While at the New Ways of Knowing: Writing and Meditation Retreat, we took an excursion. Trust me; this was not your grandmother’s field trip!

We visited Integratron and experienced a sound bath. I’ve been bathed in the vibration from giant gongs before, but never had I encountered the resonance of this many—and this size—quartz crystal singing bowls.

There were roughly thirty people in attendance. Each of us lying on our backs on a comfortable mat, looking up at the domed ceiling. Once it began, many of us closed our eyes; some fell asleep.

After listening to a brief introduction, we were asked to turn off our cell phones, please not make any noise, and refrain from taking photos until the session was finished. From their website, this is a description of what takes place during the experience:

Where have you been recently?


Get Back on the Bus

At the end of December 2017, I attended the New Ways of Knowing Meditation and Writing Retreat. Backed up to Joshua Tree National Park, it’s no wonder we heard coyotes each evening and saw rabbits (galore!) and quail each day. We even found what looked to be emu or ostrich footprints.

The charming facility (it’s colorful interior Mary Engelbreit-esque) boasted a stationary red bus that became our symbol for staying on track. If we found ourselves getting sidetracked from the task at hand—writing—we’d say, “Get back on the bus!” I’ve since printed and framed this photo. Standing sentinel in my writing studio, it serves as a tangible reminder to stay focused.

What keeps you on track?


New Ways of Knowing


My wish for you is PEACE of mind, JOY of heart, HEALTH of body, GRATITUDE for blessings, KINDNESS both given and received, INSPIRATION that fuels CREATIVITY, and GRACE—the immediate presence of Spirit.

I auto-scheduled this holiday greeting to publish today because I’m currently at the New Ways of Knowing: Meditation and Writing Retreat in California.

I’ve turned off comments as I won’t be able to respond, and look forward to being back online next Tuesday.


The Gift of Tonglen

At times we may feel small, insignificant, and unable to help when people are suffering, or there’s a catastrophe in another part of the world. But there is something we can do.

Tonglen—Tibetan for giving and receiving—is an active practice of loving-kindness; a simple act of compassion that anyone can do. Here’s how it’s done:

  • Sit or lie quietly in your own “inner sanctuary” and imagine someone that you want to help.
  • Inhale the heaviness of their energy. Breathe in the condition, emotion, or suffering of another to make space for healing and comfort within.
  • Exhale whatever you feel will fill them relief. Breathe out hope, strength, joy, peace of mind, love, or ease.

I took this photograph at the Boise Botanical Garden. In my mind’s eye, this is how I imagine my inner sanctuary.

Tonglen is a soothing and calming meditation that can be done by people of any spiritual tradition, or none at all. It’s a simple, non-denominational practice that acknowledges we’re all connected no matter who we are, or where we come from.

“There is a place in you where you have never been wounded, where there’s a seamlessness in you, and where there is a confidence and tranquility in you, and I think the intention of prayer and spirituality and love is now and again to visit that inner kind of sanctuary.” —John O’Donohue

What does your inner sanctuary look like?

© Laurie Buchanan

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Growing Toward the Light

In the final week prior to departing our home of 20-years in Crystal Lake, Illinois, we’d almost completely packed the kitchen and ate our meals out or picnic style.

Sitting perfectly still in what seemed like tranquil meditation, an onion remained on the counter. Similar to a novice monk, it began with a tiny spark. In the onion’s case, a small green sprout at its crown. But with time and considerable growth, it leaned — with gentle ease — toward the bright, sunny kitchen window.


Are you growing toward the light?

© Laurie Buchanan

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Can You Hear Me Now?

This post is coming to you “live” from the road as we journey 1,700 miles — white knuckled through a torrential downpour — toward our destination in the Pacific Northwest.

The landscape is dotted with cell towers. These tall structures house antennas, transmitters, receivers — a myriad of electronic equipment — that support cell phones, computers, GPS systems, and other technological advancements.

With a strong signal, our electronics maintain contact with the mother ship’s energy (so to speak) on a consistent basis.


Personally, I enjoy sustained contact with source energy — divinity. Because I prefer a strong uninterrupted signal, it requires regular maintenance on my end of things.

When was the last time you “phoned home?”

© Laurie Buchanan 2014

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Recharging the Tiger in Your Tank

Recently I received a portable, external power source for my cell phone. Now if I run low on juice and there’s no electricity to tap into — or we have another 3-day power outage like last year — then I simply plug into the source and recharge my phone’s battery.

Mentally — many of us recharge by doing crossword puzzles, using a game App like Dots, play chess, or exercise our brains online with programs like Lumosity or Happify.

Spiritually — many of us recharge in the sanctuary of nature, in a brick-and-mortar house of worship, or we meditate/pray in the comfort of our own home, or wherever we happen to be.

Physically — many of us recharge our bodies with a healthy combination of exercise and being mindful of the foods we use to fuel it.

Body, mind, or spirit — what’s your favorite method of “plugging in” and recharging?

Laurie Buchanan

Whatever you are not changing, you are  choosing.” — Laurie Buchanan

The Book — Discovering the Seven Selves
The Experience — Life Harmony

© Laurie Buchanan 2014

Find me on Twitter @HolEssence
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