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Focusing On The Heart To Find Peace

by Robert Meagher on 01/08/24

Photo Credit: pexels.com - Pixabay

An aspirant recently reached out to me with the following question…

Do you have many experiences with focusing on the heart as a place for finding peace?

Here was my response…

Thank you for blessing me with your beautiful question.

The practice you speak of (i.e., focusing on the heart as a place for finding peace…) most closely resembles what I know to be called ‘tonglen’. Tonglen is a Buddhist practice of breathing in the miseries of the world (in whatever form they may take), cleansing the miseries through your heart, and breathing out joy, peace, and love. In this short video, the noted Buddhist monk, Pema Chodron, speaks of the tonglen practice (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QwqlurCvXuM). The Dalai Lama and other Buddhist masters speak of, and practice, tonglen.

The tonglen practice, or the practice as you describe John Selby sharing it, is encouraged in other spiritual teachings. There are many teachings that speak of breathing into the heart of compassion…which is what the tonglen practice is at its core, its essence.

As for my personal experiences…when I began studying spiritual teachings, other students/teachers shared and emphasized their practice of breathwork through their heart. I can remember trying this practice and experienced much peace. As I have journeyed on with my spiritual study and practice, I recognize the human heart is merely symbolic of love and compassion. It is a bodily organ that we humans have imbued with some significance. I have allowed myself the awareness that the entire body can equally be that vessel for love and compassion. No one part of my body is home for love and compassion. My entire body is home to love and compassion. So…if I feel the need to bring peace to a situation, I will breathe in with all my body, and breathe out with all my body. It is the breathe that is the ‘life force,’ as Taoism teaches.

Thank you for your blessed outreach. And thank you for being YOU!


Robert Meagher has been ordained as an Interfaith Minister and certified as a Sacred Attention Therapy (SAT) Therapist. Robert is the Founder and Spiritual Director for Spiritual Guidance and Co-Founder of the Center for Human Awakening.

Changing The Stories We’ve Told Ourselves

by Robert Meagher on 12/06/23

Photo Credit: pexels.com - Helena Lopes

I grew up in the Maritime Provinces, Nova Scotia specifically. Food, and eating, was a big part of the culture in the Maritimes. At least that was my experience, and a big part of the story I told myself about my relationship with food.

The house I grew up in saw the main door of the house enter into the kitchen. This was not an uncommon characteristic of houses in the Maritimes at the time. Where most homes today have a foyer, many homes in the Maritimes at the time saw the visitor or occupant enter the kitchen when entering the house. This lended itself to food being a central part of the culture of growing up in the Maritimes. When company would pop in for a visit, everyone would gather around the kitchen table to gab and socialize. It didn’t take long for food to appear on the table and for eating to commence.

I grew up in an era when wasting food was particularly frowned upon (when hasn’t it been!). Even if I wasn’t hungry, which was rare, I would still be encouraged to eat. “There are children starving in the world. Eat up!”…I can’t tell you how many times I heard those words. It was also very important to my mother that the children had plenty to eat, so there was always plenty of food around. And having a second helping was customary, sometimes a third serving, if for no other reason to demonstrate to my mom that I liked her cooking.

The above, brief description of some aspects of the food culture I grew up in unconsciously fed an elaborate story that I fabricated about food and my relationship to food. It wasn’t until my 30s that I began to even be aware of this story I had told myself.

I suppose I was one of the lucky ones. Even though my eating habits were overindulgent at the least, I wasn’t always overweight. Most of my family members were, however. Furthermore, the image of a ‘healthy’ person was obscured by a cultural story that plump, some might say fat, overweight people were indeed healthy, despite every known scientific journal and dietary guideline suggesting otherwise. A slim person was not considered a healthy person—not enough meat on their bones!

As I moved into my 30s, I became more aware of healthier eating habits and began to change my relationship to food. But, as the saying goes, … “old habits (or ‘stories’) die hard.”

As I moved through my 40s, and into my 50s, I learned to eat a healthier diet. I found that a vegetarian-oriented diet was very beneficial and improved my overall health. I was introduced to new ways of thinking about my relationship to food and what it meant to be healthy for my body type.

One of the aspects of my relationship with food that stayed with me throughout my 40s and early 50s, however, was a cyclical pattern of weight gain and loss throughout the year. I would typically gain 10-15 lbs over the winter months, sometimes more, only to lose the weight throughout the spring and summer months. I can remember accepting this story as normal, after having been told many times that gaining weight in the winter was a good thing—to ‘put some fat on the bones’ for the long, harsh winter ahead. This story was a leftover (pun intended) from my early years growing up in the Maritimes. It was something I accepting as normal. Yet, I began questioning that story as I moved into my 50s.

I became tired of the annual weight fluctuation. I learned about the physiology of weight gain and loss and learned that the process of weight gain and loss can take its toll on the body. Interestingly, its harder on the internal organs when the body loses weight than when it gains weight (the exception might be when quickly gaining excessive amounts of weight). Which is why those engaging in weight loss programs are generally encouraged to lose weight at a slow, steady rate—it’s easier on the body.

Last January, typically the time of year I begin to pack on those pounds, I decided I was going to try and stop the habitual, cyclical pattern of weight gain over the winter months. In addition to the stories I had imbibed from early childhood mentioned previously, there was another cultural story I became acutely aware of…and that is, once men and women hit their 50s, it’s typical to gain weight, and very difficult to lose weight. As the story goes, our metabolism slows down as we age and our ability to burn calories does also. I set out to throw all my personal and cultural stories out the window and transform my relationship with food once and for all, and for good!

So far, so good. I maintained my weight, even lost a few pounds, throughout January, at a time of year when I had always gained weight (at least that’s been the pattern for the past 20+ years). I maintained the same weight I was the previous summer. I’ve managed to change my story about the food I eat, my relationship to the food I eat, and my body image and structure. I feel healthier and liberated.

So, let’s review the stories I’ve changed:

First, overindulgent eating, some might call it emotional eating, is not the norm and it is not healthy for me. It is not how I want to relate to food. So, I changed my overindulgent eating story. I no longer overindulge when it comes to food. I eat modestly, and slowly, and see food as a critical, nutritional component of my overall health and wellbeing, rather than something that will make me feel better emotionally.

Second, being thin and lean, not underweight, but thin and lean, is not unhealthy. I had lived my life on the edge of being overweight for so long that I didn’t question it. I changed my story. I am currently sitting right in the middle of the recommended weight range for my age, height, and body structure.

Third, I had accepted cyclical/seasonal weight gain/loss was normal. It never worked for me, however. That is, it never felt good. So, I am on the path to changing that story too. I am the same weight in March as I was in the middle of summer. This is new territory for me; and I love it! It feels good.

Lastly, I had accepted that gaining weight when in your 50s was normal and that losing weight in your 50s was just too difficult, if not impossible. I’ve changed that story. With simple, moderate lifestyle changes, I’ve showed myself that this story was false. I can lose weight in a healthy way in my 50s.

The experience has been an eye-opening journey through the stories I have created and about re-writing those stories. While this article has focused on food, diet, and health as the storyline, the principal at play here is far reaching and touches every aspect of our lives. We create elaborate stories about ourselves that we may never be aware of. And the stories we create become so engrained in us that most never, ever realize what these stories are and, more importantly, that we can change them.

If there’s an aspect of your life you aren’t happy with, give yourself the gift of contemplation about the story you have created about that aspect of your life that isn’t happy. Then, change the story. You can do it. You’re worth it!

Robert Meagher has been ordained as an Interfaith Minister and certified as a Sacred Attention Therapy (SAT) Therapist. Robert is the Founder and Spiritual Director for Spiritual Guidance and Co-Founder of the Center for Human Awakening.

Endings and Beginnings…The Cycle of Life

by Robert Meagher on 11/12/23

Photo Credit: pexels.com - Gelgas Airlangga

Bear with me as I take a philosophical romp through musings about endings and beginnings. Or is that beginning and endings…

I write this piece on the last day of February 2023. When I rise tomorrow, it will be the first day of March. This milestone got me thinking about beginnings and endings…endings and beginnings.

Our life is full of beginnings and endings. It would seem that everything we begin at some point comes to an end. We start a project, that usually comes to an end at some point. We start a race and it too will eventually come to an end. We rise each morning to a new day, that ends. We start a relationship, and those too come to an end.

Many things in life repeat this cycle over and over. Take, for example, my preceding mention of rising each morning to a new day. The day comes to an end; but begins anew when we rise the next day. The ending of one project can mark the beginning of another project. The ending of a relationship opens us to starting a new relationship.

Is there anything in life that remains constant? Is there anything in life that does not end? Is there anything in life that does not begin?

Love is such a one. Love does not end. We may think we stop loving people or things. But where does that love go? Does love just stop? Or does it get stored up until we redirect our love to something or someone else? But where did that love go ‘in between’?

Life itself does not end. Cut down a tree and new growth will eventually emerge from the tree stump. Throw out a plant and through the process of decomposition the plant will create fertile soil for the birth of new vegetation. This process is abundantly evident with the cycle of deciduous trees dropping their leave in the fall and the leaves providing nutrient-rich material to feed the forest floor, and foster the growth of new plant life.

Another interesting angle to this philosophical exploration of beginnings and endings is to ask yourself how you begin things, and how you end things? Generally speaking, how do you start things? With excitement? With hesitance? With resistance? Does it depend on what you are starting? What about endings? Generally speaking, how do you end things? Quickly? Do you tend to let things drag on? Are endings happy things? Or reason for otherwise for you? Again, does it depend on what you are ending?

Can we plan the ending of something? Or the beginning of something else? Can life be planned? I mean, can I truly plan what will happen in my life? Am I in control of this life?

Endings and beginnings…or is that beginnings and endings? Or is this all just about the cycle of life?

Robert Meagher has been ordained as an Interfaith Minister and certified as a Sacred Attention Therapy (SAT) Therapist. Robert is the Founder and Spiritual Director for Spiritual Guidance and Co-Founder of the Center for Human Awakening.


Removing YOU From My Language

by Robert Meagher on 10/04/23

Photo Credit: pexels.com - Helena Lopes

I am an avid student of non-dual spiritual teachings. Like with any spiritual teaching, my passion is in a lived experience of the spiritual teaching. That is, how do I live the spiritual teaching in my life? For me, one of the purposes of spiritual teaching is to live it in my life. Otherwise, why study it?!

But living spiritual teaching, dual or non-dual alike, can be a challenge. These wonderful, philosophical prose sound great on paper (or on the screen), but what do they look like in real life? How can I integrate them into my daily life to live a life the teachings profess and guide us toward?

One of the foundational, non-dual spiritual teachings relates to a transition from separative perception to union with all life. Separation in non-dual teachings is merely to experience something as separate and distinct from myself. This separative experience is most clearly demonstrated in our perception of other people. We see others as separate entities, separate bodies. And with more 8 billion people reportedly living on our planet, there are no shortage of opportunities to see others as separate from ourselves.

In non-dual teachings, we are taught that nothing and no-one is separate from us. We are all ‘one.’ But what does that look like? What does it feel like? How can I experience that oneness? Are there exercises I can do to practice this oneness in my life?

Last month I began to experiment with a practice that is intended to help train my mind to stop treating other people as separate from me. The practice involves removing the word ‘you’ from my language. What does this look and sound like?

The word ‘you’ is ubiquitous in our language. If we watch the words we speak, we may be surprised how often we use the word ‘you’ on a daily basis. The word ‘you’ immediately supports a dualistic viewpoint. The object of our ‘you’ presupposes something is separate and distinct from us. By virtue of the fact we use the word ‘you,’ we have assumed that ‘you’ is separate from us. But how can I change this language behavior?

Here are some examples of common, everyday speak, that I am playing with to change my language…

Common phrases we may use


“But you said…”

“What I heard was…”

“Do you want to…”

“How about we…”

“It’s all your fault…”

“What parts did we play in this?”

“How are you today?”

“How are things?”

“How’s it going?”


The above examples are not merely neuro-linguistic programming techniques. The above examples are practices to help remove the basis of separative thought and thinking. In the first example (changing “But you said…” to “What I heard was…”), I am taking responsibility for what I heard and not defaulting to blaming another. In the second and third examples, I am removing ‘you’ and replacing it with ‘we.’ At least these practices set the stage for a united perception. Instead of seeing another as separate from me, I am beginning to use language that facilitates togetherness and union.

Have you played around, experimented, with this linguistic practice? Are there other examples of instances where the word ‘you’ was removed from spoken language? If so, I’d would love to hear of these practices so we may support ONEanother and support our growth toward unity.


Robert Meagher has been ordained as an Interfaith Minister and certified as a Sacred Attention Therapy (SAT) Therapist. Robert is the Founder and Spiritual Director for Spiritual Guidance and Co-Founder of the Center for Human Awakening.

Forever Learning

by Robert Meagher on 09/11/23

Photo Credit: pexels.com - Tima Miroshnichenko

Allow me to begin this passage with a parable…

A venerable leader of a spiritual community was nearing the end of her embodied life. As this leader lay on a bed, many members of the spiritual community gathered around her to be with her at this transformative time. One member of the community who was sitting next to her, reached out, gently touched her hand, and asked “How are you doing?” To which the venerable leader responded, “I’m still learning.”

During a recent Holiday Season, I called and spoke to one of my sisters. It was good to get caught up on each other’s lives. During the conversation, I learned of some stressful situations unfolding in my sister’s life. My sister expressed her concern for various situations involving her children that were causing my sister great unrest. I listened, occasionally asking questions for clarification purposes, but offered no counsel or advice.

After I got off the phone with my sister, I pondered our conversation. I felt like I was allowing myself to be drawn back into the family dynamic. I began to recall many such conversations with family members in the past. I also recounted experiencing these family unfoldings first hand when I lived in close proximity to my family members.

During dinner that evening, I recounted the above conversation with my sister to my partner. After listening for approximately 10 minutes to my experience, my partner reflected back to me that it’s possible I was feeling ‘drawn into’ my family dynamic because I was judging my family members. I recoiled at the suggestion I was judging my family members and shuttered at the thought of such mindless behavior. My nuclear family, and the dynamics that connect the family, has been the source for many hours of inner work and contemplation. I thought I was above judgement of my family members by now. Apparently not!

The more I thought about my partner’s comments, the more I realized my partner was right. Not only have I judged my family members in the past, but I continued to judge them—as evidenced by feeling ‘drawn back into’ the family dynamic.

I was initially quite discouraged at the folly of my judgement. But then was reminded of the beautiful teaching by Ram Dass… “I would like my life to be a statement of love and compassion—and where it isn’t, that’s where my work lies.

Clearly, I still have some work to do in extending love and compassion in all situations. Clearly, “I’m still learning.”

Robert Meagher has been ordained as an Interfaith Minister and certified as a Sacred Attention Therapy (SAT) Therapist. Robert is the Founder and Spiritual Director for Spiritual Guidance and Co-Founder of the Center for Human Awakening.

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Shanti, Namaste, Agapé,

Rev. Robert Meagher