Is trauma the root of all suffering?



Photo by Thewonderalice on Unsplash

The following quote from a Heal Your Heart Through Meditation courageous community member is shared with permission.

HYHTM Community Needs Survey Question: Are you interested in trauma-informed meditation? If yes, please share more about your interest.

Yes. It [trauma] is at the root, perhaps the root of all suffering. It is what needs to be worked through, dug over I am thinking of earth metaphors springtime planting metaphors waking up the slumbering winter soil/soul metaphors. Yes trauma-informed meditation is what the world needs and you are moving in the right direction. The energies are aligning 100% for this kind of offering. I respect and support your work and wish you every ounce of energy you need to continue with it and to continue sharing your work with the world.

I’ve never heard anyone, either in the Western or the Eastern traditions, propose that trauma is the root of all suffering. I know in Buddhism, they propose ignorance is the root of all suffering. In my experience, Western Buddhist practitioners skip over their trauma, perhaps as a way of avoiding it. To use psycho-lingo, they “dissociate” – or disconnect from their lived experience, because it is too painful and/or overwhelming.

This courageous community member proposing trauma as the root of suffering is interesting to me. If we could develop the strength and ability to stay present with our experience of traumatic events – whether in the past or happening right now – then we would have developed a level of mind mastery. Mastery of the mind is the full purpose of meditation.

I have written before about my support for the view of psychiatrist Dr. Sandra L Bloom in her book, “Creating Sanctuary: Toward the Evolution of Sane Societies”. Dr. Bloom learned through her clinical work that all people are trauma survivors, either through trauma they experienced themselves or through someone close to them, as vicarious trauma. No one has escaped experiencing trauma.

Since trauma deeply impacts our perception of the world, and even our perception of our self, it seems foundational to address the effect of trauma when working with our mind. Our traumatic experiences must be addressed in any approach to meditation practice, because otherwise we are practicing dissociated meditation practices (see articles by Matthew Remski revealing how dissociation has been woven into Buddhist teachings by Judith Simmer-Brown and Pema Chödren).

I believe this proposal that trauma is the root of suffering merits consideration and personal reflection. I would love to hear your ideas about trauma and meditation Please share below, or respond further through my community needs survey.

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%.

When is it time to end a relationship? Discerning when a relationship is over



I put up a survey last month for people in my community to share what is top of mind for them right now. The issue that received the most votes was, “Responding to difficult people or difficult situations with people”.

I feel telling our own stories can often be the most powerful way to open doors for each other, so I’m going to share my story of how I came to ending a number of relationships this Spring. It has been a painful experience, and at the same time it has been positive and extremely beneficial.

My story goes back to a conversation I had with a friend early in the pandemic. She said, leaders need out-of-the-box ways of visioning right now to meet the challenges with COVID. When my friend made this statement, I thought, “Oh, maybe I should bring back a leadership vision program I retired in 2016, the Deep Rooted Authentic Leadership, Awake! (DRALA) program. I did so, and immediately enrolled a strong leader in this program.

As part of the DRALA protocol, I do the same work that my client does. That means that everything she or he does, I do it too, and we mutually create an environment of inspired change. The process begins by identifying an intention for the vision journey.

My intention was:
“I am healing my Root Chakra so I see and feel rooted in my true life purpose”

I was startled as my Higher Self unfolded an unexpected vision board in response to my intention (See a picture of my vision board below). The vision board was largely about ending relationships.

I had to face some of my beliefs about relationships. The biggest one for me was that if a relationship ended, I felt I had somehow failed… That I hadn’t worked hard enough… or I hadn’t been skilled enough to make the relationship work.

My DRALA process revealed to me that it is a natural part of life to outgrow relationships, and that this is not about failure – it is about growth. At the end of the insight section of the DRALA process, I identified what insight felt most important in relation to my intention.

My most important insight was:
Allow the breaks. It’s not failure. It’s about growing and outgrowing and creating space for relationships that enhance your high vibration.

I let go of my two old cyclamen yesterday. It has created space for new plants, space in my bedroom. They were tired. They deserved an honourable death – the letting go.

It was interesting how the letting go of these two plants felt like a part of this process for me – a teaching part of the process. These two cyclamens had been with me for around twenty years. It is unusual for cyclamen to live that long. I really loved these plants! They had been a mystical part of my journey. They bloomed when I bloomed. They went into a time of rest without blooms at times when I needed that too. So it was a big thing to say good bye to these two old friends! And yet, it was time.

One of the relationships in my life that had moved into a place of not working was that with my PhD supervisor. This relationship had been wonderful the first year of being back in university. But mysteriously, in the 2020 winter term, the relationship took a nosedive and was excruciatingly unworkable.

I went into a deep depression, and in the midst of that disheartenment, I did not take care when stepping up on a ledge one morning. I fell backward from the ledge onto my bedpost, fracturing my rib. This was a very painful and slow-healing injury, and this experience was intertwined with the process of my awakening within this relationship.

At the completion of the DRALA vision session, I identified a Spirit Action – something I wanted to physically commit to doing that would put my DRALA insight into motion in my life.

My Spirit Action was:
I will journal for one hour with Buddha Locana in connection with her wisdom, “Focus on caring for the over-exposed parts of me. Everything else will fall into place”, and explore the meaning of letting go of my PhD supervisor: (1) How I grew, (2) how I outgrew, (3) what would happen if I hung on, and (4) what is possible with letting go.

Image of Buddha Locana
from the 2012 Triratna Buddha calendar at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/fwbo/5973919158

Buddha Locana is one of the female Buddhas of the five Buddha families in Tibetan Buddhism. I have had a close relationship with her since 2015. She has been a strong source of connection for me with the Wise Feminine, and I deeply value this connection. When I first connected with her in 2015, I received that message quoted in my Spirit Action. I needed her tender care and attention to journal upon these four aspects of ending this relationship AND dismantle my former beliefs around relationships ending. I want to acknowledge that the PhD supervisor is the most important and intimate relationship one has during a 4-5-year PhD – so this was a very big step for me to take!

I did the hour of journalling and became clear within myself. I organized a meeting with my supervisor, including having a neutral mediator for that meeting. The “divorce” went well. It was done in a peaceful and mutually supportive way. I believe this says something about how important it was for me to come to a peaceful and clear place within myself so this ending could happen with love and grace.

Alongside my work on this relationship, I completed other relationships as well over the past few months. I notice that since I completed these relationship, I no longer feel the depression I felt earlier this year. It has released trapped energy, and freed some people who were likely not growing with me either.

I feel that taking time out of the busyness of life to go within and vision, like I did in this DRALA process, is one of the biggest gifts I can give myself. I strongly encourage everyone to do this, because it opens up our lives when things have become narrow and limiting.

I was part of a conversation recently about self-compassion, and we were talking about two forms of compassion: yin-compassion and yang-compassion (or feminine style compassion vs masculine style compassion). The yin style is what we typically think of as self-compassion – doing things like calming, soothing and validating ourselves. The yang style is about actually taking action for ourselves. Doing a vision process is a form of yang compassion for me.

I hope that sharing my story today may help open up ideas for change for you. I believe life is meant to be a beautiful experience. It is a sad thing when I/we forget this, and it is a glorious thing when I/we find a way to get back on track. I welcome any thoughts that may come up for you from reading my story in the comment section below. May we all grow together!

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

For those who are curious, here’s some information about the DRALA program.

How I decided to end my guru relationship with Trungpa Rinpoche



The journey we are on in the Shambhala world is enough to stretch every fibre of our being. At least that is how I have found it. I’d like to share about the decision I made to end my guru relationship with Trungpa Rinpoche.

Before I share my story, I want to say clearly that there is no right way forward for everyone. These decisions are very delicate and personal, and I believe each of us has to weigh the situation in our own soul to find our own best way forward. My decision is a result of weighing the situation in my soul. Someone else may make the decision to continue in a guru relationship with someone who has done the types of things like what we have been learning about; that may be right path for their highest good.

I feel deeply grateful to Leslie Hays for courageously bringing to light the abusive dark side of Trungpa Rinpoche. I am also grateful for John Perks sharing the story of Trungpa’s torture of a dog in his book.  I am grateful to the women (“consorts” and “girlfriends” of Trungpa) who came forward to me and confirmed Leslie’s stories of Trungpa’s abuse of women and cats, and his cocaine addiction. I needed to know these things, as hard as they have been to hear.

Trungpa Rinpoche was my anchor for nearly my entire life. I was 6 years old when my parents became his students. I grew up within his blossoming Shambhala world. I went to seminary as a full participant in 1985, received pointing out instruction from him, and began doing prostrations visualizing him as Vajradhara. He was my guru. He was the earth and the sky of my experience of life. 

Learning of his secret behaviours has been deeply devastating. And after completing the work of Buddhist Project Sunshine in February, I finally had time to face the uncomfortable truth.

This past May I went through an online meditation program I had created years ago. During one of the days of the process, the program invited me to go out for an intentional walk barefoot. 

I did this.

And while I was walking I found myself talking out loud with Mother Earth. I heard myself saying that there was no way that I would ever feel a sense of foundation for my spiritual journey in a primary relationship with someone who was abusive and a coke addict. 

I said I wanted something better for myself, and I wanted a chance to have a strong path.

I then found myself speaking out loud to Mother Earth making a decision to end the guru relationship with Trungpa Rinpoche. I said it clearly. I said it within the light of clearly seeing that there was no steady foundation for my path with that type of relationship at the core. I made a decision to end it.

I was shocked at how this unfolded. How could a relationship that was at the center of my life be over during one walk? Everything in Tibetan Buddhism has so much ritual, how could I end this primary relationship with no ritual, and in fact, no forethought?

Every time I have asked myself these questions since that day, I come back to the reason I made the decision. The reason cannot go away through turning a blind eye or wishful thinking. The reason I ended the guru relationship is because I need a healthy foundation for my spiritual path. 

On this walk I found myself taking Buddha Mother Locana as my guide. I have been developing relationship with her for a number of years, and this feels good to me. I experience her as solid and kind, and of course, with the deepest wisdom.

I feel better after making the decision, and I feel I have great potential with my future now that I clearly decided to end that relationship.

I still regard Trungpa’s dharma teachings with honour and gratitude. I am so grateful for his sharing them! I have lived my life through his dharma teachings, and they have served me well. So even as I ended the guru relationship, he still has a special place for the valuable instruction he has given me for my path.

Decisions and understandings like this can only happen through engaging our own heart and path. No one can tell us how to think or what to do. We each need to take personal ownership for “looking” and “seeing” what is true in our own heart. 

Sometimes we don’t know how to find that personal clarity. I’m grateful I had the resource of the online meditation course I went through. I liked it because it was self-study, and I had only me and my own mind to relate with. It gave me the safe space I needed to look at what was true for me.

I also found that in going through the meditation course, it would have been a much better experience if it took into account the sensitivity of my having gone through spiritual betrayal at such a deep heart level – both at the level of the guru, and at the level of the community who perpetuated the abuses. In hindsight, the program could have been more sensitive to that experience of trauma.

I’m passionate about finding ways to heal from what we’ve been through. I’m also passionate about the value of having a healthy meditation practice. Meditation gives us back the ability to work with our mind, and that helps us to be happier and better able to live fulfilling lives! Meditation is tried and true, and has been around a lot longer than any of the current difficulties with teachers. It’s important to reclaim something that is so valuable, and not let a few people tarnish that value.

My experience has inspired me to re-vamp the original meditation program so it brings greater sensitivity and support for those who have gone through spiritual betrayal. I am beta testing the revised program next month. If you are interested in learning how you can be part of the beta test, click here: Heal Your Heart Through Meditation. I’m limiting the test to 50 people. So if you are interested, be sure to register and reserve your spot.

There is a zoom call called, Reclaim Your Meditation Practice After Spiritual Betrayal, on July 30th which will include an interview of myself followed by group discussion. You can learn more about it here: True Healing, True Empowerment

I am confident we are going to find our way through this.  If the Heal Your Heart Through Meditation program can play a small part in that, I will be very grateful. Take good care, and hope to connect with you soon!

Buddhist Project Sunshine is complete – Farewell from Andrea



It feels like a momentous occasion today as I close Buddhist Project Sunshine. I launched the project two years ago on Shambhala Day* 2017 with a mission to bring healing light to the sexualized violence embedded in the Shambhala community. 

It is auspicious to learn that in the past week the first Shambhala leader was put in jail for allegedly sexually assaulting a minor within the community. Also Shambhala International released results from their own investigation into Osel Mukpo. It is striking that even with significant problems inherent in this investigation due to Shambhala’s refusal to appoint a neutral monitor, their results still confirm the tip of the iceberg of Osel Mukpo’s sexual assaults of women! It seems that the tide has officially turned, sanity is emerging, and genuine healing is beginning.

What I have most appreciated about this work has been the thousands of people across the world who have been an active part of this healing process. The fierce courage and genuine goodness that have arisen in the most surprising places throughout these two years have proven to me the truth of the core Shambhala teachings on fundamental goodness. 

There has been a magical element at work lifting up the powerful sun of BPS. Community-wide healing has happened in a good and thorough way the past two years after decades of deep denial, oppression and harm.

I’d like to give a special shout of thanks to the survivors who wrote their stories of sexual harm in Shambhala in the Phase 1 report. These exceptionally brave people created the crack for light to come in. It was after the Phase 1 report that survivors of Osel Mukpo’s sexual misconduct and assaults first began to speak. 

I believe I will never be able to give enough thanks to Carol Merchasin for her endless hours of solid investigative work documenting the harm in a professional and explicit way so the community could know what has been happening. It is also important to acknowledge that her findings have now led to police investigations into Osel Mukpo and John Weber.

There are two special memories I’m holding close to my heart as I move forward. One is of what one BPS volunteers said to me:

“You are attending to Buddhist Project Sunshine with so much grace and care. I’ve been struck by how your energy has always prioritized care and concern for the hurt and the trauma of everyone involved. There is so much sexual abuse happening in the world – in the Catholic Church, the #metoo movement – and too often these initiatives to uncover abuse are done in such a cold manner.  It feels like all that happens is that abuse is uncovered, as though that is enough. But where is the care for the people in the community who are reeling from the hurt, who are picking up the pieces and trying to understand and express their deep pain?

I am in awe of the care that permeates BPS. I truly believe that this initiative needs to serve as a model for how other groups can and should operate.  BPS exemplifies a genuinely human way of moving forward in the light of abuse which is actually directed toward people’s healing. I can’t emphasize that enough: BPS is so incredibly special.”

– Katie, a BPS Volunteer

The second memory is of a quote from Matthew Remski, a journalist who has shown keen insight into the Shambhala problem. He made one statement that causes me to laugh every time I read it:

“if any part of the neo-Buddhist practices commodified by Shambhala International are about actual rather than performed transparency, if they are about actual rather than meditated-upon compassion, its figureheads should be on their knees, asking Winn what they can do to help, as well as for her teachings on insight, courage, and forbearance.”

From: Susan Piver’s “On Shambhala”: An Abuse Crisis Letter, Annotated

I find his imagery delightfully outrageous, and I was grateful for the healing laughter this quote brought in my moments of despair over the past months!

Aside from the outrageousness of Remski’s statement, I do wish the Shambhala leadership would have been willing to work with me. There is much that could have been possible if they had been open to working together.

Perhaps the only way for the Shambhala teachings to flourish now is for the local centres to take on the work of spreading the teachings. Perhaps that is where this all was headed from the beginning. Dismantling the hierarchy may now allow for the freshness and the beauty of our sacred teachings to be released and do their work in and for this world. May this be so!

I feel great about Buddhist Project Sunshine being complete! Healing light *has* been brought to the sexualized violence in Shambhala. Myself and many, many people were carrying a heavy burden of silence around what has been happening for such a long time. I, personally, am happy to be relieved of the burden of silence and to know the wound is now exposed to fresh air and sunlight to be properly dealt with, both in the criminal justice system, and within our hearts. I am happy to have played a part in this time of awakening. I’m also happy to lay down the great burden of service I have carried and return to living my own life.

In terms of my own moving forward, I am immersed in preparing for entering a PhD at Dalhousie’s Faculty of Computer Science this Fall. I’m currently busy taking a couple of 2nd year computer science courses at Dal, polishing up my coaching business and retirement workbook, and in my spare time I am singing with a high calibre women’s choir called the Aeolian Singers. I am looking forward to writing a paper within the coming months documenting the innovative model I developed for the BPS online discussion groups. You can sign up to receive a copy of the Discussion Group Model Paper, if you are interested.

Although the project is complete and I am leaving, to my delight there are three people who I very much trust who are launching a Buddhist Project Sunshine News Service tomorrow. If there is one word that sums up Buddhist Project Sunshine, that word is “integrity”. This is what I built BPS to stand for. I feel confident that the three people who are taking the BPS name forward will continue to stand firmly for integrity within Buddhism.

We expect Carol Merchasin to share a statement on the Wickwire Holm report through the BPS News, perhaps as early as tomorrow. The BPS News Service is also a place to keep up to date on the criminal investigations into Osel Mukpo, John Weber, and others. If you were not aware of the Shambhala leader who was put in jail last week, you can learn about it through the BPS News too. Sign up for the BPS News Service at www.buddhistprojectsunshine.org

Now that the secrets are out, we can all create new lives based on solid ground. It is my sincere wish that each person who has been touched by the Shambhala tragedy will be well-supported in their healing process AND fully engage their unique potential in vibrant colour and joy!

With all my love,

* Shambhala Day is the Tibetan New Year’s Day.

A community member speaks: Richard’s heartfelt post



I know that many are feeling despair as we witness each further step of Shambhala leaders covering up the sexual violence that has happened. It feels important to reflect back that Yes, there are good reasons why you might feel despair. It is also important to know that you are not alone. I’d love to see people sharing stories about how they are forming good lives beyond Shambhala. I know people are creating new strategies as they work with what they know in their heart and what is happening in Shambhala, and they are exploring new ways of forming a good life. It would be truly wonderful to see people sharing their creativity and novel ideas!

It is my deepest hope that Jane Ross and Justin Rezzonico will be able to get their peer-run discussion group going soon. Having a place to connect with others is important, and it is wonderful that the two of them stepped forward with the inspiration to start this up. Running a discussion group that is a safe place to talk about painful topics is no small thing to do – it is a lot of work and requires a lot of courage. I hope there will be LOTS of community support for Jane and Justin’s work as they explore how to get the new discussion group going.

In the mean time, I am sharing Richard’s recent response to my “Wrap up” blog a week ago, with the hope that people will know they are not alone, and that it is possible to kindle a small flame of goodness, knowing and truth within your heart – Always.

Thank you for allowing me to share your words here, Richard:

Andrea:

As you may know some acharya’s are currently doing their annual visitation/training visits around the USA and the globe. They apparently haven’t skipped a beat in their service to this deeply flawed organization. (Have any of them resigned in protest?) I mention this only to make public the fact that some are downplaying the reality of the BPS work in said Shambhala forums, work that has been painstakingly accumulated and bravely published by yourself and others. What an incredible courageous effort it has been too. Thank you so much!

The acharya I witnessed plainly states that BPS is a questionable effort fueled only by the energy of fanatical ex-devotees set upon destroying SMR and (of course) sustained by a muck-raking press and cash-starved lawyers. Yes sadly, this person is in deep denial and obviously flawed in his own devotion to SMR. I have witnessed this personally but in this forum hesitate to name the culprit.

In addition, some city centers are also still teaching from SMR’s books and consider his legacy valuable enough to ignore the many contributions from other grander more valid and genuine Tibetan Buddhist sources. Indeed, how callous and insensitive can they be? (I left a Weekthun in December 2018 in protest just after two days due to this example.)

On a personal note, I’ve since relinquished all affiliation to Shambhala, it’s leaders and the teachings. Can a rusty faulty spigot with a polluted source deliver the pure teachings of such a rich and valuable tradition? What Would Buddha Do? I’ve asked myself these questions many times over during the past few months. Some, of course, may disagree with my conclusions but I tend to rest in the fact that Shambhala is and maybe always has been a terrible distortion of the Buddha’s teachings and his pure Dharma. Can Shambhala be an elaborately constructed scheme merely designed and developed to attract attention and contributions from unknowing and deluded westerners in support of a personal lavish reputation and lifestyle. Indeed a lifestyle that far exceeded in wealth and luxury what the founders may have enjoyed in their original homeland or in a more humble setting. (For example: Thich Nhat Hanh) Such wealth and luxury can only generate corruption and by its very ‘hierarchical’ nature become a self-serving organ generating continued wealth and fame for its creators at the top. (Please reference World Systems Theory for more information on social/political/economic systems.)

Again, thank you for your noble efforts and may life be generous and kind toward you and yours in the future.

RLA

I am closing my Buddhist social justice campaign February 4th



Without doubt, it can be said that the mission of Buddhist Project Sunshine has been accomplished at this point, and far more. The original mission was to bring healing light to the sexualized violence in Shambhala. That has happened beyond what I could ever have imagined two years ago, and investigations now continue in the capable and neutral hands of law enforcement.

It feels important to acknowledge that our mission is complete. I am therefore closing my involvement in the project and all that has been running through my business computer systems on February 4th, the end of this Tibetan year of the Earth Dog. I launched BPS two years ago on the Tibetan new year’s day 2017, and it seems fitting to acknowledge the completion of my work at the end of this Tibetan year, after two years of “dogged” service. On February 4th I will shut down the GoFundMe page and delete the BPS contact database from my business systems. I will be posting a last message before closing my part in BPS on February 4th.

I am pleased to share that a small group of exceptionally good-hearted volunteers will be offering an “add on” to the project. Volunteers will be offering a BPS news service this winter! The news service will be completely in their hands, and I will have nothing to do with it. I will formally pass the reins to the volunteers’ news service through my existing communication channels on February 4th. So stay tuned for more information coming shortly!

I am leaving the GofundMe campaign open until February 4th for anyone who would like to contribute to help me pay the debt I accumulated as I devoted my time and energy to BPS. My debt is $20,200. I made decisions along the way to continue to focus on BPS rather than shift my focus back to my coaching service because I personally needed the sexualized violence to be brought out into the light. I do not regret this. And now I am turning my attention to my own healing, paying my debt, and moving forward with a good life. I welcome financial help from those who feel they benefitted from my efforts. If you feel moved, you can contribute here.

As always, thank you to everyone who is contributing to the healing light. Every small effort you make makes a different – so thank you from the bottom of my heart!

Happy New Year from BPS!



Buddhist Project Sunshine wishes everyone a healing, growing and inspiring year in 2019. After a volatile 2018, it is important to set strong and firm intentions for charting pathways of authentic peace in the new year. There will undoubtedly be further challenges in 2019, and we can face them firmly connected with our loving heart and expecting a healthy and healing outcome.

BPS would like to offer a basic News Service for the winter while the staff and volunteers take time off to heal from 2018.

Why is news important?

Shambhala’s leadership seems to, unfortunately, still be covering things up. They are not sharing news that is important for the community to know.

We feel it is important for all people impacted by abuse in Shambhala to know about the three police investigations of Shambhala leaders, including Osel Mukpo, that are now open. We also feel it is important for you to have access to media articles, such as the series of articles in the Denver Post about the police investigation into Osel Mukpo.

Many Shambhalians are waiting for Shambhala’s Wickwire Holm investigation results. In the BPS Phase 3 report we detailed core problems with this investigation. The biggest problem being that according to Wickwire Holm, they will give the results of their investigation to the man who hired them: Alex Halpern. Mr. Halpern works closely for Osel Mukpo and has a conflict of interest for sharing the investigation report fully with the Interim Board. Furthermore, the Interim Board has sworn an oath of loyalty to Osel Mukpo, so this will be second layer of filtering of the investigation results before they will be shared with the community.

Carol Merchasin has some ideas for how these problems could be addressed with the Wickwire Holm investigation, and we hope to share her thoughts through the BPS communication channels.

We see BPS’s established communication channels as something of value. We hope you do too. Provided we can raise funds to run a news service, we will offer this news service over the winter. We need to raise $2,500 to offer this service January through April.

You can help ensure BPS can offer this news service by donating on our GoFundMe page: https://www.gofundme.com/project-sunshine-phase-2

Wishing you every joy in 2019,

PS: If you haven’t see the newsy BPS 2018 Wrap Up message, be sure to check it out.

BPS Wraps Up 2018



With February just around the corner, it’s time to wrap up the activities of last year. Here are some highlights, right off the bat:

Three police investigations of Shambhala leaders

The most important wrap up news is that there are now three police investigations open, two are directly resulting from the BPS Phase 3 report and the third is of a related Shambhala teacher in Boulder. Our perseverance in bringing healing light to the sexualized violence in Shambhala was successful, and we now have police continuing the work. It is likely that these three initial investigations will lead to the opening of more investigations. This is a critical step in the community’s healing process.

BPS 6-week therapy group for SMR abuse survivors

I’m pleased to share that BPS arranged for a 6-week group led by an experienced trauma therapist for the SMR survivors who contributed to the BPS reports. That group finished last week, and I understand it was a really good experience for everyone who participated, including the therapist.

BPS Phase 1 – 3 reports delivered to the Dalai Lama

I am also pleased to share that the three 2018 Buddhist Project Sunshine reports have been delivered to the Dalai Lama’s lama abuse office requesting the Sakyong Mipham be investigated.

Buddhist Project Sunshine Financials for 2018

Please find reporting on how the donations were used in 2018 in our Year End report: BPS 2018 Financial Report

Academic interest in Buddhist Project Sunshine

In December I was approached by two students from universities in the United States, each of whom was doing their final term project on BPS. They interviewed me for their projects, and will be forwarding them to share through the BPS website. Stay tuned!
Here in Canada, I have been approached by Dalhousie to give a presentation to students of the Faculty of Computer Science about the role my computer science education played in creating a successful social justice movement in BPS. The hope is that it will be of particular inspiration to women computer science students.

The Buddhist Project Sunshine On-line Discussion Group Model

Participants in the BPS Phase 2 Discussion Group filled in before and after surveys, and the preliminary data show significant improvement in their scores from their participation in the group. As promised, I will be documenting the cutting edge therapeutic model I designed for our online community in a published report by mid-2019. For all those who gave permission to use their survey data, rest assured that your survey data is being kept securely and confidentially.

An on-going BPS Online Discussion Group

In October I put forward a proposal for a self-sustaining long-term BPS online discussion group. In response, Jane Ross and Justin Rezzonico felt the community is ready for a peer run group, as an off shoot of the three formally moderated BPS discussion groups held in 2018. The discussion group community was in strong support of the peer-run proposal. We look forward to Jane and Justin announcing the opening of the new peer-support online group.

Some 2018 closing gratitudes for BPS (Thank you!)

As we wrap up this year, I’d like to share two messages that came in just before we shut our email down; both speak to the benefit of Buddhist Project Sunshine’s work:

From a Phase 3 discussion group participant: “Andrea Winn Having a community to share within is tremendously helpful. I have struggled with the questions in this open discussion for at least ten years, [without] reading and talking to anyone who was involved enough to understand the dilemma I faced. You have helped many others with your passion and dedication. Community sharing lets people out of the loneliness that imprisons victims of abuse.”

And from a community member who benefitted from our investigation: “The work you’ve done with BPS has benefited me in a deep way- showing me I don’t owe anything to Shambhala. Up til recently I still imagined I had a chain around my ankle which isn’t there at all. “

What’s next?

The BPS staff and volunteers are taking time during the winter to digest the amazing journey we had in 2018; we also have a lot of pain and grief to process. The project shifted into scaled-down mode on November 30th to give us space for this.

Our plan is to simply operate a news service January – April, to keep the community informed about the ongoing investigations of Osel Mukpo and the police investigations of both Mr. Mukpo and other Shambhala leaders. We will do this as long as we can raise funds to for this scaled down service. (See details in the BPS New Year’s message.) We will evaluate in May to see if there is funding and energy for BPS to continue in the Spring.

As I complete two years of work on BPS, I am looking forward to some downtime and returning my attention to my normal career as a retirement vision coach. I see retirees as an important source of wisdom and guidance in our current social climate; they have years of experience and much to offer in mentoring younger people struggling today. It feels important to empower them to bring their gifts into this world. I am doing my part by offering a workbook for planning a deeply fulfilling retirement, The Golden Years Legacy Play Workbook, which I’m learning how to promote on Amazon.

A big THANK YOU to the BPS volunteers!

In closing, I’d like to thank all the volunteers who’ve helped BPS bring light and healing to abusive behavior that up until now has been accepted and hidden in Shambhala. I invite you most heartily to celebrate what we have achieved in a truly unforgettable year of Buddhist social activism!

I am sending my personal wish for authentic healing for all those impacted by the harm within Shambhala, and that the good-hearted community people have experienced within BPS will inspire them to seek out more connection and community as they continue to grow and find healing.

Wishing peace for all beings,

The night my life changed completely



It was November 21, 2001 when I returned home from a long day of work at IBM’s Toronto Software Development Lab. I was a software developer specializing in usability (making software user friendly). On the outside, things were going well. I had a dynamic first year at IBM, and I even received a plaque for being nominated Rookie of the Year.

But on the inside… it was a different story. And on November 21st, that inner reality broke through.

I put a chicken breast into the toaster oven to bake and put some rice on the stove to cook. I had picked up a video from the library, and popped it into the VCR to play while my dinner was cooking. The Horse Whisperer, starring Robert Redford.

It had a pretty typical beginning. Then things went tragically wrong. The main character , a girl named Grace, and her horse, Pilgrim, got hit by a semi truck. Grace was rushed to hospital and had to have part of her leg amputated. The next day a group went out searching in the woods for Pilgrim. They eventually found him standing in a stream flowing under a bridge. He was badly injured and deeply traumatized – to the point that they thought he should be put down.

I felt hit by a tidal wave. I stood up, walked over to the VCR, and clicked stop. Went into the kitchen, turned off the oven and turned off the stove. Went into my bedroom and collapsed.

I didn’t know what was wrong with me. But the next day I knew I could not go into work. I called my doctor and got an appointment to see him. I told him what had happened, and he said it was a depression. He took me off work for 2 weeks, so I could “feel more like myself.”

Well, by the end of two weeks, I knew I needed way more time. I went on short-term and then long-term disability and dove into my own deep and profound healing journey.

That image of Pilgrim was how I felt on the inside. I was literally working my guts out at IBM. I was brought up Tibetan Buddhist, and my main value is to relieve suffering in this world. I am not a good fit for a large computer corporation! Working there, I was slowly and quietly bleeding my life blood away.

It was a healing gift to see Pilgrim that fateful night. It propelled a dramatic life shift. A shift towards healing, and more importantly, a shift towards following my true path.

After doing loads and LOADS of therapy and energy healing, I started to explore career options. And I’ll put a little plug in here for Times Change Women’s Employment Service, because connecting with them was pivotal in my career journey. Times Change gives women a caring environment to explore themselves and what they have to offer the world through employed work.

I emerged from the Times Change Career Planning course with a clear decision to become a therapist. I went on to do a Master of Education in Counselling Psychology at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (part of the University of Toronto).

While studying I finally watched the whole Horse Whisperer movie. I was blown away by what the horse whisperer did to save Pilgrim. This man was a shaman. He was powerful, deeply compassionate, and he was able to read Pilgrim and steady the horse’s spirit. He reached Pilgrim and healed him.

I went on to watch other movies about horse whisperers, and they became my favourite movies. I admired their skill. I was so attracted to horse whisperers, that I wanted to be like them – I wanted to be able to work that way with people. So I put that intention into my studies and focused each class on how to develop skill in working with people who have been through trauma. I honed expertise in trauma healing.

After graduating I opened a private psychotherapy practice for three years. I brought the rubber to the road by running therapy groups and doing 1-on-1 therapy. And I learned a lot!

But my spirit is bigger than this. And my desire to relieve suffering in the world is bigger than this. I was drawn to a method called Soul Art. I started learning it and doing it on myself over three years ago. It majorly opened doors in my mind and heart!

I realized I could bring more to working with people. I have long-term deep spiritual experience through my Buddhist practice, and frankly I am ambitious. I started doing coaching with Investment Advisors in the financial industry. We worked on relational issues and business development. Within 6 months my clients rocketed to success through the sessions I was giving them. Their income dramatically increased and they got a BIG promotion.

I was no longer doing psychotherapy and I needed to come up with a name for what I was doing. If there’s one thing I learned from working with my clients, it is this: People are afraid to dream of what they want. They are afraid to face their core desires in life. And those brave souls who sometimes peek their eyes open to glimpse their dream, they are afraid to take the first step towards making their dream a reality. Solid strength and support are needed to take the practical steps to bring any dream into reality, and most people don’t have that kind of support in their life.

After a lot of soul searching I came up with my new title: The Dream Whisperer. I had become an expert in helping people open to their dreams, to hunger for them. I had also become an expert in helping people overcome fear. I developed the skills to guide people taking the steps needed to birth their dreams. It takes a bit of magic and rock solid support. And I bring that on FULL FORCE!

So that’s how the night of November 21, 2001 completely changed my life. Today I am not a software developer. Today I am living the most amazing career… as a Dream Whisperer! And the interesting thing is that all my computer expertise has proven invaluable for creating this Dream Whisperer service. Many of you have experienced the life-changing free programs I give via the internet. And truly… this is only the beginning.

Dorothy comes undone



Dorothy felt her grip on sanity slowly slipping away. She had worked so hard for this day! She had sacrificed so much to be with Alexandra. And Alexandra’s emotions and reactions were completely baffling her. Why wasn’t this woman opening to the loving arms that Dorothy was now extending?

Dorothy needed to know that everything was okay. She needed everything to be okay with Victoria. She needed to know that everything was okay with Alexandra. Then! Then everything could be okay for Dorothy.

She was running herself ragged, and she was losing sight of who she was. Everything was so new! This new home. No longer eating supper with Victoria every night. Sleeping alone in her new home some nights and the other nights sleeping with Alexandra.

She desperately needed some safe place of comfort to adjust to everything. But at the same time everything about her connection with both Victoria and Alexandra was feeling like screaming echoing through the Universe – like the horrible sound of nails on a chalk board.

Dorothy didn’t know how much more of this she could stand, and if Alexandra didn’t start listening to how her incessant weakness was impacting Dorothy, she truly was going to scream.

What was wrong with Alexandra? Was she afraid to hear how Dorothy was feeling? Every time she started to talk about her feelings, Alexandra would simply hang up the phone. It couldn’t be more devastating! Truly, she felt like she was going crazy and there was no hope.

She started drinking at night. First her beloved scotch, and then beer the next night. The feelings were too much to handle, and it was getting so much worse with Alexandra refusing to listen and hanging up the phone. She knew that Alexandra was giving up hope – she had said that to her.

Dorothy felt her world was closing in.

Why is this happening? Why is it when two good women love each other that this love isn’t enough to pull them through?

Well, their love may be enough to pull them through, but right now things are looking dim. I am wondering if they are going to make it, since they are both beaten down and things are intense, I wonder if Alexandra in particular is simply going to pull the plug.

You know, Dorothy was expecting a lot of herself. Leaving a 13-year relationship that she had deeply invested in, and then starting a new life with Alexandra the day she moved into her own place – that fateful Monday of the Flood.

We are all human. We have emotional fabric that is largely woven in our first relationships with our parents in childhood. Then we get into relationships ourselves in adulthood – further weaving our emotional fabric – weaving our heart with the one that we love.

When we leave a relationship it is not a physical thing – it is not simply walking out the door and saying goodbye. We need time, and we need a safe place where we can explore what emotional threads we are taking out of our heart when we leave someone (or when someone leaves us).

The end of a relationship is a BIG thing, and in our society we overlook that. Women are expected to move on in their life and somehow forget the pain of leaving the relationship. This causes great sickness in our heart, and the dis-ease in our heart impacts those around us.

Dorothy needs to give herself the chance to grieve the end of the relationship with Victoria. She needs human compassion for working through a great loss. There is simply too much going on in her heart, and there is too much going on in her transitioning relationship with Victoria for her to be present with building a relationship with Alexandra.

She needs to digest and put away the ending of her past relationship before she will have the space in her heart for Alexandra. She needs to grieve it. And until she does, she will live in emotional limbo. So let us hope that Dorothy will come to realize this before it is too late. Before she loses this amazing opportunity for True LOVE with Alexandra.

Dorothy and Alexandra’s love gets mysteriously hijacked



The two lovers reached the other side – the place where things would be safer, clearer, and they’d finally be able to build an ordinary relationship outside of the messiness of the love triangle with Victoria. Dorothy’s final words of the “hibernation” before her move echoed in Alexandra’s mind, “Come Monday, I will be all yours!”

Things were different after the move. Dorothy created a beautiful home.  And she was able to spend much more time with Alexandra. The two lovers were able to be in touch whenever they wanted without the weight of Victoria’s watchful eye. Dorothy enjoyed being able to do nice things for Alexandra and to finally start to build the kind of relationship she wanted with the woman of her dreams.

But something was not working… As each week passed, the lovers grew more and more distant. It became harder and harder to discuss things. And the problems started accumulating as they didn’t get worked out. A great weight started to grow.

This bewildered the young lovers – how could this be happening after all they had done? Now there was finally the space for them to build the relationship they had dreamed of. How could this be happening???

After the third week, Alexandra was at the breaking point. As much as she loved Dorothy and wanted a relationship with her, Dorothy was no longer herself. She could see the dynamic passionate woman before her, but she couldn’t feel her heart beat. Dorothy was gone! Although Dorothy was the most organized woman she knew, this week Dorothy forgot they were scheduled to spend Saturday night together, and she made plans to go out with her friends instead. Alexandra was dumbfounded, because this was supposed to have been their last night together before Alexandra was going out of town for 5 days to visit friends in Eastern Ontario.

Alexandra was concerned! She sat Dorothy down and said they needed to create a sense of home for their relationship – that things were too chaotic! Dorothy said okay, But… BUT she was so angry with Alexandra because she’s too sensitive and doesn’t appreciate all that Dorothy has done, and why can’t she just allow the relationship to happen (and around 20 other complaints!).

Alexandra stormed out of the room. She refused to take all this dumping of emotion on her. It was if Dorothy didn’t even hear the need to create safety and a sense of a place for their relationship. Dorothy was in all out battle mode!

Alexandra was losing hope as she felt Dorothy slipping away into the darkness of her deep emotions of anger and hurt. And it was maddening! Because Dorothy was physically more present, but now it truly seemed her spirit had left.

Alexandra felt her commitment to this relationship disappear this week. The weight of the late night hashing and gnashing nearly every night was taking it’s toll, and for Alexandra it started to feel like leaving Dorothy was a better option. Especially since Dorothy was obviously so unhappy in the relationship, and certainly Alexandra was starting to be overwhelmed by all the fighting and never getting things worked out.

These two women love each other more deeply than you and I can imagine. Do you know why things aren’t working out between them? Share your thoughts below. We want to hear what you think is wrong and why everything has gone haywire after so much care and effort has gone into their being together.

Read the next chapter…

Will Dorothy and Alexandra reach the other side?



Looking back, it all seemed like a big messy blur – like a smeared dream happening in a fitful sleep. Dorothy forced herself to pack, with her heart growing smaller and smaller under the stress. She gave up her plans of carefully sorting and organizing things as she packed – she just needed to get her stuff into boxes!

Sunday night dinner with Victoria was probably the heaviest thing she ever went through. The air clung to her like black tar, and she could hear every little tick of the silverware hitting their plates. The entire meal in silence, except for Victoria asking if they’d be meeting with the lawyers on Thursday morning. Dorothy answered, “Yes.”

She fulfilled her duty to Victoria as no other wife could – she loved her for these last two days under the same roof. Although she had betrayed her for the past seven years, she came home and was true to her for these last two days. A small token. Sometimes it is these small things that matter a great deal.

By some miracle she gathered her wits enough to put most of her things into boxes by the time the movers arrived early Monday morning. She knew she would return to the house over the coming weeks and could collect small things – which was a relief to not have the pressure of packing EVERYTHING for Monday! And well… maybe there was part of her that just couldn’t bear to completely separate from Victoria, and leaving a few things at the house brought her comfort – and a reason to return.

Dorothy’s thoughts began to return to Alexandra as she started to emerge from the weekend. She knew Alexandra was not the most stable woman, so nothing was for certain. Alexandra was paranoid about Dorothy’s safety. It’s true… Victoria lost it a couple of weeks after Dorothy said she was leaving, and was raising her fist saying crazy things like “I’m never going to let you go. You’re mine. I would lock you up if I have to, so that no one else is going to have you! And I am serious!” Ever since then, Alexandra was inconsolable.  She could understand that Alexandra loved her and cared about her, but it infuriated Dorothy that Alexandra refused to trust her ability to handle Victoria. Undoubtedly Alexandra’s paranoid mind was going wild over the weekend.

She didn’t know what she would face with Alexandra today. All she knew Monday morning is she felt awful – emotionally and physically – and did not have any energy to reach out to Alexandra. It would have to wait until later – after she moved. And she just hoped that Alexandra would still be there – especially since she was disrupting both her’s and Victoria’s life horribly so she could be with Alexandra.

Despite feeling miserable, everything went smoothly with the move. The movers were on time, and it all happened quickly. Dorothy’s head was spinning as the movers left her new place just before 1:30. She felt in shock, and there was profound silence as she stood surrounded by boxes… everywhere. She just stood there, a tiny woman facing a very big future.

Dorothy picked up her iPhone and sent a text to Alexandra. “I am moved. Going to go get some lunch. All is well.” Alexandra responded formally, “I am relieved to hear your move went well. Let me know when you are ready to reconnect. I love you.” Dorothy replied, “I love you too. I’ll be in touch again later today.” She started to feel a little space around her heart to breathe, and she went out in search of a place to get lunch in her new neighborhood.

Although the skies were clear that morning during the move, they clouded over in the afternoon and a great storm descended. It started with rain, and that rain grew more and more intense until a great flood was rushing through the streets sweeping bicyclists and even cars off the side of the road. Dorothy quickly finished her lunch and had to practically swim to get back to her place.

She closed the door behind her, dripping and headed up to her bedroom to find a box with dry clothes. She flipped on the switch in her closet only to find the power had gone out. She realized she had no source of light – not a a flash light or candle. She leapt into action and drove back over to Victoria’s to get a flashlight.

She hadn’t expected to return so soon. In some ways it was a relief to return back to the place she had called home for so many years. And in another way it felt like walking into a coffin. Victoria was visibly unnerved by seeing her, so Dorothy quickly grabbed the crank flashlight she wanted and left.

Sitting in her car she thought she’d better text Alexandra so she wouldn’t feel totally neglected and go into one of her paranoid fit. “Oh My God!” Dorothy exclaimed. Her iPhone was almost out of juice! So she texted Alexandra to let her know she was at 10% power and wouldn’t be able to call her later – she had no way to recharge with the power out. Alexandra was not pleased! She could understand, but there was nothing she could do!

It was almost 5:30 and Dorothy headed back over to her place. It took over 30 minutes to get there when normally it should take around 5 because the roads were a mess and traffic wasn’t moving. What was wrong with these people?! It’s just a bit of rain, and they lose their friggin’ heads!

Dorothy finally made it home and took the precious flashlight upstairs. The storm made it dingy dark, even this early in the evening. She found the box where she put her sheets and she made her bed by the glow of her little crank flashlight.

She sat in the middle of her bed, a little island of sanity, and looked around her room. Chaos! Boxes everywhere!

What had she done? Was this the greatest mistake of her life? Wild thoughts of doubt and self-criticism shot through her heart as she sat in the dark, alone.

She had specifically told Alexandra she wanted to spend the first night at her place alone. And now it felt like she was facing her worst nightmare with all her weakness starting to creep into her skin like a dank fog. Dorothy just sat there – facing what she had done.

After a while she started to feel a little better. Something started to turn, and it actually felt good to be in her own place, even if it was in shambles. In a way it was like camping out, especially since all she had for lighting was the flash light. Today she was beginning a new life… and her heart beat just a little faster. The fog started to lift. She had taken the leap out of a dead marriage to Victoria. She was choosing life. She was choosing to love again. She was choosing herself. And that felt good! It was as if a gentle warm sun was starting to rise up and evaporate the darkness of her fears through its warmth.

She suddenly realized she could charge her phone a little bit off of her computer, which still had life in it’s battery. She texted Alexandra, “Hey, I plugged my phone into my computer and it has life. Are you able to talk for a little bit?”

“Yeah” Alexandra replied, letting go of the pregnant anxiety of the last few days.

Their first conversation after the long weekend apart was tender, even tentative. A new beginning – charted out of the courage and love of both women.

Read the next chapter…

Dorothy blows a fuse!



Dorothy COULD NOT BELIEVE how childish Alexandra was being! Didn’t she understand how difficult this was for her?! She was leaving a 13-year relationship with Victoria. Victoria had been the love of her life, and they had built a strong life together, including this beautiful home.

Dorothy realized about seven years ago that she no longer loved Victoria, but she stayed with her because it seemed impossible to leave. Then she met Alexandra whose love totally turned her world upside down. Now Dorothy was destroying everything by leaving the relationship with Victoria, and this made her feel like the worst person on the face of the earth!

She had to watch day in and day out the devastation she was causing Victoria by leaving. And to make things worse, Victoria found out that Dorothy had been having an affair with Alexandra for almost 6 months. Victoria felt betrayed by the woman she trusted most, and she told Dorothy that she couldn’t imagine ever being able to trust her again.

Dorothy’s soul was screaming inside, and Alexandra’s petty fit about not talking tonight just made her want to scream! Alexandra was needy and insecure, and she really didn’t need this in her life!

But she always felt uneasy when things were unsettled between her and Alexandra. In some odd way, if things were good between them, then life felt good. And if things were upset – like this – then life felt unbearable. She NEEDED to fix this, or she could not bear to go on!

So she told Victoria she was going to bed, and went into her room. (She had moved into a separate bedroom a month before, so now she had this space to herself.) She phoned Alexandra, hoping she had not turned off her phone for the night.

One ring… Two rings… Three rings… Four rings.

“Hi.” Said Alexandra stoically.

“Hello, Alexandra. I can’t go to bed with you feeling so upset. Can we talk?”

“Fine.” Alexandra replied

“Look, I’m going to move out in two days. Things are really intense around here. I need you to give me space.”

“Fine. So what do you want from me.” Even more stoically.

“Well, I know that I keep letting you down. I don’t want to do that. And I am so stressed. I think I need to not be in contact with you for these last two days – until I get moved out. It’s just all too much, and I know I’m just upsetting you.”

“Well, that’s probably a good idea.” Replied Alexandra. Meanwhile her heart was sinking deeper and deeper. It was so hard being out of contact with Dorothy when so much was going on. She had this insane need to know that Dorothy was okay. But she could see she had no choice about this. Everything was SO intense, that she had to give in on this. “Okay, so I’ll wait to hear from you on Monday after you moved.”

“Okay, sweetheart. And there is something I need to say to you. I REALLY need you to hear this. Once I move, I will be yours forever – in body, heart and soul – I will be yours forever. I know this has been really hard, but I need you to hold on to the vision of our life together. I am leaving this relationship to be with you. I want that life with you – and I NEED you to hold on to knowing that we are going to come through this. Can you do that for me?”

“Christ! The only thing I can focus on right now is getting through this weekend! Don’t expect more than that from me. This is totally breaking my heart, Dorothy – totally breaking my heart! Let’s just get through this weekend, and you get safely moved into your new place. Then we’ll reconnect.”

“Okay – as long as you know that I’m going to be there on the other side – I will be your woman come Monday.”

“Okay. Well take care of yourself. I’ll be sending you good energy for your move. Look forward to hearing from you Monday.”

“Thank you, sweetheart. I will call you on Monday. I love you.”

“Love you too. Bye.”

“Good bye sweetheart. Bye bye.”

Dorothy got off the phone feeling much stronger. She knew she needed to close things properly with Victoria this weekend so she could fulfill her commitment to Alexandra. And she knew she would do this. Alexandra was such an extraordinary woman, and this relationship was the relationship of a lifetime. She would be ready to truly welcome Alexandra into her life on Monday.

She got up and brushed her teeth, and as she was drifting off to sleep she started having all kinds of wild unsettling dreams.

Read the next chapter…

The Final Word on HL’s Vision for Find True Lesbian LOVE



This 5-week journey of exploring HL’s vision has been intense and profound – not for the feint of heart, that’s for sure! Life is busy, and we all have practical demands on us. And yet… we have carved out quiet time to reflect upon and try to understand what HL has gifted us with in her vision for creating a place to learn LOVE.

The final line of her vision reads:

Welcome home to safety and love, where every heart matters.

HL is saying that this community within Find True Lesbian LOVE is a home – it is a place of safety and love. And like any home, we need to attend to it – all of us! I am serving as a leader here. And I have brought in my mate, HL, to grace us with her femininity and wisdom. But for us to have a good home together, you need to participate as well.

We need your engagement! Sign up for programs that will help you heal and open your heart. Comment on the blogs. Say prayers for this endeavour of creating a place for good, wholesome, passionate Lesbian LOVE. We need you – and I need you!

Things don’t just happen in this world. They happen because people invest energy in them. If we want to create a space of healing and love for women – a place where truly every heart matters – that requires resource.

HL phoned me last week and told me she just read that Slack’s, the local lesbian bar, closed down. Unfortunately there is a deep handicap in our community – we are afraid of relating with money. And I can only guess this is because lesbian women have been through so much hardship and trauma that we have shifted into a conservative, protective mode that shadows our hearts and removes us from life. As a community, we have a hard time giving and spending and exchanging.

I see this also when I go to women’s dances. Women tend to hang out with their friends, and they do not extend themselves in friendliness to strangers. We are not bad people! But we have a problem, and we need to find some little ways of opening our hearts to each other, giving to each other, and… receiving from each other. We need to actively create spaces of healing – where every heart matters.

So please do engage with me and engage with this community, and let’s build something beautiful and profound – something that will grow and impact the Lesbian community across the world. Let’s bring positive energy into this island community here, and allow that drop by drop to accumulate and heal and spread out from our island. So for now, please engage, please lift up your heart, and allow yourself to shift into a more and more positive place around this thing we call… LOVE.

Offered with LOVE for the profound benefit of all who read it.

Andrea

The next chapter with Alexandra and Dorothy



Alexandra was in the foulest of moods when she woke up the next morning after the blow out with Dorothy. It didn’t help that she had stayed up until almost 2:00 in the morning FaceTiming with her, only for them to decide to separate!

She dragged herself to work, arriving almost 10 minutes late – which really annoyed her! She hoped that no one would notice as she slid in behind her desk.

She lost herself in checking email and trying to figure out how to go on after that heart-crushing night. It just felt like the whole world was dark.

And then something…. Something… started knocking at the back of her mind.

She went into the Personal folder on her computer and she felt compelled to look up the Law of Attraction work she had done 6 months earlier, right around the time she had met Dorothy.

As she was reading her loooong list of qualities describing her ideal partner, her eyes started popping out! Dorothy always had a slogan she said, “I know what I want!” As a matter of fact, she had a shirt printed up this past Pride that said, “I KNOW WHAT I WANT!”. Alexandra looked at the 4th quality listed in her Ideal Partner description: “Relationally secure, knows what she wants”. “Oh my God!” thought Alexandra.

It was also important to Alexandra to live in fiscal fitness and be with a partner who was on board with this. Item # 5: “Lives in fiscal fitness – honouring of $”. And she realized Dorothy fits that to a T, too! Dorothy has been very thoughtful, researching pricing before buying things, and holding back on things that didn’t make sense. Dorothy is really good with money!

And Alexandra had always had trouble getting involved with women who weren’t into oral sex – and she really loved oral sex. In her Desire Statement Alexandra wrote, “She loves exploring emotions and she loves sexual exploration. I am so relieved knowing my ideal partner enjoys taking her time making love to me. She deeply enjoys making love to me and loves giving me oral sex.” Dorothy LOVES making love to Alexandra, and sometimes Alexandra needs to fend Dorothy off from giving her oral sex when she just wants simpler closeness and holding.

Alexandra’s spirits lifted as she read through what she had written last Spring. It was INCREDIBLE that Dorothy so closely matched these things she had asked for!

And she realized the Dorothy was in the process of leaving her 13-year partner. And when she read the opening line of her Desire Statement, she realized that things were in a process, and she needed to allow that process. The first line read, “I am in the process of attracting all that I need to do, know or have to attract my ideal partner.” It doesn’t have to all be in place immediately, because this wonderful woman, Dorothy, was clearly on the way to being in a deep love relationship with Alexandra.

Read the next chapter…

 

When you have two good women together, why does love go bad?



Alexandra is feeling a bit lonely and looking forward to connecting with Dorothy at the end of the day. At 9:23 pm she texts Dorothy, “How is it going?”.

Dorothy responds, “Very tired, so resting and watching movie. And typing email to you. No brainer movie. How are you?”

       “Bored. Is everything okay with you?”

No response

       Alexandra adds, “Watching lesbian movie too”

No response

       “Maybe this is a bad time”

Dorothy replies, “I am okay just pretty tired”

       “Ok. I can send you a good night before I head to bed. Is that good?”

       “Yes please thanks!”

A few minutes before 10:00 Alexandra texts, “Dorothy, I am heading to bed. I sense your distance tonight, and I wonder if you would like to share what is going on.”

       “Really nothing. I am so tired. And I have no energy. Sorry. And also watching movie. Aimlessly drifting.”

       “Did you enjoy your dinner?”

       “Yes. How are you tonight? I am not distancing, please know that.”

       “Ok. Want me to let you go?”

       “It’s okay, I am sorry. It’s been a long day.”

       “Would you like me to let you go. We can just say good night now.”

       “Are u going to bed now?”

       “Yes. Will brush my teeth first”

       “I’m tired for sure… I love you. Sleep well darling. I miss you.”

       “You sleep well too. Maybe go to bed earlier and get some rest. Love you. Good night.”

Alexandra leaves the conversation feeling empty, confused, and painfully insecure. Usually Dorothy values connecting by phone at the end of the day. What is going on? Dorothy says everything is fine, that she is just tired, but Alexandra knows this is not the Dorothy she knows and loves. It’s frustrating and disappointing, and she doesn’t know what to do with her feelings since Dorothy is not explaining.

Alexandra feels Dorothy does not want to relate with her, so reached out again in an email and said,

You know I am disappointed you want no connection time with me today. And surprised. I don’t understand. Normally you do. But you say you are good emotionally. So I am feeling confused. 

I guess you are just too tired to relate with me, and I will accept that.   

Good night, Dorothy. Sleep with angels and I look forward to when we come out of this strange time. 

        I’m sure you can feel the drama building. This email prompted Dorothy to telephone Alexandra, and they wound up talking on the phone until almost 2:00 am, with the call ending in them taking a break from their relationship.

So what the heck happened here? These two women love each other profoundly, but something has gone way off the tracks, and I’m wondering if this dating relationship is going to survive.

Dorothy is living with one foot in the present and one foot in the past. She certainly loves Alexandra very dearly. But her heart is stuck in the pain of her past relationship. She feels guilty – she knows she hurt her partner in her choice to leave their 13-year relationship. On this night she was watching this movie with her former partner, feeling very heavy, and she wanted to shield Alexandra from her own feelings.

The simple fact is that as long as we have emotions and energy tied up in a former relationship, we don’t have space to be present and to love another woman. Instead we distance ourselves to cope with our feelings, and in this case, Dorothy tried to pretend she wasn’t doing that. She is trying desperately to make Alexandra happy while at the same time she is dealing with overwhelmingly heavy feelings from her past relationship. It confused Alexandra and hurt her deeply. This interaction eroded the good love that was trying to live between them, and in the end they decided to take a separation.

Will they be able to come back after the separation? Is their love strong enough to pull them through to “the other side”? Will Dorothy face her feelings about leaving her partner, put her partner in the light, and let her partner go?

Read the next chapter…

The Oneness of this Island we call “Home”



HL is steeped in Taoism, and she told us last week that the notion of “Oneness” comes from Taoist philosophy. For those of us who have not been exposed to this deep tradition, it can be quite difficult to have any understanding of something like oneness.

So let’s look this week at how we can begin to crack open the gift of this line,

The Oneness of this Island we call “Home”

I’m going to share my thoughts, and I’d love for your to post your thoughts below, too! Most of the time we experience life in fragments. Here’s what this might look like:

We have a job. We have friends and a social life.

We have a cat.

We have a bank account, with more or less money in it.

We pay rent for our apartment.

We try to keep groceries in our fridge, and sometimes even that feels like a daunting task.

We end our day trying to fill our loneliness by watching a couple of hours of TV (or more).

If there is a lack of coherence, we will feel a lack of energy. It can feel depressing. It can be hard to rouse our self up… to dream… to take practical steps to actualize our dreams… to create a good, wholesome, fulfilling life. Things in life don’t work! And we rarely get ahead.

In contrast, there can be times in our life when we feel good… we feel safe to be who we are… we feel that all of the strands of our life (work, relationships, money, feeding ourselves and our pets, etc.) are working together, energetically connected and feeding each other and our hearts, leading us to fulfilling a great mission – our soul’s calling. I’m thinking this is can be an experience of Oneness – of integration and connection with the life energy that runs through everything.

Stacie commented on the post from two weeks ago, “The Power of Good Lesbian Leadership.” She insightfully wrote that good leadership lifts us out of our island and connects us universally within humanity. I believe Stacie is speaking to Oneness.

And the big question is how do we create that sense of connection within ourselves and then extend it to all of humanity. We all know it is a good thing, and we probably all want to feel our heart connection with humanity.

But just wanting it isn’t enough to get it!

We need a path. We need a journey of starting where we are – which may be isolated with an armored heart from all the deep pain we have experienced as women in this world. And we need to take the first step, and then the next step, and the next. Frankly, such a journey requires good leadership – to heal our broken hearts and reconnect with the world – with humanity.

In my response to Stacie’s post I cite the healing literature which overwhelmingly states that there are three stages to healing: (1) Create safety, (2) Rememberance and mourning, and (3) Reconnection with community. Although safety is necessary to move into the later stages, the journey is not linear. We continually revisit each stage through the journey of healing.

So this is why I am working to create an island of safety for you and with you in this community. It is the first stage, and each of you has to find your own way of truly establishing a reasonable level of physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual safety. Only then will you feel stable enough to remember your pain, mourn it, and give it a respectful burial. And then… THEN… you will have the space in your heart to connect with the greater world – to start to build heart connections with community and greater humanity.

I have carefully created a step-by-step journey with my course offerings. Lesbian Dating 201 is an easy first step. And if that feels like too much, start with my Beginner Meditation Program. Establishing a regular meditation practice can be enormously helpful for grounding yourself and establishing a bit of stability. Then you can move your way comfortably through the steps I have laid out in Lesbian Dating 201 (The First Step to True LOVE), 301 (Open Your Heart to New LOVE) and finally 401 (Attract Your Ideal Partner). These steps will lead you through creating your unique needs for safety, being able to safely mourn past relationship break ups, and then open your heart to connecting in a new love relationship.

I WELCOME your comments below!

Good Lesbian Leadership Can Open the ONENESS of Life



I let HL know last week that I have been exploring her vision for Find True Lesbian LOVE with all of you in my weekly emails to you. She said she is very happy that I am sharing her vision with all of you so that you can also share our vision and happiness in life in finding each other, and living in a profound way of love and passion.

I told her I wasn’t quite sure what she meant in the next section of the vision, so she generously recorded a little discussion of it. I just listened to what she said, and I’ve transcribed it here for you. She is speaking to the third paragraph in the vision, and makes some reference to the last two paragraphs.

On her diamond throne, the Queen leads her fellow islanders to reach a warm and colourful place, where love, life, passion, resource, and compassion become ONE. 

The Oneness of this Island we call “Home”

Welcome home to safety and love, where every heart matters.

HL: “The diamond throne is your throne. Diamond is precious and indestructible. Made of compressed carbon. Carbon is not a valuable substance. When it is so compressed, it becomes something else.

All the little things you have gone through in your life have become so precious – so compressed into someone like you. You have all the skills and ability to make your vision and your intention to lead your fellow islanders. Here’s the throne for the queen which is made of diamond.

You are leading them to a warm and colourful place, where love, life, passion, resource and compassion become ONE.

The ONE embodies everything that has reached an equilibrium. That is a concept in Taoist philosophy. One is in a cycle that encompasses everything in life. For me, the vision is love, passion, compassion and of course resource for us to live on. Everything that is on a continuum as well as in equilibrium, they go in a cycle and interacting with one another to create a life that is home.

On this island we have created a home – the home is this oneness. When I talk about the home, I really think that metaphorically it is a place that is safe and full of love. I’m also talking about home as the heart where everything matters.”

 

What is most important for finding a long-term fulfilling partner?



Women tell me they can’t find a relationship with the right woman. They know they want a love relationship. But the relationships they get into turn into Lesbian Drama…  where feelings get out of control and it feels like their worst nightmare come to life!

Some women cope by avoiding relationships, and they live alone. This leads to feelings of deep emptiness. And they stuff down their feelings by filling themselves with food, drinking, smoking, watching too much TV. Underneath this emptiness is a deep longing that feels like it could never be filled. It can lead to depression. Does any of this sound familiar to you?

When we are empty and deeply longing, we are vulnerable. Dating websites offer the promise of matching you with your perfect match, and this can become very attractive. Women tell me they are frustrated in on-line dating sites because women are only there to flirt. These websites give the illusion of closeness that will never satisfy you. They give the illusion of a promise of love.

I am offering an alternative – a path to True LOVE that is both practical and inspired. In my method, you first heal your own heart and understand how you are in relationship. You build a FOUNDATION for finding authentic love.

If you jump into action without creating a foundation, you will build a house on a shaky foundation, and of course it will fall down. This is the key reason why the Lesbian community experiences so much drama in the beginning stages of relationships –women have not prepared a solid, safe foundation for taking the journey of LOVE.

In my method for successful Lesbian dating, I lead you in three steps: You (1) Create a solid foundation, (2) Attract your ideal partner, and (3) Create your dating strategic plan. This is a solid, practical method for finding True LOVE.

My 3-step method is unique and has never been offered by anyone else. In a concrete way you will:

  • Fill your deep emptiness by learning how to care for your emotional needs and connect with a woman who can genuinely care for and love you
  • Stop stuffing down your feelings with bad habits and addictions by empowering yourself with new healthy ways of dealing with feelings and finding solutions to the problem
  • Honestly fulfill your deep longing for love by taking practical steps beginning with building an emotional foundation for finding a fulfilling, healthy love relationship
  • Shatter the illusion of promise on dating websites by getting expert guidance and doing the work – in a joyful way – to bring authentic LOVE into your heart and life

This journey begins with Lesbian Dating 201: The First Step to True LOVE

This course teaches you how to build a strong emotional foundation for dating. We will cover these three topics:

  • Class 1:  Love maps
  • Class 2:  Intimacy
  • Class 3:  Boundaries

Feel free to check out the other course offerings too!

Why is it so hard for many lesbians to foster a healthy love relationship?



You who were part of the The Key To Finding Your Dream Woman Teleseminar had great insights into this intriguing question. Your contributions show the real issues and challenges that lesbians face in our world today. Here are a few your contributions:

  • “possibly choosing unavailable people or settling for someone out of loneliness. some women suffer from lack of self esteem that began early on”
  • Lesbians deny their sexuality/emotions and physical being while they are young for the most part. This causes a self-hatred”
  • Because we are individually very wounded ourselves as a result of growing up gay”

Here’s an excerpt from the Teleseminar:

“In our society, many women have experienced trauma in relationships. The impact of trauma often leads to fragmentation of the spirit and soul, and the loss of sense of safety and reference points . . .

In lesbian relationships, we often see two women who have been both traumatized – double jeopardy – a compounding of the sensitivity that trauma creates. When both are so sensitive and can be hurt easily, it can be hard to get through the challenges that are part of the beginning of any new relationship.

When women experience trauma in a relationship, we usually make changes in our life to protect ourselves from experiencing the trauma again – we become more defended. We move into being in a reactive mode rather than being able to think clearly and expansively and to be proactive, taking steps to get what you want.”

It is possible to heal past trauma and move into this proactive mode. I strongly advocate that women connect with resources along the lines of what I offer so you can have insights and breakthroughs in a gentle and supported way. Life does not have to be so extreme – opening to loving and being loved does not have to be so scary. It can be easier, and you can be cared for in the process.

I offer an excellent Lesbian Dating program that gives you this caring process. I invite you to consider giving yourself the gift of taking Lesbian Dating 201: The First Step to True LOVE.

In this 3 session course I will lead you through a journey of exploration – where you can learn about the love map you learned from growing up with your parents. You can learn about your style of intimacy. And you can learn about your boundaries and how to be in relationship honouring both your own and the other woman’s boundaries.

This is a powerful foundational Lesbian LOVE course. And I am completely committed to assisting your doing powerful work to clear space for your new love relationship. I want you to feel you have solid ground within you so that you can enjoy the journey of finding your dream woman. If you have any questions you would like to ask me, please feel free to email me: andrea@andreamwinn.com.

I look forward to guiding you to your True LOVE!

HL’s Vision for Find True Lesbian LOVE



I sent the following message out to the community on June 12th:

Something new is opening up today for us in this venture of LOVE! As I have said in the Teleseminars and emails, I have found myself in a deep love relationship since starting Find True Lesbian LOVE February 7, 2013.

That love is woven through my activities of connecting with you, and opening your door to LOVE, over these past months. I joyfully share the energy, grace and healing of my love with you – to nourish those hidden parts of your heart, so that you can open to meeting your own soul mate – your True LOVE.

My love, who I have introduced by her initials, HL, wrote a vision for Find True Lesbian LOVE on April 28, and I want to share it with you today. Here is what she wrote:

As the tale begins. . . 

Once upon a time, on the Island of Lesbos lives a Queen, who is so graceful, loving, caring, compassionate, and beautiful. She gathers her strength and power through her incredible intellect and a pure heart to gift women who desire love and to be loved. Her vision is boundless, for her wisdom is limitless. 

On her diamond throne, the Queen leads her fellow islanders to reach a warm and colourful place, where love, life, passion, resource, and compassion become ONE. 

The Oneness of this Island we call “Home”

Welcome home to safety and love, where every heart matters.


HL brings grace to both you and I through sharing this vision. It’s a vision of hope. A vision of healing. A vision of Lesbian leadership. A vision for family and for deep love. It’s a profound vision that I would like for you and I to unpack together over the coming five weeks. I will share some of my thoughts on what this means in my weekend emails, and I’d really like it if you would share your thoughts with me, too. Then after our 5 weeks of chewing on this, I’ll ask HL if she will share more about what her vision means for us.

Do you want to engage with me in a 5-week project of opening hope, healing and love?  I want to undertake this with you – working together for the benefit of opening your heart to LOVE.

Learning with you, and opening to Grace,

Part 1: A Story to Open Your Heart To LOVE



HL, my girlfriend, told me the other day, “I thrive on LOVE.” She knows this. And in all honesty, ALL of us thrive on love. When we are in love, we feel better, we perform better, we live better. HL wants this for all of you, and she is gently cracking open the door for you through her vision below.

Welcome to part one of a special 5-week series. This is a chance for you and I to unpacking HL’s vision and open your heart to LOVE. (If you missed my first email announcing this series, you can see HL’s full vision statement below.)

This week let’s  explore the first line, “As the tale begins…” I’m giving my thoughts, and I strongly invite your input, thoughts and how you are touched by her words. My in-box is open to your emails on this.

As the tale begins…

HL suggests we are at the beginning of something that is going to happen – a story. Tales are usually for entertainment, and if it is a good tale, there will be wisdom within it – a learning – that will change the listener – transform her life.

Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estés, and expert on story telling writes in her book, Women Who Run With the Wolves,

Stories are medicine. I have been taken with stories since I heard my first. They have such power; they do not require that we do, be, act anything – we need only listen. The remedies for repair or reclamation of any lost psychic drive are contained in stories. Stories engender the excitement, sadness, questions, longings, and understandings that spontaneously bring the archetype, in this case Wild Woman, back to the surface. Stories are embedded with instructions which guide us about the complexities of life. Stories enable us to understand the need for and the ways to raise a submerged archetype.” (Estes 1995: 15)

HL is opening all of us to a journey – a journey that is for the benefit of your capacity to feel love. She is pointing the way. She is engaging our psyches in a gentle and skilful – and perhaps most importantly – a LOVING way.

Certainly she is telling this story from the spiritual place of her love for me. Even moreso, she wants to help her community – she wants to have a positive impact on her community of women who love women. Through her story, she is reaching her hand out to you, to help you find your delicate path of opening your heart to deep loving.

Part 2: The Power of Good Lesbian Leadership



We are in the middle of a process of sacred “Revelation” – of revealing the vibration of LOVE, as it has been communicated by my own dear love, HL. She composed a vision for Find True Lesbian LOVE on April 28th. Now I’m pulling out my pick and shovel to dig in and grapple with what her sacred message means. I invite you to dig in with your own tools and contribute your thoughts as well – I WELCOME it!

All of this grappling is for opening your pathway to LOVE – your unique sacred pathway. It will not be magically gifted to you – You will have to work for it! What I am offering is a vehicle for your work. I would LOVE to engage with you on the sacred words HL has presented us. If anything touches you, make that effort and send me an email. Your grappling will add to the vortex of LOVE that we are building together here, and it will feed both your heart and your journey into LOVE.

This week we grapple with the second passage of her vision:

Once upon a time, on the Island of Lesbos lives a Queen, who is so graceful, loving, caring, compassionate, and beautiful. She gathers her strength and power through her incredible intellect and a pure heart to gift women who desire love and to be loved. Her vision is boundless, for her wisdom is limitless. 

“Once upon a time” are famous words for beginning a story. These words have become empowered with the ability to transport us into another world – a world where there can be dreams and fairy tales – a world where we can imagine new possibilities that would be impossible in the “real” world. These words transport us into a place of possibility and dreams.

And what do we find in this other world? A sacred island for us – for lesbians – for us who can be outcasts in this patriarchal world – and if not outcasts, perhaps we just never feel like we fully fit in. So here is a space where we belong – and we belong with each other.

The Island of Lesbos – I imagine warrior women who are strong and who live much closer to nature than what we do here in the city. I think of Amazons – women who are filled with bravery and who love fiercely. I see masculine women and I see feminine women, and there is a strength in their love for one another that I do not see often in the “real” world.

In the “real” world, I see wounded women who hide their emotions in addictions. And I see these women coping and leading lives formed around defending themselves from being taken advantage of. I see lonely women who have been hurt and no longer know how to be loved. And I see these women hurting each other –not because they are bad people – but because they have been deeply hurt in the past and this has led to them being disconnected from their own love and power. So they bring each other down. It saddens me!

So that is why it is such a beautiful vision HL gives us on the Island of Lesbos – where women have been in strong loving community for generations. I see strong healthy love flowing through their bodies! They are deeply connected with the earth and how to care well for themselves and each other. They are strong in their womanly power, and they look happy – genuinely happy – and healthy with clear skin, colour in their cheeks, and a star of aliveness shining in their eyes.

And there is a Queen, a”Queen, who is so graceful, loving, caring, compassionate, and beautiful “. We struggle to find good leadership in the “real” world. When we do find a good leader, it’s like finding an oasis in a vast desert. Here in Ontario we recently got Kathleen Wynne in as our premier. She is an exceptional leader. Yes, she is lesbian (which is fucking AMAZING!), but perhaps more importantly she is intelligent, caring and trained as a mediator – she is able to open situations in a way that brings the best out in people. She cultivates goodness and peace. Wow! We have needed a leader like that for a long time! President Obama is a similar amazing story. These people don’t have to be perfect, and it still feels amazing to have skilled leadership that operates from heart and is truly working to make this world a better place.

So our Queen on the Island of Lesbos, she is inspiring to us through her grace, love, care, compassion and beauty. The world feels in order having a good leader serving us – someone who lifts up our hearts and opens our abilities to believe and to stretch ourselves towards the light of the sun. Having a good leader makes all the difference for society. So we are graced to have such a good woman leader on our island.

She gathers her strength and power through her incredible intellect and a pure heart to gift women who desire love and to be loved. Her vision is boundless, for her wisdom is limitless. 

This Queen has the ability to lead Lesbian women in the journey of loving. HL cites her intellect and purity as key to leading women to be able to love. Intellect refers to seeing clearly and clearing away illusion and delusion. Clearing away the clouds that keep women down in patriarchal society. Perhaps I will add the image of a strong wind here to clear away those clouds – so women can remember who they are and take leadership in their own lives and hearts.

And purity because at long last, women need someone they can trust to lead them out of the desert of pain we find ourselves in after thousands of years – generation after generation – of living within patriarchal society. It has been damaging. It has been soul crushing. And great purity – a very pure heart is needed to lead women out of the darkness and into the light of reconnection.

Women’s capabilities to give love and receive love need to be cleaned and re-awakened after all these generations of oppression. We have had moments of love shine through over all this time, but the oppression of darkness has been a heavy weight on us – as so many women are raped and killed by their fathers, husbands and boyfriends every year – the people who we are taught should love and protect us. We have born a heavy, heavy weight – and it has absolutely impacted our hearts and how we give and receive love. Our hearts need to be washed with tears.

And the good news is that it is possible to heal that and reclaim our ability to love and be loved well. HL gifts us with her vision of a Queen who possesses boundless vision and limitless wisdom – fully capable of leading us back to loving ourselves and one another.

It is important to create a space within our hearts to hold this vision – and to protect it. Let us nurture this beautiful vision, and together we will make it manifest. We can create this within our community here. I myself am working towards that – and it will take all of us to contribute our special abilities to accomplish this vision.

Nothing is too silly! Please bring forward your heart and gift us with your good energy – your positive vision for our Island and for how you are bringing beauty and womanly strength into your life. And how you are witnessing the awakening of LOVE in your heart.

Leave a comment below, and let me know what is starting to stir in you!

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