I’d like to share a bit about my own personal spiritual path, not only so that you can get to know me better, and learn more about my areas of experience and expertise, but also as an example of how to put together an eclectic spiritual path from a variety of disparate sources.

The first and most important piece is meditation, a simple Buddhist sitting and breathing practice called samatha (also influenced by zazen), a practice I’ve been doing for over 40 years. It consists of simply following my breath as it comes in and goes out of my nose, while seated in a partial lotus position in front of an altar. Of course, this is much more challenging than it sounds, but I won’t go into all the nuances here. I do this meditation twice a day for about fifteen minutes each weekday, first thing in the morning after coffee, and then first thing in the afternoon after lunch. It is a good way to get a read on the state of my mind (i.e. chaotic, tired, clear, etc.), allow it to settle down, and get to a calmer, more grounded, spacious and focused place.

In the morning, I follow with an energy circulation practice based on the Kabbalistic Tree Of Life, pray for a couple of minutes, sing a song with guitar, and then take a hot bath. I keep the meditation practice itself to a relatively short 10-15 minutes, so that I have time to do it every weekday, and am not tempted to skip it because it takes up too much time. For similar reasons, I give myself the weekend days off.

In the late afternoon or early evening, I do a dance practice, which provides physical activity and exercise and, more importantly, allows me to get into my body and, hopefully, experience a state of ecstasy. It usually begins with ingesting a small amount of cannabis, either orally or with a vaporizer, which itself begins with prayers to honor the plant spirit and make the experience sacred. Then I dance vigorously for thirty minutes to electronic dance music on a good sound system at loud volume, either mixes I’ve custom made myself, or mixes by favorite DJs, typically progressive house or progressive breaks. After dancing, I spend 10-15 minutes doing yoga-like stretches to electronic chillout music, and then I take another hot bath. I’ve been doing this practice on a daily basis, including weekends, for 30 years, and it provides a nice counterpoint to my meditation practice, in that it’s body and movement-oriented, and is high energy.

I’m Jewish by birth and, although I grew up in a secular family that was not religiously observant, as a young adult, I found a way to connect with Jewish spirituality through the weekly ceremony of Shabbat, albeit my own personal, eclectic version of it.

I’ve been doing this
practice for over 30 years.

Each Friday night after sundown, I let go of the things of the previous week, recite a poem that calls in the Shekhinah (the feminine presence of God), sing the blessings and light a 7-candle menorah, sing the Shema (a central Jewish prayer proclaiming the unity of God), do a Tree Of Life energy circulation practice, and sing the blessings for the wine and bread and partake of both. Then I sing a song or two with guitar. For the rest of the night, and the entire next day until sundown, I try to stay in a relaxed state and avoid busy work activities, and feel my connection to the Shekhinah and to Spirit. When possible, I wear white clothes to remind myself of the purity of Shabbat and the light of creation. I find Shabbat is a lovely way to start the new week in a sacred space.

For 30 years, I’ve also been participating in all-night peyote ceremonies that incorporate elements of both Huichol and Native American Church traditions, most often on solstices and equinoxes. When possible, we do the ceremony in a tipi, with a fire in the center, but if that isn’t feasible, we also do them indoors. We sit in a circle, ingest the peyote as a sacrament, which deepens our connection to the earth and to Spirit, and pray all night long through drumming and chanting. It is a powerful and beautiful healing ceremony, and the arduous journey through the long night to sunrise is mirrored by our individual and collective journey through darkness to the light.

It has taught me so much of what I know about prayer and ceremony, the shamanic power of song and music, and how to work with a master plant spirit teacher in a good way. It has provided me with many memorable, life-changing experiences, and renewed my vision and purpose on countless occasions.