Frustration, Annoyance, Anger and Meditation

(This is one in a series of essays about meditation. I hope you enjoy and benefit from these ideas and I invite you to share this with friends. I also want to invite you to attend the next full-day Tree of Life Meditations retreat focused on Agni Yoga. Agni Yoga is a unique form of meditation practice with which you can  transform negative psychological and physical patterns.)


One thing is for sure, Meditation will not stop you from feeling anger. I say this with some certainty, not only because I’ve been meditating daily for over 45 years and still get angry… Continue reading Frustration, Annoyance, Anger and Meditation

Agni Yoga as Full-Time Yoga

Next Tree of Life Meditations Retreat – June 11th


There are many understandings about yoga, what one seeks through it, and what practices are involved. My orientation is that yoga is a path towards experiencing my physical body and my mind as aligned with and in union with the spiritual essence of who I am. This then leads to an experience of inner peace and access to healing, creative, and other potentials that lie within. This is a full-time process, not simply something one does in a class or for a short period on occasion.

In 1969, I attended a retreat that changed the direction of my life. I was introduced to Agni Yoga and spent the next ten years in a school dedicated to spreading the teachings and healing practices of this little known form of yoga. It was the first disciplined spiritual practice that I learned and there has not been a day since that time that I haven’t made use of its teachings. It has been my profound honor and privilege to share these teachings with students from a wide range of backgrounds and present circumstances. I’ve experienced that this form of practice makes it easier to bring yoga into awareness not just during the intensive practice sessions, but throughout ones daily existence.

The Tree of Life Meditations process that I teach has Agni Yoga as one of its three core lineages, along with shamanism and mindfulness meditation. All three weave together beautifully to enable one to have a complete spiritual practice: for healing self and others; bringing kindness and love into personal relationships; awakening to inner direction from one’s soul; and finding a meaningful and fulfilling way to relate to the issues of the world.

Previous Tree of Life Meditations retreats focused on mindfulness meditation practices and shamanism, while this next one will be focused primarily on Agni Yoga. Please see here for more information on Agni Yoga.

Tree of Life Meditations Retreat

June 11th, 10 AM – 5 PM

Tomkins Cove – $100

Focus on Shamanism – April 2nd Tree of Life Meditations Retreat

You carry Mother Earth within you.
She is not outside you.
Mother Earth is not just your environment.
In that insight of inter-being,
it is possible to have real communication with the Earth,
which is the highest form of prayer.
–Thich Nhat Hanh

What’s really important about shamanism
is that there is another reality that you can personally discover….
we are not alone.
–Michael Harner

tree_of_life_moon_sun_ April 2 2016 flyer

A lot has been happening. I just helped organize an event where Starhawk, one of the spiritual teachers I interviewed for my book, Crossing the Boundary,  gave a wonderful talk at the Stony Point Center to a very receptive and inspired group.The next Tree of Life Meditations retreat, which will focus on integrating meditation with shamanism, is coming up on April 2nd. One of the most prominent teachers bringing shamanism to the attention of Europeans and North Americans is Michael Harner. His words are above along with Thich Nhat Hanh’s who brings the insights of meditation to our relationship with Mother Earth.

The shamanic worldview honors the intelligence that is present in all life and supports us in living in harmony with our fellow creatures of the plant and animal realm and Mother Earth. The core element of shamanism is the journey to connect and align with inner allies for strength, healing, and direction (or vision). Those who participate will learn methods and gain specific tools for exploring how these inner connections deepen your human relationships and your relationship with the web of life.

Please let me know if you are interested in attending and I will send some more information about what to bring and how to prepare.

in peace,


P.S. I’ll be giving a talk on Crossing the Boundary, along with Alex and Allyson Grey at the Chapel of Sacred Mirrors, CoSM, on March 25th. See:

CoSM event page:

Facebook event page:

April 2 2016 flyer


Bridging the psyche and the world

A workshop for therapists and healers

Ecopsychology integrates ecology with psychology, so that the human mind and body are viewed in their relationship to nature and the whole web of life. This emerging field of study offers a philosophical ground for a deeper understanding of the human problems that are related to in psychotherapy and all healing work. It likewise offers practical approaches for healing and transformation. Through the lens of ecopsychology, we can look at the causes and treatment of some of the major difficulties faced in therapy such as depression, alienation, addiction, lack of intimacy and existential anxiety.

This workshop will be an exploration of some of the core ideas that have been articulated by theorists and practitioners of ecopsychology. It will include experiential practices that derive from this perspective, and offer direction for future study and experience.

Included will be discussion and exploration of:

* ecopsychology, biophilia and Gaia
* indigenous and shamanic practices of healing
* experiences of relating with nature as healer and therapist
* the role of rites of passage and other nature-based rituals in marking life transitions
* redefining sanity in the context of a culture that is destroying its own life support system
* the human body and mind as part of the web of life

Free lecture:
Friday evening (or Sat.) New Age Center, Nyack

Day long experiential workshop in nature setting:
Sat: 10 – 4 (or Sun) Point of Infinity

Workshop leader: Alan Levin, M.A., L.M.F.T., has studied and taught deep meditation practices and shamanic exploration for the past 35 years. He is a licensed psychotherapist in California, where he also led wilderness quests with an ecopsychological perspective. He founded Holos Institute in 1990, in which he trained and supervised intern therapists integrating spirituality and ecopsychology in their work toward licensure as psychotherapists. He has just moved to Nyack and is beginning a practice of working with individuals and groups with what he calls, “therapy for the mind, heart and soul living in a body.”

Additional reflections on ecopsychology:

“Ecopsychologists are drawing upon the ecological sciences to reexamine the human psyche as an integral part of the web of nature.”
-Lester Brown
President, WorldWatch Inst.
co-author, State of the World

“…an individual’s harmony with his or her ‘own deep self’ requires not merely a journey to the interior but a harmonizing with the environmental world.”
-James Hillman
Jungian analyst, author

“Once upon a time all psychology was ‘ecopsychology’. No special word was needed. The oldest healers in the world, the people our society once called ‘witch doctors’, knew no other way to heal than to work within the context of environmental reciprocity.”
-Theodore Roszak
author, The Voice of the Earth

Meditation With the World in Mind

Healing Ourselves as We Heal the Planet

          There is the world.  The financial meltdown we are experiencing brings to light only a small aspect of the unsustainable ways in which we human beings have been organizing and relating with one another and all life on Earth.   It is only natural to be deeply concerned and motivated to want to do something about this for ourselves, our communities, and future generations.  We want to support organizations working for positive change, to pass on e-mails and write letters and sign petitions and participate actively.  We make our choices about where to devote time, money, attention, energy.

There is us; you and me.  We want to be comfortable in our body, quiet our restless mind, be at peace with our Soul.  We want to do yoga, have bodywork, learn about spirituality and practice meditation or other spiritual disciplines.  We seek to free our minds of conditioning and open more fully to the present moment and the joy of life.  We make our choices about where to devote time, money, attention, energy.

It often feels as if there is a competition between our personal pursuit of happiness and spiritual growth, and the work to restore the health of the planet and bring more peace and justice to our world.   The call to take action and the longing for inner peace seem to pull in opposite directions.  Yet awareness of this tension can be a doorway to deepening one’s spiritual journey and at the same time discovering a stronger connection to one’s way of relating to community and global healing.

          This workshop has the aim of providing teachings and practices for the dance that weaves the spiritual and the political.  It will be a space in which you know that you are not alone; a place to focus with others who hold similar intentions.  Our focus will include the perhaps impossible task of keeping an open heart while facing those forces, people and systems that so completely disagree with our ideas and values, whatever they may be.

Experiential aspects of this workshop will include:

Entering a mindful perspective.  Entering a space of non-judgment of self and others is easier said than done.  The practice of being in such consciousness involves letting go of our attachment to even our most cherished beliefs about personal or political reality.  This practice helps us to go deep within ourselves and opens us to better understand the forces at work that create suffering in the world; the patterns of greed, hatred or fear that effect all of humanity.

Experiencing mutuality.  Our breath, energy and even our thoughts connect us with the life “out there” of people, animals, forests and oceans.  We will take time to open to our natural empathic connection with all living beings, of which some of the most challenging may be our own neighbors.  We will journey to open to spiritual allies who help reduce the fears that separate us from “the other” and support us in embracing our place in the web of life.

Cultivating courage.  We learn to stand firm in that which is revealed to be our task.  We open to the strength of the inner Warrior, our Soul, our ancestors and the great teachers and guides who have helped and continue to help all of humanity evolve into a greater harmony.   We seek to be able to face those caught in the trance of fear or hatred and the abstractions that rationalize and justify those tendencies and not lose touch with our heart’s intention.

Taking action.   We commit to walk the path of our vision, to take the next step in doing our part to help make ourselves and our world better.

The facilitator, Alan Levin, does not claim to have full mastery of these challenging goals.  He approaches the questions and intentions with humility and with empathy for himself and other seekers. He guides the exploration with lessons learned from many years of paying attention.


Changing the World
While Accepting All That Is

An Experiential Workshop

Sun. 11/22/14,  1-5 PM

Deep meditation practice opens us to experience a radical acceptance of both light and dark, moving us beyond a judgmental mindset and towards inner peace in the face of whatever arises in life.

Political action involves an urge and commitment to change the world, to heal or repair social systems that cause suffering and pain for humans and other life on earth.

This workshop will offer specific teachings and practices for a way of integrating the spiritual and political.

Alan Levin has been a teacher of transformative meditation for over 35 years and has practiced forms of shamanic ritual and divination for much of that time. He was active in the 60’s radical movement before his involvement in spiritual disciplines and has devoted his attention for decades to the integration of the spiritual and the political. He is a licensed psychotherapist practicing in Nyack.

Cost: $40

For a more detailed description of this workshop, see“Meditation with the World in Mind”.


Some food for thought:

In this world
Hate never yet dispelled hate.
Only love dispels hate.
This is the law,
Ancient and inexhaustible.
-from the Dhammapada sayings of the Buddha

Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle. And so we must straighten our backs and work for our freedom.
-Martin Luther King, Jr.

“Non-cooperation with evil is as much a duty
as cooperation with the good.

Compassion is what makes our lives meaningful.
It is the source of all lasting happiness and joy.
And it is the foundation of a good heart,
the heart of one who acts out of a desire to help others.
-His Holiness the Dalai Lama

To attain peace among the nations in any dynamic or enduring form requires not simply political negotiation but a new mode of consciousness
-Thomas Berry

Life is available only in the present moment.
-Thich Nhat Hanh

The future is an infinite succession of presents,
and to live now as we think human beings should live,
in defiance of all that is bad around us,
is itself a marvelous victory.”
– Howard Zinn

“The whole idea of compassion is based on a keen awareness of the interdependence of all living things.”
-Thomas Merton

Coming Home – Communing With Nature

Communing with Nature

NEXT RETREATS: May 19 and June 23, 2013

How do we honor the ground on which we walk, the universe of stars and planets, the body with which we sense and breath, the very matrix within which we live? How do we honor Mother Nature? Indigenous peoples, including all of our ancestors, had ceremonial practices and rituals of initiation that fostered the experience of Nature as ally and protector, Nature as teacher and guide, Nature as source of strength and courage. They honored nature by opening to her in all these ways for their own good and for the good of the whole community. In these times, we can learn from these ancient ways to help us in uncovering our own human nature and bringing ourselves more fully into this world.

Everyone knows that being in nature can be relaxing and somewhat rejuvenating. Yet, three things can make the experience far more profound: 1) a conscious intention to open to the transforming power of the natural world; 2) learning to practice meditative methods and rituals that support awakening consciousness; 3) preparing for the journey with guidance.

For over twenty years, while living in California, I guided groups on wilderness quests that incorporated many of the ideas and practices of indigenous peoples along with other psychological and spiritual modalities. I called these experiences Quests for Wholeness and they involved four days of fasting alone in the desert wilderness. These sacred journeys held the intention for individuals to have experiences that were healing, enlivening and empowering for themselves, and at the same time, inspired them to orient their lives to better serve the Earth and all its inhabitants.

Living in New York, in the Lower Hudson Valley, I’ve been looking for practical ways to bring the teachings of these deep wilderness experiences to folks here. I have personally learned so much from the time alone in nature and the teachings I received have shaped much of the direction for my life. I’ve also seen profound experiences and growth in others who have made the quest to open themselves to the infinitely wise counsel of Mother Earth’s creative intelligence and energy.

Now that Ginny and I have our home in Tomkins Cove, our back door leads to vast wooded mountains, and we can offer guided experiences for communing and awakening with nature. We have been exploring these hills and trails with attention to finding good (and safe) places for people to be alone for several hours or overnight, depending on their needs. Small groups will be able to prepare together, find a place for solitude in nature and return for integration of the experience.

The Coming Home retreats provide an opportunity for you to be in solitude in nature and explore the questions you have about your life journey. Your experience will be driven by your intentions: for healing wounds of the past; envisioning direction for your life; or empowering you to act on your visions. The day-long process begins with a small group preparing together in the morning and receiving guidance in the use of meditation and simple, nature-based rituals before going out for the solo time. You then will go to a site to be alone in communion with the land, sky, plants and creatures that you encounter. Afterwards, we gather together again around the sacred fire to share and learn from the experience.

When we chose the name Sacred River Healing for the container of our work, Ginny and I wanted to honor both the river near us and the river within us. We recognize the healing that nature provides for our minds and bodies. We also see the harm that humans have done, and continue to do to the natural world, and we honor the healing work our soul’s call us to do FOR nature at this time. I strongly believe that these experiences will deeply serve both purposes.

If you feel called to participate in one of these journeys, or if you have questions, please contact me.

Cost: $80