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Presence Meditation 101

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Lesson 2, Topic 1
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How to always feel shit about yourself // Dave Rock

It’s crucial to maintain a certain level of wretchedness. With so many free resources for expanding self-esteem, and even going beyond notions of self, with so many science-backed tricks for boosting mood and lowering stress, we must be vigilant to nurture our sense of inner shit-ness.

Why is it more important than ever to utterly crucify ourselves on the inside? Why now, of all times, must we exalt our inner Gollums? That’s a stupid question, you snivelling imbecile. Be enlightened thus:


Feeling shit about yourself is vital to holding on to a victim identity. It’s like Victim Vitamins. As must-have as a Gucci bag, it also plays a key role in helping you avoid response-ability for your life, with all the irritating courage, compassion and commitment that entails. Seriously, best not.


Feeling shit about yourself ensures you never threaten the victim identities of others, thus securing you a place in the dingy gloom of soggy biscuit moan-a-thons and people pleasing purgatories. How terrible to lose such friends and experiences.

Feeling shit about yourself is a genius distraction from genuine issues, such as drowning refugees, plastic in the oceans, and the rapid dying off of species. It also helps us forget the fact that we will all die, which is a bonus.


Last, but not least, feeling shit about yourself provides a psychic shield against the heartbreaking overflow of beauty, generosity and energy in every present moment. Actually receiving the present moment is like having unprotected sex with the cosmos, and if it happens too often your worries fade, your ambitions change, and you end up buying much less stuff. Very poor behaviour all round.


Hopefully you are now convinced of the urgency of bolstering your spiritual squalor. How then, to do so effectively?


1) Compare yourself to older people. I have friends who are 20 odd years older than me, and any time I feel too satisfied I can look at what they’ve done, ignoring the extra time they’ve had of course.

1.2) Compare yourself to younger people – If I ever need a quick punch in the guts I just think of younger people who’ve ‘achieved’ more. The Nuclear Option? Google how much Mozart had done by the age of eight. Instant ego devastation.

1.3) Compare yourself to selective parts of other people – It can be wonderfully horrifying to notice the stupendous gifts of others while ignoring all the things they have not done, and are terrible at. Simultaneously, discount all the good you have done, focusing only on what you have not done. Miserable bliss guaranteed.

1.4) Compare yourself only to what you could be. Ignore how far you have come. Wonderful for boosting anxiety.

2) Believe you’ve ‘had it worse in life’ than others. AND score bonus shame by secretly knowing it’s not true. Constantly enter yourself into the ‘Loser Idol’ game of life and always lose. Delicious.

3) Alway discount the fact that our brains are 50,000 years out of date. Pretend you should be disciplined, focused and clear, when no one is. Genius.

4) Always ignore global realities. For example, blame your lack of cash on your ‘vibrations’ only, ignoring how the economic system creates structural inequality. Instant paralysis.

5) Believe you have a fixed level of abilities. Consistent, deliberate practice can increase your abilities in any field. Never ever do this.

6) Avoid better sleep, hydration, exercise, meditation, gratitude practices, mindfulness etc. These are scientifically proven to boost mood! Never, ever do them, and certainly not on a regular basis. If you must, make sure you do so from shame and judgement. Act as though it’s a Spiritual Olympics. This will alleviate most of the benefits. Never, ever practice from patience, compassion and a sense of pleasure.

7) Keep consuming lifestyle porn of idealised images. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a movie, magazine or ‘spiritual course.’ As long as it helps you feel shit, enjoy!


Be vigilant. Be safe. Stay miserable.

Again, never let yourself receive the overwhelming goodness of what is here and now.


(Sponsored by the Global Consumer Economy) 

For Calling the Spirit Back from Wandering the Earth in Its Human Feet // Joy Harjo

Put down that bag of potato chips, that white bread, that bottle of pop.

Turn off that cellphone, computer, and remote control.

Open the door, then close it behind you.

Take a breath offered by friendly winds. They travel the earth gathering essences of plants to clean.


Give it back with gratitude.


If you sing it will give your spirit lift to fly to the stars’ ears and back.

Acknowledge this earth who has cared for you since you were a dream planting itself precisely within your parents’ desire.


Let your moccasin feet take you to the encampment of the guardians who have known you before time, who will be there after time. They sit before the fire that has been there without time.


Let the earth stabilize your postcolonial insecure jitters.

Be respectful of the small insects, birds and animal people who accompany you.
Ask their forgiveness for the harm we humans have brought down upon them.


Don’t worry.
The heart knows the way though there may be high-rises, interstates, checkpoints, armed soldiers, massacres, wars, and those who will despise you because they despise themselves.


The journey might take you a few hours, a day, a year, a few years, a hundred, a thousand or even more.


Watch your mind. Without training it might run away and leave your heart for the immense human feast set by the thieves of time.


Do not hold regrets.

When you find your way to the circle, to the fire kept burning by the keepers of your soul, you will be welcomed.

You must clean yourself with cedar, sage, or other healing plant.

Cut the ties you have to failure and shame.


Let go the pain you are holding in your mind, your shoulders, your heart, all the way to your feet. Let go the pain of your ancestors to make way for those who are heading in our direction.


Ask for forgiveness.

Call upon the help of those who love you. These helpers take many forms: animal, element, bird, angel, saint, stone, or ancestor.


Call your spirit back. It may be caught in corners and creases of shame, judgment, and human abuse.

You must call in a way that your spirit will want to return.

Speak to it as you would to a beloved child.


Welcome your spirit back from its wandering. It may return in pieces, in tatters. Gather them together. They will be happy to be found after being lost for so long.

Your spirit will need to sleep awhile after it is bathed and given clean clothes.

Now you can have a party. Invite everyone you know who loves and supports you. Keep room for those who have no place else to go.


Make a giveaway, and remember, keep the speeches short.


Then, you must do this: help the next person find their way through the dark.

The Gift // John O’Donohue

Sometimes you are unable to see the special gift that you bring to the world. No gift is ever given for your private use. To follow your gift is a calling to a wonderful adventure of discovery.

Some of the deepest longing in you is the voice of your gift. The gift calls you to embrace it, not to be afraid of it.

The only way to honour the unmerited presence of the gift in your life is to attend to the gift; this is also a most difficult path to walk. Each gift is different; there is no plan or programme you can get ready-made from someone else.

The gift alone knows where its path leads. It calls you to courage and humility. If you hear its voice in your heart, you simply have to follow it. Otherwise your life could be dragged into the valley of disappointment.

People who truly follow their gift find that it can often strip their lives and yet invest them with a sense of enrichment and fulfilment that nothing else could bring. Those who renege on or repress their gift are unwittingly sowing the seeds of regret.

John O’Donohue

Sometimes a Wild God // Tom Hirons

Sometimes a wild god comes to the table.
He is awkward and does not know the ways
Of porcelain, of fork and mustard and silver.
His voice makes vinegar from wine.


When the wild god arrives at the door,
You will probably fear him.
He reminds you of something dark
That you might have dreamt,
Or the secret you do not wish to be shared.


He will not ring the doorbell;
Instead he scrapes with his fingers
Leaving blood on the paintwork,
Though primroses grow
In circles round his feet.


You do not want to let him in.
You are very busy.
It is late, or early, and besides…
You cannot look at him straight
Because he makes you want to cry.


The dog barks.
The wild god smiles,
Holds out his hand.
The dog licks his wounds
And leads him inside.


The wild god stands in your kitchen.
Ivy is taking over your sideboard;
Mistletoe has moved into the lampshades
And wrens have begun to sing
An old song in the mouth of your kettle.


‘I haven’t much,’ you say
And give him the worst of your food.
He sits at the table, bleeding.
He coughs up foxes.
There are otters in his eyes.


When your wife calls down,
You close the door and
Tell her it’s fine.
You will not let her see
The strange guest at your table.


The wild god asks for whiskey
And you pour a glass for him,
Then a glass for yourself.
Three snakes are beginning to nest
In your voicebox. You cough.

Oh, limitless space.
Oh, eternal mystery.
Oh, endless cycles of death and birth.
Oh, miracle of life.
Oh, the wondrous dance of it all.


You cough again,
Expectorate the snakes and
Water down the whiskey,
Wondering how you got so old
And where your passion went.


The wild god reaches into a bag
Made of moles and nightingale-skin.
He pulls out a two-reeded pipe,
Raises an eyebrow
And all the birds begin to sing.


The fox leaps into your eyes.
Otters rush from the darkness.
The snakes pour through your body.
Your dog howls and upstairs
Your wife both exults and weeps at once.

The wild god dances with your dog.
You dance with the sparrows.
A white stag pulls up a stool
And bellows hymns to enchantments.
A pelican leaps from chair to chair.


In the distance, warriors pour from their tombs.
Ancient gold grows like grass in the fields.
Everyone dreams the words to long-forgotten songs.
The hills echo and the grey stones ring
With laughter and madness and pain.


In the middle of the dance,
The house takes off from the ground.
Clouds climb through the windows;
Lightning pounds its fists on the table.
The moon leans in through the window.


The wild god points to your side.
You are bleeding heavily.
You have been bleeding for a long time,
Possibly since you were born.
There is a bear in the wound.


‘Why did you leave me to die?’
Asks the wild god and you say:
‘I was busy surviving.
The shops were all closed;
I didn’t know how. I’m sorry.’


Listen to them:

The fox in your neck and
The snakes in your arms and
The wren and the sparrow and the deer…
The great un-nameable beasts
In your liver and your kidneys and your heart…


There is a symphony of howling.
A cacophony of dissent.
The wild god nods his head and
You wake on the floor holding a knife,
A bottle and a handful of black fur.


Your dog is asleep on the table.
Your wife is stirring, far above.
Your cheeks are wet with tears;
Your mouth aches from laughter or shouting.
A black bear is sitting by the fire.


Sometimes a wild god comes to the table.
He is awkward and does not know the ways
Of porcelain, of fork and mustard and silver.
His voice makes vinegar from wine
And brings the dead to life.

An Invitation To Presence // Jeff Foster

Prescription for the Disillusioned – a poem by Rebecca del Rio


Come new to this day.
Remove the rigid overcoat of experience,
the notion of knowing,
the beliefs that cloud your vision.


Leave behind the stories of your life.
Spit out the sour taste of unmet expectation.
Let the stale scent of what-ifs waft back into the swamp
of your useless fears.


Arrive curious, without the armor of certainty,
the plans and planned results of the life you’ve imagined.

Live the life that chooses you,
new every breath, every blink of your astonished eyes.

Prescription for the Disillusioned // Rebecca del Rio
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