What the World Series and Presidential Election reminded me to do.

When I left my hometown, I also left The Blue Jays and all things baseball behind. I’d been a big fan, but there was no MLB team in Vancouver and I just got busy with other things.

Almost 30 years later I found myself watching baseball again.

My in-laws all live in Chicago, and they are die-hard Cub Fans. Always have been, even when there was no good reason to be. So you can imagine their excitement when their team made it to the World Series. Each night my 85 year old mother-in-law drove to a sports bar in Skokie to cheer and laugh, drink beer and even cry with fellow fans. I call her the Cubbie Bubbie. My brother-in- law and a couple of cousins even scored seats at the games.

On the final night, my husband and I turned on the game. What I’d forgotten about baseball, one of the things that makes the game great, is The Pause. And when a World Series is on the line, the Pause becomes more, important, poetic and dramatic.

The pitcher connects with the catcher. He Pauses. He takes his time. Takes a breath, winds up and throws an impossibly fast ball. The batter swings and misses. Strike two. He steps away from the plate. He Pauses. He gives himself some time. Stepping forward, he positions himself to swing again. Tension mounts as the game is tied 6 to 6. In the 10th inning the rains pour down. The entire game Pauses for about 15 minutes.

The Cubs go on to win the World Series. After a Pause of 108 years.

In each of those pauses I would breathe, feel my own body, and become more acutely present.

It’s easy to get caught up in our thoughts, worries, emotions and stories. A Pause can bring you back to Peace.

A week after the Cubs great victory I woke to the news of Trump’s win. I was”shocked but not surprised”. I sobbed. Like I’ve never cried over politics before. I was sad and scared. I was afraid that this win would validate misogyny, bigotry, racism and elitism. I feared what would become of my husband’s immigrant students, the Supreme Court, women, the LGBT and black communities, our prison system, and environmentally sensitive areas that house endangered species and natural resources.

Then I Paused. I stopped talking about it. I got off social media. I sat quietly and took a moment by myself. As I felt my breath move in and out I could sense my body’s expression. Tight. Buzzing. Jagged. As I gave each sensation my attention, it morphed into something else. Over time my breath deepened, my body softened and expanded. I was calmer, and connected to myself again.

Nothing had changed. And everything had. I was no longer stuck in the survival panic of my reptilian brain. I was operating from a more evolved part of myself. I was no longer lost in the apocalyptic future my thoughts were building.

After the Pause I was able to love again. I felt stronger and more able to handle the change with an open heart. I could feel the need for kindness, acceptance and tolerance now more than ever. I could feel potential.

When you’re faced with great opportunity or great challenge, PAUSE.
Take a moment just to be.
To breathe.
To feel yourself in a body, that’s alive.

Remembering to Pause when you’re under great stress can be challenging. If you don’t practice Pausing regularly, you can only hope you’ll have enough awareness to override your own biology – the ancient fight-flight-freeze response of your nervous system. That’s sort of like hoping you’ll figure out how to swim once your boat capsizes in the ocean.

If you want to be able to Pause when you need it, I suggest you Pause when you don’t, just like practicing swimming before you head out to sea. You’ll be able to draw on your practice when you need it most.

This week, try Pausing several times a day. Set up reminders for yourself. Pause before every email your write, or every time you sit down, or at every red light. Just pay attention to your breath. Experience your body’s sensations, even as they change. Let your eyes look around. Then notice how your body feels.

Though it only takes a moment, the Pause has a way of slowing life down, bringing things into focus, and connecting you to yourself in a way that being busy never can.

It might be interesting to write about your experience each night, and at the end of a week look back on how it went. I’d love to hear how it goes.

Love Debra

If you know someone who’s facing a lot these days, please share this with them, so they can benefit from a Pause.

Peace And Where to Find It.

I’ve just finished reading Peace and Were To Find It, by Chris Papadopoulos. It’s a straightforward directive for accessing your true nature.

I loved that he gets right to the heart of the matter. Peace is your natural state and getting to it is simple. It’s the first book I’ve read that really matched my own experience, and he explains it in a much more direct way than I’ve been able to.

Chris was kind enough to take some time from his book tour to answer some questions.  I’m hoping it will inspire you to buy a copy for yourself and people you love.

Our brief interview went like this:

Chris I’m so glad you wrote this book. You’ve clearly articulated the simple path. You wrote, “…the more we know something, the less we are able to describe it.” but all through the book I was saying, “Yes, that’s it. You’re saying it so well”. I’m really impressed with what you’ve done.

What inspired you to write this book it?

Thank you for your kind words Deb and I am glad you are out there on the front lines of body awareness with me! There were recurring themes in my work with students who would say: How do I awaken to end my dissatisfaction and suffering? I do yoga and/or meditation and go to retreats etc., why isn’t it working? Focusing on my self awareness seems a little self indulgent, what about all the suffering in the world?

I realized I needed to lay out some basic principles that have been consistently overlooked or minimized and finally give them the attention they deserved. Many people were talking more about self awareness than feeling it in the body. Specifically, the depth of their body awareness was limited and they had not made the link between body awareness and their level of present moment awareness. But given that what we call awareness/consciousness, the Now or presence are words not easily associated with felt experiences, I began to emphasize that presence feels like a vibrant stillness or peace — it has been called the “peace of God” or as Eckhart Tolle mentions in the introduction to my book, “the peace that passeth all understanding”.

We are all looking for inner peace and world peace and the world needs to know that peace is already here looking for us, waiting for us to notice it. Peace is a fundamental characteristic of our deepest being which also happens to be the source of all existence–we are the water drop as well as the ocean. The feeling of deep peace is one of the hallmarks of consciousness, which is the stuff that makes up the universe. And since consciousness—and therefore peace–is everywhere and in everything, what is lacking is our attending to it. This also means world peace is already here, saturating every place and molecule, waiting to be ‘activated’ by our awareness of it. We bring peace to life, manifesting it, by noticing it and experiencing it.

You wrote about the moment when seeking stopped for you and your mom said, “That’s good.” What is it you were seeking, and how did you know it had stopped?

I was seeking for the answer to who I was beyond the egoic “me”–the mental self-image we have of ourselves with which we identify. By that time I knew that my true nature could never be thought, only felt, and that morning in 2003 when I woke from bed I also woke up to the experience of a permanent peace. Peace is not some vague inert feeling in the body. Peace is vibrant and intelligent.There is ultimately no difference between peace and its Source. It emerges with the information that it has always been here and that it is the essence of your being and can be found in all things. Since that day peace has remained as the bedrock of my experience. Even on the most upsetting days I can feel it in the background. This permanence is simply the nature of the peace-filled Source finally being revealed–and it is an immense relief.

You do a great job of clarifying the similarities and difference between our natural state and emotions. I was wondering if a reader would understand that if they’d not already experienced it. How has the response been to that?

For those that have had moments of clarity where a peaceful presence emerged, it is possible to take note of the difference between what within us is permanent and what is transient. Some people nod in agreement or with an “A-ha” realization that they in fact already knew this truth, at least intellectually. There are also some people who find this subject uncomfortable as if, in some way, I am invalidating their emotional experiences. I make a distinction between what is “normal” i.e commonplace and what is “natural”. Of course, it is natural to experience emotions, just not so much that they dominate us, perpetuate our suffering and contribute to the mental activity that blocks the experience of our peaceful, joyful, fulfilled eternal nature. Peace and Joy, for example, are uncaused: they do not rely on external events for them to be present. And they may elicit delightful emotions because they are present but the latter like happiness, pleasure, or relief are temporary while the former are permanent and fundamental characteristics of who you are.

How is this book different from a “self-help” book?

I am not trying to help the “me”–who you think you are–feel better about itself. I am not trying to get you what you want, not trying to make a better you–a ‘you’ which is only temporary and is actually the source of your suffering and dissatisfaction. I am trying to reveal who you really are. Interestingly, by helping you have your own direct experience of your true self you will feel better and fulfilled…and life will finally make sense.

What can readers expect to get from it?

Public response has been very positive–and emotional too! Readers are discovering how to finally feel for themselves the peace that is always within us and around us. There will be breakthroughs on a spiritual path to awakening that has plateaued for many. They will learn about addictions, their root cause, and the way to dissolve them. And they will understand why the world has never created peace and what we can do to finally experience global peace.

Thanks for taking the time with me today Chris, and thanks for writing this book. The message is so direct and clear. 

Thank you Deb for all that you do.  ~ ChrisScreen Shot 2015-11-02 at 5.10.09 PM


I encourage you to pick up Peace and Where to Find It.

Read it. Practice it. Give it to someone you love.

You can also work directly with Chris one on one or in groups. Email him at chris@youarepeace.org .




The Best Advice I’ve Ever Given

My husband is a smart man. He often asks my advice.  ~ Smart right? Other times he is quite clear he doesn’t want my advice. ~ I told you he was smart.

A while ago he asked me what I thought he should do about a particular situation. Rather than give him my advice, I asked him a question:

What would you do if you were the man you want to be?

He got quiet. He breathed. The answer was right there. He knew what to do.

You see the person you most want to be is already who you are … at your core. The real you, the best you, is already inside you, patiently waiting for your attention.

Conditioned behaviour keeps all of us from accessing our true selves from time to time. Fear drives us outside ourselves for answers. We want to fit in, get ahead and please others. We’re in constant pursuit, acquiring and consuming, to overcome our belief that we are not enough.

But there is a way through the madness and confusion of it all, and the way to get through is to go in.

When faced with a choice, try this:

  • Feel your feet on the ground. (Really, bring your attention to the place where you connect with the earth.)
  • Close your eyes.
  • Breathe slowly and deeply into your body for a few breaths.
  • Then ask yourself:

What would I do if I was the person I really want to be?

Your mind will want to analyze and judge conflicting ideas, presenting cases for and against each one. That’s the mind’s job. It needs to rationalize. Let each thought come and go.

Bring your focus back to your breath. Feel your answer. With enough practice you’ll start to feel who you really are. And you’ll know what to do.

photo by Cheryl Kaufman. drawing by her favourite five year old.

You belong where you can breathe.

There are places that make you want to inhale deeply, pulling the goodness of oxygen into your cells.

You belong there.

There are people who hug you tight while you exhale your truth, your love, your fears.

You belong there.

There are adventures that make you gasp in excitement.

You belong there.

There are friends who allow you to breathe out your fatigue, covering you with a cozy blanket so you can rest. The ones who share your laughter and tears, blending their breath with yours. And the ones who take a step back, making space for you to inhale so deeply you go up a size.

You belong there.


You belong in the places, with the people, in the roles and moments that let you breathe.


  • Looking at your calendar, do you hold your breath, shrinking under the weight of all you have to do?

Cancel some plans. Create white space where you can breathe.

  • Is your breathing flat and shallow from doing too much of the same old thing?

Try new things that will take your breath away.

  • Has a friend’s nervous chatter got you revved up and holding your breath?

Breathe deeply and slowly as you listen. It will calm you both down.

Your breath can show you how you are and teach you how you can be. A simple deep breathe brings you out of your thoughts and into the present moment. It enables you to hear your truth and express it more clearly.

Your breath will guide you to where you want to put your energy, focus, money and love.

You belong there.

When I’m not caught up wondering how I should do things, I use my breath to guide my decisions. Recently I had an offer to invest in two different real estate opportunities. Both were with a developer that I trust. He’s a visionary, who creates strong partnerships, includes the community, is sensitive to the environment, gives a good return, and makes me laugh.

In the first deal I was waffling – I’m in. I’m out.   Uh… in.    Eeeks… out.   Everything about this deal sounded good and made perfect sense. But when I dropped into my body as I thought about the investment I felt the slightest contraction in my breath. Barely perceptible, but there. It’s not that I doubted any aspect of the deal. It was a great opportunity.

I just didn’t belong there.

When the second opportunity came around I felt my body expand. My breath filled me up and pressed against my skin from the inside. There was no waffling or confusion. The choice was easy, and when I got the a picture of the land with a note that the deal was done I felt the sweet fullness of life fill my lungs.

I belong there.

Your mind is so busy filling your head with ideas about what you should do, that it can be challenging to feel the wisdom of your body through the cacophony of it all. But when you take the time to feel your breath moving through your body, and listen to what it’s telling you, it will guide you to your truth, where you belong.

Increase your Capacity for Joy

It was one of those days when I woke up feeling fantastic. Nothing in my body hurt, my energy was good. I was grateful for so much in my life. The sun was shining, it was a beautiful day. Dolphins greeted me on my beach walk.

Then my husband got some great news about a project he’s been working on for many years. I happy danced my way through the morning. That afternoon a client had an amazing breakthrough of a pattern that had been holding her back. I was so excited I could barely contain it.

After getting my notes out to my client I went Home Depot. It’s rare in my life that I have to drive, but I had to use the car for this errand. While driving to HD I was overwhelmed with a craving for chocolate chip cookies. Not just warm, chewy, fresh baked goodness. Any crappy store bought junk would be my fix. I fantasized about eating a whole bag.

As soon as I noticed this craving I breathed deeply and slowly. Then I became curious about the addictive monster threatening to take over my body and mind, on a day when things were going so well. And that’s when it hit me. I had maxed out my capacity for joy. I was holding it in as best I could, but something had to give. I was a dam about to burst. A good dose of sugar would have taken me higher, making me feel like a superhero, invincible. The craving came from an internal cry – “Gimme more… gimme more.” But that kind of high is the booby prize, a poor substitute for divine pleasure, and it’s always followed by a crash.

You see sugar does a real number on me. I’ll spare you the details but trust me that it ain’t pretty. It wrecks my body… for days. By craving sugar my body was unconsciously bringing me back down from the high I was on. A high that I couldn’t sustain. If I’d followed through on that craving I’d have soared like Icarus only to crash and burn ~ in bed for a few days, depleted, sick and sore.

Instead I witnessed what was going on and stopped myself. I got out of the car, planted my feet on the ground and started breathing deeply. By grounding myself I allowed all the good feelings to flow through my body. As I did this the craving for sugar completely disappeared, effortlessly. I wasn’t even thinking about cookies. I was just grounding and breathing, and the craving vanished. I felt myself get bigger, not physically, but energetically. Grounding and breathing had increased my capacity for joy. I could contain all the goodness of this day, let it flow through me and make room for more.

Later that evening I had a wonderful visit with a friend. I was elated. I noticed the energy building inside and I let it express itself. I danced around, letting this joy move my body. It was easy and took only a few minutes. Throughout the day I’d been riding the waves of joy, with a near crash safely averted, living to surf another day.

This all happened quite naturally because I’ve been moving energy through my body for years, I’ve been listening to the signals of my body the way one might listen at the feet of a guru. I have been willing to be too loud, too angry, too quiet, too much, to honour my authentic self.  I still make mistakes, override my body’s wisdom and find myself in old patterns, but when I have experiences like this I want to share them with you so that you can learn from my mistakes and lessons and have a more pleasurable ride.

Four Steps to Increase your Capacity for Joy. 

1. Ground yourself. Though it seems counter-intuitive, you’ll soar higher by dropping into the ground. Your connection to the earth will expand your capacity for all feeling, including joy.

2. Breathe. Breathe deeply, slowly and easily. As you breathe your body relaxes. Breathing enables you to feel your feelings. Breathing brings you out of your head, the future, the past and into the present where Joy resides.

(I feel so strongly about breathing and grounding that they are the first practices of Pleasure As a Spiritual Path.)

3. Be aware of your body.  For years I was disconnected from my body. I was happy enough but I couldn’t sustain true joy. We have to drop back in to our skin to increase our capacity. Start by noticing sensations. You don’t have to understand them or create a story to go with them. Just start by noticing ~ tightness, quickness, buzzing, pulsing, expansion, contraction ~ what is happening inside you. Stop reading right now and just notice what’s going on in your body.

4. Allow emotions and energies to move through your body. Not just the happy dances of joy, but the punching and raging of anger and hurt, the sobbing and trembling of sorrow and grief. 

Here’s to your joy ~ ever increasing, expanding and touching us all!