A new feminine leadership paradigm: Healing trauma though resilient hierarchy and mutually empowering relationships

Photo by Kiana Bosman on Unsplash

I have always longed for deep and powerful leadership. A leader who creates a space of respect and empowerment for all. Where each member’s value is appreciated. Where the ebbs and flows within the community are seen with eyes of wisdom, and are handled with great skill. Where everyone feels they belong and are contributing a valuable part to the wholeness of community.

This month’s article is inspired by deep words from a Heal Your Heart Through Meditation community member. She brings up important issues, arising from her longing for a new leadership paradigm. Her words touched on my own longing. I propose this as the basic question arising from a longing shared by many:

How can we define a new leadership paradigm that is healthier than the male-dominated, hierarchical, top-down, oppressive, life-snuffing, inspiration-killing, and abuse-prone structured paradigm we’ve lived within for decades, and perhaps even centuries?

The quote below is shared with permission by our HYHTM community member. She engaged a deep insight process and emerged with the following pearl of longing:

Is it possible to create a program that is structured in a way that feels supportive, organic and developmental (which I think yours does [Heal Your Heart Through Meditation]) but at the same time, not fall into the male hierarchical structure that is top down and prone, I believe, to misuse and negative power imbalances?

I just wonder if the female inspired path can create something a little different. Structured but not too top down hierarchical, something like that?

I guess I know what I am seeking, and I am wondering if others would create it…and I certainly respect the time and effort it takes to create such programs so I believe women should empower each other to financially support each other as well etc…

I must first acknowledge some trepidation as I enter into responding to these thoughts. I just came out of a two-year healing retreat last Wednesday, and I have been reflecting intensively on these issues in light of my leadership of Buddhist Project Sunshine. In fact, this was the topic of a counselling session I had last week with my now former counsellor, Leland Maerz. (We contracted to do six sessions together, and this session was the sixth.)

Leland is a strong justice advocate himself, in the domain of domestic violence. He said in our last session that he sees me as one of the greatest whistleblowers of our century because of the wisdom and skill with which I lead Buddhist Project Sunshine. I was surprised by his statement. I’m going to be transparent in saying I am currently grappling with my leadership style.

I am going to begin by teasing out two topics that I see embedded in this courageous community member’s statement. First, she speaks about meditation programs, such as Heal Your Heart Through Meditation. Second, I feel she is speaking about a more feminine style of leadership.

Topic 1: Meditation programs structured as supportive, organic and developmental

In terms of the first topic, I love what she says about having a meditation program that “feels supportive, organic and developmental.” Being transparent about my own experience, I grew up in the Shambhala cult with emotionally absent parents. This was a double whammy in my experience, and together these two facets severely impacting my childhood development.

The silver lining is it caused me to immerse myself in a steep learning curve in adult life to develop emotionally, relationally and my sense of identity.

I lived in Toronto for 19 years, and I worked with master healers, including top relational therapists, two indigenous shamans and the imminent energy psychologist, Dr. Joan Beattie. With strong mentorship, I did a lot of healing and development out of my state of childhood wounding, walking through great blazing healing initiations, and I formed a personal sense of identity and responsibility as a citizen of our world.

After this therapy and other healing, I did a Masters of Education in Counselling Psychology at the University of Toronto’s Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE). In my degree I specialized in trauma healing, and applied each academic course to my journey of learning about developmental and relational healing.

Through all of this, I have grown a profound respect for each individual’s unique process of human development. Therefore I strive to create a space in Heal Your Heart Through Meditation that weaves together two aspects: (1) the space is palpably gentle and permissive, and (2) it evokes eustress (positive stress) through shepherding my courageous students to keep moving forward in their healing and meditation practice. My shamanic training informs how to create an organic process for this in Heal Your Heart Through Meditation.

This describes how I create a healing/feeling/organic-growing space in the program. Let us now move to the second topic, the longing for a healthier and more feminine leadership style.

Topic 2: A new paradigm of feminine leadership

This is new and juicy terrain, and I feel it’s risky territory to enter. I am a woman who has taken incredible risks in the past, knowing risk is the doorway to creating new worlds. So let’s take this risk of this discussion together, shall we?

Part of managing my risk here is to invite you to participate in this dialog. We must include a diversity of perspectives to truly form a strong new paradigm.

My approach today is to put out some initial thoughts, which I will call “puzzle pieces,” that I am currently working with, and hopefully with some more pieces that *you* bring from your experience, we can create a more complete picture.

Puzzle piece 1: I hosted a series of community discussions in the Fall of 2020, and in one of those discussions we talked about the abuse of male leaders of spiritual communities. All of the women present at that discussion had gone through an experience of profound spiritual betrayal within such a community. There was a natural aversion and even repudiation of hierarchy amongst the participants of this discussion.

We first took time to acknowledge the betrayals, wounds and resulting caution from those experiences. Then I proposed we face the fact that some people train themselves deeply and have something to offer to others from that extensive training.

Do we regard those people simply as our equals? Do we honour them for what they worked to achieve and are now sharing with us? How do we properly relate with teachers who have developed something unique and valuable? How do we relate in a way that allows us to connect with them in positive ways and receive the gifts they are sharing with us? I don’t think that coming with a hard shell of defensiveness allows for the communication and honour needed to receive gifts from a master.

The conversation participants agreed.

In my own experience, I aspire to hold masters up with the honour they deserve. I recognize their gifts, as well as their work and sacrifice to serve as a teacher. I also know that we are all human, and if they behave badly, I will call it out to be addressed and give them an opportunity to grow.

Puzzle piece 2: In 2018 another treasured member of my community recommended a book to me, “Reinventing Organizations,” by Frederic Laloux. This is a powerful book in its analysis of different types of organizations, and the role that hierarchy plays in each type. Laloux proposes there has been an evolution through history of organizations, and the currently most evolved organization type he calls, “teal organizations”. It’s been a couple of years since I read this book, so I’m going purely on my memory – so forgive any mistakes, please!

In teal organizations there is a founder who establishes core values for the organization, and then through an organic process they transmit those core values in a way that people in the organization begin living them without a top down hierarchy. The founder steps back and serves as a coach, when asked by a team within the organization that feels they need support. If core values are getting lost, the founder will step in and reassert the values in an organic way that empowers members of the organization to step up and live the values.

I love the vision for the teal organization. I love that Laloux provides numerous examples of existing teal organizations, proving it can be a reality. I continue to explore how this might work with the communities I lead.

Puzzle piece 3: I have started a number of communities and organizations, and although I have tried to create collective leadership, it has always failed. For instance, with Buddhist Project Sunshine I first tried to gather women leaders who had been harmed within Shambhala to heal together and then lead the initiative together. Their response was to beg me to abandon my project, because they were afraid I would get hurt. If I had listened to them, none of the suppressed harm would ever have been exposed.

Mid-way in the project a collective circle was forming, and I thought we could be a group leading together. However, strange dynamics started happening where the men in the circle were shutting down the voices of women survivors and demanding all the attention. I formed this initiative to hold up the voices of survivors, and I found this behaviour was sucking the life force from the project. So I ended that circle and continued forward as the solo leader.

In a much simpler example, during my Christian journey I was hosting an Easter dinner for friends from the LGBT Catholic group I was part of. I did not invite one man who was a straight ally, because he was rather dissociated and often brought strange energy into the mix. A week or so before the dinner, we were all having brunch one morning after mass, and one of my invited guests suggested in front of the straight ally that I could always make room for another person at the table and invite the ally. I said no.

Now I felt really rotten about this, because it seemed uncharitable and un-christian of me. I felt so guilty, I brought it up with one of my professors at Regis, the Jesuit College where I was studying. To my surprise my professor complimented my decision. She said that if I had allowed the dissociated man to join, it would have been a very different space for everyone. In fact, I had done something good in protecting the space so that my guests would be able to be more open and vulnerable with each other.

Fast forward to yesterday, when I spoke with my counsellor about my leadership of Buddhist Project Sunshine, he said similar things about my decisions in Buddhist Project Sunshine. He said that what he saw is that I made difficult decisions to protect the life and vitality of the project, fully aware of the possible harm I might be doing to those who I excluded from the leadership circle.

All I can say is that I am passionate about protecting space so people can be vulnerable, heal and authentically pursue their spiritual path. And it really sucks when I need to step in and remove someone from leadership. However, in the end, the group feels safe, and that seems important. It seems important to strong leadership. I do my very, very, very best to minimize any hurt someone might feel when I remove them from leadership.

I believe we all have different and valuable gifts. Some people have strong leadership skills. Others have other valuable skills. If we try to make everyone exactly the same and form collective leadership, it can become watered down and wishy washy. This leadership will never lead profound and brilliant communities.

Puzzle piece 4: I experience myself being more clear and visionary than many people I lead. I feel alone in this, and I long to share leadership power.

I also know that an inherent aspect of my leadership is that I welcome everyone sharing the gifts they possess. I know that everyone has a valued place in community. Many community experiences are pioneering experiences. Since they are so new, it feels important to me to solicit input and wisdom from the community. (Like I am doing here, in asking you to contribute your thoughts on this subject.)

We are all human, and we all have our unique connection with wisdom. I value learning from other people’s perspectives and the hard won wisdom from their life experience. And what they have to say creates more wholeness for the community wisdom.

I first learned of the notion of mutually empowering relationships at least two decades ago, and since I first heard of it, this ideal has been dear to my heart. It comes from the feminist researchers connected with the Stone Center for Developmental Services and Studies at Wellesley College. You can read about their ideas in the book, “The Healing Connection: How Women Form Relationships in Therapy and in Life.”

There is enough on this one topic to warrant a book, and it goes beyond the scope of this article. The one thing I will highlight from their research is the idea of zest. These feminist researchers claim that one of the aspects of mutually empowering relationships is they have zest – they give all parties in the relationship a sense of zest for life. I feel this particular quality is important, especially in communities impacted by trauma. We all deserve to come out of the shadows of trauma and live relationships that fill us with zest!

For me as a hierarchical leader who invites high engagement from members, I experience zest in walking the “tight wire”: on one side actively encouraging participation, and on the others side when someone has fallen into a bad energy, addressing it if it is impacting the whole. Since I often find myself with the clarity to discern this, I find myself in a lonely place of holding the space, holding the higher perspective, and guiding communities forward into bright new spaces.

Puzzle piece 5: Accountability in hierarchy. Since I often find myself with a unique level of clarity, and at the same time holding inviting space for other’s contributions, I have been developing a new leadership paradigm which I am calling resilient hierarchy with mutually empowering relationships.

It’s not comfortable for me to say I am a hierarchical leader, because I long for the collective leadership vision that I spoke of at the beginning of Buddhist Project Sunshine.

In my last session with Leland I spoke about my discomfort with practicing hierarchical leadership, and he asked me how I, as leader, safeguard against causing harms. I told him that I strongly rely on my spiritual practice to help me stay grounded and coming from a perspective of compassion. I also practice very deep self-care and make sure I get into nature regularly.

I spoke to him about having “checks and balances”. I am constantly looking at myself and assessing, “Is what I am doing fair? Is it uplifting the situation? Is it empowering the people I’m working with?” I constantly evaluate myself. This close scrutiny comes from my having seen the impacts of abuse from leaders. It is very important to me to lead from a place of deep integrity. When I fall short in my integrity, I do deep debriefs with mentors and counsellors and ensure I learn the lessons there for me to safeguard against ever making those mistakes again.

I’ve laid out some puzzle pieces here that might be useful for a new leadership paradigm. I know I have much to learn from others, and I would love to hear your ideas for how we can create a new paradigm of feminine leadership. Please do share below, or respond further through my community needs survey . Your contribution will lead to a better understanding for what can be possible.

If you are interested in checking out Heal Your Heart Through Meditation, you can try a free 2-week trial, PLUS it is on sale in the month of May – you can get it for 50%.

Why must our inner child be included in trauma-informed meditation?

Photo by Jhon David on Unsplash

I am grateful for the engagement this past month in our community needs survey! A warm thank you to everyone who participated. 

The energy this month was directed towards wondering what trauma-informed meditation is and exploration of what can open up to blossom when we include our inner child in our meditation practice.

I will put the words of community members in bold and respond below to their words. Each of these people gave permission to include their words in this blog.

Needs survey question: Are you interested in trauma-informed meditation? If yes, please share more about your interest.

Yes. Not sure what it would look like. 

I was brought up in a Tibetan Buddhist community where profound meditation practices were explored with no awareness of or attention to trauma dynamics, boundaries or the inner child. The strong drive towards spiritual fulfillment coupled with active suppression of red flags regarding sexual misconduct proved fertile ground for gross spiritual betrayal and harm in my community. 

We’ve seen this dynamic in many spiritual traditions, including the well-known sexual exploitation in the Catholic church.

I would suggest this harm is made possible and perhaps even fostered by the combination of strong needs for spirituality at the expense of and suppression of other basic human needs.

When we start to talk about trauma-informed meditation, we are opening up a space for a wider spectrum of needs, needs for spirituality along with safety, autonomy, respect, being seen, being heard, and other emotional, relational and physical needs.

In the Heal Your Heart Through Meditation (HYHTM) program we include energy psychology to release trauma blocks within the body and emotions. We also listen for and work closely with our inner child. One of the greatest gifts of working with your inner child is s/he gives you access to knowing your quieter, more subtle needs. 

Gaining access to this subtle knowledge empowers you to then act and get your deeper needs met. This allows the practitioner to form a fuller and more robust meditation practice.

Another community member who has completed the Heal Your Heart Through Meditation program wrote:

Intentionally embracing my inner child at the beginning of each meditation is helping me to connect with the vulnerability of feeling and connecting with chronic fear and slowly, gently transform this fear to a felt sense of safety and ease.

Many who have experienced trauma go through life with a hardened armour around their heart and around their feelings. It’s like a layer of shellack around those soft places, and it is created by speed – by quickly skirting around or jumping over anything threatening. 

Meditation in the HYHTM program offers a slowed down space to begin to *feel* again. We create a space of safety where even decades old fears can become less intimidating, and we can begin to see how to touch them, tend them, and move through them, as this community member so eloquently describes.

Another community member who is currently in the HYHTM program wrote:

Having a safe container – something I have felt intensely on 7 day silent retreats (I’ve never had the fortune of doing a longer one) – is really very important to me. So thank you so so much for encouraging me to create my own “shrine” and safe place AND to invite my inner child to come. 

Today she was very present in my meditation and so was the loving kindness and the tears, oh the tears! I saw her before me, all sweetness and purity, and I saw her journey of pain and pleasure and getting oh so lost, I saw it emanate and unfold from inside of her, I saw her journey to come, and I just loved her as a loving parent and I asked her to bring it all, and I held her in my heart chakra and it was very intense and now I feel a little shaky but it is ok and it is good and although it is not an easy process and one that needs deep and compassionate grounding, I believe in the alchemic power of the heart chakra that can integrate all things, through love and compassion.

Since I was brought up in a strong meditative tradition, I bring a robust firmness to the way I teach meditation. At the same time, I understand the kind of deep tenderness that is needed for healing trauma. I combine this firm strength and tenderness in my approach to guiding courageous students in the HYHTM program. 

In other communities, meditation learners are called students. I’d like to establish a different tradition in the HYHTM community and call learners, “courageous students”. The root of the word courage is cor – the Latin word for heart. The students of this program engage meditation with their hearts and they *are* very brave. Therefore, they are courageous students!

The HYHTM courageous students get one small exercise each day, so it is an easier load. The exercises are also part of a game, which allows for some lightness, play and fun. I feel this gentleness is necessary for any trauma healing.

At the same time, over the course of seven weeks, the courageous student creates a full, complete and rich meditation practice. Some courageous students have described this program as deceptively effective.

As courageous students grow their trust and tenderness within the careful and caring process of the program, they are enabled to establish a tender relationship with their inner child and have beautiful and heart-full breakthroughs like thie courageous student described above.

It may even be helpful to bring in the term “emotional literacy” here, which has been identified as critical to success in business and life. The quote above speaks to this courageous student’s growing knowledge of her emotional needs and flows; her emotional literacy is at a high level. Her words show how we need to start to talk about emotional literacy in meditation to deepen the possibilities of meditation for the modern Western world.

From my heart, I thank the community members who have stepped forward and engaged so beautifully this month. It is a true joy and pleasure to respond to you!

With all my love,


I’m hosting a special

Live Spring Energy Event

featuring Singer/Song writer Ben Black

Please join us!

Non-Blog: A feminine response to things going wrong

Love Yourself
Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

In the midst of things going wrong, wouldn’t you love to feel that everything’s going to be okay? My aim in this non-blog is for you to have a felt experience of “Everything’s going to be okay”, and for you to be able to bring that felt experience into anything that may be going “wrong” in your life.

Okay, let’s set the scene…

Exhibit 1: I was brought up in a Tibetan Buddhist community with systemic corruption and sexualized violence. Crappy! A lot going wrong! And my response has been to put integrity as my number one value in how I live my life.

Exhibit 2: Last July I committed to offer a blog of value every month for one year to my deeply honoured Tribe.

Exhibit 3: This week the blog for March was just not happening.

Yikes! What happened this week?

  • No one responded to the February community needs survey, so I had no point of focus
  • Thursday I went to work on the Blog and was guided to a 2 hour program on Unicorns. I purchased the program and then did the program, and was introduced to my Unicorn guide, Blue.
  • Blue said to let the transformation of the Unicorn program gel for a few days
  • Fast forward to Saturday. I went to the park and had a wonderful experience feeding chickadees sunflower seeds by hand. Many of them came that day. I love the experience of their little feet grasping my finger and their happiness in plucking a couple of seeds from my palm. Very special! And I stayed longer than planned feeding the chickadees.
  • I returned home to write the blog, and Blue advised me to take a nap. The nap was great!
  • But still no blog…

Now remember: Integrity is my main value. I was entering into the soul crushing domain after promising you a blog and having no blog to offer.

I set up my diffusor Saturday night at bed time with an essential oil blend called, “Surrender,” because it seemed the sane direction to go at that point.

Sunday I reached out to my good friend and colleague, Diane Young, and ran my dilemma by her. Diane has a lovely warm, wise and flowing way about her. She responded, “Why not write about this process, because everyone has had the experience of something not working as planned.”


And here we are with my first non-blog.

Diane is passionate about astrology. She said we just had a full moon in Virgo, which is about keeping routines. We also just experienced the Sun conjunct Venus, which is about encouraging you to take “me time”, ie relax, take time for yourself, take a nap. There was a distinct conflict happening astrologically last week between keeping routines and taking time for self. She pointed out I was experiencing this conflict in my attempt to write a blog. This was a wonderful sanity check!

What can be learned from this?

What might be your takeaway from this non-blog?

  1. It is important to honour your rhythms
  2. Enjoy feeding chickadees (and other experiences that delight you!)
  3. Know when to surrender… Allow flow. Allow grace. Allow ease.
  4. Reach out to community when you are stuck.
  5. Trust the Universe. It will provide.
  6. Honour your commitments AND your wellbeing by growing through the tricky spots with creativity and integrity.
  7. Understand the love beneath your commitments, and let that love illuminate the promise.

? ? ? I’m sending a lot of pink love out to you with this post ? ? ?

I’m wishing some grace for you today to find the way through your tricky spots. There seems to be an endless supply of support and creative options, if we can only open our hearts to the basis of goodness and care always available within life.

To join my community, click here

To learn more healing strategies take the 2-week test drive of Heal Your Heart Through Meditation

Being able to feel love: Some personal reflections on Tango and our capacity for intimacy

Instructors Deborah Sclarduring (cq)(left) and Brian Dunn (cq)(right) smile while dancing during a class on Tango Dancing at PreEminence Hall in Boulder, Colorado June 16, 2007. (DAILY CAMERA/Mark Leffingwell)

The pandemic has taken a great toll on all of us. If we’re honest, the extended stress, physical distancing, and profound loss and grief have made it harder to *feel*. The most popular topic on last month’s community survey was, “being able to feel love”. This topic couldn’t have come at a better time!

As I reflected on the community’s topic, I thought back to my years in Toronto when I studied Argentinian Tango. It is a dance of feeling and of sharing love. In fact, Tango is so intimate, it was a challenge to find a photo that communicates the real spirit of this exquisite dance. I was pleased to find the one above.

Tango arose at a time when couples were separated because of work-related migration patterns. Even as lovers were apart, they still had human needs for closeness and intimacy. Tango arose as a safe and respectful way to have physical intimacy with someone other than your spouse, without it breaking your vow.

In addition, Tango developed in the context of men outnumbering women about five to one. This gave a man a big incentive to give his female dance partner a pleasurable experience so she would want to dance with him again, and not the other four men waiting to dance with her. Tango movements developed to make the woman feel good, which is a big reason why Tango can be such an intimate and lovely experience.

I want to make a note here and say that Tango is a very gender-fluid dance. When we refer to “man”, we really refer to the leader – the one proposing the movements. Many men dance tango with men especially when they are training, and women dance with women. It would be incorrect to refer to the woman as the follower, since the woman has the choice of whether or not to accept the leader’s proposed next move. She might not, and he’ll have to try something else.

So in Tango there are equal, yet different – complementary roles. Both require a high level of skill, and that is because the dance is not choreographed. The partners must engage in a present emotional intimacy to communicate through their bodies with each other. This means opening one’s heart to *feeling* the heart of your dance partner, so you can dance well together.

It includes awkwardness. It includes vulnerability. It includes taking risks. It includes making mis-steps. And it includes being willing to open your heart and feel platonic human love to work well together and enjoy the dance.

So how might we learn something from the beautiful experience of Argentinian Tango for feeling love during this pandemic?

First, let’s acknowledge the certain death of heart if we close ourselves off from authentically connecting with people. Don’t go there, please!

If we can’t physically touch others, we can still extend kindness. We can extend courtesy on public transit, whether that is making space for someone boarding, thanking the bus driver, or simply saying a kind good morning to another passenger. They may not respond, but at least you are sewing seeds of love into the world, and that’s going to open your heart to feeling more love.

We can also get creative and explore new ways to connect with friends, family and other loved ones. If you have been reduced to getting together on Zoom, then make your Zoom get together special! Here are some ideas to kick off your creativity:

  • Create a colorful and meaningful invitation and send it with a bit of flare. 
  • Set up as a festive tea/coffee date where each of you bring a special drink. Share your drink choices when you get on the call. Wow each other!
  • Make a cooking date where you decide a recipe you are going to cook, each buy the ingredients, open up your Zooms, and make the same dish together in your separate kitchens

Is it possible to be nurtured by a Zoom call? 

People attending my Zoom programs have remarked at how warm their hearts feel by the end of the program. Part of that is my leadership (as in Tango), where I set a tone of heart, kindness, and being very present and authentic with each other. They feel my care.

The equally important part is the willingness of the participants to step into that space of authenticity and share their wisdom and about what they need so we can attend to it. We co-create a space of warmth, care, wisdom and humanity that nourishes our spirits in these desolate pandemic times.

What I am proposing is that the spirit and heart that you sew into reaching out to people in your life can be meaningful. It doesn’t have to be a shallow email or a shallow Zoom call.

It can be a deeply heart-full email or Zoom call if you invest your feeling, your presence and your heart. 

Drawing on the Tango analogy… If you are willing to be present with your awkwardness and vulnerability, and hold space for your partner to be awkward and vulnerable, it makes it more real. If you sometimes take on the role of leading and proposing a “move,” then respectfully listen for how your partner receives it (ie, invite them to a festive Zoom tea). You can also respond with some grace and warmth when someone reaches out to you with a proposed “move” (ie, send a heart touching response to your loved one and add an emoji or two).

We truly create our experience, and even within a pandemic, we can dig a little deeper into how we love people. I invite you to explore how you can attend more deeply to your own heart and to the hearts of those around you this month so you are able to feel more love.

To support you in greasing your emotional intimacy wheels, I am offering a sale this month on Heal Your Heart Through Meditation.

To join my community, click here.

A special treat for those who read to the bottom of the page… This short video demonstrates the qualities of Tango that I talk about in this article. Enjoy!

Gustavo Naveira y Giselle Anne en Salon Canning

Would you like to know the key to courage?

Photo by Stillness InMotion on Unsplash

As we move as a world community through the crisis of the pandemic, one of the biggest hurdles to working together is the stark polarization among views. Many people have grabbed on to an extreme view (doesn’t matter which one for this discussion), and they are arguing for this view to their last breath.

Why such polarization? And why such fierce defending of extreme views?

I would suggest the root is fear. Fear is a highly contagious emotional state. Just watch a flock of birds or a herd of deer when one member is startled. The whole group goes into panic and flees. Are we witnessing episodes of this fear contagion globally during this pandemic?

Why else would some people swing to such extreme views? Why else would they be stubbornly unwilling to hear alternative views? And why is there so little discourse about the middle ground?

Many people are afraid and in their own emotional “lock down” mode. Is this a trauma response?

What can reach such locked down hearts? Many people are struggling intensely with loneliness, fear about money, fear for their loved ones, uncertainty about the future, fear of the unknown, anxiety about the world going in the wrong direction, and fear of being unable to cope or manage. Is there a pharmaceutical company that can produce a pill that addresses this kind of fear?

I would suggest, no. Sure, they might be able to provide a pill that numbs the heart, but so far as I know, no company has produced a “bravery” pill.

What if I told you that the single best remedy for anxiety costs nothing and is accessible anywhere and at any time

Sounds too good to be true, right?

Well, in our increasingly complicated world, I fear we have lost some of the basic and practical wisdom of our elders. I challenging us to pull back some of that basic wisdom to serve us as we enter into 2021.

What do you think? Can we just run fast enough to be able to outrun our fears? Can we take the fear and put it in a box – maybe a soundproof box? Or maybe pull out our sword and kill our fear? Could that bring us to a steadier, more confident and engaged place?

I don’t know about you, but these strategies never work for me. Instead, it is this simple act of courage that works unfailingly for me: I choose to be present with my fear. I slow down, sit down, and become familiar with it.

It is the pushing away of fear that gives it strength (and an unearthly scariness!). When I choose to slow my thought process down, tune into my heart, and actually feel what is going on in my heart, my fear gets acknowledged and it begins to soften and slow down too. It is very much like getting to know another person. Being curious. Being open and kind. Being patient. These behaviours work miracles with fear.

As most of you know, I was brought up in a Buddhist community where I was taught that meditation is the ultimate act of a bravery. Willingness to sit down quietly and be with my mind in a kind, caring and courageous way is the way to develop inner strength and fortitude. Rather than being run over by spinning fears, we can develop the strength to be steady and to walk the road ahead.

The Buddha called this the middle way, and I can’t help but wonder if his ancient wisdom may provide the guidance needed in these highly polarized times.

I am empowering my community to have the best year ever in 2021! I’m offering a free 2021 New Year’s Empowerment Series. Join me in initiating a well-balanced, inspired and fully empowered 2021!

And saving the best for last… see the exciting launch of the new gamified meditation course: Heal Your Heart Through Meditation.

Pioneering new pathways of healing for those abused within spiritual communities

Photo by Yoann Boyer (Unsplash.com)

A community member responded to our August community survey with deeply insightful and passionate remarks about healing from spiritual betrayal. I was so moved by what she wrote, I am dedicating my article this month to responding to her. She has given me permission to quote her for this article.

“Life is traumatic ! I am interested in what goes on in the brain when PTSD is triggered and how healing ,making new pathways can happen.If teachers are not trauma informed they can’t understand why people are not healing or making progress and often can do more harm than good.”

I am interested in the PTSD response too, and I have focused much of my study on what goes on in our heart space when PTSD is triggered. My studies have focused on relational trauma – traumas that occurred within relationship with another person or group of people (as opposed to other sources of trauma, such as a natural disaster). 

Here is what I have come to understand through my studies, working with clients, and over 30 years of my own healing journey: 

We form attachments with people, and when those attachments are suddenly severed through betrayal, it can can cause a rip in our heart. We can become psychologically fragmented after trauma. While this trauma remains unhealed, we can be easily triggered by experiences that cause fear or insecurity, and it can be challenging to form healthy relationships.

Furthermore, when betrayal happens in a spiritual context, the damage can be far more severe. Our spiritual life is perhaps the most intimate part of our experience. When a betrayal happens within a space of such internal tenderness, the traumatic impact can be far deeper.

I agree with your statement about spiritual teachers who are not trauma informed potentially causing more harm. Particularly in “high-demand” spiritual communities, those who have been previously traumatized will likely have their trauma ignored or even denied, and are encouraged to suppress their feelings in order to pursue the high-demand spiritual tradition. This adds layers of further trauma and adds further complexity to the healing process.

One leader in the trauma healing field, Dr. Sandra Bloom, discovered through her psychiatric practice that nearly all people in society have been traumatized – either through their personal experience of trauma or vicariously through connection with a loved one going through a traumatic experience. So we are living in a society of trauma survivors, most of whom do not acknowledge their trauma and act it out unconsciously in relationships with others, causing further harm and pain. This can include spiritual teachers. 

“I wonder what’s possible I’ve always had a feeling that healing is possible for all illness.Reconising and acknowledging seems to be the starting point.but deeper still I wonder how to heal unknown unremembered trauma. What happens to a young childs brain when trauma happens? Where does the life go ,it breaks off it departs ,what about the ego is it damaged at a young age? So much talk about dissolving ego but what if the ego was not properly formed in a young life?”

I like the idea you have envisioned of creating new pathways – whether in the brain or in the heart. With previous pathways disrupted from trauma, it provides an opportunity to develop new, healthier pathways as we take our journey of healing. Life can actually become more fulfilling and more joyous through the process of healing from betrayal trauma. This is a silver lining to experiencing trauma!

I love your insight and optimism! It seems to me, as well, that recognizing and acknowledge needs to be the starting point. If we accept Dr. Bloom’s statements about how many people are walking around with suppressed trauma, it’s mind boggling to think of how extensive this pattern is. Since so many have not yet reached a place of recognizing and acknowledging the trauma buried in their heart/brain/psyche, they remain trapped in limbo.

But once we do acknowledge the trauma, we can begin the process of healing. As I promote in the Heal Your Heart Through Meditation program, the key stages of healing are (1) safety, (2) remembrance and mourning, and (3) reconnecting with community. That first stage: feeling safe, is critical for doing healing. 

Safety includes feeling supported and often requires spaces that embody an atmosphere of gentleness ,kindness, and wisdom. I experience this presence in my connection with the Divine Feminine; it feels like wise grandmother energy to me. When I am within the presence of this energy, it helps me connect with whatever healing technique I am engaging. The healing techniques might feel hollow or ineffective otherwise, but within the soft gaze and warm embrace of the Divine Feminine, whatever self-care I am engaging goes more deeply.

When you talk about healing “unknown unremembered trauma”, I will first say that the heart has a remarkable ability to protect us from overload by placing a veil over memories we are not yet ready to deal with. I am a firm believer that as we establish greater safety, those forgotten memories can begin to surface for healing attention. Our psyche knows when we are ready.

When you talk about a child’s life and where it goes when a child has been put through trauma, it makes me think of what I learned when I did an apprenticeship with a Mi’kmaq shaman in Quebec in the early 2000’s. My shaman taught me that parts of us psychologically break away in response to severe trauma. They are lost to us from then on. This is why people can have an experience of lost parts. My shaman worked with me around  the practice of “soul retrieval”. Soul retrieval is a beautiful ritual for bringing back lost parts of us, making us whole again.

The questions you are asking are powerful and relevant to all spiritual traditions that tell us we need to let go of and dissolve our ego. In the mid-2000’s, I worked with an expert trauma therapist at Toronto’s Barbra Schlifer Clinic, and she also happened to be an experienced meditator. Like you suggest, she said that if we never had the chance to form a healthy ego in childhood, then we do not have an ego to dissolve. The first step is to form a healthy ego.

“My body remembers ,that I know but I can’t grasp fully or can’t reconnect that which is broken long ago.

I’ve had a year doing reliving process, CBT ,which was the real start for me I let go off and unlearned so much, I literally felt my brain reordering itself.flasbacks stopped anxiety levels dropped and I complain less making life more enjoyable for myself and those around me.”

I am so happy to hear of your healing! Your dedication to yourself is very moving. There has been a lot of research into which modality of therapy is most effective, and the main finding is that the therapist-client relationship match is the single most important factor for healing in therapy. I believe this speaks to the importance of the first stage of trauma healing: safety. It is critical to find a safe relationship in which we can do healing. You didn’t say it, but I bet you had a safe relationship with your therapist to do such powerful healing work.

“What is it to fully connect I wonder? Continental connection.

Joy is a reference for me.If there is no joy,no juice,then there is no life.

I’m grappling in the dark as I investigate.”

I love how you are using joy as your reference! I have found joy to be a wonderful balm for my heart; feeling joy has allowed me to trust again after betrayals. 

Your reference to continental connection is quite expansive! It reminds me of the third stage of trauma healing: reconnecting with community. Dr. Bloom’s seminal text was entitled, “Creating Sanctuary: Toward the Evolution of Sane Societies.” In this book she advocates for creating community healing environments where trauma survivors can be responded to with kindness and sanity. Trauma can heal in these specially-created healing environments, and people can then engage life in the “normal” world with their hearts whole.

In all the community spaces I create, whether through my justice activism work with Buddhist Project Sunshine or through the Heal Your Heart Through Meditation service, I strive to create trauma-informed sanctuaries where people can connect with one another in sane and loving ways, enabling them to heal through community connection. I know this is key to healing, and I am passionate about it!

Your image of “grappling in the dark as I investigate” is lovely! It is pioneering – exploring new uncharted ground. No one has a map for this kind of healing. It is always a personal exploration to find our own unique path of healing. 

Although the journey is unique to each person, it can be incredibly helpful to be connected with other people doing the same work so we can learn from each other’s discoveries. I welcome readers’ comments in the space below. We create a greater understanding together through dialog.

If you would like to be included on my monthly community email list, sign up here.

Werma Vigil Day 21

Wow! Here we are at the 21st day of this vigil, and I am amazed at what a journey this has been! 

Today I felt moved to dedicate my practice in one clear focus: May the raining wisdom create space for those impacted by the Shambhala tragedy to heal. Healing spaces, that is the topic for this final day.

Healing from something as profound as spiritual betrayal is a deep journey. It can be hard to find ground for healing when we are bombarded by continual craziness. I’m a firm believer in carving out spaces that are sane – little islands of sanity. 

During Buddhist Project Sunshine, I hosted three community online discussion groups. These were safe spaces where people could connect and talk about what was happening after each of the three BPS reports were published. Looking back, these were holy grounds, where people extended trust and healed together in the midst of massive community revelations. 

There is true wisdom to the abuse healing adage, “The best revenge is living well.” Creating lives where we are taking good care of ourselves and where we can experience some measure of joy, I feel this is important. And if that means leaving the Shambhala community to create that, then it is important to leave. 

In my own case, I had a nervous breakdown at the end of Buddhist Project Sunshine, and I had no choice but to disconnect from what was happening in Shambhala. Over the past year I have been exploring delicate steps to find myself again. 

One of those delicate steps was creating a program to help me reclaim my meditation practice, the Heal Your Heart Through Meditation program. I went off-road in creating what I needed to heal, bringing in Western trauma healing strategies, energy psychology, and some non-traditional fun techniques. The program has helped me and I feel very grateful that it has helped other Shambhala survivors. The Heal Your Heart Through Meditation program is about creating safe space to get grounded, reconnect and heal. I know that not everyone is looking for that kind of place right now, but if you are, I hope you will take a look at the program and consider if you’d like participate in the next group starting up soon. It’s a lovely program, and I’d love for you to join us!

Here’s a link to the program description: Heal Your Heart Through Meditation

As I close this vigil, I would like to say some thank yous. First, thank you to Maria for formally joining me in this 21-day vigil, doing mette practice. Thank you also to those who paid attention and reacted to my FB posts. A very big thank you to Tenzin for his amazingly supportive comments on my blog posts! And last, but certainly not least, I thank the Shambhala lineage mothers and fathers, those spiritual forces who are guarding the longevity of this lineage, for their rain of blessings. 

I dedicate the merit of this vigil to the continued healing in Shambhala. May it happen in ways that will bring the greatest benefit to all beings, past, present and future. Amen!


This vigil is for quelling suffering and invoking authentic healing for the hearts of those impacted by: (1)  the Shambhala community tragedy, (2) the situation between Iran and the US, and (3) the bush fires in Australia.

Everyone is welcome to join. If you do werma practice, great! If you don’t, feel free to do any form of meditation or prayer. I welcome you joining me in this 21-day vigil!

Werma Vigil Day 20

I pray for the powerful presence of the Mother Lineage, to turn the tide of darkness in Shambhala.

On the penultimate day of this werma vigil I dedicated my practice to Ösel Mukpo, aka Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, and this was very emotional for me. 

In my service as head of Buddhist Project Sunshine, people came to me with many stories of Ösel’s early years. I heard about how as a young child he was violently beaten by the man whose care he was left in in Scotland until his father could bring him to America. I heard stories of how once he finally came to America, he was rejected by his step mother and told he could not live with his father. I was told how in later years his male personal attendant taught him to objectify women, and would ask him if he wanted a blond or a brunette brought in that night. If even half the stories are true, it is hard to imagine how Ösel could have developed a healthy sense of identity.

Later, as we brought the stories of his hidden behaviours out into the open, I learned of his heavy drinking binges in adulthood. I can imagine the kind of suffering he was trying to push away and escape through such violent self-abuse.

What we are witnessing in Shambhala is a true tragedy. Ösel Mukpo didn’t stand much of a chance of succeeding. I believe in my heart that he is a good person at heart, that he tried his best, and that he is spiritually gifted. But without a healthy sense of identity, he has financially abused his community of students, been physically violent towards his attendants, been a sexual predator preying on his female students, and spiritually betrayed this sacred lineage.

I feel a close kinship with Ösel Mukpo because we are of the same generation, my being five years younger than him. I understand we both grew up in a very chaotic community. And I know he faced pressures I cannot imagine.

So as fiercely as I fought for the dignity and justice of the women he assaulted, I will fight that fiercely for his soul. I pray that he will forcibly remove those people around him who are milking him for power and convincing him to continue the charade. I pray that he will stand up, be a man, and publicly admit what he has done. He may well go to prison, and this will be a better life for him. It is a chance to purify karma. It is a chance to be a better example to his daughters. It is a chance to make right the harms he has committed. It is also an opportunity to get the therapy and healing that I imagine his inner psyche has been crying out for for decades.

I have a friend who counsels men with sexual addictions. She told me that she once asked a group of men what turned things around for them to begin healing, and every one of them said that it took being criminally charged before they woke up and started their process of healing.

Ösel Mukpo, may you receive the blessing of my practice and connect with the confidence to take steps towards making things right and engaging your own healing. And with every step you take towards the light, know that I am fully committed to supporting you. You have my word.


This vigil is for quelling suffering and invoking authentic healing for the hearts of those impacted by: (1)  the Shambhala community tragedy, (2) the situation between Iran and the US, and (3) the bush fires in Australia.

Everyone is welcome to join. If you do werma practice, great! If you don’t, feel free to do any form of meditation or prayer. I welcome you joining me in this 21-day vigil!

Werma Vigil Day 19

I pray for union of the sacred feminine and divine masculine, to bring the blessings now needed.

Today I made a special dedication of my werma practice to the children of Shambhala – all of those who grew up in the community. It sure was a mixed blessing for many of us!

I can speak to my own experience. As part of the first wave of the second generation, it was really amazing to receive blessings from the old masters – the 16th Karmapa, Kalu Rinpoche, Tenzin Rinpoche, Thrangu Rinpoche, and of course Khentse Rinpoche, who blessed the Manjushri necklace I have worn for many years. And honestly, being immersed in the teachings of Shambhala and literally embodying them has been an unsurpassable gift!

I remember when I did the Women Recovering From Abuse program at Women’s College Hospital in Toronto, I clearly saw that I was healing more quickly than other women in the 6-week program. I knew it was because I had access to the Shambhala practices – they really helped. They connected me with courage and wisdom and dignity. This kind of healing work can be *so* heavy. Having access to these sources of confidence made a big difference!

One specific thing I’ll share is the visualization of Shiwa Ökar, with his ocean of werma warriors, all galloping toward me on their white horses in the sky – well, for me, this feels like an army of knights in shining armour coming to save the day! That *feeling* is pretty amazing for a trauma survivor. It opens doors. It certainly empowered me to stay the course through the hard times during Buddhist Project Sunshine.

So today, I’ve wished for a special blessing for the children of Shambhala. May they heal. And even more, I send this wish to those who grew up in the Mukpo household. I’m sure none of us can imagine what those children went through, in the center of both the madness and the blessing. May we all receive the healing that we need at this time, and as a community may we move forward toward the light and resist hiding in the familiar darkness of the past.


This vigil is for quelling suffering and invoking authentic healing for the hearts of those impacted by: (1)  the Shambhala community tragedy, (2) the situation between Iran and the US, and (3) the bush fires in Australia.

Everyone is welcome to join. If you do werma practice, great! If you don’t, feel free to do any form of meditation or prayer. I welcome you joining me in this 21-day vigil!

Werma Vigil Day 18

I call to the wisdom dakini and ask for her blessing. May there be auspicious benefit in right timing, right pacing.

Today is one week since I injured my back. This has become a big part of my experience of doing this vigil; this injury has greatly impacted my physical activity. It has slowed me down, because there has been so much tending necessary to facilitate healing. The pain from the injury, and on top of the original injury, falling on the street the next day, all of this pain has brought me more into my body, which is also helpful for the deep work of this vigil.

I would like to revisit the theme I first brought forward last Friday, about accessing support. Last Friday I went to see my chiropractor to get help for the original back injury. Dr. Anne, my chiropractor, helped a lot, giving me advice for applying heat and ice, frequently moving my back, and she suggested I purchase an inexpensive back belt.

This back belt has made a huge difference, and I want to write about this. First there was the support of Dr. Anne, my chiropractor. Then there was the support of this back belt. First of all, it feels good to have it on. But more importantly, since it protects me from further injury, it helps me feel safe. My back muscles have been able to relax because they don’t need to be in defensive/protective mode against further injury. And since my muscles have been able to relax, my back has been able to heal very quickly.

I believe there is a lesson here and that emotional healing can happen in a similar way. If someone is trying to heal after a significant trauma, and they are on their own, they may be deeply distressed, feel very defended, and the healing could take a very, very long time. In contrast, if someone has a grounded, safe, compassionate and wise person who they can connect with for their healing journey, then the safety of that connection can be protective, like the back belt experience I described earlier. In the safety of that connection, a person can relax and experience warmth, and the tender work of healing from emotional trauma is far more possible.

So I am in favour of our seeking out strong, wise people – people with a strong back bone – people who we can viscerally *feel* their integrity and compassion. I think relationships like that can make a huge difference for our healing trajectory, enabling a shorter, kinder and less painful recovery. And actually, I don’t even like using the word, “recovery,” because after a relational trauma we will not go back to the way that we were before the trauma. Really, I see it more as an opportunity to grow through the healing process – to become a wiser and kinder person. That has been my experience over all these years.

So these are the fruits of my 18th day of this vigil. I am praying for the strength to make it to day 21. This has surely been an immersive and exhausting experience. At the same time, I feel closer to Padmasmbhava and to the wisdom dakini, and for that I am grateful. I sincerely hope that my werma practice will bring some small benefit to the Shambhala community. May the werma rain their blessings upon this community and inspire a movement towards the light, to honestly find a good way forward in which the teachings and the community may flourish.

This vigil experience has been very much like my early Buddhist Project Sunshine experience – feeling like I’m putting a whole lot of energy into something, and it seeming to be going into a dark void out there. Yesterday Tenzin’s short message in the comment section below was a welcome touch of human contact, as I continue my steps of this vigil. Thank you, Tenzin.

Sending my love out to all of you this evening.


This vigil is for quelling suffering and invoking authentic healing for the hearts of those impacted by: (1)  the Shambhala community tragedy, (2) the situation between Iran and the US, and (3) the bush fires in Australia.

Everyone is welcome to join. If you do werma practice, great! If you don’t, feel free to do any form of meditation or prayer. I welcome you joining me in this 21-day vigil!

Werma Vigil Day 17

I open my heart to the wisdom of the Mother Lineage, and I pray for your tender guidance in this vigil.

The Shambhala teachings that I received during my time in the community focused on the masculine. I suspect little changed after I left the community in around the year 2000. I have appreciated what the masculine teachings did for my developing my masculine side. However, there was a great imbalance in me.

I remember when I came upon the book, Women Who Run With the Wolves, by Clarissa Pinkola Estes around the year 2002, I felt like the great imbalance from my Shambhala upbringing was finally addressed through the teachings of deep feminine wisdom in this book. In fact, I called this book my “bible” because it felt so important to me.

I feel we are witnessing a time of strengthening of the wise feminine. Perhaps this is crucial for the true birthing of the Shambhala teachings in the West, and even Tibetan Buddhism in general. I can’t help but think that these horrible mistakes, these incomprehensible harms, are somehow opening the door for these teachings to enter the West more fully to take authentic root.

It seems that the pervasive multi-generational experience of relational trauma in the West was ripe ground for the arrival of these teachings. Many people were vulnerable and seeking healing. They were not only willing to surrender to the guru, but they *wanted* to surrender their will, their intelligence, their money, etc.

This hasn’t just happened in Tibetan Buddhism. When I watched the Netflix series, Wild Wild Country, about the Rajneeshpuram community, I saw a familiar mentality in those students. It reminded me of what I saw my parents’ generation doing in the Shambhala community. I don’t mean the specific behaviours. What I mean is the approach, the desire, the surrender, the spiritual escape, the rampant sexual exploration, and I suspect the neglect of children in the midst of their spiritual fervour. The vibe in that series really reminded me of what was happening in the 70’s and 80’s in Shambhala.

There was a lack of being grounded and having common sense in the midst of the spiritual exploration. It was unbalanced. And I believe if there were women present who were grounded and in touch with wisdom of their ovaries, this insanity would not have spun out the way it has in many spiritual communities.

I would like to touch again on Pema’s recent resignation and how much I appreciate the grounded statement she is making. I wish we’d had this kind of female leadership all along! It seems Pema is in a process of awakening from the dissociated space so many have been operating in within Shambhala. I appreciate that she seems willing to open to being more in her body and her knowing, willing to look at the gross harm, and willing to find her voice to speak out about the violence. She seems to have gotten in touch with her “No”, and that is a powerful thing. We need more of this, and I hope other women will follow in Pema’s footsteps in this regard.

May we all grow stronger to face what has happened in our community so that we can take steps to repair, heal and ensure our community grows in healthy ways moving forward. May we allow the teachings to help us chart a good way forward with clarity and integrity.


This vigil is for quelling suffering and invoking authentic healing for the hearts of those impacted by: (1)  the Shambhala community tragedy, (2) the situation between Iran and the US, and (3) the bush fires in Australia.

Everyone is welcome to join. If you do werma practice, great! If you don’t, feel free to do any form of meditation or prayer. I welcome you joining me in this 21-day vigil!

Werma Vigil Day 16

I call to the wisdom dakini and request her blessing.

I’d first like to acknowledge the beginning of Trump’s impeachment trial. May the outcome of this trial serve to honour and protect our home, Mother Earth, and all of life living within our sacred home.

I am appreciating the experience of doing werma practice consistently every day. As I have written before, I was advised to visualize Padmasambhava as the Sakyong in the practice. I find it powerful to be in his presence every day in this way. After feeling depressed by what I see happening in much of the world’s leadership, it is powerful to connect with a historical person who lived such powerful and compassionate leadership. It feels like balm on a long aching wound – a reprieve from long-standing pain. It’s a blessing.

In today’s world there aren’t many ways to connect with that kind of powerful sanity and leadership. That is why I see the Shambhala teachings as so valuable and worth preserving. Access to this personal experience of wisdom, bravery and leadership is exceedingly precious – for facing everything from the every day challenges of life to greater systemic and cultural darknesses.

The people who have clouded our community with harm and confusion are not living the light of these teachings, and they cannot put out the light of these teachings.

The message I would like to put out there today is to trust what you know is good, tender and wholesome. Allow that light of goodness to live in your heart. And know that it is far, far more powerful than any of the corrupt doings of those who have been operating from confusion in the Shambhala community.

In fact, I would propose that this light of gentleness will ultimately melt away the corruption. The corruption will not be able to survive in the presence of such authentic goodness. So please, live your goodness, and know you are contributing to creating a better world. This can happen bit by bit, day by day. This will absolutely overcome the corruption. I remember a slogan taught in the anti-violence movement: The best revenge is to live well. I think there is a lot of wisdom in that. Let us live well!

Sending my very best to you this day.


This vigil is for quelling suffering and invoking authentic healing for the hearts of those impacted by: (1)  the Shambhala community tragedy, (2) the situation between Iran and the US, and (3) the bush fires in Australia.

Everyone is welcome to join. If you do werma practice, great! If you don’t, feel free to do any form of meditation or prayer. I welcome you joining me in this 21-day vigil!

Werma Vigil Day 15

I pray to the Wisdom Dakini to bless the final week of this Werma Vigil. To make a fuller, more celebratory offering for this final week, my intention is to write short daily blog posts. May love and healing spread through this!

The werma practice is a core Shambhala practice about enlightened leadership, which surely our world could use. Although the Shambhala teachings open the doorway to connect with manifest enlightened leadership, the Shambhala community was founded in emotional disconnection, boundary violations, violence, and for many, gross personal harm. This is a striking contradiction! I hope that once community members ground themselves, they will work to resolve this contradiction in a deeply beneficial way.

At this point, the community seems a long way from such a resolution. I understand that 130+ members requested abhisheka with Osel Mukpo, a man about whom numerous criminal allegations have been carefully documented. In my time with Buddhist Project Sunshine I received a basic “Cult 101” education from Richard Edelman, who played a key role in Phase 2 of the project. Richard explained what is called, “the double down.” In the double down, cult members see behaviour in their leader that they don’t feel comfortable with, and instead of staying with that and resolving it, they “double down”, which means they double their devotion to the leader to block out the uncomfortable information. I suspect this is the case with these 130+ students who requested this abhisheka. I have no idea why the leadership decided to approve this abhisheka, other than to guess that they are (1) incompetent, (2) hand picked by those who are truly controlling the leadership, and (3) are operating under the loyalty oath they swore to Osel Mukpo upon being placed in this leadership role.

I have witnessed the profound darkness of those who have truly been directing this community – those who have worked hard to cover up crimes… those who with Kasung/Art-Of-War strategies maintain the old, dysfunctional order… those who created a pseudo-leadership structure to appear as if it was a “fresh start”.

I’m not sure what it will take to pierce this darkness. I tried to do it with the third BPS report, “The Nail.” Things were clearly spelled out in that report, and there is no turning back from what was presented there. And yet the cloud of dark, confusion-generating energy remains.

This type of corruption and cover up continued in the Catholic Church until class action lawsuits threatened to bankrupt the church. That is literally what it took to turn things around for the Catholics. I think of this when I chant the Invocation for Raising Windhorse as part of the werma liturgy, specifically when I chant the line that reads, “Strife, enmity, scandal, warfare, lawsuits, recurrent calamity, and so on — Pacify all such obstructing discord.” Perhaps if we follow in the footsteps of the Catholics, “obstructing discord” is necessary to pierce darkness such as this.

But I will tell you that I felt moved to offer this 21-Day Werma Vigil in the hope that there could be another way. That we could call down the blessings of the Rigden, the enlightened leadership principle. That through the power of love and a more sacred devotion than we could ever muster in a cult, that this could bring about a change in the hearts of community members, both those that stayed and those who have left. And that it could open a crack for the light of grounded integrity in Shambhala leadership.

So I offer to you today my request that you open your heart, in whatever way feels possible, to a better outcome for our community. An outcome that includes genuine healing and repair. An outcome that includes leaders stepping forward from unexpected places and bringing clarity and sanity to this situation. An outcome that manifests these teachings in such a brilliantly true way, that the cloud of darkness enveloping this community shrinks and disappears.

Love can melt the brittle shell. We can stop playing games to avoid the inevitable, and we can begin to clean up this mess. Those who have caused harm can find ways to be accountable for what they have done and make whatever repair is possible. And in the process of this cleaning up, we can discover new meaning in the teachings and open our hearts to being sacred vessels living the Shambhala teachings.

Let us be willing to be with the uncomfortable truths. Let us be genuine courageous compassionate warriors. It is time to plant the banner of sanity.

This vigil is for quelling suffering and invoking authentic healing for the hearts of those impacted by: (1) the Shambhala community tragedy, (2) the situation between Iran and the US, and (3) the bush fires in Australia.

Everyone is welcome to join. If you do werma practice, great! If you don’t, feel free to do any form of meditation or prayer. I welcome you joining me in this 21-day vigil!

Dissolving the relationship between BPS and the news service

After a month of deep and heart-full discernment, the News Service volunteers, Jamie, Annette and I have decided to dissolve the connection between Buddhist Project Sunshine and the news service. They will no longer use the name Buddhist Project Sunshine or BPS. This dissolution is effective today, and the news service is taking on new branding: a new name, new website url, new FB page, and new Twitter account. 

If you’d like to learn how we have come to this decision, read on…

On February 4th of this year I formally closed Buddhist Project Sunshine (BPS). At that time, I felt it would be helpful if a news service could continue to provide information about the full range of updates happening regarding the Shambhala’s awakening to the imbedded sexualized violence within the community, as well as related stories in other Buddhist communities. I asked Jamie and Annette if they would be willing to run a news service through April 2019, and then they could decide if they wanted to continue. They generously agreed, and began running a news service under the name, BPS News Service. I went completely offline at that point to engage my own process of healing.

In April the three of us came back together and met as planned. They said they would like to continue offering the news service. They felt it was providing important value, and they wanted to contribute positively to the community awakening. Jamie organized a fundraiser for their costs to continue the service. I strongly supported and promoted their fundraising campaign. They quickly met their fundraising goal, securing the news service continuing.

In May, the three of us entered into a time of discovery and discernment. We discovered that the news service they founded was based in different values from BPS. BPS was about strong activism to bring light to the abuses happening in Shambhala. The news service was born in a time of the abuses being globally recognized, and the community needing to find its way forward. Unlike the original BPS, the news service provides their stories in a neutral way, allowing space for readers to think for themselves. This seems appropriate for the current phase of awakening.

Given the distinctly different values of BPS and the News Service, we have decided to dissolve the connection between the two, while still honouring the historical evolution that led from BPS to the News Service. Please contact Jamie Moffat directly about the new news service. You can find him easily on Facebook.

I am grateful to Jamie and Annette for founding this news service, and I feel it is contributing something valuable to the community. 

Web Credits
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Usability Andrea Winn
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