Photo by Ruben Wu |


Hello Dear One,

I hope that this message finds you delighted in this moment in time, soaring high on spirited wings! And if I don’t meet you in that state – if you feel weird or or busy or sad or angry or tired or anything else – then I greet you with love. However you show up, I greet you with love.

To me, that is the highest offering. It is the highest offering I make to myself, and to the world, when I can greet everyone I meet in my life with respect and love.

And if you are anything like me, you think – well, that’s easy sometimes. Sometimes it would be hard to come up with anything else. But it’s nigh on impossible at other times. Certain relationships are super challenging. Crazy unexpected things happen, and it knocks you off centre. Sometimes you just wake up on the wrong side of the bed (Yesterday I totally had my ‘go-to-hell’ hat on. This is an expression of my late Aunt Helen’s. Yes, indeed, sometimes we want to tell the whole world to G-T-H! Right?)

And sometimes it’s just that one person/just the government/this public figure/this particular group of people.

If only they were different we think. If they could just be _____, we say, then I could be at peace with them. But they really are impossible, we think.

And we tell ourselves why this person/situation is impossible. We re-count all of their wrongdoings. We offer an amateur psychoanalysis of them. Yes, we even know why they do the things they do. But this doesn’t really make our feelings about them any easier. There they sit in our minds, completely fixed and frozen as these awkward objects. And every time we see them, they behaviour conforms to our ideas about them.

I am pretty sure this way of relating is the thing that’s driving us crazy. An invitation: Can we model our process after the brilliant work of Byron Katie and ask ourselves if our concept of this person is really true? Can we be absolutely sure that thought ‘Marsha is needy because of her mommy issues’ – is true? Even something as common as ‘Harry is a pain in the butt.’ – something as casual and apparently self-evident as that – is it really true? Is he really being a pain in the butt right now?

I am lucky enough to have a couple of longtime spiritual practitioners in my family. When I was in my twenties, my cousin Jon told me about his first completely silent Buddhist retreat. He described how the teaching is to not even look at the other people, to keep your gaze low. So you are pretty much seeing everyone else’s feet. After a few days, he realised that he had scripted whole personalities onto these pairs of feet. He caught himself disliking someone on the basis of how they moved around the dining room – and not just that – also deciding what people were like – ‘control freak’ – ‘selfish’ – ‘lazy’ – etc. I always thought it was so amazing – here he went to meditate, to find that deep peace inside – and guess what turned up? All of his judgements about others. (Thanks for sharing this Jon. I have never forgotten it.)

Indeed, I had a similar experience at the Omega Institute in New York. I was living in intentional community for the first time, with about 200 others. It was a transformative, life-changing summer – and the whole time I was there I had this incredible experience again and again: I would meet someone, or see them around. I’d have my ideas about them. Just as soon as I fixed on a concept about a person -I would think, ‘He doesn’t have much of a sense of humor,’ or, ‘She’s a real whiner,’ or whatever – there they would be, within yards of me, within minutes of that thought (even if I hadn’t seen them for days), doing something to completely blow apart my judgement about them. It was uncanny!

So, what I know for sure is that every challenge holds and opportunity. We can be honest with ourselves. We can ask ourselves – how are we creating this person/situation in our life? Here’s what I have noticed. The stories I am telling about other people limit my ability to perceive them in their wholeness. I have a choice: I can create this person as whole and complete, or as deficient and broken or a problem. I can feel a certain way around them and then create a story about them according to those feelings, or I can acknowledge my feelings about them, and just feel them.

When I set others free, I set myself free. I let loose my judgements and feel my feelings. Then I am free to honour other people who are sharing in this path of humanity. I am free to meet others with compassion, and love. I can un-fix them, un-hinge my view of them, and let the whole thing go as it may.

In truth, all of my concepts have to do with me, not with any one else. It is my own lens that sees things in this way. And this lens can change, shift focus. See differently.

This year I have been dedicating myself to ‘Walking in the Way of Light’ – and here it is. This is a path of honour – honouring the light even in the depths of the contraction.

I invite you to join me in this. Let’s get together, reconsider, and be really honest with ourselves. Maybe even get our minds blown by how amazing everyone in our life really is.

I am delighted to offer dates and open registration for The Practices of Freedom and Wellbeing Course for 2013! October Shakti Shop, Chris Tompkins here in London, and Body Rolling for the Whole Body – all below.

I look forward to seeing you soon. Please let me know if you have any juicy judgements you are ready to reconsider. I always love to hear how you are doing.

With Great Love,

Leila xxx

  1. Yes letting go of the really sticky stuff is tricky. Byron Katie is my first stop when I get stuck. Do all 4 and the turnaround. It is such a fantastic teaching, still a go-to practice, after all these years . I just did the work on a painful situation and had so much unfold for myself when I turned that judgement around. xx