Anxiety and Attachment w/ Alicia Marley (podcast)

This is a podcast I recorded with my partner Alicia back in September. We talked about letting go of anxiety and attachment. We recorded this in a car during a road trip. Sorry if it sounds weird.

Click here to listen:


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What If No One Comes?

I’m leading an event tomorrow. I’m equal parts excited and nervous.

I’m going to lead a meditation on the south lawn of the Nelson Museum. I’m going to give a little guidance and then we’re going to sit and meditate together. This is about taking practice out into the world instead of keeping it hidden. It’s about bringing some positivity and awareness into the world. Too often we see the world (and each other) as isolated and indifferent instead of connected and open hearted. Let’s see if we can work on that.

It’s Meditation Day and several other cities are hosting events like this. This event (and others) will be live-streamed on The Tattooed Buddha. So you should go “like” that page on Facebook.

Some would argue that, when leading an event like this, the best thing to do is to pretend to completely confident. Act like you believe everything will work out great. Don’t show a single sign of weakness.

That’s not how I do things. I am not the confident teacher who sits above you on a throne, who you can look up to. And I don’t want to be that. I’m the teacher who’s down on the floor with you and struggles with a lot of the same crap.

I think, as a teacher, I want to be completely open and I don’t want to fake anything. To me the Buddhist path is all about becoming more and more open and genuine and showing that as completely as I can.

So, I’m here to tell you that I’m nervous.

I find myself asking myself silly questions like:

“What if it rains?” (the weather forecast says it won’t)

“What if no one comes?”
“What if I don’t do a good job?”

I’m carrying these questions around with me and they’re stealing a little bit of my joy.

How often do we carry negative “What if” questions that steal our joy?

“What if I don’t get a promotion at work?”

“What if I’m messing up my kids?”

“What if I’m not really loved?”

We struggle with questions like these all time. Some of us struggle a lot. Some of us struggle only a little. It’s a part of human life and it seems inescapable. But I have a larger point. What we’re trying to do in our meditation practice is to learn how to put down some of the questions we’re carrying.

There might be questions that are good, “What if I’m too tired to drive?”, and these questions are very useful. I don’t want to say all questions are bad, that’s certainly not the case. But these questions I’m asking myself about this event tomorrow are useless.

What if no one comes? Well, I’ll still be live streaming the meditation and thousands of people will watch it.

What if it rains? Then we’ll go inside.

What if I don’t do a good job? Well, it’s not about me. It’s about the practice. And the practice is good.

I can answer all those questions but that doesn’t make them disappear. There’s still a low level anxiety that’s going to have an impact on me.


The questions are a little softer, a little less loud.

Once in a while someone asks me why I don’t do more public events like this. It’s mainly because I’m asking myself questions like those above. And sometimes the baggage is hard to put down.

Sometimes it’s about putting down our baggage. Sometimes the best we can do is figure out how to make our baggage a little lighter.

here’s what the event looked like last year:

7/28/18: 11:00AM-11:30AM

Meditation Mob: Kansas City

Nelson-Atkins Museum South Lawn

4525 Oak St, Kansas City, MO 64111

We are going to meet up on the south lawn of the Nelson Museum for some public meditation. I’ll give a very short talk and then a bit of guidance and we will sit together.

Click HERE for more information

Analyzing Suffering

There is freedom in seeing our suffering as it really is. We can analyze our experience, seeing how we feel, who we are, and gaining some understanding into our habitual feelings and tendencies. In an analysis of ourselves we can come to understand that the core of our being is basically good and that we have innate wakefulness, or Buddha nature.

There are layers of delusion that keep us from understanding our true nature. These are things like the small self and it’s habitual patterns and the baggage we carry. If we really look into this with insight, we can see that way we see our selves doesn’t really match reality that well.

One of the ways we can do this kind of analysis is by studying the four noble truths: the truth of suffering, the causes of suffering, the end of suffering, and the path of the dharma. The first two truths represent an explanation of the situation we are in. The second two represent how we hope to transcend it.





Teachings from the Gaea Retreat. Part One

The following talk was given at the Gaea Retreat Center on May 22nd, 2015.

Welcome to Meditation Group. My name is Daniel.

The Buddha sat under a tree in the woods, kind of like this. He sat with the intention of attaining Enlightenment and eventually he did.

Let’s talk about what meditation is. Meditation is a general term for several religious practices, some different from others. These methods have the same mystical goal. To bring the awareness of the practitioner to a state in which they can come to an experience of ‘awakening’ or ‘enlightenment’. This means a state that’s beyond discursive thinking. That is, we have what’s called a ‘monkey mind’, this habit of always jumping from one thing to another. Our mind is often a crazy person. It takes us down whatever roads it wants to go, regardless of our opinions on the subject. If you’ve ever tried to sleep and been unable to because you were thinking too much, then you can understand what I’m talking about.

So, we are meditating to get a handle on this, so our minds become our servants rather than our masters. I started meditating because I had anxiety problems. I would worry and stress out about things that haven’t even happened. That was really bad for me. I tried medication for that first and it made me really crazy. Then I tried meditation and I’ve been a real lover of the practice ever since.

This practice we are going to do is going to help us concentrate and focus, calming and clarifying our thoughts.

Diligent practice will lead to great results.

Because Losing My Parents Broke Me.

The loss of my parents will always be a part of who I am.

I always had anxiety problems as a kid. I worried about things. I didn’t know how to make friends. I actually had a fear, even as a very young child, that girls would never like me. (And even as a very young child I liked girls a lot).

There are a lot of kids with anxiety problems who outgrow them. Plenty of people are shy as children and become outgoing as adults. But that wasn’t what happened to me.

When my dad got sick my anxiety exploded.

At the beginning of my teenage years I became the most withdrawn I have ever been. And then a few years later my mother became sick. At the age of 19, I was alone—an orphan.

My parents were in their 50s when they passed and it has always been in the back of my mind—the knowledge of how old my kids will be when I’m in my 50s. That being said, I hate it when people feel sorry for me, so please don’t.

This isn’t a story about how things got bad, but about how they got better.

I was lost and broken and I made my fair share of bad choices. I didn’t deal with their deaths very well and I ended up suffering from terrible anxiety and depression.

I withdrew into myself and started avoiding social situations. I just wanted to be alone and feel sorry for myself so I pushed away everyone that cared about me. This is something that a lot of people do when they’re dealing with a loss, I think.

I drifted through life like a cloud. I was in college and I couldn’t choose a major. I didn’t have any direction in my life. I wasn’t sad, I was numb. I felt emptiness.

Now, I don’t wanted to suggest that I conquered my anxiety problems. That would be untrue. I still have anxiety problems.

I’m an introvert. I don’t do small talk. I don’t really start conversations. I try to avoid crowded places and I’ve been told that getting to know me isn’t easy.

But, all of that being said, I’ve come very far. I’ve grown a lot as a person in my adult life and I learned how to manage it.

It was meditation practice that helped me. It’s the only thing that’s really ever helped me.

Why does it help?

Meditation is a practice of mental and spiritual development.

Meditation practice expects us to turn inward; to understand ourselves and our interconnectedness to the world around us. It helps us see the truth—that there’s no reason to be anxious because the truth is we are all one, not nearly as separate as we think we are.

It could help you too.

Losing my parents broke me, but it’s through meditation and serious spiritual development that I put myself back together.