Awakening Self Newsletter – January 2013

It’s Always Now, and It’s Always New

January conjures thoughts of starting over again and new year’s resolutions.  But the truth is that we create calendars and clocks to make sense of the passage of time.  In the ultimate reality, there is neither past nor present, only Now.  When we’re in the Now, every moment is new, fresh.

It’s perfectly fine, however, to create an intention for the year.  My suggestion?  Living more in this moment, in the Now!  When you find yourself obsessing over something in the past, or worrying about something yet to come, bring yourself right back to this moment and this breath.  Whatever goals you may have for the year, this will serve them well!

I’m stepping into something new this month – the launch of my completely remodeled, absolutely gorgeous website! It’s coming on January 17th. This has been many months in the making, between my divine web designer, Mani Sheriar, coming up with stunning design (did you notice my new logo at the top?) and myself working on all the content, it has truly been a labor of love.  If you are looking for a powerful practice to begin the year with, I suggest you create your own website – even if you are just pretending.  The practice of writing out who you are and what you want to offer the world helps refine your vision and creates clarity on what really matters to you.

Also, Awakening Self radio is back!  Join me on Monday, January 7th (yes, this Monday!) from 9-9:30pm PST for Evening Meditation and Inspiration.  This month’s theme is Let Your Higher Self Lead, and we’ll be doing a mini life-visioning session, based on the work of Rev. Michael Bernard Beckwith.

Then, tune in for the Awakening Self Radio Show on Friday, January 25th from 1:30-2pm PST, with Zen Soto priest, author, and chef Edward Espe Brown. We’ll explore meditation, spirituality, cooking, and living your practice.  To get a taste of Edward’s perspective, he has offered this month’s article, Cooking in Two Worlds, below.  Check it out for some culinary and divine inspiration.

Ring in the new year, and ring in this moment – now is always the time to start anew.




– Announcements
– Event Calendar
– Awakening Self Radio Show Schedule
– Featured Article:  “Cooking in Two Worlds” by Edward Espe Brown
– Spiritual Quotes



Get ready – is getting a whole new, inspiring look with special features,
including my new blog.  I can’t wait to reveal it to you!  Look for the official announcement coming on January 17th!


Theme: Seeds of Love
Sunday, February 10th, 9:15-11am.
330 Melville, Palo Alto, CA
Join me for an all-ages celebration of the Divine through yoga (kids and adult classes!), meditation, singing, spiritual discussion and community.  For details see Spiritual Family.

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Receive weekly inspirations as well as upcoming events.  Click the link, then click Follow!

– SACRED JOURNEY Women’s Psychotherapy Group

with Connie Habash, MA, LMFT, meets every other  Monday from 3:15-4:45.
If you feel called to this group, see Sacred Journey. If you would like to be on the waiting list, please contact me

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If you are inspired by my articles, radio show, and other offerings, your donation (in any amount) supports me in continuing to create quality, inspirational programs.  Click here to donate.  Thank you!

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Event Calendar

Click to see upcoming events!

Awakening Self Radio Show Schedule

This month’s schedule

Monday, January 7th, 9-9:30pm PST – Evening Meditation and Inspiration

“Let Your Higher Self Lead the Way”
Tonight’s meditation is a mini “life-visioning” session based on the work of Rev. Michael Bernard Beckwith.  Let this Life Vision inspire your direction for the new year!

Friday, January 25th – 1:30-2pm PST – Awakening Self Radio Show
Guest Edward Espe Brown

Soto Zen Priest Edward Espe Brown, author of several books including The Tassajara Bread Book and Tomato Blessings and Radish Teachings, joins us for an exploration of meditation, cooking, and living our practice.  For more information about Edward Espe Brown, visit Peaceful Sea Sangha.

Check out the Awakening Self Radio Show archives to listen to over 25 inspiring shows!

Featured Article

Cooking in Two Worlds by Edward Espe Brown

[Edward is a guest on the Awakening Self Radio show this month – check it out!]

When you are cooking, you are not just cooking, you are working on yourself, you are working on other people.

A cook encounters two worlds that need to be navigated.  One world is outside, and you study and learn what’s what: how to clean and cut vegetables, how to make a salad or a soup.  You notice what works, and what doesn’t work.  Spotting which differences make a difference according to your esthetic, and deciding which of these differences are worth acting on.  You acquire skills, tools, techniques, recipes, a repertoire, a resume.  You become accomplished at getting food to the table in a generally acceptable fashion to greater or lesser acclaim.

This is the world of cookbooks, celebrity chefs, fashionable restaurants: if you want to be as great as we are, follow our instructions, and do as we tell you to do.

(There is a bit of disclaimer/denial here: if you really want to be as great as they are, you will need to work your ass off just as they did, and do more than simply follow the instructions –you will need to experience things for yourself, own your own body and mind, and let inspiration pour through you.)

The inner world of cooking is rarely addressed.  Even cook’s temperament is hardly mentioned, but even more basically, the learning about yourself and others; the learning about love, generosity, commitment; the study about how to study and learn; the possibilities for connection with the Divine, with the Beyond.  Where and how to apply your awareness; the place for joy, pleasure, comfort, ease; how to structure and use your energy; the pivotal role of emotions.  Given a wholesome orientation, cooking is a world where you can come into your own, awakening and realizing yourself, and awakening others to the possibility of realization—as well as sharing the bounty and blessings of delicious food.

What, after all, are we doing here on planet Earth, if not learning the lessons we came here to learn.  So many things can be accomplished, many of them admirable, still I come back to finding ways to heal my heart.  Yet, our life is not really an either or situation, and each of us keeps choosing where we want to focus our effort.  Follow a great recipe, create brilliant dishes, cook what your family enjoys eating, get good reviews: pretty important.  Sensing the “love we’ve been given,” (a Rumi phrase), resolving our griefs and sorrows, cultivating our capacity for intimacy and sharing our hearts: the work of a lifetime.

The two paths intertwine, often supporting one another, all too frequently excluding the other.  Some who are brilliant artists, innovators, performers do not perform well in relationship where presence is what is called for.  Success in worldly terms does not automatically mean success as a person.  Often enough no one really knows or sees the person inside while their accomplishments are lauded.  People know your performance and not you yourself.  And this will include the person himself or herself: you’re only as good as your last meal!  Your last song, your last appearance!  Is that true?  Or is it time to look inside and sense what is precious and blessed?  Finding ways to share one’s heart  that promote and sustain connection?  Are you willing to see others and be seen by others?  The goodness implicit in a human life appears when one has eyes to see.

Those who are doing their inner work are not always learning the skills necessary to perform, to function in the world.  They may be stable and not raising their voice in the kitchen and yet not know how to make a salad dressing.  They may meditate steadfastly and not develop their communication skills.  Unfortunately they are applying the mind-set of accomplishment (according to their own spiritual criteria) to the work of self-cultivation, and leaving out the possibility of developing skills, capacities, practices that could actually and realistically benefit their own and others’ lives—the first and still important (indispensable) way of approaching life.

So my interest is to address and encourage a spiritual life in the kitchen, while not neglecting to provide beautiful food.  Please.  Make it happen.

Copyright © 2012 by Edward Brown

Edward Espe Brown, a Soto Zen Buddhist priest, has been practicing Zen since 1965 and also has done extensive vipassana practice, yoga, and chi gung.  He leads regular sitting groups and meditation retreats in Northern California and offers workshops in the U.S. and internationally.  Edward is also an accomplished chef and author, who helped found Greens Restaurant in San Francisco and whose books include The Tassajara Bread Book, Tassajara Cooking, The Tassajara Recipe Book, and Tomato Blessings and Radish Teachings.  Learn more about him at Peaceful Sea Sangha.

Spiritual Quotes

“Those moments – when you realize your life as it is is just fine, thank you – can be so stunning and liberating. Only the insidious
comparison to a beautifully prepared, beautifully packaged product makes it seem insufficient.”
– Edward Espe Brown

“When it is obvious that the goals cannot be reached, don’t adjust the goals; adjust the action steps.”
– Confucius

“Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson




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