How to have insights

We’ve all had those “aha” moments — when a solution to a problem suddenly comes out of the blue, when we weren’t even trying. Like me, I’m sure you’ve wished you could make those moments happen more often.

Well, it turns out we can.

A recent article by David Rock in Psychology Today explains how. He sets out four conditions that conduce to the arising of creative ideas.

Stressed? Try this “venting machine”!

Here’s a little humor on anger and stress for you.

Forget stress balls and punching bags. If you’re feeling destructive and simply want to break something, check out the Anger Release Machine. Created by artists Katja Kublitz and Ronnie Yarisal, Anger Release is basically a traditional vending machine stuffed full of glassware and china. When someone pays money for a particular product (say, the beautiful vase at D4, or the porcelain cat at C3), the coils slowly push the fragile piece to the front. And then it drops just like a bag of potato chips would… except with a slightly noisier crash!

The Work-Life Balance Trap

I think the idea of Work-Life Balance is off-base. It seems everyone is feeling busier than ever. There’s never enough time. Not even for “life” things — like family time and vacations. It seems harder than ever to maintain this alleged balance. So that got me thinking.

I, too, often get caught in busyness traps. I was fortunate to be able to disconnect and go on a long retreat to chill and regain some perspective. Given my tendencies, I know working this out will be a lifelong project for me. But here’s where my thinking is at the moment.

Medicine for the World

This recent post from Andrew Olendzki in Tricycle Magazine takes an interesting slant on a classic Buddhist story. It’s too easy to think the world’s problems are too big for any one of us to address. Or that massive humanitarian crises – like the recent floods in Pakistan – are too far removed from us to do anything about. But the world we inhabit is the product of our collective actions, and it’s up to us to take responsibility. Learning to care of each other is at the core of what practice as a Buddhist is about. I’m taking this lesson seriously. I hope you will consider doing so as well.

Living the Dharma

As many of you know, I was away on a month-long meditation retreat during July. I have to say it was the most valuable thing I’ve done in years. It will take me a long time to digest and write about it, but here’s my first stab.

The retreat was at the Jikoji Zen Center in Los Gatos California. It’s about an hour south of San Francisco in the Santa Cruz Mountains, in the middle of acres and acres of nature conservation land. My favorite spot, pictured, was along a west-facing ridge that overlooked vast tracts of mostly uninhabited mountains. The sunsets were gorgeous. Deer, wild turkey, and all kinds of wildlife roamed in plain sight. To say I fell in love with the place doesn’t go far enough. I know my feelings were influenced by my retreat experience, but I have to say the place inspired me down into my bones.

The Four Noble Truths according to Calvin

There is suffering, there is a cause, there is a cure, it is immersing yourself in the Way.

I found this wonderful reinterpretation of this classic Buddhist teaching by Calvin. The four frames speak for themselves! This came to me via They are a nonprofit organization that sells little punk badges to raise money for many good causes. Please check them out!

Sacred Sound: Mantra Meditations for Centeredness and Inspiration

I’m very proud to announce this new audiobook on mantra chanting, which I co-created with Bodhipaksa of Wildmind. In this comprehensive guide you’ll find everything you need to get started with a mantra chanting practice, including:

  • The “magical” background and history of mantras
  • How mantras can help us develop centeredness and inspiration
  • Preparatory exercises to open the body and free the breath
  • Seven mantras chanted for listening and learning
  • The meaning and symbolism of each of the seven mantras
  • A print-friendly companion guide with images, pronunciation key, and musical notations

The surprising truth about what motivates us

This is a great 10-minute video that debunks the traditional notion that money incents us to work harder and better. When the task at hand calls for creativity and conceptual thinking, offers of money actually make us do WORSE! Fascinating stuff. And lots of implications for how we run organizations and create incentives.

Reconnecting with silence

Being fresh off a retreat this past weekend, I’d like to share what it’s like to be in silence, and why it’s a good thing. Even if we don’t go on retreats, I think there are many reasons why it’s important to bring more silence into our lives.

This past weekend, I was on a retreat where we spent several hours each day in silence. So the experience is still fresh in my mind.

Early on in a retreat, there’s always a bit of awkwardness since you’re thrown together with people you don’t know. We wonder what to say, how to start a conversation, how to make a good impression. All that inner fretting.

Four Years. Go.

Four Years. Go.I recently join up with a group of people who want to change the world. Really! Four Years. Go. is just one part of this campaign. It’s a rallying call asking us all to wake up to the enormous harm we are doing to Earth and ourselves. Wake Up to the profound opportunity we have now to create a future to match our deepest longing and greatest dreams. And become change agents in redirecting humanity’s current path from self-destruction to sustainability.

Mindfully navigating through overwhelm

I have to confess, I’m a busy-holic. I’m often balancing at the knife-edge of being TOO busy. But everything I do is important to me, and I don’t want to give anything up. Recently, I started taking a different perspective, which is really helping me cut through the crap. Here’s what I’m doing differently.

We can get ourselves into a bit of trouble when we think of compassion only in terms of “giving.” It leaves a huge opening for our ego to step in. I don’t know about yours,

Practicing Compassion

Most of us probably think of the practice of compassion as synonymous with altruism. Giving. Helping. Being of service. Sunada flips that idea on its head — that it may be just as important to be vulnerable as it is to be strong, and to receive as it is to give.

We can get ourselves into a bit of trouble when we think of compassion only in terms of “giving.” It leaves a huge opening for our ego to step in. I don’t know about yours,

One person doing one good thing

Last weekend I heard an inspiring story on National Public Radio. It featured Mark Horvath, a man who has used his unique position as a former Hollywood insider, drug addict, and homeless person, to focus attention on the plight of the homeless. Here’s an example of one man who has taken his own life experiences – the good and the bad – and turned it around into something for the good of others. He’s just one person, doing one good thing. And what an effect he’s having.

Horvath travels around the country with a video camera and interviews homeless people in exchange for a pair of clean white socks from his backpack. His excellent website is a collection of his work.

Learning to love ourselves

It happens so often among spiritually-minded people. We give our all to love and care for others, and yet when it comes to ourselves, we’re full of criticism and judgment. Sunada shares her experience of working with the practice of loving kindness, specifically learning to love herself.

It’s important to note that when the Buddha taught how to practice compassion, he always began with ourselves. This isn’t selfish. After all, if we can’t trust and open our hearts to ourselves – the one person on this earth that we know the best and are closest to – how could we possibly know how

Mindfully doing what’s important

“I’d really like to do _________ but I never seem to find the time.” How often do we say that? And what’s in that blank? Starting meditation, writing a book, working on a creative hobby? Why is it so hard to get to those things we wish we could?

I’d like to share with you the story of how my client James (not his real name) dealt with this problem. James is in business for himself as a therapist and freelance journalist, and is also a husband, dad, and

Facing Samsara, making a difference

29 GiftsClimate change. The economic downturn. Terrorism. And now there’s Haiti. A client and I were conversing recently about the mess our world is in. She was feeling overwhelmed. How do we, as individuals, respond in the face of such huge problems? I won’t be so presumptuous as to claim to know the answers. But I thought you might be interested in hearing what she and I discussed.

The Invisible Man

Invisible ManContinuing my tradition of things just for your amusement: here’s an amazing set of pictures from an artist in China. There’s no trick photography here. He just paints himself and blends right in. They just get better and better as you go down the list, so keep scrolling!

Book Review: “29 Gifts” by Cami Walker

29 GiftsSunada reviews 29 Gifts, the remarkable true story of how one woman rose above her debilitating illness — and started a worldwide movement that has inspired thousands to work toward reviving the spirit of giving in the world.

Cami Walker seemed to have everything going for her when a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis