I have a friend who for a period of his life struggled with alcohol and drugs. He’s been living a sober life for a decade or so. One day he asked me if I’d help him get tickets to see a sold out Coldplay concert in Las Vegas, which I did. This would be his first sober trip to Las Vegas. I saw him a few weeks after the show and asked him about his experience. “You know, waking up refreshed, clear-headed, and feeling healthy in Las Vegas was a pretty great experience for me,” he said, and then added, “but whiskey and strippers used to be pretty great too!”

His blunt honesty made me laugh out loud. I’ve remembered and recounted that story many times as an example of the real-life journey we all go through, slowly awakening and reconstructing our lives again and again to match our awareness at various times in our lives. It’s also an example of how our definitions of good and bad are transient and depend on the perspective of where we are when we make the distinction. As my friend so honestly said, partying in Vegas is fun, and so is waking up sober and aware. It just depends on where you’re looking from and what you’re intending to experience.

My friend’s story popped into my head this week as I’ve been sorting through something similar. Not Vegas or wild parties (been there and done that), but recently I made some pointed decisions about some business opportunities that a few years ago would have been attractive to me, but which no longer fit into the life I’m building with my family. Like my friend, I’ve had moments where I look at my current life and think how lucky I am … but I’ve also had moments of nostalgia and worry if I’m making the right decision. To paraphrase my friend: consciousness is great but so is the thrill of power.

In times like this I’ve learned to sort out my conflicting emotions on the meditation cushion. I recognize the feelings are real because I’m feeling them, but I’m also aware that they’re not true because my core truth is beyond any fear, insecurity, or momentary clinging. As Guru Singh told me the first time I asked him how to handle a whirlwind of emotions, “bolt your butt to the ground and ride the stallion.” So that’s what I do.

Meditation isn’t always easy … in fact it rarely is. We think the exterior world with all its goings on is dramatic and scary, but that rarely compares to what we find when we go inside and look at our own internal drama. We close our eyes and slow our breath and are often shocked by the tidal wave of memories, programming, and emotional baggage that floods our mind. Over time we learn, as I have, to let it all come and just breathe until it wears itself out banging around the interior spaces of your mind. Some days this takes minutes, and other times it never really calms down. You just sit and breathe and let the emotions do their thing until, even for a brief second, you take a breath and that’s all there is … just the sensation of air on the end of your nose or the tip of your lip. That instant is worth so much, because for a second or two what moments earlier was suffocating you beneath its weight expands and stretches and clarity is allowed to seep in through the cracks of the chaos.

This particular day — as I was sorting through my emotions — was just like that. I sat bravely on my meditation cushion facing my own internal emotional storm front, trying to breathe and focus on my breath. And then something happened. I heard the click of our bedroom door handle and the familiar steps and creaks of the hardwood floor as someone entered. By the sound of the impact of the feet on the floor I knew it was my son Kevin. It’s funny how you get to know your children so well that you can tell them by their footsteps. The steps drew nearer and then I felt his face close to mine followed by a gentle kiss on my forehead. And then Kevin whispered, “I love you dad.”

I don’t know if Kevin had sensed that something was brewing inside me, or if it was just a spontaneous sharing of love from son to father. Whatever the motivation, that kiss sent everything I was feeling away. Like a sci-fi movie when good overtakes evil and the earth spontaneously heals, I felt peace and lightness. In that moment I was reminded why I started this journey, what’s truly important to me and why, despite the sexy allure of power, living powerfully from my heart is just more important to me. And as a lone tear slid down my cheek, love and deep gratitude replaced the fear I had been feeling … and I was home.

This week I invite you to take inventory of your life. Look around at your possessions, your work, your home, your family and friends and connect to what is truly important to you at this moment in your life. Take a deep breath and let go of things, ideas and beliefs that no longer fit into your definition of a great life. Don’t let go disparagingly; instead, let go with gratitude and grace on the wings of the breath as it exits your lungs. Then bolt your butt to the ground and sit in the company of this current version of you. Embrace the silence you’ve created by clearing out what no longer serves you.

With courage, open your heart and ride the stallion as you let go and allow life’s beautiful opportunities to flow in.


Big hugs of love,

I invite you to read my recent interview in the LA Times: Meditation Booms as People Seek a Way to Slow Down

  1. wendy s. john-devereaux says:

    this was such a timely article for us…..

    we are in the process of really examining every aspect of our lives—finding a lot of things that no longer fit who we are—letting go (not always an easy process, when there is so much emotional attachment to some things, and some people!)…..

    along with all of this, we are increasingly letting our feelings be real for us, as the feelings we have about things and others are really like a GPS for emotions–telling us where we are, where we are going, etc

    all in all, it is an exciting time, full of changes, and your blogs always seem to be a part of them, for which we are grateful, and more than a little bit in awe

    we send you love, light, and peace
    wendy and ian

    • Lovely post, Jason. Really resonated with me. I’m letting go of many beliefs about success, money & power that have been weighing me down for decades. My husband and I were doing an exercise from the New York Times called 36 questions where you ask each other questions to cultivate love and romance. We recalled our fondest memories and interestingly not one of them had anything to do with success, power or money. Very enlightening.

      Sending you gratitude, love and light, Dr. Ellen

    • My teacher Guru Singh calls this process “feather dusting” because we are gently clearing away the remnants of old thoughts and beliefs. Happy dusting. Big hugs of love – Jason

  2. Yesterday I received an email. Before I even read the email, by just looking at the subject, I felt overwhelmed with anxiety and dread. In reading the email, it’s nothing I had to worry about – but the past baggage associated with the subject coloured the words for me. All I could feel was the implications of the past. So, in following wise teachings, I sat, I meditated, and it became clear that there was nothing to fear, it was all in my head, and it was simply what I had attached to the subject from past experience that was causing my sense of panic. It was time to let it go (easier said than done but much easier at least now that I looked at the situation without the tainted colours of the past to distort it for me).

    Life experiences change us. We grow and expand, and in doing so, our needs too change to meet what we currently need. What we needed in the past is not always necessarily what we need now. Even the things that we think we need or want, often we don’t. I always wanted to be an entrepreneur, just like my dad – from the time I was in grade 1, I worked towards that goal. Everything was focused on attaining that status and working in the family business. However, once my twin boys were born, I realized it’s not what I wanted anymore. And to be honest, I don’t miss the corporate life. I look back on the good times fondly, but it’s not what I need in my life right now. What we do need is love. That is paramount. Everything else…it can come and go.

    It’s good to have those reminders to let the past go, not worry about the future, and just focus on all the wonderful things we have in the present. Sometimes it’s too easy to fall into habit – it’s what I’ve always done, it’s what I’m comfortable doing, but it may not be what I actually need. I’m glad you were able to take a step back and focus on the things that should be priority in your life, and cherish them. <3 Thank you for being here for all of us who are learning to do the same.

    Faith, hope and love, Kathleen.

  3. Thank you Jason. I am reading and re-reading. Re-tweeting and retweeting. My BIG take-away from your wise post – Our truths are elusive. And now I must change this:

    The story we tell about our life, becomes the life about which we tell our story.

    to “stories”

    • Jason Garner says:

      Thank you Anne. We are a story in motion. For me, that is a beautiful truth because from it comes the freedom to adapt, to change, to edit the story as my definition of joy evolves — I am never stuck. Thank you for reading and sharing. Big hugs – Jason

  4. Ah! Such a heartwarming writing! Thank you! It just proves that all is within us…its just that we forget it too often #need to remind ourselves by practicing our true nature…

  5. Thank you Jason – I found the way you write about gently letting go of what doesn’t fit the current version of you very helpful. It really resonates with my own transition. Thanks for sharing.

  6. Ray Khelawan says:

    You are so right! I’ve had to re-build my life over and over again in the last three years…..it’s been frustrating at times. Even when I’ve wanted to go back, there were circumstances that didn’t allow me to. But now I know that it’s important to go forward and accept it.

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