My Mystical Teacher

I have no doubt that within me there is a belief that the most profound Mystical teachers exist “somewhere else” – a teacher I might one day travel somewhere to find.  And yet at the same time I see all of the Mystical teachers in my life here and now.   In fact, I’ve been deeply blessed by the profound level of being, radiance and peace that permeates some of my greatest spiritual mentors.  They include family members, precious friends, spiritual guides and a partner who is a blessing from the Mystery itself.

Today however I received a gift.  A different take on “teacher”.  Near the end of my Yoga practice, sweaty and  grateful I took the time to connect to my body and breath, I heard this particular yoga teachers wisdom.  He said “I bow to the teacher in everything.”

And there it was … I didn’t even have to travel.  I was cracked open by the wisdom of this highly tatooed mohawk hair yoga friend and all of his deeply centered glory.  It was as if in an instant the whole world was healed.  Wow. If only we saw everything and everyone as our Mystical teachers.  All be it small or large … everything “as teacher” transforms our deepest resistance into thank you for what this is revealing to me for my healing and transformation.   

Mystical teachers are everywhere and in everyone.   My Mystical teacher today was an individual named Harleigh.

In close, I bow to both the teacher and student in you …

Mystical Aliveness

I came across this quote in the quiet moments of the early morning and its honesty and truth moved me deeply.

It is not the end of the physical body that should worry us.  Rather, our concern must be to live while we’re alive – to release our inner selves from the spiritual death that comes with living behind a facade designed to conform to external definitions of who and what we are.” – Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

This quote seemed to invite me to ask myself:  How alive am IHow am I choosing to see/feel the Mystical today? 

In the everyday moments of life how much gratitude, appreciation, being, attention do I consciously bring to this glorious day?  It reminds me of the fact that my mind and its thoughts can be a tool that I use for me rather than something I am simply identified with or controlled by.

I am discovering that the Mystical Aliveness of this very moment has nothing to do with striving for, figuring out, needing to know or any other outside circumstance that I think is required first in order for me to feel good.  Rather, for me, I am learning that it has to do with the vibrancy and vitality that simply is now –  which is the “frequency” of Life that manifests the beauty of the next moment of Mystery and possibility.   

Aliveness is as simple as observing the leaves out on the trail that are the most radiant color of green I’ve ever seen in Austin on this Spring day.  Thank you rain.  Thank you Life.

© 2015 The Mystical

The Mystical Masculine

Today I celebrate a true Mystic in my world.  He turns 70 on this very day.  Seventy years of Life and one of the greatest Old Souls I have ever met.

When I think about Mysticism and the miracle of Masculine energy in the world I think with great gratitude about my father, Peter and my brother in-law Brian.  They are all extraordinary in their own way and for today I have the great honor of focusing on one of them – my father who turns 70.

For me the Mystical Masculine has the power to speak volumes in this world – often without even using words.   I view it as a deep, honoring and faithful presence.  Alive with strength and a core of truth from which to live by,  the Mystical Masculine “holds the space” for tremendous flourishing in the world.  Around this Masculine Mystic the feminine expands and can be seen more deeply.  This Mystic has such an awareness of his true Self that he can show vulnerability, as well as his surrendered and consenting will, while still feeling the confidence of the Ultimate Presence that he knows holds him in Life.   A Grace that sustains him.  His true strength.

The Mystical Masculine is not exclusive to male or female.  We all have our own touches of the Mystical Masculine within.  That’s what makes polarity such a sacred thing.

But I have had the great honor of knowing this kind of Mystical Masculine in my father.  His presence and the way it has grown over time touches my heart deeply.  In large part because he has done so with humility, courage and authenticity.  I have seen the space of love and joy he has held for all the lovely ladies in his family.  There were many years when he could have easily, and probably did, feel like he was being “invaded” by the feminine when I was growing up (smile), and instead of running for the hills he did the Work.  Authentic Work.  He transformed himself into love, compassion and a faith that is always pulling for your highest and greatest possible good.

Today at his birthday party I will give him this piece of writing and say “Dad, you are the Mystical Moment today!”  He will read it … speechless I’m sure … tears in his eyes because he is touched so deeply.

Like I said, A True Mystic.

Why Wait for Mystical Love? Choose Now.

by Shannon Cohen

I return to one of my favorite Mystic prayers.  The prayer “Ho’oponopono,” comprised of four simple phrases:

“I’m sorry.

Please forgive me.

I love you.

Thank you.”

I love how Dr. Hew Len, the originator of that prayer and its practice, calls it a petition to the Divine.

I have found this to be highly useful in those moments when the False Self, and its experience of separateness, wants to lead.  For me, silently saying this prayer within  immediately brings peace, self-responsibility versus externalized responsibility, and surrender.  All of which leaves a vast amount of inner space for transformation in the NOW, primarily because there is a softening that occurs, and the need to “know” or “be right” releases.

Similarly, one of Dr. Hew Len’s partners in the Law of Attraction, Joe Vitale, often says “just practice saying I love you internally as you engage life.”  It doesn’t matter whether your natural predisposition to that person or situation would be “I love you” – just saying it quietly within will alter your energetic output and potentially open up new awareness and possibilities.  If saying “I love you” over and over in the every day moments of life doesn’t work perhaps “Thank You” will.  Either one alter resistance.  Both promote openness.  Either one will soften you where you have hard edges.  Both will connect you to the Mystery and Grace of this now  Mystical Moment.

I think we are well aware of what a world looks like when the internal voice (and sometimes external) says “I hate you or you are wrong.”  We see it all over the news, in our own communities and homes.

We have nothing to lose and the Whole World to gain by shifting our own inner disposition from fear to “I love you” – even if only for the purpose of shifting our own inner suffering, and for being reminded of our need to rest in a deeper core truth about life.  A truth of Love that we all long for.

Mystic Love.  Often unexplainable.  Always available.

© 2015 The Mystical

Mystical Suffering

This week I picked up Adyiashanti’s new book Falling into Grace and as always it is food for awakening and awareness.  In his most recent book he speaks of the three ways we suffer.  I love how he captures it so clearly and succinctly.

He shares that we suffer because we often respond to Life in the following ways:

  • Through the illusion of control – Perhaps out of fear and our need for security, approval, and survival we attempt to control ourselves, those around us and our circumstances.
  • Demanding that things be different – Another way we suffer is by making “demands” on others and life itself. The “you should …” “I want this!” “I shouldn’t feel that way!” “You were supposed to …” or any version of, “This should be more like …”
  • Arguing with what is – We suffer when we argue with what is or what was. Argue with what is in this NOW moment and you will suffer.

I’m sure most of us could relate to one or more of these on any given day.  The need to control, the need to demand it be different, the need to argue against what is.  In fact, it happens all the time in big and small ways!

Work, relationship, children, health, time, and finances – How often do we want it to be different than it is and argue with the facts as they are and continue to suffer?

In talking with a dear friend, we spoke of our own heightened awareness around just being able to “be with” the moment.  This experience of “being with” is beyond the world of control, fixing, altering, manipulating and shaping according to expectations, demands and “shoulds.”  We both described situations where it was tough to “be with” something.  We talked about our practice of just being with the facts, the reality of it, without needing to ever so gently (or sometimes not so gently) insert our agenda or our story.  Initially there may have been an inner rebellion that said “no, just make this suggestion.  He needs it.”

However, in just acknowledging the ego’s attempts without acting upon them we both admitted to feeling a deeper sense of peace in our individual experiences.  With further practice we found appreciation for the person and situation.  We found creative responses that weren’t available from the position of constriction.  We found a deepened presence.  We found humility.  We found compassion and love.  We found connection.  We found authentic self-empowerment and clarity.

“Being with” is not inaction or passivity, it is in fact the most incredible portal to the Infinite.  It’s that Mystical Moment when controlling or arguing with what is has been given a back seat, which ultimately allows for a Higher Source of Energy to come through.  Being with for me helps me tap into Infinite Consciousness and all of its connectedness, guidance and grace.

Some of my most incredible coaching sessions had nothing to do with theory, goals, objectives, powerful questions, intentions, even intuition (all of which are incredibly useful) but rather the disposition of “being with” attentively, lovingly, consciously, with curiosity and sometimes silence.  This has allowed for a flow of insight, freedom and energy that is profoundly beautiful to witness in session.  It leaves room for another to express what’s real and vulnerable for them.  For true authenticity to emerge.

Where in your own life do you see a situation that could possibly benefit from you simply “being with” it?

At first it might feel strange, scary, objectionable or even odd.  But beyond the unfamiliarity of it you might discover something quite profound.  Perhaps it starts with just being with the idea of “being with.” That takes great courage in and of itself.

© 2015 The Mystical



Mystical Intimacy Here and Now

By Shannon Cohen

It appears to be quite easy for us all, at one time or another, to get caught in the notion that connection and intimacy is something that can happen “when_____ occurs.”

“When he connects in this way.”

“When I feel better.”

“When there is more time.”

“When the kids are asleep.”

“When it’s the weekend.”

“When I’m less tired.”

Intimacy has been one of my greatest teachers and the lessons didn’t come in the form I thought they would.

It is so easy for intimacy to be set up as expectation, diminished through judgment, assessed through criteria, compared, measured, distanced from and insecure with or controlled.

I’m sure we have all experienced one of those responses to intimacy at some point or another in our life. I’ve seen this pattern in my work as a counselor too. Many of my clients have struggled with similar “someday” ideas around intimacy.

But what I have observed and loved about intimacy lately is this:

It is both Here and Now all the time just waiting for us to SEE it, appreciate it and savor it.

And it is also a container of love, openness and safety that is held for another which allows them to share consciously what is in their heart.

In my meditation time recently, it was revealed to me that Intimacy is all around us all the time.  I was urged to pay attention, Shannon!

So I did. And here is what I observed:

Intimacy was the way Peter and I looked at each other over a lunch gathering we attended.

Intimacy was sharing from the heart with dear friends.

Intimacy is the way my mother prepared my father’s dinner with such love when he was not well.

Intimacy is the way an instrument speaks and moves hearts.

Intimacy is the way a man holds his lovers hand when he senses she could use the support.

Intimacy is always here and now in little and big ways.  It is up to me to savor it, appreciate it, say YES to it, be broken open by it.  Be fertile grounds for it to grow.

Intimacy is also in the honesty, the sharing and revealing of the heart.

I have often observed in my work, that when a deeper experience of intimacy is wanted by another it can come out in some less than flattering ways that tend to ignite defensiveness or some version of shutting down in us.  The intention of our partner was pure, but it was a “back door” approach.

In my own life I’ve started a practice.  I want to be a sacred space in my everyday life where intimacy can grow, be nurtured and thrive.  I want to do this consciously and while maintaining connection with another.

I know, perhaps a lofty goal!  But one worth taking on.

In just two weeks, this practice has made a big difference in my life. For example, yesterday I experienced a slightly “back door” approach to deepening intimacy (smile), and instead of reacting, I placed my hand on his arm and calmly and kindly said,  “I can hear your request.  Please share it with me and can you be specific?  I will hear you.”

The response?  “I want to pray and read more together.”  And there it was.  Mystical Intimacy.  His heart expression just melted me open.  But had I not been solid in my intention of holding a sacred space for intimacy to grow I would have missed out on OUR Mystical Moment together.

Instead, I took a breath, got still within, and with and in a spirit of love, I used the least number of words possible to let him know I was available to listen.

Often times Mysticism is simple, real and raw.

Then we prayed our gratitude together.

A simple request.

Made whole by the vulnerability of one and the consenting of another.

Savored in the Here and Now.

Intimacy deepened.


© 2015 The Mystical

The Mystical Reality

 by Shannon Cohen

I’ve been away for two weeks –  mostly out of cell phone or wireless range, and it was a delight.  One does realize just how much of the world is dependent upon technology until it is removed.  But it was a blessing to have a break from the world of EMF’s (electromagnetic fields). It’s also nice to be back and enjoying the warmth and coziness of my home on a cold Texas day.

For the last two weeks I have been placing my attention and awareness on one of my favorite passages by Byron Katie.  In her books and workshops she often emphasizes that “Reality is kinder than the stories we tell ourselves about it.”

This week I have been watching where I am in “a story” and not “reality.”  It can be so subtle but also very obvious.  A key indicator for me that I am in story is when I notice that I am feeling disappointed, stuck or negative about something.   As the Course in Miracles often teaches, it is in that moment that we are caught in illusion, and often times that illusion is made up!

It’s easy for this to occur in everyday moments. As an example, over the last two weeks when I was traveling, away from healthy foods and sometimes good sleep.  Then add in a travel companion that I want to be present for (thankfully he made it easier just by being himself).  The trip was fun, breathtaking, peaceful, and full of insights and awe inspiring.  I also found, from time to time, the lack of structure and my usual healthy routine fed into being in a bit more “storyfulness.” Looking back at those moments where I was lost in story, I can see where negative emotions or energy surfaced within me.

The result is a less enjoyable moment.

The result can be feeling disconnected.

The result is feeling stuck or down.

The result is a loss in appreciation or gratitude or awe.

The result could be fatigue.

The result or impact in its greatest form is feeling separate from source, spirit, Universe, God.  Divine love itself!

This is where my meditation practice has been so useful along with the teachings of The Work, The Course in Miracles and Byron Katie.  My willingness to observe the story and return to reality has been improved with these methods for spiritual and emotional growth.

If we are real with ourselves we may see the bits of “meaning” that we add into all sorts of everyday circumstances.

Someone did not smile at you … what do you make it mean?

Something happens at work … what story is told about it and the people involved versus just the facts?

You’ve lived with a health issue for quite some time … perhaps there is a story around it now in your life that contributes to depression or disappointment.

You had expectations and it didn’t go your way … what was the meaning you made out of it?

Someone is diagnosed with cancer … but the mind goes to story about it spreading and losing them.

I find that in most cases in the vast variety of emotions such as hurt, sadness, anger, frustration there is a story involved that exacerbates the inner experience.

The practices I mentioned above “hold me” in a container of life Presence.  Less reactivity and more in touch with the reality of this Now moment.  Then reality and the higher awareness that goes along with being connected to reality is truly kinder than the story I tell myself about it.

In fact, even in a less subtle and more challenging situations in my life (i.e. a family member with cancer) I have found that my mystical moment has come when I acknowledge that my thoughts are often an illusion and not based on reality.  It is then that I can return to love, gratitude and joy.  This happens when I choose to ask myself “Is that true?” and “What part of this is illusion?  What am I adding into this circumstances that is creating fear and suffering?”  Just asking these questions helps me find my way back to the sacred moment where I feel connected again, to God, others and myself.

And when connected … the true Mystical Moment is experienced because I realize there is ONLY love, and love is what lies beyond all story and illusion.    

© 2015 The Mystical


The Extraordinary Ordinary

I was struck by a rather bold yet truth filled statement in The Course in Miracles that says that the ego will always keep you seeking but never will it let you find.

This same message came to me in a different way through a recent Spirituality and Health magazine. I read that even happy people can become such “happiness seekers” that they miss out on the full peace and contentment of the moment.  Constantly needing the next “high” of happiness that they miss out on the sacredness of the moment.

I’m participating in a Work class based on the Commentaries by Maurice Nicoll.  This week, I read about the idea of seeking meaning in the imagination versus finding meaning in Reality, and consciousness itself. It hit home.

My mystical moment came when I asked myself “Where in my life am I in the experience of Seeking but Never Finding?  Where am I losing out on the full value of this now experience in search of what could be better?

This isn’t to say that I don’t have vision, intentions, aims, goals but I’m simply resting in curiosity and contemplation around where perhaps I missed out on the full glory of a precious moment, or a person, or an idea, and therefore profound gratitude and awe, because I was not present.  Perhaps I was busy thinking there is something better, or in comparison, or thinking I or someone else should be different in some way.  All of which is based on my perceptions, conditioning, judgments and instinctual needs anyway.

I’ve been noticing how it can sometimes show up for me in everyday ways such as seeking the next best spiritual book with the next piece of wisdom spoken differently or the latest insight about a supplement or wellness tip.  Some of which is useful and much of which keeps me out of sinking deeply into my body, into stillness, into acceptance and into Spirit.  Ultimately … relationship with that which is the vast and infinite energy of this NOW moment that permeates my life and every life around me.

For example, a friend called and instantly shared three encouraging affirmations with me soon after saying hello.  I was surprised and delighted.  But instead of continuing to think about what I wanted to share with her or even my curiosities about her life, all of which were great, I sat and breathed in her words and her intention behind it.  She was truly wanting to feed my life with pure goodness.

Here’s another: my nephew was in tears because I sipped some of his long awaited smoothie after school.  Instead of launching into a “teaching lesson” I sat beside him and said “Are you disappointed?”  He said yes.  I apologized for sipping without asking and simply sat with him as his warm tears floated down his soft skinned cheeks and the fatigue from the long day at school set in.

Being with him in his tear filled moment without wanting it to be any different was my Mystical Moment.  It became as simple and as powerful as boy with smoothie, tears, loving him just as is.

This week I was still allowing myself to seek (intend, aim, envision) but I also allowed myself to find (be fully present, in appreciation, in awe) and I got truly present to how extraordinary the everyday ordinary truly is.

Where in your life do you see yourself seeking but never finding?

© 2015 The Mystical

The Melted Mystical Heart

Yesterday I attended a yoga class and found myself in a pose that was a bridge between two ideas I had been contemplating from the week; it was obvious that these two ideas were making their way into my being with tenacity.

My partner Peter loaned me a beautiful book called Women of Sufism – that includes profound stories of women mystical poets, scholars and saints.  Here’s an example. One Sufi woman described that her aim in life was “to love … and melt her being into God.”  I melted as I inhaled that thought into my being. How simple yet profound it is.

The other idea that captivated my attention this week was connected to the energy center of the heart.  I have observed both in myself and in my clients just how much “build up” can gather energetically around the heart –  meaning tension, history, stress, conditioning, old ways of being that can cause this powerful center of love and connectivity to deeply contract and pull inward, often without even knowing it.

However, the evidence of a contracted heart shows itself over time.  It reveals itself as reactivity, defensiveness, pulling away, not making eye contact, attachment to “our way”, addictions, and so on.

So there I was in a somewhat compromising yoga posture that has the specific purpose of  spiritually, emotionally and physically dusting off the heart of its layers of historical debris, when both of these ideas converged.  Through this posture I was being asked to release all tension and contraction that had burrowed itself in my heart, and at the same time I was being asked to love more openly as I melt deeper into Spirit.

My mystical moment was revealed.

I was being asked simultaneously in that moment to both let go and open to life more deeply, all at the same time.  There was no room for “well, let me see if I want to open my heart that much” kinda thinking.  It was immediate!

Melt the contraction without thinking it over or contemplating it, and melt into that vast infinite energy of love as it’s poured into each of us through the magnificence of Spirit. I chose to not think. I choose to surrender.

And just then, this everyday mystic just said YES to my unexpected heart stretching moment.

© 2015 The Mystical

My Mystical Right!

I’ve been sitting with an interesting idea from “The Work” that is giving my brain a bit of a squeeze.  This thought comes from the Commentaries by Maurice Nicoll, who tells of a rather liberating notion that “I have a right not to be negative.”  It’s a play on words that has a rather unique twist to it.

Funny, when I first heard this expression my mind on some level went to that place of “Well, wait, I can be negative if I want to!”  As if one of my freedoms was being taken from me with this bold theory. I thought, “Was I really clinging to and defending my negativity rights?” That alone was an eye opener.  Yuck.  It became plainly obvious to me how often I think it is my given “right” to be negative about my health, a comment, a person, or a life circumstance. I’m grateful that I saw how I think I am justified in being negative!

The Mystical Moment came for me when this unconscious inner justification landed like a bolder on my chest. I got curious and pondered: How often does that happen for me where an “incoming impression” (another Work idea) immediately gets translated through my conditioned filters in some sort of negative way that I defend as normal and justified?  By negative I mean being critical, self-righteous or controlling, to name a few aspects I’ve witnessed in myself or toward others.

Of course part of my life work is to see how I filter those incoming impressions and self-observe, but my mystical moment came when I realized that I can also exercise a strong right not to be negative regardless of the situation.  Meaning: I can self-observe but then also hold myself to a higher level of inner awareness and actually consider what my sincere “non-negative” response might be.  This requires seeing the impression through inner observation; not reacting to the event or experience as normal through non-identification, and remembering my deepest, fullest way of being – which is love.

I practiced this concept the other day when I was in a situation with a close one. I observed that I wanted to react according to one of my usual fight or flight patterns of negativity.  Instead, I chose to say calmly, “I would like to talk about that situation.”  Later that night after I had thought about it some more, a mentor’s advice came to mind: “Instead of becoming critical or reacting negatively, work to see how that person is hurt or suffering in some way on the inside.”  Easier said than done!

Perhaps we exercise our “right to be negative” because we think it will somehow ease our fear, anxiety or uncertainty.  We use our negativity, in whatever form that takes, as our EMS first responder, our antidote to not feeling and being responsible for our expression.

I am discovering that whenever a less-than-ideal circumstance is coming my way, or it’s extending from me, I can see beneath the surface and realize that it is probably an expression of an inner suffering or hurt. Perhaps, in that moment, I could take a breath and exercise compassion for all involved.

To be clear, I don’t see this concept or idea as some “spiritual” excuse to not communicate or set healthy boundaries (with self and others).  I see it as an opportunity to do it all with a deeper understanding.  Imagine what this world would be like if we all exercised our right not to be negative?  Wow, I just got the magnitude of that.  Well, today I’m deciding to change the world by beginning with my own internal terrain.

This everyday Mystic is not perfect but willing to do the Work.  This Mystic does not need to attach herself to my “right” to be negative and the separation and judgment that creates.  The truth is I long for a depth of intimacy and connection with myself and life that reaches far beyond any stubborn attachments I might have to be right or to judge myself or another.  Of course I have every right to react negatively to anything, but I’m becoming more willing to let go of that right and see what miracles might happen!

What are the “rights” that you unconsciously exercise when it comes to your communication, perceptions and way of being in life?  You aren’t alone.  Perhaps Mystics are willing to take a look and  play around with a new “right” – the right not to be negative.

In my experience, we have nothing to lose (well nothing that truly matters) … and everything to gain.

© 2015 The Mystical