady, loving presence and wisdom and energy through all of this is gigantic. Through this work I've found my voice, which was squashed before I could even get going in this life, and is now decompressing and expanding and rising to its full expression. We've accomplished more in a year of working together than I did in all my years of therapy. This work is so direct, so transformative. It’s been nothing less than a rebirth. Jim is a gift, and if you have this particular trauma in your background, he’s somebody who can guide you in complete integrity and with great care to your own healing.

This picture is a gift from Becky Stiller. You can see more of her photography on this Flickr link.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Feeling Unable to Receive Love

You know one of the most common issues people have? They can't receive love. They can't receive love from others. They can't receive love from God, and they certainly can't receive love from themselves. They are completely love anorexic. Cut off from love, everything is hateful, and the whole world is hurtful. It becomes a horrible type of tunnel vision, and if it gets really bad, the only way out seems to be death.

In this society, many people come to me with no capacity for love, and it's why many students never really feel much love. Furthermore, people coming with a closed heart can't receive. So even if someone's capacity for love is the size of a thimble, that person isn't even letting that thimble be open to receive. Hence, someone can come to the drinking well and go away with nothing. This is the state of much of humanity.

But the beauty and simplicity of this spiritual path is that each and every one of you has access to the boundless ocean of love. Now, please remember that I'm not talking about just the ooey-gooey romantic love, which is the common notion of love for a lot of people (For more on love, click here). Love is that which embraces all unconditionally, and walking down that path to unconditional self-acceptance is the start of being able to receive love.

Stepping Into the Ocean and Running Away

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Spirituality Webinar: Spiritual Awakening and the Body

Many people feel shifts in the body as they shift in spiritual awareness. In truth, it's all connected. Those of you who have awakened and are moving through the shifts that follow may be experiencing a wide variety of physical changes, and since awakening embraces everything, you could feel any and every type of physical ailment possible as you heal. Those of you who are naturally energetically sensitive and those of you who are having more subtle and gradual spiritual shifts (because there are more types of spiritual shifts than just awakening) can have much the same type of experiences as you move through old resistance and pain into a healthier state of being.

This webinar is meant to help many of you understand why the body shifts and be a forum to get some questions answered. It is not meant to be medical advice, but rather, together we can share some commonality of experiences while I offer general pointers about differentiating between issues solely related to the body and those of a more passing spiritual nature.

Webinar Title: Spiritual Awakening and the Body

Monday, January 13, 2014

Energy Sickness and Feeling Drained Energetically

I want to be clear from the get-go that I'm speaking specifically to those of you who are healing or are in the awakened shift, which has lots of inner shifts that demand your full energy and attention. This isn't meant as a way to self-diagnose all diseases. When I talk about energy sickness, I'm talking about how we can feel sick and even have some symptoms from being energetically depleted. This can also happen during healing cycles when old unconscious pain is releasing out of our emotional, energetic, and physical bodies. Depending on the toxicity of what was stored in subtle or not-so subtle layers, you can get pretty sick for a little while.

The great news (especially for those skeptics out there) is that this entirely testable. If you just have a cold and not what I would term as a type of energy sickness, a half hour of meditation will do virtually nothing. In which case, you go put on the tea kettle to make another cup of tea and go back to bed. If you are energetically sick, then doing some energy work or getting energy healing has very marked if not dramatic results that can erase the symptoms. With that said, let's get into this topic, which is probably brand new for...well, just about everyone.

What Is Energy Sickness?

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Spirituality Webinar: Beginning the Spiritual Path Again in the New Year

spiritual path, spiritual awakening, enlightenment,
While a new number is now inhabiting the last section of our dates, the New Year is just one of many opportunities to begin again. Each moment is in and of itself an opportunity to begin again. If you feel like it is time to refresh your spiritual practice--that it has gotten stale or otherwise broken down, then it may be time to start again.

It is important to remember that we are always beginning again. That is the truth, but we get lost in our stories at times and forget the reality. If you get caught up in being a certain type of spiritual person with a certain type of practice, then now is a good time to drop that and begin again. Because the freshness and newness of life is in this moment and not in an ongoing story with a long list of scenarios and hoped-for outcomes. It's best to let all that go.

And this webinar will be a reminder about how we can naturally do this.

Webinar Title: Beginning the Spiritual Path Again in the New Year

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Monday, January 6, 2014

Becoming Heart Strong

In much of Western Society, there tends to be two main modes of being with our hearts: being open to everything or being closed down to everything. Obviously, there are plenty of shades of gray because life doesn't actually operate in these two distinctions. But it seems like people tend to go that way. To gender it, men tend to be closed down and women tend to be overly-emotional. This, of course, is a ridiculous gender stereotype, but they play out a lot. As women have moved into the business sphere, those women who have become harder and closed hearted (aka the "bitches get things done" mentality) have found some monetary and business success, which has encouraged women to shut down their hearts further. This is, in essence, following the paradigm of "male-centric" culture, which ultimately has nothing to do with being manly, but it is more often considered the "stronger" way to be with our hearts.

In writing all of that, you can see that we're in a pickle. We've created two really unhealthy extremes, and neither is appropriate for becoming an emotional adult. So let's talk about what it means to come into authentic ownership of our hearts and to become heart strong.

Throwing Out the Old Ways

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