Friday, December 5, 2014

Top Five Things Shelters Can Do To Improve Adoption Rates

I was just re-reading an old interview in Bark magazine with journalist Kim Kavin, the author of LITTLE BOY BLUE: A Puppy’s Rescue from Death Row and His Owner’s Journey for Truth.

Bark asked her:  "What five things can shelters do to improve their adoption rates?"

Kim answered:  
1.   Make adoption a priority. At the shelter where Blue was found, unless a rescue group intervenes, the annual kill rate is about 95 percent. It is accepted as policy that the majority of dogs will die. Shelter managers need to make it a policy that rescue and adoption are a big part of the job. Nationwide, this attitude is the first thing to change in shelters that improve their adoption rates.
 2.   Hire people who embody the philosophy of rescue. Sometimes personnel changes are necessary, but sometimes people can grow through education. Either way, you need people on-site every day who care about adoption, and you need to give them the resources and job flexibility they need to succeed.
3.    Give the dogs names. At the shelter where Blue was found in Person County, N.C., the dogs don’t have names; they are given numbers and expiration dates. The adoption coordinator at Robeson County Shelter in Saint Pauls, N.C., told me that when she began working to turn their program around, the first thing she did was name the dogs, because a name shows that someone cares about them as individuals. It affects the entire staff’s attitude toward what happens there day in and day out. It is harder to kill a dog who has a name. It makes people want to do more to help the dogs.
 4.   Tap into the nationwide rescue community via sites like [4] (full disclosure: Barron’s is donating a portion of the proceeds from Little Boy Blue to the Petfinder Foundation [6]). Even if you’re in an economically depressed area and can’t find local adopters, you can find responsible rescue groups in other areas—even in other states—that are willing to transport and foster the dogs while marketing them for adoption. The pipeline exists. Use it.
5.    Take photos of the dogs outside of the shelter environment. With my own foster dogs, the photos I take of them just a few hours after they’ve had a chance to calm down and play in my back yard are far superior to those I get at the shelter. Anything you can do to help them relax will make them look happier and healthier in their adoption photos, and thus increase their chances of finding a home.

Here's the whole interview if you'd like to read it.  This little piece is such a gem!  Coming from the world's best dog magazine, of course!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

the new, revised edition of REX AND THE CITY has been released!

I wanted to let you know that my book, REX AND THE CITY, has just been re-released. Originally published by Random House in 2006 to critical acclaim, this book was praised as “Hands-down the best human-with-dog memoir you’ll ever read” by Bark magazine. A revised and updated edition has just been released by Diversion Books—just in time for the holiday season.

If you know anyone who might enjoy a book about the joys of rescuing a crazy hunting dog, please consider recommending Rex and the City. We’re donating a portion of all book sales to animal rescue organizations. My hope is that, through this book, more people will feel inspired to rescue needy animals and to appreciate the amazing canine species even more. 

With Love and Gratitude,


Saturday, October 25, 2014

Less than 48 hours left in our "Beyond the Beyond" Indiegogo campaign

Less than 48 hours left in our "Beyond the Beyond" Indiegogo campaign and we're almost there! We can do it! I just added a few more perks, including the very simple but profound gift of a single digital download for our track "Om Mani Peme Hum." For a $1 contribution you'll enjoy the benefits of this profound mantra, featuring the vocals of Lama Karma Drodhul and Lama Karma Thendup of KTD monastery. To hear a sample of the ROUGH MIX of this track (not the final track), visit:
May all beings benefit.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

My new Indiegogo Campaign Music Video!

We finally uploaded a "sneak preview" audio file to the "Beyond the Beyond" campaign page: the track "Om Mani Peme Hum." Featured vocalists are Lama Karma Drodul and Lama Karma Thendup of Karma Triyana Dharmachakra monastery in Woodstock, NY--which is HH Karmapa's North American seat. These beloved lamas open the song with the "Prayer of Praise to Chenrezig" and then Chenrezig's mantra (Om Mani Peme Hum), singing the melody written by His Holiness the 17th Karmapa himself. May all beings benefit from the sacred vibrations of this mantra! 

Anyone who contributes to our Indiegogo campaign will receive a free download of this track--when it's officially mixed and mastered and ready to release, of course. For details, visit:

This track--and the entire CD--has been a real labor of love. Other featured musicians are: Steve Gorn on soprono sax, Hans Christian on strings, Irene Soléa Antonellis and Satya-Franche Carlson Straus on response vocals, Anthony Molina and Wynne Ji Paris on guitar, (Anthony also plays on more instruments than I can count), Radha Gopinath Das Marinelli on tablas, Holly Montgomery on bass, Andy Hamburger on drums, Steve Bloom on percussion, and myself (surprise, surprise!) on harmonium.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

My lastest blog on Spirit Voyage is up....

Hello Friends. 
Apologies, as usual, for the inconsistent and infrequent posts.  I've been busy with....being busy!
My latest blog on Spirit Voyage talks about the benefits of the Chattr Chakkr Vartee mantra.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Please consider supporting my Indiegogo Campaign!

I have launched an Indiegogo campaign to fund the completion of my mantra music CD: "Beyond the Beyond"
For full details, visit my page:

May all beings benefit!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

I'm here with Garrett Sawyer at Northfire Recording Studio in Amherst MA, editing the vocals of two very special Buddhist lamas: Lama Karma Drodhul and Lama Karma Thendup. In a studio where the hip young interns are used to listening to the latest rock music, it's delightful to witness how everyone is reacting to the powerful healing sounds of two monks singing "Om Mani Peme Hum" to a funky groove.  May all beings benefit!

Saturday, August 2, 2014

I'm back in the studio again!  (And I still haven't tired of the fact that I get to say "back in the studio" by the way, because I get to sound so cool, hee hee....).  I've spent the past few days at White Light Recording Studios with Anthony Molina working on all kinds of techie stuff: fixing timings and tuning vocals, replacing parts, and coming up with even more wonderful ideas for parts and transitions. Anthony is a pure genius, so mostly I'm just watching the engineering process in awe.  Because this is my first time making a record, I cannot help but compare the experience to writing a novel (a process I do know).  In both cases, there is a lot of editing involved...but the fun thing about music is that we get to tap our feet and dance and listen to Stevie Wonder (singing with a Hare Krishna back up choir) for creative inspiration during the grueling editing process.   Fun fun fun!

Here's a video of Anthony working out a new guitar part for my version of "Om Tare Tuttare Ture Soha. 

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Here's an inventive selfie...this is a screen shot of the legendary kirtan vocalist CC White recording background vocals of my "Govinda Hare" track at her studio in LA...I'm Skyping into the session from my office in Woodstock, NY.  I love technology! 

I'm still pinching myself when I think that CC's phenomenal voice is going to be featured on this track.  This song is a variation on a very traditional Indian melody, which my beloved friend and teacher Shyamdas used to sing all the time.  The day after Shyamdas left his body (in January 2013), this alternative melody came to me, fully formed, accompanied by a toy piano and a harmonica. Slowly the full song took shape, along with the inspiration to finally go forward with my dream to release this first CD.  

And what a dream!  I know Shyamdas-ji is smiling from the heavens as he listens to his beloved CC singing the Names.  She sounds absolutely amazing. Of course. That's why she's the queen of kirtan.  I freely admit that my voice does not even come near hers in terms of power or perfection, but I also know that we each have our own strengths and gifts.  This whole process of recording a CD is helping me find some of my own.  Finally, those years and years of practice--of yoga, mantra, meditation, prayer, setting of intention, toning, and healing--are manifesting here and now, through this process.

Thank you, CC, for sharing your beauty, talent, voice, and huge MA heart! 

Thanks also to Lynne Earls (our LA engineer), Gaura Vani Buchwald and Anthony Molina. 

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

My dog-in-law is going blind....

Last night I visited my good friends Mindy Pickard, Gregory Lee Pickard and their son Clayton Pickard who were among the first people I met when I moved to Woodstock in 2005. I actually met them--like many dog people do--through our dogs. Their dog Rainbow is/was my dog Chloe's "husband" (Clayton having performed a quick wedding ceremony for them a few months before Chloe unexpectedly died.) Rainbow will always hold a special place in my heart--not just because Chloe loved him above all other dogs; or because he is an English Setter mix (and I secretly love setters above all other dogs); but because he is just so extraordinarily fun and smart and expressive and exuberant. He's one of those human dogs---dog lovers will know what I mean. Anyway, I was shocked and saddened to learn that Rainbow has gone blind. Apparently he has diabetes and his family didn't realize how quickly this illness would manifest.

Rainbow was sitting outside on the front steps when I arrived at their house, but he didn't get up. I immediately went up to him and hugged him, of course, and Rainbow whined in return--but it was not the whine of sorrow; he simply recognized my voice and my smell and was happy to see me. He looked so different with his filmy, non-seeing eyes. He looked both younger and older. Older because of the filmy eyes, and younger because of his lost, somewhat uncertain expression. Rainbow has always been a bold dog--pushing through doors; leaping over fences; jumping off decks and out of second-floor windows unscathed if he objected to being left inside. Indeed, Rainbow was the one who taught Chloe how to open doors and--if need be--push through screens. Rainbow did what he wanted, when he wanted, and he did it with such exuberance and single-pointedness that you couldn't get mad at him. He had a mission and his mission was to have fun and be with the ones he loves.

I started to cry, of course--A) because seeing my Rainy-bow makes me miss Chloe and B) because everything keeps changing, and everyone I love keeps growing old. Rainbow, sensing my distress, stood up to lick my face. Then Mindy opened the door and-- being a practical no-nonsense sort of person who doesn't want people crying at her house--told me to come inside. She also told Rainbow to go make his pee-pee so that he could come inside too. "And be careful on those steps," she told him in her motherly voice. "Go slooooow."

I watched Rainbow as he made his way down the steps and out into the yard. This new Rainbow moved slowly and cautiously, the way a mole might, pushing his snout along the ground to sniff his way through any potential obstacles. He lifted his leg, did his business and then quickly returned to us, bumping into our legs as we all walked into the house. He didn't seem to mind the fact that he couldn't see, as long as we were there with him. (Greg and Clayton were still out at the grocery store but were due back any minute.)

Anyway, I could go on and on about witnessing the gestures, movements and behaviors of a newly blind dog...and maybe I will in the future, if I have the opportunity to spend more time with Rainbow. Part of me is still sad that I didn't get to witness Chloe's golden years; and part of me is grateful that she passed so quickly, from great health to poor health to death, in a matter of days. But I do finally realize that there is no such thing as perfect--no perfect way to age, no perfect way to die, no perfect way to adjust to an illness.

When Greg and Clayton returned, I saw signs of the "real" Rainbow: he ran to the door, leaped in circles, and barked with joy. As soon as Greg walked into the door, Rainbow began nipping at his (that would be Greg's) crotch. This is one of Rainbow's signature moves, and Greg wears loose jeans specifically for this reason. I was impressed that Rainbow could still find his target despite his poor vision. What moved me most last night was the way the family handled Rainbow: so tenderly. So lovingly. Mindy coached Rainbow around the furniture. Greg took him out to play fetch in the yard, but this was a new version of fetch, which Greg called "hide and seek." Greg would toss a toy duck a few yards in front of Rainbow, and Rainbow's job would be to find it (by sniffing) and bring it back to Greg. A simple task, but joyous nevertheless. Gone are the days of launching tennis balls far, far into the woods from a rocket launcher and watching the dogs tear off at full speed into the trees. Gone are the days of dog youth, I guess. But life for a dog always just goes on. Until it doesn't. The attitude never changes.

Rainbow receives his veterinary medical care from the same vet that Chloe used to see--the marvelous Dr. Rothstein at Saugerties Animal Hospital. And apparently there's a chance that they could perform cataract surgery on one or both of Rainbow's eyes. The catch is, the procedure is expensive and the family might not be able to afford to repair both eyes. They're in the process of debating all this right now. Rainbow is ten years old. First they want to get more information on the root causes of the blindness and the diabetes and then make a decision based on that. I'll keep you posted, because if they decide to go ahead with eye surgery, I said I'd help promote their Kickstarter campaign. It would be an honor to help my beloved dog-in-law and his family, in Chloe's honor. It's what she would have wanted.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

It's a wrap! We had an extraordinary and long recording session down in New York City this past Thursday.  I found a great little studio in the Flatiron District called VRCL Entertainment, which was recommended by my friend and soul sister Karen Blood.  Karen always has good instincts, and she is very tapped into the universe and the stars, so I knew this was a good lead.  Anyway, once I saw the studio and felt its energy, and then met the super-sweet and talented engineer Terry Derkach, I knew we had found a home.  Plus, there was a painting of a giant Buddha on the wall.  
The goal was to record backup vocals on two tracks: "Shiva Shakti" (which has a disco groove) and the Prajnaparamita Mantra (which has a gospel sound). For the Shiva track I really wanted to work with Kirtan Soul Revival--a group of young singers consisting of Calia Marshall, Helen Tocci and Todd Keller.  The Reverend Kim Lesley---who is a staple at Ananda Ashram and who has sung on the CDs of many of my friends, including Sruti Ram and Ishwarm Lynn Keller of Sri Kirtan and Kamaniya Devi and Keshavacharya of Prema Hara-- also joined them on this track. 
It turned out that Todd could not make it to the session because, sadly, his cat Monkey died.  We sent healing energy to Todd and Monkey before the session began.  I always like to start my vocals sessions with some group toning, so as we toned the sounds OM and NG, we sent the energy to our friends.  Have a gentle journey, Monkey!  
Anyway, it was a truly magical day.  The Shiva Shakti session was seamless (sorry for the alliteration) because these singers are such pros. I can't wait to hear the final track! We still have a lot of work to do on that one, including creating a pre-track and adding some Bollywood strings.  
A few additional singers (John James, Keith Fluitt and Rashmi Pierce) came for the second session, which was a gospel rendition of the Prajnaparamita Mantra.  I am so honored to have had this opportunity to meet and work with these singers, especially John James and Keith Fluitt. John sings with Stevie Wonder!  Ahhh!  I can't express how talented they are. They literally blew me out of my seat.  John arrived just in time to add a perfect, perfect, chilling and Shiva-esque solo to the "Shiva Shakti" chant and then we got started on Prajnaparamita.  
I began with the session with a quick talk on the meaning of the mantra and I also played a recording of the Karmapa chanting it with his sangha. (I also offered the caveat that the Dalai Lama has given three full day talks on this mantra and the Heart Sutra and that my explanation was not the be-all-end-all. By far). But I figured that, given that I was the only Buddhist practitioner in the room, it would be helpful to explain to the singers how this mantra works energetically, and how I envisioned it helping other people who happen to hear our recording.  There were seven singers in the room at that point--some were lovers of Christ, some of us were devotees of Amma, some were interfaith ministers (Kim) and interfaith practitioners, and others simply loved to sing mantras.  It was such a blessing to be with them all.
 What a day this was! We spent seven hours recording layers and layers and layers of backup vocals on this track (and honestly we did not even finish. This is a vocal-rich track)... and if you've ever chanted Gate Gate Paragate Parasamgate Bodhi Soha for even seven minutes, you can imagine how charged we all were with the power of this mantra. I'll never forgot the looks on their faces as they sang.  I was watching the choir from the control room, viewing them through a glass panel. Everyone had their eyes closed, faces lifted, hearts open, palms held toward the heavens, and everyone was positively glowing with love and joy. I knew it was the mantra working through them, for them, with them. I can't describe how moved I was and still am.  Even though each one of us present came from different traditions and studied with different masters, we all felt the power of the mantra, which is the power of transcendence, of moving beyond our minds and, yes, into our hearts.  That's not quite a "strictly Buddhist" interpretation, but energetically that's how it feels.  This mantra brings us out of our mind-space and into what I call a heart-space.  Where pure love reins.  Where the Christ energy reins.  All these devotional practices lead us to the same place--we just have different words to describe it, I guess.
Anyway, I am so grateful to each and everyo one of these singers, and to engineers Terry Derkart and Anthony Molina, and producer Gaura Vani Buchwald, and to Lama Karma Drodul and Lama Karma Thendup (the other backup singers on Gate) and all the others who have supported this project along the way.  May all beings benefit from this gorgeous music we created together as one. 
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Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Everything You Lose Comes Back in a Different Form....

Because I move around so much (we're talking like daily) I often lose things. But I'm grateful that the universe is very kind in assisting me in finding those things. On Monday, for instance, I asked the universe to help me find my 128Hz tuning fork, which I had misplaced on Sunday after attending a sound healing retreat. Then, in the meantime, I lost my Kindle charger after taking a quick day trip to New York City for school. So I asked the universe to help me find that, too.  Then, lo and behold, in my search for the Kindle charger I was led to the tuning fork. 

So my Big Epiphany of the Day is: often we lose things so that we can find other things.

It's like Rumi's beautiful quote:

Do not grieve for loss
For everything you lose
Comes back to you in a different form. 

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

How a Vegan Handles Having a Meat-Eating, Creature Killing Dog

AUTHOR'S NOTE: Please note that this piece was written for Bark magazine several months before my beloved Chloe passed in 2013. In her honor, I have not changed the tense, for in my heart Chloe will always be Present Tense. 

My dog Chloe is one of the sweetest-looking dogs I have ever seen. She has the brown and white markings of a spaniel and the golden, almond-shaped eyes of a lab. When she greets you, she looks you straight in the eye with an expression that says: I see right through to the heart of you, and I see that you are good. All this, combined with her cute pink mouth and big dog-smile, prompt people to call her a “lover” when they first meet her.

Upon hearing the word “lover,” Chloe will wag her tail and wiggle with joy and then start lowering herself to the floor, moving in a sort of spiral, until she is on her back, waving her legs into the air. This gesture, in a way, always reminds me of the slow-motion blossoming of a flower. Pure love. Pure sweetness.
So imagine my surprise–and horror–when I witnessed my loving dog killing a squirrel. I’m sure many of you have experienced this shocking moment when we first realize our sweetie-pies are actually natural born killers.

I myself am not a killer. On the contrary, I’m one of those militant animal lovers who practices vegetarianism, who refuses to wear leather or fur, who will not buy any product that has been tested on animals, and who will even carry humanely-trapped mice out of the house, drive them two miles away in the mini-van, and set them free near a small stream, with a few sunflowers seeds to help them start their new lives (far, far away from my house).

As an aside: please note that I’m not trying to preach here, or cast myself as some kind of saint. Refraining from killing is simply the lifestyle that I choose for myself. I try not to judge the lifestyle of others. But having said that, I did find myself judging Chloe–just for one second–after I witnessed her first kill. I mean, obviously I’d been taught that all predators are wired to hunt and kill, but I didn’t want to believe that my dog had such instincts. I wanted to, you know, believe that her DNA was on par with that of a cute stuffed animal. But then I thought of the way Chloe treated her own stuffed animals: seizing them in her jaws, shaking them, whipping them around, and finally eviscerating them with vim and vigor. Apparently all this time she had been practicing for the real thing. I did not know my dog as well as I thought.

Some would say my reaction to that squirrel’s death was extreme. I cried. I shouted. My hands shook. I wanted to run away; flee the scene of the crime, as it were. I just hate to see any living being suffer, period. I hate to hear any innocent creature cry out in pain or sorrow or fear. I felt guilty that my own dog had played part in this pain, and then I felt confused about the very state of earthly existence. Why were some creatures are born as prey animals and some as prey? What is the point of a world in which it is necessary to kill in order to survive? Meanwhile, Chloe looked at me with confusion. In her mind (yes, I always speak as if I can read her mind), she hadn’t done anything worth crying about. In fact, she had passed through a canine Rite of Passage. She was a hunting dog who had just accomplished her first official hunt–why was I acting as if she had committed a crime?

“Because you just murdered something,” I told her.

She just cocked her head in that cute way she has. So of course I forgave her.

My dog-loving friends understood my reaction–even the irrational, existential crisis part. Most of them had been through this, and through the years we have been able to form a sort of support group, sharing our experiences, offering comfort, and trying to find ways to justify or rationalize dogs’ behaviors.
First of all, there are the facts of life: that dogs are predators, and predators track and feed on prey. And while this fact is hard for those of us with domesticated animals to accept, we obviously cannot control the genetic makeup of our fellow mammals — no matter how cute and cuddly they appear to be. Secondly, there’s the fact that — at least among my friends — it’s not as though we’re encouraging our dogs to kill; or, heaven forbid, train them to kill. Again, I try not to judge people who use their dogs to hunt, but I can’t say that it doesn’t make me cringe. I even have to turn off the volume on “Downton Abbey” each time the smartly-dressed Grantham party goes off on a hunt.

Then there’s the “humans are worse than dogs” theory which my friend — also a vegetarian and an animal rights activist — puts forth. “Dogs eat meat, period,” she says. “And the dogs which are being fed commercial dog food are, in most cases, consuming the flesh of factory farm animals that have been tortured by men.

“So when my dog manages to kill and eats a squirrel,” my friend continues, “it helps to remind myself that at least the squirrel got to live a relatively painless life, unlike those poor cows.”

I suppose my friend is speaking to the quality of a prey animal’s life as opposed to the quality of its death. Either way, this is always a difficult topic for me. I honestly have a hard time feeding Chloe meat. It’s not that I would ever put her on a vegetarian diet, but I’m completely grossed out by the raw chicken and ground beef I have to handle. Often, when I’m unwrapping those packages of meat, I’m met with images of those tortured farm animals and feel wracked with guilt. The only thing I can do is say a silent prayer to the animal whose life was taken for the sake of my dog. And then leave the room so that I don’t have to hear Chloe crunching away on the chicken legs.

After that first squirrel incident, Chloe managed to kill a few more creatures — not enough to set any world records, but enough to send me into brief fits of sobbing, followed by a few hours of existential crisis. Over the years, she killed one toad (which caused her mouth to foam up and which sent me into a tizzy); a snake (which prompted me to call her Morfin Gaunt for a while –something only the Harry Potter fans will get) and a good number of insects, which she liked to swat around the way a cat would. I always tried to save these creatures, but hopping, slithering things are particularly hard to catch. Unless you’re a dog, I guess.

My previous dog Wallace (also known as Rex) was much worse in the murder department. A hunting-dog to the bone, he killed with an expertise and a blood-lust I found alarming. I won’t go into the gory details of the number of small animals he manage to capture and kill. It’s just sufficient to say he was the type of dog who would probably have taken on a gazelle or a wild boar if given the chance.

Many will point out that the simple solution would be to keep our dogs on-leash. And this, of course, is a loaded topic: the off-leash issue, which seems to crop up every day in the dog world. So let’s just say I have made the choice to allow my dog to exercise off leash. And sometimes my choice has unwanted consequences.
Recently, Chloe found a living creature and brought it to me. We were outside on the property: I was watering the flowers and Chloe was romping around in the fields, snuffling her way through the tall grasses. Suddenly I saw her trotting toward me, carrying something in her mouth. Her white plumed tail was held high, and she moved with a jaunty step which indicated she was feeling particularly proud of herself. I assumed that the object in her mouth was a long-lost toy (our woods were littered with decaying Beanie Babies and Teddy bears), but then Chloe placed the object at my feet. It was a baby bird, which I suspect it had fallen out of its nest. And it was still alive.

I started to go into panic mode. What to do? What to do? Pulling on my gardening gloves, I gently picked up the bird and carried it into the house. Chloe followed along, seeming to sense that we were on the verge of doing something important. She always liked to pretend she was in charge of such things.
Inside the house, I found a small cardboard box, lined it with tissues and towels, and carefully placed the bird inside the make-shift nest. The bird was breathing, but not moving too much. Already, I was crying. I absolutely love birds; bird-song, to me, is one of the most beautiful sounds on this planet. But I know absolutely nothing about how to care for birds. Thank goodness we have the internet, so I rushed to my computer and Googled “care” “injured” “birds.” Most instructions said to keep the bird warm and comfortable, and offer tiny bits of water if the bird seemed dehydrated. I called the local Fish and Wildlife hotline hoping for more information, but when I described the situation and the bird, I was told that it was actually illegal to help the bird. I was told that there was nothing I could do but “let it die.”

These are hard words for a militant, animal-loving vegan to hear. I wanted to do something. I wanted to save the bird. Some people, I suppose, would have put the bird “out of its misery,” but there was no way I could do that. Never ever, ever. What then could I do?

At a loss, I placed the box and the bird on my shrine. I should point out here that I live in Woodstock, New York, which is the kind of place where many of us keep shrine rooms in our houses. Mine is filled with crystals and meditation and prayer books and the scent of sandalwood incense. The altar is lined with statues of Buddha and Shiva and Lakshmi and Quan Yin and — of course — St. Francis, my favorite patron saint of animals. It was here I placed the bird — still breathing, but not doing much else. I placed a lamp near the box to keep the bird warm — one of those Tibetan crystal-salt lamps that are said to absorb negative energy. And then I prayed. Don’t worry — this is not a dogmatic or religious essay. I know that the word “prayer” means different things to many different people. For me,  “prayer” consists mainly of chanting Buddhist mantras. One in particular — Om Mani Peme Hung — cultivates compassion and well-being, and is said to be good for animals on the verge of death.

As I chanted, I heard Chloe barking at the shrine room door — her cue that she wanted to be let in. She always likes to be around when mantras are being chanted — she seems to know that there’s good energy in the room. For a second, I found myself being mad at Chloe again — for being a killer, for putting me through the pain of having to witness the suffering of a small living being, but then I reminded myself that she may have found the bird as opposed to capturing it. In fact, maybe she brought me the bird out of compassion — to allow me to save it. Ah, the things we tell ourselves.

“You can’t come in,” I called out to Chloe. “I don’t want to stress the bird.” I heard Chloe sigh, then lie down on the floor, placing her nose at the base of the door so that she could sniff through the gap. This made me smile. Everything she did was just so quintessentially dog. I couldn’t stay mad.

I chanted for another hour or so, constantly checking on the bird and unable to tell if it was getting better or worse. Next I played some Tibetan singing bowls for the bird and tried a made-up form of Reiki, which I don’t know how to do. I realized that, while there are many things I do know how to do, saving lives is not one of them. The little bird stopped breathing. And so, for a few seconds, did I.

I cried, of course, the way we all cry when we try to save something and fail. But what is “failure?”

One thing I’ve noticed about people who work in animal rescue that we all want to save everyone and everything. We want to live in a world that is free from pain, free from suffering, free from fear and cruelty. The saddest past is that most of our efforts go toward rescuing animals from human cruelty. This always makes me question just what exactly the role of the human race is in the “Natural Order of Things” mentioned above. Weren’t we put on this planet in order to care for Mother Earth and all her creatures? If so, why have so many humans strayed so far from that role? These are questions we cannot answer. I’m just so thankful for all the people who continue to try to help. Many of us who work at animal shelters have witnessed –firsthand — just what sort of suffering our animal friends can endure. We read horrible stories on the Internet; we see graphic pictures on Facebook that we wish we hadn’t seen; we feel frantic, we feel guilty, we cry, we wish that those dogs had not lived or died in pain. And yet so many of these horror stories have happy endings. The abused dogs find homes; the pit bulls forced to fight learn once again how to love. That’s the thing that always moves me to tears — that in the midst of all suffering, one bright spark of human love seems capable of purifying and nullifying any pain. Right? Is that failure?
Maybe that was the original role of humans on this planet: to show compassion amidst the ordered chaos that is life on Earth.

So getting back to the little bird who died on my shrine: both the dog and I experienced a shift after this incident. First of all, Chloe hasn’t killed a single thing since. And I swear there have been more birds on my property than ever before. I’m sure there’s a logical reason, like — duh –migration season. But I like to think that those birds are trying to tell me that everything is okay. I have heard it said that any being that dies in the presence of mantra or prayer or any kind of spiritual vibration is guaranteed to be reborn into a higher realm. Some call this realm heaven. Some even call this the human realm — because humans, unlike animals, have the capacity to change or control their instincts.

So each time I hear stories of a dog following his or her canine instincts to hunt and kill prey, I follow my human instincts and, well, pray for the prey. Every time I feed Chloe her raw meat, I chant mantras for the cows and chickens. Ever since I started thinking this way, I have felt more empowered. So we can’t prevent death, here in this land of mortality. Nor can we control the genetic makeup of our fellow mammals. What we can control is how we react.

And Chloe, she continues to charm people with her cute looks and goofy antics.

“Yes, she’s a lover,” they say.

And my response is always, “She’s a rescue.”

And that always gets a smile.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Mantras for Dying Animals - from

Here's a crosspost of my blog at

Mantras for Dying Animals

Four months ago, my beloved dog Chloe (affectionately nicknamed "Gopi") died quite suddenly of a particularly aggressive form of cancer I didn't even realize she'd had.  Long story short: I came home from a kirtan late one night to discover that my normally exuberant, bouncy spaniel mix was disoriented, listless and unable to walk. When I knelt down to investigate (assuming rather dumbly that she had some kind of sports-related injury), Chloe--sweet friend that she was--tried to give me a reassuring kiss. That's when I realized that her tongue was cold. And grey.  Panicked, I rushed her to a 24-hour emergency veterinary clinic near my house.  There, the vet told me that my dog had something called "canine splenic hemangiosarcoma" and that a tumor on her spleen had ruptured. Basically, my sweet little Gopi was bleeding to death internally. After delivering this diagnosis, the vet--a youngish, tired-looking woman whom I had never met before--told me rather dispassionately that there was nothing I could do and that the "best thing" would be to put my dog down. Right then and there.

How do you react to news like that?  One moment you are sitting in an artist's loft in Soho, sipping gingery chai and chanting "Om Namah Shivaya" with your friends; the next you are in a poorly lit, eerily quiet veterinary office in some derelict section of Poughkeepsie, being told that your nine-year old dog was going to die within the next twelve hours.  Needless to say I was stunned. But someone in this equation was going to have to make a decision and that someone was going to be me, whether I felt qualified to be doing so or not.

My decision took a second, and yet you could also say it took lifetimes. Lifetimes of meditation practice, of studying dharma and spiritual texts, of practicing yoga.  "I'll take her home with me," I told the vet. I wanted--somewhat selfishly--to have the opportunity to say goodbye to Chloe. And I also believed--somewhat childishly--that maybe Chloe wouldn't actually die; that I could take her to my "real" vet in the morning and receive a more positive diagnosis.  But mostly I wanted to spend the next hours chanting for Chloe in a nurturing environment while she made her transition.  As a meditator and a practitioner of both Buddhism and Kundalini Yoga, I knew that these final hours were very important.

And so, whether my decision was a wise one or not, I arranged to take my dying dog home. The vet gave Chloe a dose of strong painkillers and I watched with a sense of surreal, sorrowful determination as a technician lifted my dog into my car.

Before I go on, I should clarify that I am not an expert on death and/or dying; nor am I am expert on the nature of animal consciousness or of human consciousness for that matter.  I am simply a devoted practitioner who happens to love animals and relates particularly well to dogs, and was blessed to have shared a connection with a pretty remarkable dog. She was a mood elevator and a mind reader and a happy-go-lucky-goofball, and she spent much of her short sweet life sitting next to me at churches, monasteries, spiritual retreat centers and at our weekly Woodstock kirtans.  For nine years we walked the path together. Literally and figuratively.  And now she was dying. And it was my duty--my privilege--to walk with her right up until the end.

I felt wholly unprepared.  And yet, one could argue that our yoga and meditation practices are nothing but preparation for the moment of death. One of my first Buddhist teachers, Khandro Rinpoche, used to say: "If it doesn't matter at the moment of death, it doesn't matter now."  Likewise, Yogi Bhajan always said, "You and your mastery must come through at the moment of death." They were talking about one's own death, but still.  One of the great gifts we have as humans is our own free will, to work with our minds and direct our consciousnesses. 

Another great gift we have as humans is the power to help others.  And as human yogis, we have even more power. In the Buddhist tradition, we place special emphasis on helping animals.  To paraphrase Lama Kyabje Zopa Rinpoche, renowned for his work with animals: "the animal realm is considered to be one of more suffering and less potential than the human realm. Thus, we want to do everything in our power to help that being's consciousness to find a higher rebirth. A very important condition for a better rebirth is for the being to have a calm mind at the time of death. Also, being in contact with holy objects (statues, stupas, holy images and mantras) purifies negative karma and accumulates merit for that being which will help in this regard. This is the biggest present you can give them: Good rebirth, finish samsara, liberation."

So yes, I am talking about reincarnation here. But even if you don't believe in reincarnation, you have the power to surround your loved ones with love at the time of their death.  It sounds so simple--and it is so simple--but it is also easy (and natural) to lapse into feelings of powerlessness as we are faced with another's imminent death.

I know I lapsed into feelings of powerlessness quite a few times that evening.  But I am so grateful that I had a mantra practice. When I brought Chloe home from the emergency clinic, she was too weak to climb the stairs, so we spent the night in the foyer, on the cold wooden floor.  I had brought one of Chloe's beds down for her to rest on, but for some reason she chose to stay on the floor--perhaps because the wood was more organic, more related to the Earth. In solidarity, I lay next to her, foregoing any padding so that I could stay close to her.  The next few hours were and still are a blur.  I know that I chanted and prayed and sang for hours, I know that I told her again and again that I loved her in so many ways, but when I look back I seem to remember only a few minutes and a few scant details. The sound of the music. The sound of her breath. The sound of recorded monks reciting mantras, and of gongs and of Snatam Kaur. And myself, crying and chanting; chanting and crying. As the hour of sunrise neared and the sky outside began to lighten, I made some phone calls: to my vet, to a neighbor, and to the Tibetan monastery where I planned to bring my dog.  Even as I write this blog four months later, I am asking myself if I did the right things. If I should have tried to save Chloe's life with risky surgery while I was at the veterinary clinic; or if I should have shortened her life with euthanasia. And yet, I know that friends of mine who chose the euthanasia route are also asking the same questions: "Did we do the right thing?"  I guess the answer is: anything done with love is the right thing.

With the help of some friends, I was able to get Chloe back into my car, and I was able to drive her up to Karma Triyana Dharmachakra Monastery, where one of the resident lamas attended to her (working with her consciousness in ways I still can't comprehend), and then I took her to my vet, which opened at 9:00 am.  Chloe died as as soon as we arrived at the vet's office.  The last word she heard before her consciousness left her body was "Om."  Or rather, I should say: the last thing she heard was my voice, singing "Om."

After Chloe died, I posted a short announcement on my Facebook page and on my personal blog pages, and I was both humbled and floored at the amount of response I received.  Hundreds of people wrote to me wanting to know which mantras I chanted. So here, finally, is the list.

From the Sikh tradition, we have the beautiful, simple mantra "Akal" to assist our animal friends at their time of transition. "Akal" means undying, and I am going to quote Spirit Voyage blogger and Marketing Director Ramdesh Kaur on the deeper definitions of the mantra because she describes it so beautifully. "Chanting 'Akaaaaal' is said in the Kundalini Yoga tradition to help liberate the soul from the dense field of the earth, giving it a boost into the peace of the divine beyond. Akal means that there is no death, only liberation. It reminds both the departed and those who remain behind of our true identity as deathless souls."

"Akal," to me, is one of those chants that can fill the room with a white light and literally set the soul free.  Many of us are aware that our intense love of and grief over a dying companion can actually hold that companion back.  The soul, in other words, sticks around longer than it technically should.  (Forgive my lack of eloquence here, but the topic of death somehow turns my prose to wood.) By chanting Akal, we are reminding ourselves--and our loved ones--that it is okay to make this transition, that all is well, that we are safe.

I chanted along to Snatam Kaur's version during my dog's transition (available as an MP3 free download here on Spirit Voyage).  There's also a soaring version by Simrit Kaur, from her album The Sweetest Nectar). The sweetness of the mantra can bring so much comfort in times of pain and loss.

Mantra of the Medicine Buddha
Tayatha Om Bekandzay Bekandzay Maha Bekandzay Bekandzay Radza Samundgate Svaha.

From the Buddhist tradition, the Medicine Buddha mantra is an excellent mantra to recite for a sick or dying animal.  As the name implies, it aids in the healing of both physical illness and emotional distress.  This mantra is also used to "ripen the minds" of animals, meaning that any animal who hears this mantra will be guided toward higher rebirths, better conditions, and more positive states of mind. (Remember: mustn't forget how powerful these ancient languages of Sanskrit, Tibetan, Gurmukhi, Hebrew, etc are. These mantras are powerful that animals and even beings from other realms can hear and understand them.)

Mantra of Chenrezig (the Buddha of Compassion)
Om Mani Padme Hum
According to Lama Zopa Rinpoche, the benefits of reciting the Compassion Buddha Mantra are infinite, like the limitless sky. Not only will reciting this mantra bring your animal comfort at the time of transition, the effects of this mantra will be felt for lifetimes to come.  "This makes a huge difference. It has inconceivable result, unbelievable result. This practice will plant the seed of all the realizations of the path to enlightenment. That makes them have a good rebirth next life, to be born as a human being and meet the Dharma." Rinpoche says it is best to verbally recite the mantras into our pet's ears. You can also recite this mantra over their water and their food to increase its potency.
I sang Chloe my own version of Om Mani Padme Hum (which she seemed to like) and one by Imee Oiee.

You can download Deva Premal's potent versions of the two aforementioned mantras, recorded with the Gyoto Monks, here:

Yod Hey Shin Vav Hey
My dog always enjoyed a CD from the Judeo-Christian tradition, called "Holy Harmony," from master sound healer Jonathan Goldman.  I used to play this hour-long chant for her whenever she was anxious, and the healing tones combined with the ancient chant would send us both into the cosmos.  According to Mr. Goldman, "Holy Harmony" contains the divine frequencies of creation itself, with tones direct from the healing codes of the Bible.  The mantra, YHSVH (Yod Hey Shin Vav Hey), is an ancient name of the Christ. So, as you can imagine, this mantra powerful beyond measure. It was comforting to both me and my dog to have this track and its frequencies playing in the background during her transition.

And I think, in hindsight, it was a wise decision to play something that Chloe was familiar with.  Because so much of what happened that night was unfamiliar, after all.  This is all the more reason to start playing healing mantras for your animals now, by the way.

I am not trying to be morbid here, or a doomsayer.  I just want you to know that, if and when you ever reach that moment in your life when your beloved animal friend is critically ill, and your vet says: "I'm sorry, there's nothing we can do..." that there actually is something you can do. You can sing and pray and chant. You can create a vibration of love and healing and ease so that your beloved animal does not transition in a state of worry or fear.

Friends are now saying that I was "lucky" and that Chloe was lucky that she got to die with me, at home, in a sacred environment, rather than at the vet's office. Here I have to remind people that she actually died in my mini-van, which I suppose was the dog's home of sorts, too.  But I won't deny that Chloe was blessed to have spent her final moments at a Tibetan Buddhist monastery.
But I'd like to point out that any environment can be made sacred, simply by putting forth the intention, or calling upon the Gurus. When once voices reaches out to another in prayer, that is sacred. When one heart reaches out to another in love, that is sacred.  No matter where you are--at home, or in a treatment room at a veterinary clinic, or (heaven forbid) at the scene of a tragic accident--remember that you can help your beloved pets on their journey with the sound of your own voice.  I can't imagine a more beautiful sound current to be carried away on. And neither can they.

May the long time sun shine upon you!

Additional Resources: Jivan Joti Kaur Khalsa's spectacular and profound book, Dying into Life, presents teachings on death, loss, and transformation from a Kundalini Yoga perspective. For me this book has been very therapeutic as I process the death of yet another beloved in this lifetime.

If you are interested in learning more about Buddhist practices for assisting dying animals, visit:

Thursday, January 30, 2014

My Final Installment of The Chloe Chronicles is now online at

My last installment of "The Chloe Chronicles" from the December 2013 print edition of Bark magazine is now up on the Bark's website. I handed in this installment about three weeks before Chloe died. In this piece, I wrote about how Chloe was slowing down and showing signs of aging. I wrote about how I was starting to worry that some day she might get sick and die. I had no idea she was actually quite sick, yet as I re-read the piece, the signs are there.

 I don't know how to react upon re-reading this. I could feel ashamed and horrified that I treated her "signs of aging" so lightly; or I could feel awed that, at some level, we got to say goodbye in such a such a deep way.

What awes me most is the pull-quote Bark chose to use. A few months ago, when I expressed my concerns about to Chloe that I wouldn't be able to handle it if she got sick, she replied (telepathically, of course): "Don't worry. We are together now. That's all that matters. And when the time comes, you will still be with me and I will be with you."

Thank you, Bark Magazine, for publishing The Chloe Chronicles and allowing me to honor her in this way.

Here's a link to the column.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Seven Ways to Prevent Seasonal Affective Disorder - My Spirit Voyage Blog

Hi Beloveds:
I'm finally re-posting my blog here on my own pages.  Better late than never.  Enjoy!  xooxx

Seven Ways to Prevent Seasonal Affective Disorder

By now, most of us are familiar with the term "Seasonal Affective Disorder," as well as it causes (chemical imbalances caused by changes of season, temperature and/or amount of sunlight available) and effects (depression, lethargy, inertia, etc). I was afflicted by this disorder for years--especially during those long dark winters in the Northeast. And at first I tried approaching this SAD from both traditional, Western, and alternative routes: Vitamin D, light box therapy, St. John's wort. I even, for a time, tried  taking medication--which helped, I suppose, but made me feel dull-witted and not quite real. Finally--in a more drastic measure--I decided to just move to Florida for the winters. The Florida sunshine helped, believe me; but after five seasons of SAD I finally decided to approach the disorder from a more organic standpoint: Kundalini Yoga.

One of the most challenging aspects of SAD, for me, was the complete lack of motivation I experienced on a daily--sometimes hourly--basis during the winter months.  Especially first thing in the morning.  The cause of this lack of motivation is neurochemical: decreased levels of noreperephrine and serotonin caused by decreased exposure to sunlight. But the effects can be devastating--especially to us work-obsessed Americans who thrive on being productive. (I like to use the word "creative".)  Sufferers of SAD who find themselves too depressed to create can become even more depressed out of frustration. And round and round it goes.  But the good news is that there are many, many simple practices from the Kundalini Yoga tradition and beyond that can help those who are prone to SAD break this cycle of seasonal depressions.

While many of us don't start to feel the full effects of Seasonal Affective Disorder until December or January, many physicians--both Eastern and Western--now believe that the best time to start addressing the disorder is in the fall, when Daylight Savings goes into effect.  (My doctor actually advised me to start my pranayamas and kriyas in mid-summer, after the summer equinox.) The reason is fairly obvious: as the days shorten, and we lose two precious minutes of sunlight per day, our serotonin and dopamine levels are slowly but surely being affected by these changes. Our energy wanes, our moods slowly darken, and our minds cloud. Then, all of a sudden, in the throes of cold,  cold January, you wake up and find that you can't, well, wake up. But by addressing any potential neurochemical imbalances now, we can stave off these crippling winter depressions.

The thought of doing 52 minutes of daily practice--or even three minutes--can be vastly intimidating to the SAD-afflicted mind. I remember once bemoaning to a friend: "I don't have the energy to do all the practices that I absolutely know will give me energy."

But then I remembered three very important, life-changing quotes.  Arthur Ashe's "Start where you are." And Yogi Bhajan's "If your sadhana is more important than your neurosis, you are fine. If your neurosis is more important than your sadhana, you are not."  This statement really woke me up.

Yogi Bhajan has called Sat Kriya one of the most powerful and complete kriyas in Kundalini Yoga, adding that "If you want to change the world, do Sat Kriya." There's a reason Sat Kriya is also known as "The Everything Kriya." Its benefits are innumerable, and sufferers of SAD will enjoy its energizing, mind-clearing, Kundalini-raising effects. You might find that practicing Sat Kriya for just three minutes a day will shift both your mind and body from that frozen state of "I can't do anything because it's too cold and dark" into a more expansive state place of fortitude and action.

Kirtan Kriya is another extremely powerful (and simple) kriya that can help shift the SAD-plagued mind. Yogi Bhajan has said that if you had time to do only one meditation per day, Kirtan Kriya should be the one. Among its other benefits, this kriya eliminates brain fog, breaks up negative habits and patterns, and balances the hemispheres of the brain--thus restoring emotional balance.

Music for Kirtan Kriya

Yogi Bhajan has said that of all the twenty types of yoga, including Kundalini Yoga, this is the highest kriya.  "This meditation will...cut through all barriers of the neurotic or psychotic inside nature...This kriya will give you the necessary vitality and intuition to combat the negative effects of the unchanneled subconscious mind.”Simply put, this meditation "cuts through all darkness" which is basically what a person in the throes of SAD needs most.

Music for So Darshan Chakra Kriya

For three times the benefit, trying practicing the"Triple Kriya" meditation, which consists of Sat Kriya, Kirtan Kriya and Sodarshan Chakra kriyas, in that order, for 11 minutes each. You will be your own internal sunshine for the rest of the day (and for lifetimes to come).

Ek Ong Kar Sat Nam Siri Wahe Guru
The Long Ek Ong Kaur, also known as Morning Call, Long Chant, and the Adi Shakti Mantra, is one of my all-time favorite mantras. According to Yogi Bhajan, chanting this mantra will open up all the chakras, charge your solar centers, purify your karma, and align your soul to the Universal Soul. In SAD terms, this mantra is perfect for those dark cold mornings when you're so depressed you can't get out of bed.  In fact, I used to chant this one while in bed (pushing myself up into the proper posture first, of course). This mantra literally gave me the energy, strength and will to rise. In my humble opinion, it's better than caffeine.


Another terrific mantra which is particularly good for SAD is:

Ardas Bayee / Amar Das Guru / Amar Das Guru / Ardas Bayee
Ram Das Guru / Ram Das Guru / Ram Das Guru / Suchee Sahee

Also known as  "Mantra to Illuminate the Dark Night of the Soul," the name speaks for itself. This mantra helps transform those SAD feelings of yearning and hopelessness into feelings of deep faith and hope.  There are many extraordinary recordings of this mantra to choose from. Singh Kaur's version is particularly stunning: as sweet and gentle and rejuvenating as morning sunlight.

Singh Kaur

Snatam Kaur

Another quick fix for those who are too depressed to even think about doing their practice, a great place to "start where you are" is breathing through the right nostril. This simple yet profound practice stimulates the Pingala channel, also known as the male channel or the solar channel. Just a few minutes of right-nostril breathing can help stimulate one's own internal solar energy, thus counteracting the lethargy and mental fogginess some of us feel on those cold winter mornings and/or when the afternoon sun begins to set.

At this point, most of us SAD sufferers know about the importance of absorbing sunlight and of taking Vitamin D. In yogic traditions, practitioners are advised to expose their hair, head and skull to the sun at least once per week. Yogi Bhajan always stressed that exposing the forehead to sunlight is especially beneficial.  This is because the forehead bone is porous, which means that more light can pass through and stimulate the pituitary gland. And a well-stimulated pituitary gland, as we know, results in healthy levels of dopamine, serotonin and melatonin.

But who wants to expose themselves to full sunlight in the winter, right? Especially those of us who live in colder climates? When I lived in the Hudson Valley I would do my morning practice in front of a sunny window, positioning myself so that that first ray of morning light beamed straight onto my forehead.
To take it a step further, try transforming your daily dosage of sunlight into a devotional practice. I've always loved the concepts of those mythological sun gods of Egypt and Ancient Greece; so whenever I am in the sun I like to offer thanks to Ra and Apollo for sharing their healing light with this planet.  I ask them and my other guides to help my body to integrate this blessed sunlight as efficiently as possible, so that I might be of utmost service to humanity on that day. I swear it makes a difference. (They don't use the term "Sun Worshiper" for nothing.) If you think about it, the word "RA" in itself is a powerful mantra. In the Kundalini Yoga tradition it means "sun."  Among American sports fanatics, it means "Yahoo!"  So you can't go wrong.


Flower essences are distilled tinctures that basically carry the vibration of flowers, meaning that when you take a few drops of, say, Summer Snowflake essence, you are taking in the frequency and qualities of Summer Snowflake. This delicate flower is winter hardy but also thrives in extreme heat.
There are hundreds if not thousands of essences to choose from, which can seem a bit overwhelming at first. So my advice is to call the essence makers directly--these kind and caring people will usually offer intuitive suggestions based on your personal needs and constitution.
Some of my personal favorite flower essences for Seasonal Affective Disorder are:
Swamp Candles or Summer Snowflake
Yellow Rose
"Lighten Up" or "Solstice Sun" combination essences from Alaskan Essences

Most aromatherapists agree that citrus oils are the best choices for Seasonal Affective Disorder It makes sense if you think about it, given that citrus typically grows in warm, hot, sunny places.  Think California in a bottle! Organic essential oils are best, distributed with cold-mist  diffusers.  Spirit Voyage blogger Donna Shepper wrote a wonderful piece about the use of essential oils to help treat SAD:  Read it here.

Depression can be uncomfortable and painful. There's no doubt about that. But when approached from a spiritual standpoint, it can also be beneficial. Yogi Bhajan used to stress that  "In all darkness, there is a light and in all light there is a darkness."  Author Michael Beckwith also points out that "a dark night of the soul may be considered to be a moment of gestation; a new inner realization that is gestating. Just as a seed needs to be in the darkness before it breaks into the light, there are spiritual realizations gestating within us. We may be giving birth to something, so it doesn't feel comfortable."

I also like to remind myself something I learned long ago: Whenever you feel like giving up, recognize that you have reached a moment of great change. That's your moment of power. Like Yogi Bhajan says: "Keep up, and you will be kept up."