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Category Archives: Archives

Turnings, layers and leaps

multi-layered © Mahala Mazerov

If I had flower for every time I thought if you, I could walk in my garden forever. ~ Alfred Lord Tennyson.

I have been thinking of you more than you know.

It’s been a multi-layered period of inner shifts and turnings on the way to some central truth. Sometimes there’s been nothing I could put together in words. Other times, like now, there’s almost too much to say.

I have to admit that it worries me to go so long without being in touch. The internet is full of people who show up every single day on their blogs, in their products and programs or on guest posts and interviews all over the web.

The more I tune in to what I need to best be in service, the more clearly my inner voice directs me to spend more time creating and less time engaging right now.

It scares me though. I’m afraid you’ll forget me. I’m afraid when I finally bring something forward you won’t know who I am. Or worse, you won’t care.

The grounded and wise-in-so-many-ways Pam Slim has assured me you will still be here. You will understand. She says our connection doesn’t depend on me frantically trying to be everywhere (while ultimately serving no one.)

I’ve decided to trust her. More than that, I’ve decided to trust YOU.

For some of you, this is the first you’ve seen the Luminous Heart redesign. There was more in the background waiting to be revealed.

On Valentines Day my heart and my clarity around my work stepped up 10,000 notches. The change I’m making doesn’t fit in the space of the Luminous Heart web site. A new site (carrying over the new design) is in the works nearing completion. I will, with my heart in my throat and my hopes flung wide open, let you know when it is launched.

Yesterday I pulled a sheet of ice from the garden bed. I know it’s far too early to plant but I feel the promise ahead and it thrills me. Things are like that now for me. There’s something stirring, that almost wants to explode into life. But it needs a little more time before I share.

I think, to many of you, the change will be indistinguishable. It’s quite possible you’ve been waiting for me to get clear and get creating.


On a side note, I want to let you know about a program that might interest to you. Profitable Idealism by Pace Smith and Johnny B. Truant is exactly what it sounds like — the ability to stay true to your idealistic heart and run a profitable business at the same time. I’m honored more than a little awestruck to be a contributor to the program.

If you’ve felt the challenge of being both idealistic and profitable, check this out before Tuesday midnight and save $200. (Affiliate link) You also have a very good chance of winning one of 114 compelling bonuses.


In the e-book I wrote for Profitable Idealism, I talk about playing with concrete numbers instead of simply having a formless vision. The day after I delivered the e-book, one number I had been playing with increased exponentially. Little did I guess taking my own advice would lead to such a monumental leap of my own.

You’ll have to wait to see the new site to know what I’m talking about. But here’s a hint: “my work stepped up 10,000 notches.”

Taking My Own Medicine

multitudes © 2010 Mahala Mazerov

You can’t save the world when you’re running on empty.

Aside from the toll it takes on your own body, mind and spirit, ignoring your need for self-care steals your capacity to be strongly, creatively, and lovingly present in the world.

This benefits no one.

[Body of Wisdom ~ Sacred Self Care description]

My innermost voice says I need to firmly establish a new, loving pace for myself if the work of my heart is to grow and flourish.

This requires some disappointment in the moment to hold out for joy and meaning in the future.

It’s one of the lessons I’m taking to heart as I get ready to teach Body of Wisdom ~ Mindfulness Practices for Sacred Self Care.

I’m excited to begin. Some participants have already written on the secret course page. From what they’ve said I know this is going to be an incredible learning and sharing among heart centered women. I’d love for you to be a part of it.

Class starts tomorrow evening. There’s still time to join us.

One thing I’m hearing from some of you is your plate is just too full at the moment to take this course. I want to say I hear you. I understand completely and I fully support you in not adding more things to your stack.

But if your plate is too full all the time maybe this course is something to consider. Classes will be recorded so you can listen at your leisure — even if that’s a month away.

Ok. That’s the end of my pitch. Many years ago when I was worrying over the outcome of a program I came across these words. I have no recollection who said them but they’ve always held true for me.

Insert lengthly memory banks search, coming up empty. Why does my brain not have Google installed?

I used to have these memorized. There were 4 lines. The one I remember:

Whoever comes are the right people.

May you have multitudes of care. Multitudes of love.

Meaningful Life: Prison of Thorns to Sacred Enclosure (Part 1)

©2010 Mahala Mazerov

After my head injury I watched friends and activities from a distance where once I had been a fully engaged participant.

The simplest interactions fried my circuits. Being myself, loving what I loved, doing the things I did were suddenly invitations for disaster.

I didn’t know the severity of my brain injury was under diagnosed, as it would remain for 3 years. I hadn’t heard of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

I only knew every day (every hour!) presented me with a new minefield, triggering explosions with the most innocent of steps.

I couldn’t understand why everything was so hard. I thought I would will my way through hospital rehabilitation, pick up a few coping and cognitive strategies, and everything would be normal again.

I had an image of Sleeping Beauty. A prison of thorns sprung up overnight when she pricked her finger on that poison spindle. She and her Kingdom fell into a deep sleep for a hundred years until the Prince came to rescue her. I felt I was inside that prison of thorns, fiercely removed from the world outside.

But my head injury was not a fairy tale.

Life in the Kingdom was moving along just fine and didn’t seem to notice I was missing.

No Prince Charming was on his way to free me.

Even my rehab therapists, for all their kindness, were not going to break down my thorny prison. They continually warned me my own efforts to “bulldoze my way through rehab” were destined to fail.

I watched life go on without me. Learned to catch the tell-tale sentences (We really should have you over for dinner. You look fine, are you sure you’re not wallowing?) that signaled my last contact from friends.

My life shrank until it was resigned to a very tiny circle of space. Five days a week, I road a disability van to the hospital. Sat for hours in an overcrowded waiting room filled with desperate, miserable, wounded people and their chirping companions. Then came hours of grueling speech, physical and cognitive rehab, and another wait for the van. Sometimes the van was crowded, too. Even though the hospital was 10 minutes from my house the ride home could take more than an hour as passengers were dropped off.

I wanted to be the perfect patient. I tried to be the perfect patient. The one that everyone says is so courageous, always smiles and never complains. But no one seemed to notice, and I was burning myself out on a lie.

It was a meaningless, exhausting life and I didn’t see a way out.

I thought of suicide, briefly, and not very seriously. I had a feeling I would only manage to make things worse rather than actually kill myself so the thought didn’t get much traction.

Still, as time passed I became increasingly certain I would die. I just did not see how I could possibly stay alive. I thought living with a terminal brain injury would eventually kill me.

I felt I had already died (a sentiment I’ve heard repeated from nearly every person with a brain injury I’ve met.) For some reason my body was still dragging itself around.

Instinctively I knew seeing my life as a prison, waiting to die, waiting for rescue that could never appear were prescriptions for bottomless despair. But pasting a fake smile on my face and relying on sheer willpower were not saving me, either.

Was it possible to create a meaningful life? A life I wanted to live in spite of everything?

Coming in Part 2 : The Sacred Enclosure.


I hope my story reads like just a story and you’re unfamiliar with loss like this.

Since you’re reading, you know I got through it. I not only survived, I learned to love this life of mine. And the way I achieved that was by being unflinchingly honest with what was true for me and becoming a Master Practitioner in the Art of Sacred Self-Care.

If you’re struggling with limitations, bulldozing through too much of your life or just missing a tender connection with yourself, I hope you’ll join us for the Sacred Self-Care program beginning October 7.

Self Care Confessions

untitled © 2010 Mahala Mazerov

I have a confession to make.

When I published the Tender Loving Care post my original plan was to move the post in a different direction. As you may remember, Susan told the story of her tender attention to her baby daughter. She wrote of her mother watching in awe, touched and inspired by Susan’s loving care.

I planned to write about how seemingly ordinary expressions of loving kindness have a profound impact on others.

When it came to write, I was too tired to form words into sentences. I left Susan’s story to speak for itself and highlighted her final question. “Why, then, is it so hard to give that same care to myself?”

The result was wonderful conversations in the comments and in Real Life.

So here’s my confession.

Through years of living with a brain injury (and a thyroid illness and adrenal fatigue, sigh) I’ve had lots of practice with deep, honest self care. But the truth is I’m a million times more comfortable writing glowing words about inspiring loving kindness then I am writing about self care.

It seems to me that alone requires further consideration.


I have all the same demons you do assuring me it’s selfish, unnecessary (or too necessary, I’ll never doing anything else for anyone else ever again) lazy, arrogant, and in the end just plain wrong.

At the same time, everything in my Buddhist teachings (confirmed by my own experience) tells me focusing on myself, my needs, my desires is exactly how I create my own suffering. The way to free myself is to focus on the benefit of others.

Well, what am I to do with that?

Every time I put myself first — examining every request through the lens of my own energy level, riding disability carts through airports as throngs of travelers drag suitcases in the trek to their gate, going first, sitting when others stand, canceling plans, choosing to rest — how do I reconcile all that “I”?

You may give me a free pass because of my health challenges. You’ll say, it’s different for you Mahala, you have a head injury for goodness sakes.

Keep Your Free Pass For Yourself

You, sweet readers, are some of the kindest people on earth. So please forgive me.

I don’t want your free pass.

Your free pass, so lovingly intended does not help me at all. It makes things worse, can you understand? I don’t want to be the exception. Let someone else be the exception for a change.

We already give each other permission. Compassion. How can each one of us give ourselves permission? Our own free pass to take the care we need to stay whole, healthy, and in service. Without waiting for a breakdown?

How do I wish this for me and for you without turning my back on Buddhism, karma, and the genuine blessings that come from thinking of others instead of ourselves?


I’ve been struggling with these issues for years. Then, about a week ago, I started having breakthroughs. All of my long-standing explorations, meditations, conversations with Buddhist friends, studies in Buddhist psychology… everything that had been so emotionally laden before rearranged itself in the most clear and simple truth:

It is possible to engage in Sacred Selfcare.

I see it. I understand it. I can feel it in my body. It’s tender and beautiful and whole.

I’ve got so many ideas jumping around excitedly in my brain longing to be told, shared, and refined.

There is just no way I want to do this by writing alone. I want to be with you as much as I can with these observations.

I am inviting delightedly begging you to join me for what is sure to be a rich, joyful, wisdom filled, three-part class on the subject of Sacred Selfcare.

This changes everything.

And here it is! Body of Wisdom ~ Mindfulness Practices for Sacred Self-Care. Click for complete details.

Metta Sutra: What Buddha Taught About Loving Kindness

The Metta Sutra, Buddha’s teaching on Loving Kindness, is offered as part of the Summer of Lovingkindness Invitational.  #SOLI. I’ve used the alternate spelling, loving kindness, to help more people discover this beautiful sutra via the search engines

radiating loving kindness © 2010 Mahala Mazerov

Loving Kindness

This is what should be done

By one who is skilled in goodness,
And who knows the path of peace:

Let them be able and upright,
Straightforward and gentle in speech.

Humble and not conceited,
Contented and easily satisfied.

Unburdened with duties and frugal in their ways.

Peaceful and calm, and wise and skillful,
Not proud and demanding in nature.

Let them not do the slightest thing
That the wise would later reprove.

Wishing: In gladness and in saftey,
May all beings be at ease.

Whatever living beings there may be;
Whether they are weak or strong, omitting none,
The great or the mighty, medium, short or small,
The seen and the unseen,
Those living near and far away,
Those born and to-be-born,
May all beings be at ease!

Let none deceive another,
Or despise any being in any state.

Let none through anger or ill-will
Wish harm upon another.

Even as a mother protects with her life
Her child, her only child,
So with a boundless heart
Should one cherish all living beings:
Radiating kindness over the entire world
Spreading upwards to the skies,
And downwards to the depths;
Outwards and unbounded,
Freed from hatred and ill-will.

Whether standing or walking, seated or lying down
Free from drowsiness,
One should sustain this recollection.

This is said to be the sublime abiding.

By not holding to fixed views,
The pure-hearted one, having clarity of vision,
Being freed from all sense desires,
Is not born again into this world.

Buddha, Metta Sutra

The Buddha’s discourse on Loving Kindness

Take a moment to recite the Metta Sutra out loud and you’ll experience the beauty of this most well known gatha (verse.)

You can also listen to the Metta Sutra, chanted in the original Pali language by Venerable Indaratana Maha Thera.

It’s hard to believe we’re entering our second month of #SOLI! There’s still plenty of time to leap into the love. You’ll find writing prompts here. Use the #SOLI link or check out the #SOLI hashtag on Twitter for the work of other inspiring writers.

Thanks to all of you who are sharing and spreading Metta, lovingkindness in the world!

Tender Loving Care

The Summer of Lovingkindness Invitational continues with tender loving care…

encircled © 2010 Mahala Mazerov

Susan Gallacher-Turner left a sweet and tender comment on my post What Is Loving Kindness? With her permission, I’m bringing it front and center for those of you who may have missed it.

Check out her Sculpting a Life blog, and discover her earthy sculptures here.

Susan wrote:

As a mother of two, now grown, children, I can see that loving kindness truly bloomed in me as I nurtured my children. And it reminds me of an exchange between my own mother and I.

I had been home a few days after giving birth to my first child, a daughter, and I was giving her one of her first baths in a small baby sink in the bathroom. I’d carefully assembled all the needs, soap, shampoo, soft wash cloth and towel then, just as carefully and somewhat nervously, I undressed this little darling. While my mother looked on, I lowered her slowly into the bath and went about gently washing her smooth skin while taking in her tiny beauty from her dark hair and eyes, little lips and fingernails. As I was absorbed in the process of bathing my daugther, I didn’t notice that I did anything special, but as I finished up my mother said, “You did that all so gently. I never did that, I was in such a hurry and just scrubbed you.” When I looked over at her, curious, wondering if I was getting criticized, I could see amazement on her face. It was as if for the first time, she realized that she could have done it differently.

The act of bathing, feeding and holding my children was always done with loving kindness, I realize now. It just came naturally. Why, then, is it so hard to give that same care to myself?

The tender loving care she gave to her daughter is so beautifully present in her writing. She inspired memories of my own, and I intended to add them to these words of hers.

I’m deciding to offer her words as a gift to you and to myself — to let her words hold the space even though I think I should be adding more of my own writing here.

“Why, then, is it so hard to give that same care to myself?”

I’m too far gone with exhaustion to have any honest answer. I’m good at being gentle with myself when I’m crashing from my head injury or adrenal fatigue and it’s too late to do anything else. (Like now.)

But I think it may be one of the most important questions we have to answer if we’re going to be of service.

I really want to hear your thoughts on this: What can I do? How can we support one another in giving ourselves the tender loving care we need to go forward in vitality and lovingkindness?

Longing for Home

This month, Jennifer Louden,Susan Piver, Hiro Boga and I unleash a wave of emotions as we write on the subject of Home: longing for them, losing them, making them ourselves. Follow the links to read their offerings. Hat tip to these brilliant women: my delight in writing in community with them was one of the inspirations for the Summer of Lovingkindness Invitational. (There’s still plenty of time to join in the #SOLI magic!)

earth - moon - rock (Arizona stone)

earth - moon - rock (arizona stone) © 2010 Mahala Mazerov

I step out every day, overflowing with gratitude for my life in Ithaca. I’m in walking distance to almost everything. There’s a wonderful disability ride service for things farther afield. I like the ease, progressiveness, cultural offerings and the extraordinary geology of the gorges that surround me. Plus there’s the Dalai Lama’s monastery brimming with boundless courses and retreats. (Not to mention the pure, inexplicable happiness I feel running into Tibetan monks in the food co-op.)

It’s perfectly functional for me. Except it’s not Home.

Before Ithaca, I lived in a small village in Vermont. For 10 years I lived with a river. No back yard, but the “west branch” of the Ompompanusac River, with meadow turning to woods on the other side. I would sit on my Little River Porch (bundled in blankets in winter) and watch deer, river otter, beaver, all manner of birds and the occasional kayaker pass by. I felt my roots go down deep there. I thought I’d never leave.

But I was dependent on others to get out and around. It was tiring to always have to ask and so I mostly stopped asking. Over time the isolation I needed (to get away from 7 years of hospitals and 3 years of at-home brain injury rehabilitation to heal and integrate in peace) became too much.

I’m on a quest for a Heart Home where I have the best of all possible worlds. But I’m questioning my perception of Home. Can I find it? Or, like Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz, has it been with me all along?

The Story

If I ask “Where are you from?” do you answer with the place you live now? Or the place you were born?

Ask an indigenous person that very same question and they may point to a great ocean, a mountain, or the center of the earth as their home.

Ask the Q’ero, direct descendants of the Incas, and they point to the stars.

I was only just discovering my shamanic ancestors when I met Q’ero shaman sometime in the 1990s. In a strange prescience we met in a Zen temple in Rhode Island. Peruvian shaman in ceremonial ponchos looking as if they’d just stepped out of National Geographic magazine sharing space with a giant golden Buddha.

Little did I imagine how these two worlds would combine to be my future.

I can see the face, the energy, the pure love beaming from Don Manuel Quispe, the Dalai Lama of the Andes as if he were standing before me now.

Don Manuel Quispe

Don Manuel Quispe 1905 - 2004 (photographer unknown)

He and the other shaman shared extensive teachings and initiations his people had hidden for 500 years. Their prophecies indicated it was now time to share this knowledge. Time for the Condor of the South and the Eagle of the North to fly together.

One night they gave us an initiation, a Karpay, a transmission. They gave us the Star Rites of “Mosoq Karpay” (The Rites of the Time to Come) to the Star Beings.

To this day I could not tell you what happened to me under that sky. But something cracked open.

I returned home to Vermont, sat on my Little River Porch, looked up at the night sky and sobbed my heart out for eight solid weeks.

Just writing about this makes me start to quiver.

What does this mean that, longing for Home, I point to the stars?

It’s the same longing I have for the all-encompassing love I experienced the night of my brain injury. The night when, after 8 hours in the ER, my awareness of dying transformed into a near death vision.

It’s the same unobstructed state I experience in some of my Buddhist practices. I overflow with love until everything becomes spacious and empty.

These are my Home. And yet there’s no physicality. There’s no place to stay. I need a body and this physical world around me to accomplish anything at all that is good.

Wherever I live becomes my practice ground. The place where I turn events easy and hard into a cultivation of lovingkindness and compassion. The place where I fail and try again. The place where I sometimes succeed and bask in pure astonishment that it is possible to feel such love here, too.

Home becomes everywhere my heart has a chance to love.

Comment Kindness: This is one of those posts that might seem perfectly ordinary to you, but which feels very vulnerable for me to publish. Even though I ask What does it mean that I point to the stars…? it’s a question of inner exploration. I’m not really asking for an answer. What I would love is your thoughts about home: Have you found your heart place? And your thoughts about lovingkindness: how does your home evoke that in you?

What is Loving Kindness?

cherish - loving kindness

cherish © 2010 Mahala Mazerov

So with a boundless heart
Should one cherish all living beings:
Radiating kindness over the entire world
~ Buddha’s discourse on Loving Kindness

Thanks to all of you who are joining in the Summer of Loving Kindness Invitational, #SOLI. It’s a delight to see what you’re creating. I must admit to being very happy every time a new person joins in.

I’m also excited to discover that I’m noticing more and more kindness related offerings on the internet, whether they’re from #SOLI participants or not. This is exactly what I wanted — to turn my mind to loving kindness and discover it all around me on a more constant basis. I hope that’s happening for you, too.

We can all be mirrors of loving kindness everywhere.

[Just so you know, I'm writing it as "loving kindness" here in this post for the sake of the search engines. I'd like to have as many people as possible discovering and engaging in this awareness.]

As we explore our concepts of loving kindness inspired by the writing prompts or our own insights, I thought it would be helpful to share the Buddhist meaning of the word.

Many of you know the word Metta; it comes from the Pali language. (Some of you also know Maitri, which is Sanskrit.) It’s most often translated as loving kindness, but in truth there is no singular word in English that expresses the full breadth of the word. It’s more than affection or warm feelings, and very different from the attachment that forms with worldly love.

Some translators say it literally means “friendliness,” but that too is different from how we generally use the word.

When we love, when we feel friendliness for someone, we tend to exclude others. We think “I love you.” Or “This person is my friend. This group is my tribe. That person is a stranger. Those people are my adversaries.”

Metta does not set up such boundaries of exclusion. True loving kindness is extended to all humanity. That is what makes it a practice requiring (and worthy of) ongoing devotion.

The Buddha uses the image of a mother’s love for her only child as the epitome of love. It’s the loving kindness we should develop for all beings. When you consider how carefully this mother would attend to her child, how no self-sacrifice would be too great to see her child survive and flourish, you begin to grasp the full meaning of metta.  You come to understand what is being asked of you, and what a great gift you give to the world, even if you can only generate a small amount of loving kindness at a time.

If you’re a parent, I would love to hear how this description resonates with your experience.

For everyone: How can you bring the essence of loving kindness into your day?

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