Blog

  • Rituals that Connect can keep Love Vibrant and Alive

    June 6, 2017

    Three days a week, I trot up the cement stairs that separate my home from my office. I switch on the kettle and check that the Kleenex box is full. Next, with the ocean reflecting blues and grays on the window, I sit with my palm on my heart and reflect on love and happiness. And then I welcome the first couple of the day.

    “He never opens the car door for me anymore,” Desiree gripes. “Yah?” Scott huffs. “Well she says I can’t get a motorbike, and then yells because I don’t feel like some big anniversary party.” She shoots back, “I don’t even know who you are anymore.” And so it begins.

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  • Rewire your Brain for Love – Don’t let old fears hijack your relationship

    March 27, 2017

    George was missing. The Disneyland hotel bed was crisply made but my sister’s security bear, loved and nuzzled into a sheepskin sphere with one weird glass eye, had vanished. A frantic call later, the smiling concierge appeared and placed a freshly laundered koala blob back into the waiting arms, and heart, of a tiny blonde girl. She slept, content, wrapped around her fuzzy friend.

    It’s endearing, isn’t it, when a child needs a stuffed toy to feel safe. Until the tantrums start and the kid can’t calm themselves without it. We adults are no different. Hey, we all want to feel safe and secure. That’s why we fall in love. Except sometimes falling in love makes us feel scared, not safe, and we act like a nutcase—wracked with insecurity and fears. Why?

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  • Don’t Squabble Over Small Stuff – Make Love, Not War

    February 27, 2017

    What’s the dumbest argument you’ve ever had with a partner? Mine happened in a little blue convertible, driving to my former boyfriend’s cabin. We were in love, but we clashed often. We stopped for ice cream, and he brought me the wrong flavor. I complained loudly, he fired back. Then he reached over, took the sundae, and threw it out of the moving car. I stared at him in open-mouthed shock. Then I clearly saw how our discontented minds caused the harsh words and deeds. In that moment I had a choice. I could keep criticizing, or I could contact my heart. So I laughed, he relaxed, and I pledged to learn to fight fair.

    Sure, I am a love expert now, but the truth is, I used to have tumultuous relationships. I mistook tantrums for passion. As for make up sex? Overrated.

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  • This Valentine’s, Choose to Love, Mindfully

    February 3, 2017

    Valentine’s Day—a sweet sexy reminder to wow your mate with passion and appreciation, or a Hallmark holiday that pressures you to cough up romance on demand? Your response to this single-item test is telling. Sure, it’s easy to be cynical on February 14 and ignore the whole thing, or grab a random card because if you don’t your partner pouts until spring. But if you see only the superficialities, you are missing the possibilities. For love itself is…well, great, and celebrating is not cliché. So this year, instead of refusing to participate, use Valentine’s Day as an opportunity to love mindfully.

    My granddad Norman was great at mindful loving. He first laid his sparkling blue eyes on my petite blonde grandmother Evelyn at a Valentine’s dance.

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  • When the Gloves Come Off – Can Meditation help you Fight Fair?

    January 8, 2017

    This morning I awoke feeling peaceful and happy. I smiled as I listened to the singing birds. Then I heard the revving of a garbage truck. Leaving. I turned toward the man I love and snapped, “Arg! You forgot to take the garbage out AGAIN didn’t you? You’re so lazy!” I jumped out of bed, grabbed the mutts and headed for the beach. I glowered at the overflowing trash cans, blaming them for not strolling to the curb. Then my angelic tufted-toed orange dog saw another canine. Instead of a wiggly hello, she barked and lunged. Like mother, like daughter.

    Let’s face it. Sometimes, despite the hours logged on the cushion, despite the meditation retreats, and certainly despite our best intentions, we don’t handle relationship conflict well. I’ve written a lot about how mindfulness makes us better lovers. But can it make us better “fighters”?

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  • Are you Bored with your Mate? (Newsflash – It’s Not their Fault!)

    November 29, 2016

    Love boredom runs rampant both outside and inside the bedroom. And while it seems like a mystery – how the thrill doesn’t last forever – there is a simple, and correctable, cause.

    The romance didn’t pack its black lacey self up and crawl out the bedroom window – you stopped making loving effort. Your neglected romance got kicked into the corner of your closet, sharing space with the lonely unmatched socks who are missing their mates as much as you are missing yours. You lost that loving feeling because you got complacent.

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  • Kill the Soulmate and Save your Relationship

    October 4, 2016

    Shaun Cassidy, teen singing idol and one of TV’s sexy Hardy Boys, was my soulmate. There I was clad in the kilt and knee socks of a private school girl, lusting over this blue-eyed heartthrob and completely convinced we would fall in love. He would meet my deepest desires (and based on the surprisingly explicit fantasies I penned starring him and me, those desires needed meeting). When he whisked me away to his Beverly Hills mansion I would know and be known. Mated at the soul level, I would never feel alone again.

    Turns out Shaun was not my soulmate.

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  • Fight or Flight – Why do we argue before we say goodbye?

    September 25, 2016

    It’s a funny thing about couples and travel. Currently, I’m on a smooth flight to New Orleans, but last night my beloved man and I narrowly escaped an emotional plane crash. Mindful Loving averted an argument that could have left both of us hurt, stewing, and disconnected for our whole week apart. What happened? Unexpected work issues made him 2 hours late for our last night together. I’d been looking forward to our romantic romp all day, and when I got his text 20 minutes after I’d expected him to walk through the door saying he still an hour away I flooded with negative emotion. And then I called him (which was a very bad idea). I let him know I was angry and hurt, and I didn’t use my nice psychologist voice. But then a miracle occurred. Instead of escalating the turbulence, I suddenly paused and said “I don’t want to fight. I’m going to hang up now and see you in a bit”. Why? Because I’ve seen this pre-flight movie way too many times before. And it doesn’t have a happy ending.

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  • Your mate is not wrong, just different.

    September 15, 2016

    Q – I want my mate to meditate. He’s a great partner in many ways, but we don’t fit philosophically. I teach mindfulness to at-risk youth and he is a high-stakes investment guy. I keep asking him to join me on the cushion, but he says it isn’t for him. How can I change his mind?

    A – Since cave-boy first met cave-girl, partners have been trying to change each other. If only he or she liked dinosaur-knuckle stew, or would enjoy those William Shakespeare plays with me, or wanted to adopt a parrot. Or would learn to meditate. Sigh. So much relationship misery is caused by our attempts to fix our mate. But beware of the insidious if only. This thinking points to the fatal flaw in the scramble to live a pain-free life. It has an inherent assumption that sets you up for suffering – If only the one I love would change, then I would be happy.

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  • Mindful Divorce – What are you hanging onto right now? What happens if you simply let go?

    August 10, 2016

    I was never one of those girls who dreamed of my wedding day. I was an independent tomboy who spent my time wrangling horses and existential angst. As a young woman I called marriage “The M Word”. Then I walked into a play reading and an incorrigible green-eyed actor took one look at me and proclaimed to his friend “I’m going to marry that woman”. A year later we eloped to Greece.

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  • Touch More, Touch Often – The Science of Mindful Loving

    June 12, 2016

    I love to watch people touch the ones they love. When I witnessed the birth of my beloved friends’ daughter, the most poignant moment was watching the first-time father tear his shirt off and hold the minutes-old infant to his bare, receptive chest. Skin on skin, heart to heart. At our best, we intuitively use touch to span the distance between us. Two separate bodies and minds, me and you, become an “us” when we embrace. That which is broken—a promise, a skinned knee, even a heart—is coaxed toward fullness again in the incubator of a loved one’s arms.

    Since touching each other brings a multitude of emotional, physical, and social health benefits you’d think we’d be cuddling all the time. Yet our culture is touch-deprived.

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  • Slowing Your Mind is Great Foreplay

    May 4, 2016

    If you want to have sex more often, meditate. Say what?! The image of a stoic, cross-legged person suddenly leaping up, tearing off their comfy clothes and tackling their stunned (yet probably delighted) partner isn’t exactly commonly associated with mindfulness. Well, perhaps it’s time to change that. The proposed effects of meditation on the body and the mind have implications for both your interest in making love and your sexual pleasure itself. So that weekend silent retreat or weekly MBSR class can improve your sex life, if you want it to.

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  • Make your Lover your Hobby

    May 2, 2016

    My best friend Lori, whom I met in a Scottish highland dancing class when we were nine years old, has a strange hobby. She runs 100-mile ultra marathons in the mountains. For fun. I know, crazy, right? Because I’m the sane one, my hobby is to train my dog, or perhaps she trains me, in agility. That’s where my leopard-spotted rescue mutt joyfully runs through tunnels and zooms over teeter-totters while I puff to keep up. Another hobby is my love life. That’s where I train my sweetie, or perhaps he trains me, in all things sensual and connective. We learn new communication techniques, we make time for lovemaking (which occasionally involves a teeter-totter or puffing to keep up), and we plan romantic adventures together.

    But wait. Can your love life be a hobby? You bet it can.

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  • Meditate for Better Sex and Orgasmic Bliss

    February 7, 2016

    People often ask me what sex and meditation have to do with each other. A lot! I want to holler. But since my meditation teacher side is not supposed to holler, I calmly explain that mindfulness is not meant to be a disconnected head-trip. In addition to mind, we are to embody fullness by bringing rapt attention to all five senses. Then my noisier sex therapist side chimes in that we do have a naked body under those yoga clothes, and that it would be a shame to waste it. Which brings us to mindful loving.

    Imagine meditating on something as simple as a raisin. Truly see its wrinkly beauty, smell vineyards and sunlight, caress it with your tongue, hear a slight sigh as you bite down, and taste the flood of sweet textured release. Mmm. Well, you just made love with that raisin.

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  • The Thrill can last Forever – Just get Mindful

    September 21, 2015

    You are sitting on your meditation cushion, at one with your breath. You feel good—mindfulness is working! Right here right now there is nothing more interesting than this very moment.

    Suddenly you hear a voice you know so well, asking for the hundredth time “Honey, have you seen my keys?” You now spend your time wondering was this man, who counts picking up the car from the mechanic as a date, this woman, who forgets to feed the cat but knows the plot of every reality TV show, really once the most fascinating person in the world?

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  • Kill the Soulmate and Save your Relationship

    September 13, 2015

    Q I am in my 30’s and just went on a date with a really great guy, the first good one I’ve met in a long time. But I’m not sure if he is “The One”. I don’t want to settle if he isn’t my Soulmate. Am I being too picky?

    A Sometimes I think the women of the world should file a class-action lawsuit against Mr. Walt Disney. Why? Because even 78 years after the movie Snow White hit the big screen, generations of little girls weaned on princess movies still truly believe someday their Prince will come. And any guy who isn’t everything she ever dreamed of gets booted straight into the frog-pond.

    And don’t fool yourself into thinking the Soulmate myth is only held by little girls. Male or female, gay straight or bi, most of us are walking around seeking the perfect mate. Wake up people. There is no such thing as a “Soulmate”. No human can live up to the picture that you have created in your head.

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  • Beware of Mental Junk Food – You are what you Eat

    July 2, 2015

    The other day I gave in to a junk food craving. After a day of clean eating – kale smoothies, quinoa vegetarian chili, fresh fruit – a little voice said “come on, you know you want to” and I was seduced. Before I knew it I was munching on balsamic and pepper kettle chips and nuclear-orange cheesies. The next morning I woke up feeling bloated and unpleasant. Hmm, no kidding. Like my Granny often said, Garbage In, Garbage Out.

    So how does my lapse in compassionate eating relate to mindfulness practice? Well, for both mind and body, you are what you eat. What we consume mentally influences how the mind feels –

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  • “No” is a complete sentence. Stop trying to have it all.

    June 17, 2015

    Q: I’m a wife, mother, and bank manager and these days I feel like I am failing at all of it. I meditate each morning and do yoga, but I’m still tired, stressed and cranky and I drop more balls than I catch. Why am I so lousy at having it all?

    A: You can have it all, providing the “all” includes a nervous breakdown. Forget life-work balance. Whoever came up with that concept needs to straddle a see-saw for a few moments and discover that a balancing act is inherently precarious, exhausting, and impossible to maintain. Many female patients come to me for help with anxiety and exhaustion. They are wracked with guilt that they can’t find time to make homemade cupcakes for the school bake sale because they have a year-end report to write.

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  • A Doorway to Connection

    April 14, 2015

    I used to date a man who had old world manners to accompany his old world charm. He always held the door for me, both in the world of walking and when we rode in a car. When I complimented him on this, he told a story of his best friend whose boyfriend repeatedly complained that she slammed the car door when she got into his passenger seat. She asked my then boyfriend – “so is he right? Do I slam the door when I ride with you?” My friend smiled and replied “have you ever touched your own door handle around me?” And she realized she hadn’t. When she rode with him, he opened the door, waited patiently until she was settled inside, and then closed it, softly, behind her. No slamming involved.

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  • Tantra for Beginners

    March 23, 2015

    Tantra is a Sanskrit word that means “woven together”. Buddhist meditation practitioners use sexual union as a metaphor for weaving the physical together with the spiritual; weaving man to woman, and humankind to the divine. Sexual Tantra is a form of sacred sexuality in which a couple shares slow, non-orgasmic intercourse as a prelude to an experience of bliss and emptiness. So yes, Tantric sex is an erotic practice that you and your partner can explore. But remember, the purpose is to become enlightened, not to win an Olympic medal for carnal gymnastics.

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  • Sexual Fantasy – You are not 50 shades of weird

    March 11, 2015

    So you saw the movie Fifty Shades of Gray, and it turned you on. Now you find yourself fantasizing more often. You are wondering whether it is normal to be so stimulated by the idea of your man telling you what to do in bed. Well, welcome to the world of sexual fantasy. Yes, it is normal to fantasize…

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  • Mindful Sex for Valentine’s Day

    February 13, 2015

    This Valentine’s Day Forget Chocolate – Practice Mindful Sex

    Have you ever had an orgasm while meditating? One of my students reports that her inner peace sometimes comes with a side dish of Oh My! She worried that she was weird, and asked “isn’t mindfulness about, well, the mind? Why do I get turned on?” As a sex therapist and meditation teacher, it drives me crazy that the topic of sex is avoided in discussions of mindfulness. If arousal is mentioned at all, it’s like a repeat of the bad advice we got in seventh-grade sex-ed class – sex is dirty, don’t think about it, nice meditators hang out in the mind, not the messy ole’ body. This leads to the confusion expressed by my student. But meditation is not meant to be a disconnected head-trip – it is about direct, embodied experience of what is occurring right now. And if right now you are making love, sexual pleasure can become a fabulous meditation object.

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  • Two People Embracing

    AHA – A Mindful Loving Moment

    December 3, 2014

    So there I was, looking for truth at the foot of the Himalayas, dodging soccer playing little-boy monks as I chased the wicked monkey who had swiped the last bit of gourmet chocolate from my windowsill (stupidly left unlatched by this naïve Canadian seeker), and the big wisdom coming down on me was – wow, I should have had less yak butter tea, because it’s freaking cold and I badly need to pee. And the outhouse is halfway down the rickety monastery staircase. Next to a pig. And all I really want to do is get to the delusionally-named internet café (one desk one monolithic computer one dial-up line and no coffee) so I can commune with the toe-curlingly wonderful man back home that I am falling in love with.

    If that isn’t a how did I get here moment, I don’t know what is. So here’s how.

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