I’ve spent the last two weeks in silence at a Tibetan Buddhist retreat in the UK countryside. During the many hours of meditation, as my mind occasionally (often, haha) wandered, I wondered what gem I would write when the retreat was finished. What deep words of wisdom would I have to share with the world?!?

On the day before the retreat started, my son Kevin said to me with a naughty twinkle in his eye, “Dad, if you write another book on the plane ride home please tell the world how great I am!” And then we had a nice laugh.

Prior to coming to this retreat, we did another retreat as a family. My wife, Kevin, and Shaolin Master Wang Bo (our heart son) sat in silence in the California mountains for a week with the same teacher I went on to sit with in the UK. During that retreat, I had the really beautiful experience of watching my 17-year-old son sitting in meditation and intensive study alongside adult practitioners many times his age. This experience deeply touched me. All my life I’ve so wanted to be a good dad. Do you know that feeling as a parent? Growing up without a dad, I wanted to give Kevin the experience I never had. I wanted to really be there for him. Watching him at that retreat left little doubt that I’d succeeded. I have an amazing son … and that makes this dad’s heart really proud.

I think that’s the takeaway I want to share as I end this period of silence. What I think really counts in life is to fully experience the moments that move us. Those special times that touch us deeply, that cause our hearts to melt, our souls to open … and our eyes to cry. Like seeing your little boy all grown up sitting with a Buddhist lama discussing the meaning of emptiness and the nature of mind.

I’ve spent some time wondering why we don’t often give ourselves this gift of feeling moved by life. Part of the reason, I think, is that we’re too busy. We just don’t have time to feel much of anything as we hustle and rush about our lives with work and school and all the data surging at us night and day. Perhaps there’s a deeper reason as well — below that busyness lies a fear of what we might find if we were to pause, take a deep breath, and allow life to move our souls.

I remember early in my journey sitting on the floor of my therapist’s office, Dr. Vera Dunn. My mom was dying of cancer, my second marriage — in chaos — had fallen apart, and I was raising my children alone while being responsible for thousands of employees producing thousands of concerts around the globe. I sat there overwhelmed by my life and cried as I shared my fear with Vera: “I’m afraid if I stop and look honestly at my life, I’m going to realize I can’t do this anymore. And that really scares me.”

That fear of being honest with ourselves sometimes leads us to layer more and more onto our already tired shoulders. We carry the weight of our lives, our children’s, our spouse’s, our friends’ and coworkers’ … of the starving children in Africa, the whales and trees and honeybees – all on our tired little human backs trying to be good while holding our breath because if we let go we fear deep down that we aren’t going to like our lives anymore. So when we get a glimpse of life’s beauty, when something deeply touches our heart and we start to let go, we stop ourselves and grab our iPhones, check our email or Facebook messages, and our brain rushes on to a new drama … anything to avoid the truth.

I’ve learned over the last few years that it doesn’t have to be this way. We have the option to slow down, to take a breather (literally), and to create a little balance in our lives. We don’t have to run away to either extreme – working ourselves to death and dropping out of life to become a hermit are two sides of the same detachment coin. Instead, we have an opportunity to drop the charade – to put down the load we’re carrying for long enough to smell the roses – not because we have to, but because we deserve to.

This week I invite you to pause, to breathe deeply, and to find a few things in your life that touch your heart … and then dwell there for a while. Maybe it’s the fact that you’re a great mom or dad; maybe it’s your wife’s beautiful blue eyes or a special accomplishment that you dreamt of achieving as a child and now, all grown up, are living. Whatever it is, invite the feeling in, allow it to move you, and fully experience the emotions it brings up. Cry, laugh, and celebrate, and be true to yourself and to the experience of your life.

So this is the insight I have after sitting in silence: that the moments that move us are the moments that matter; and that we deserve — truly deserve — the feelings they bring to our busy lives.

Big hugs of love,


  1. wendy st. john-devereaux says:

    this was beautiful to read, and we are so happy for you and your family…

    this article came at just the right time for wendy, who has been struggling with profound sorrow over the passing of one of her teachers……the grief was compounded by the fact that they had no contact for about 4 years prior (his choice, not hers)

    we have had to realize that the important things here were the positive aspects of how he touched her life, the things he taught her, the doors he opened, and THE MOMENTS THAT MATTERED.

    a sincere thank you from us both, for your important articles, which always come at the right time, with the right sort of confirmations…

    much love
    ian and wendy

    • Jason Garner says:

      Thank you Ian for sharing. Please share a big hug with Wendy. I love the conclusion you came up with. One of the gifts our teachers give us is the awareness that the true teacher lives inside each of us. In this way our teachers never pass on, they simply join the teacher in our hearts and, from there, continue to share their wisdom through our intuition and internal knowing. Big hugs of love, Jason

  2. A timely post Jason, thank you very much. So glad that you and your family had this time…it is indeed all about the moments that matter. Big hugs of love and gratitude to you. X

  3. Hi Jason, I’m a friend of Tommy Rosen’s and I just ordered your book after reading your beautiful post. It really touched me. I love my children and my family with all my heart but I don’t feel like I’ve been as good a parent (or even a wife) as I can be. I’d love to share this side of me and expose them to meditation but I’m not sure it would be their cup of tea but I’d love to go on a trip or meditation retreat with them some day. I realize now that I’ve kept my spirituality a bit hidden from them, but i’ll try to just be myself, but maybe you could write a book or organize a retreat for families on how to do that next?! lol Just an idea:-)

    • Jason Garner says:

      Thank you for reading and sharing. Tommy is a blessing. I think, in some way, we all suffer inside worrying if we’ve been as good of parent or spouse as we can be. I have found a lot of healing from having that vulnerable talk with my family — sharing my insecurities with them, and even by asking for forgiveness in areas I feel I let them down. After my second divorce I sat down with my children and apologized for not creating a stable home environment. That was healing for them and for me. From that honesty comes the connection that allows for the shared experiences. Thank you again for sharing so openly. You are not alone. Big hugs.

    • Jason Garner says:

      Thank you Guru Singh for holding my hand as I learn to open my heart. Big hugs of deep gratitude and love – Jason

  4. Wow, Jason, this piece really moved me to tears. I am just embarking on this spiritual journey with my own son (4 years old) and pray I also can have that sense of accomplishment and pride….I know I will. Your post was so timely, as I had just written a piece, one day before, in a very similiar vein on my blog 🙂 Great minds think alike. Thank you so very much for being such an inspiration to me.

    • Jason Garner says:

      Thank you Martha. I read, and really enjoyed, your blog post about your Easter trip. We are all on this journey together, doing our best. Big hugs of gratitude – Jason

  5. Linda Strode says:

    Beautifully written…”Those special times that touch us deeply, that cause our hearts to melt, our souls to open … and our eyes to cry.” We have to pause to allow our souls to open….amazing and thought provoking thanks for starting my Friday right. Namaste

  6. I agree. We are not robots and why would we want to be? If you’re not feeling any of it as you’re rushing around to get it all done, why be here at all? This is a great post. Thank you for the always-needed reminder!

  7. Thank you for this reminder. It is what I needed this week, a reboot so to speak in order to refocus my thoughts and feelings, as I struggle to cope. Some days have been very difficult indeed, but there will still be moments that matter with those I love, and I will hold those close to my heart. I’ll try my best to hold onto that and not let the shadows overwhelm me.

    Since you’ve been away, I’ve gone back to read some of your earlier blog posts. The Paradox spoke volumes to me, and was what I needed.

    I’m glad you had the opportunity to enjoy the retreat and time with your family.

    Faith, hope and love. Kathleen.

    • Jason Garner says:

      Thank you Kathleen. You are not alone. Breathe often and, when you can, find a moment of joy and dwell there for as long as you can. When times are tough we often can’t find big things to celebrate so be open to even the smallest bits of joy as well — a smile from a stranger, a breath of fresh air, even a piece of chocolate on your taste buds… these tiny glimpses of happiness can become huge when we take time to sit with them and allow them to lighten the load we are carrying. Sending you big hugs of compassion and light – Jason

      • Thank you for your support, Jason, it means a lot. The last few days I’ve made an effort to do things, and take those moments of joy where I could get them. I took the time to go to a store (which considering I have to stop and sit ever few minutes is a huge undertaking…but it was a nursery, so there were lots of pieces of patio furniture and even skids to sit on) and I bought a peppermint plant to flavour my tea and water, and a bonsai tree, just because it makes me feel at peace. My kids are making fun of me, because historically speaking I have not been able to keep plants alive – the plant whisperer I am not! But I wanted to try anyways, and I thought it would be a good meditative practice to trim my little tree, and it was something that I still CAN do – no standing or walking required. 🙂 I figured my odds are slightly better now with YouTube and the internet to help me along. I did discover that it is healthiest for the tree to trim the bottom branches, so I did that today. It was fun, and I took a moment to enjoy it. It’s the moments we breathe, and find peace that we treasure. <3 <3 <3

        Faith, hope and love, Kathleen.

  8. Thank you, Jason, for this thoughtful piece. I couldn’t agree more with the idea that we too often rush to distraction or drama because we fear facing the ‘truths’ in our lives. So often people continue ‘existing’ in their lives because it’s so challenging to have the courage to face their true feelings. Hopefully, your teachings can be the first step (or a reminder) to help people live a life in greater congruence with their dreams and wishes. Thanks for sharing your inspiring writing and journey.

  9. Royalwarriorroyalfriend says:

    To be still with quietness of mind which comes naturally is peaceful . To have no thought and then become aware. Peaceful . I think living in the moment with no thoughts but just focusing on what one is doing is living .

  10. Ray Khelawan says:

    I really needed to read this, because I found myself thinking about recent things that have happened to me. Moments that I can think of are when my husband tells me that he truly loves me, or calls from my nieces in America. My niece and nephew did something so adorable for my birthday; they sang me a birthday song that I used to sing to people when i was a kid! It was so sweet!! It made me cry! Especially hearing their mom sing it with them, and knowing that she took the time to teach them that….they are 3 and 5. Not easy! This really helped me, because I’m still finding myself in a struggle.

    Hugs of joy

  11. And maybe that’s why I procrastinate my thoughts. I am afraid to look back, to think and make sense of what I have been through lest I become weak and not have the ‘fake’ strength to manage my today.
    This article put my thoughts into words beautifully.
    Thank you. xxx

  12. Understand how you have grown into gratitude for not only silences, but connections in silence with others, like your son as he meditates. Am a person truly without family at all now nearby – parents both have died, no siblings, couldn’t have children due to cancer, no significant ‘other,’ and family, close friends now live in other countries, my life is truly solitary. I cannot say it’s lonely though as go through my days often thinking, ‘what if this were my last day, my last afternoon, my last hour’ how would I be? It makes me very appreciative of my connections with others who may be strangers who for a short while are a part of my life and they of mine. Example: Met a young man, Nathan, on our transit train from our airport (after I saw a far-away friend off to travel home to England), and Nathan needed a bit of help to figure out where he was going in the city once we arrived. We chatted for nearly a half hour on the subway train. Such a happy, pleasant young man who had long hair down past his shoulders. He’d just finished getting a pipe-fitters qualification and excited for his future work and life in our big city. He shared with me he lost his mom three years ago, which being so young, I felt was very sad. So, when we parted as he then was confident where he needed to go, I gave him a hug. Even though we were strangers, with the conversation over time, we were no longer. That for me is one of my joys. I’ll remember him and I hope he’ll remembers me. We have such wonderful vignettes in our lives, if only we take the time to live them. Blessings to you, Jason. Thanks you always for your shared thoughts.

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