Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The Magic of Mahalo- The Sound of Gratitude

Please join our free Mount Shasta meditation call tonight (November 26) at 6 PST/9 EST. 

The Magic of Mahalo - Gratitude

The words “thank you” can open our hearts because of the sentiment they express.  But the sound of these words is actually rather flat. 

On the other hand, “mahalo,” the Hawaiian word for “thank you” has a wonderful sound that corresponds with its meaning.  Say the word “mahalo,” a few times and feel it in your body.

“Ma” is the universal sound for “mother” and carries a powerful heart-opening energy.  The sound “ha” brings the energy down into the belly, opening that center.  “Lo” grounds the energy, helping us to fully embody the vibration of gratitude.

Thanksgiving season is always a powerful time to focus on gratitude.   If it feels right for you, over the next few days, play with “mahalo,” either saying it out loud or repeating it silently as a mantra.  Let me know if this beautiful word deepens your experience of gratitude.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Why Be Grateful When Things Don't Go Your Way?

First, a reminder that our Thanksgiving Eve meditation call from Mt. Shasta is this Wednesday.   For more info, please click here.

It’s easy to be grateful for a good friend, a beautiful sunrise, things we enjoy.  The challenge comes when things don’t go our way.  Someone cancels an important meeting at the last minute.  Our computer breaks down at an inopportune time.  It seems counter-intuitive to be grateful for unwelcome events.  But, if we can do so, it is a huge doorway to freedom.

When things don’t go our away, our first reaction will often be anger, fear, or judgment.  These emotions aren’t coming out of nowhere.  They are rising from our own subconscious.  As long as they remain buried, such emotions often run our lives.  When they are triggered into the light of awareness, this is our golden opportunity to get free from their hold on us.

The key is to shift attention from the story in the mind about what went wrong to feeling the sensations  and emotions in the body now.  When we can meet whatever is rising with grateful awareness, we get free of old patterns.  We realize that Life is our ally, not our enemy.  It always gives us the perfect experiences to set us free.

Andrew Oser guides retreats and sacred site journeys on Mount Shasta.  He, also, offers spiritual life coaching session worldwide by phone and Skype.  For more information, please click here.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Free Thanksgiving Meditation Call from Mount Shasta

Mount Shasta Thanksgiving Meditation Call

Please join me on Thanksgiving Eve, Wednesday, November 26 at 6 pm PST/9 pm EST for a free meditation call from sacred Mount Shasta.

Gratitude is the simplest, most consistently accessible doorway to the heart.  In the middle of whatever might be going on, we can always bring attention to our breath and give thanks for the gift of life.  When I can receive whatever comes along with that breathe as a Present from the one source, then I am home free.

Thanksgiving season is a wonderful opportunity to deepen our focus on gratitude.  Mount Shasta is a very powerful amplifier.  I will be initiating the meditation from my home at the base of this magical mountain.  We will draw upon the energies of Mount Shasta and the power of our shared intention to open our hearts to a deep, abiding sense of gratitude.

If you'd like to join in, please email me at

Andrew Oser guides retreats and sacred site journeys on Mount Shasta.  He, also, offers spiritual life coaching session worldwide by phone and Skype.  For more information, please see


Friday, November 14, 2014

Benefits of a Spirtual Retreat by Lauren Darges

Retreat is a time out from the daily demands of life and from our habits and patterns that keep us bound in our actions and thoughts. Without retreat, we often end up getting buried by the routine of life, making it difficult to feel our relationship with the Divine or with ourselves. Yet how many of us give ourselves this precious gift of an annual or semi-annual retreat?

In retreat there is time for reflections on our values, our life and our relationship with the Divine, which helps to put things in perspective. Retreat helps us realign with our vision of who we are and what’s important to us. It supports us in living a life that is in harmony with our deepest values. Retreat helps us cut through the clutter of our mind and heart and return us to what is true for us. It restores or reinforces spiritual health.

Here are four big benefits of a spiritual retreat with some back up from science:
  1. Spiritual Boost
  2. Calm your mind
  3. Relax your body
  4. Clear your heart
1. Spiritual Boost
Retreat helps us to grow spiritually and reinforces our spiritual health. I always get a spiritual lift from my retreats. These boosts are essential for my spiritual growth and for keeping my daily practice alive and vibrant.

Where else can we get focused time to simply put our attention on Spirit, on spiritual practice and on ourselves?

There is a well-known saying in the world of neuropsychology that says, “the neurons that fire together, wire together.” This is the power of our attention and focus. Our attention is firing neurons.
When we put our attention over and over again on something, we are creating links in our brain and nervous system. This is how habits are formed and how habit can be broken. It is also why we get a real spiritual boost from concentrated time focused on the Divine. It is also why a daily spiritual practice is so important. It reinforces the neural-links.

We are literally wiring our brains for the Sacred. Then, when we go back to our daily routine, we have the benefit of that wiring to help carry us through.

2. Calms the Mind
Even though there are aspects to retreat that can be difficult for the busy mind, the overall outcome is that the mind becomes calmer and less busy. When the mind is calmer we feel more peace.
Sometimes on retreat, when we first start to slow down, ten thousand things come flying into our mind. These are things that we “could” or “should” be doing other than retreating. We don’t try to think of them. They just come rushing in. This is normal!

And no, you don’t have to jump up and take care of those ten thousand things. Chances are, they can wait. Typically, by the end of the retreat, what seemed urgent at first becomes nothing. Somehow, issues resolve or simply are no longer important.

Part of this is due to the productivity of downtime, or resting the brain. Although, when the brain is resting it is far from idle. There is a process in the brain that is well-studied called the default mode network (DMN). This mode is essential to mental processes, self-reflection, understanding human behavior and it instills an internal code of ethics. Mary Helen Immordino-Yang of the University of Southern California and her colleagues concluded this after they reviewed the research on DMN.
DMN also can stimulate new ideas and creativity. It’s the part of the brain that figures things out behind the scenes when we take time out from a hard problem or “sleep on it.” The DNM why insight or clarity often comes to a situation when we are not directly working on it.

The slowing down that retreat offers is critical for stimulating new ideas and creativity. An open relaxed mind is more receptive to inspiration and spontaneity. A busy, overwhelmed mind has a tendency for tunnel vision and can make us feel trapped or stressed.

3. Relaxes the Body
But that’s not all. When we give ourselves a break from, our work responsibilities, our relationship duties, our social media compulsions and other things that keep us in alert mode, our fight-flight-freeze (FFF) system starts to calm down.

The FFF system is like an internal alarm that keeps us on alert. At signs of stress, it pumps us full of adrenaline and stress hormones. This happens automatically.

When we stop having “emergencies” to deal with (did someone message me? Did I get any emails in the last 1/2 hour? Is there a deadline to meet?) our internal alarm stops going off and the chemicals in our bodies settle down. This restores balance to our brain and our body. It feels like peace or calm or more ease or spaciousness.

4. Clears the Heart
A natural outcome of a calm mind and relaxed body is an open heart. Simply allowing our heart to be open, allows our accumulated sorrows and pain to clear. The slowing down of retreat gives us the chance to feel our heart, just as it is. When our heart is met just as it is, the response is typically great relief. We sometimes don’t realize all that we are carrying. By recognizing what is in our heart, allowing it, and embracing it tenderly, our burdens are transformed. Retreat allows for this embrace and a freeing of the heart.

It also strengthens the peace and calm neural connections. Peace and calm allow our bodies to go through the essential process of restoration. When our peace and calm neural connections are made strong by regular experiences of peace and calm, then it becomes easier the next time to access that experience again.

Which comes first, the calm mind, the relaxed body or the clear heart? There is no particular order. Each are interrelated and everyone is different. Someone may have a heart opening experience on retreat, which affects the mind and body. Another may have a deep relaxation of the body, which opens the heart and calms the mind. Someone else might get an insight that creates a deep relaxation and open heart.

Whatever way it happens, it is a gift. Retreat is a gift—one we often don’t feel like we have the time for. Or maybe we don’t think we deserve it, or that we can’t afford it, or it is not a good use of time.  Yet, retreating is one of the most productive, life-enhancing things we can do with benefits that ripple through us and into our lives, our work and our relationships.

Lauren Darges is a retreat leader and spiritual/emotional counselor based in Sebastopol, CA.  She will be co-leading the Mount Shasta Freedom Retreat and Mount Shasta Spiritual Adventure Retreat with Andrew Oser this Summer.  To learn more about her work, see

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Bringing The Gifts Home: Spiritual Retreat In Mount Shasta

spiritual retreat in Mount Shasta
Do you find that after you come home from a spiritual retreat in Mount Shasta or some other powerful spot the sense of magic and new possibilities quickly fades away?

To prevent this from happening, make sure to take time while you’re on retreat to build a bridge to your life back home.

Once you’ve immersed yourself deeply in the joy of the present, take some time to look at your life from a clear, nonjudgmental space. Notice which areas of your life are already in alignment with the Truth of who know yourself to be now. Also, note areas where there’s disharmony, struggle, stress, etc. Write down action steps which can bring these areas more into alignment with the inspiration and clarity you’ve tapped into during your retreat. Make sure that some, if not all, of these action steps are simple and easy to do (i.e., making a phone call, scheduling a meeting, etc.).

Also, take time to reflect upon and write down the insights and realizations you’ve had during your retreat. Ask yourself “How can I bring these realizations home with me?” For example, you might want to consider purchasing a picture of your retreat site or special memento which you keep in your bedroom or office. Or you may want to commit to a new daily practice or ritual that will keep the flame in your heart burning strong.

When you arrive home, do at least one of your action steps the first day you’re back and as many as possible the first week. Also, make sure to spend time in nature and some time doing the spiritual practices you used on the retreat. This will help integrate the gifts from your retreat into your daily life. Do your very best not to get so busy catching up on everything that you get overwhelmed and stressed out. By choosing to go on retreat, you demonstrated a strong commitment to your well-being. Honor this commitment and the time you invested in your retreat by truly making a new beginning in your life.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Time To Live Your Truth

2014 is the year to know and live the truth of who we are. All that stands in the way is our limiting, false beliefs. Once these beliefs are seen for what they are and released, what’s left is simply the love that I AM.

Virtually all of us developed a wide variety of limiting beliefs when we were very young. Many of us formed a deep underlying belief along the lines of, “I’m not good enough,” or “There’s something wrong with me.”  Many also developed beliefs such as, “If I am simply myself, then people won’t like me,” or “If I tell the truth, then I will be attacked.”

Such beliefs led to the development of our false self or personality. (This word is derived from a Greek term meaning “mask.”) We went through life pretending to be someone other than the Love that we are. We played it safe, holding back from expressing our Power and sharing our Truth.
Many of us, including me, were propelled on a spiritual journey, seeking to get away from the pain of the false life we were living. This worked to a point. Like many of you, I was blessed to have profound experiences of awakening to who I AM. But, my deep, false beliefs and the fear they engendered never fully went away. I bounced back and forth from experiencing myself as a Divine Being to feeling like a scared little boy.

In recent years, I finally was ready to deeply examine and free myself of the false beliefs which, after all these years of spiritual practice, were still profoundly limiting me. I discovered a wonderful process called “The Work,” which was developed by Byron Katie. Through trial and error, I added in some other elements to create a extremely effective model for creating deep, sustainable shifts. Here is a step-by-step guide to this model.

Identify a belief which appears to be limiting you or causing suffering. Take a few conscious, grateful breaths. Feel gratitude for the chance to explore this belief. Then ask yourself the following questions:

1. Is it true? (Answer simply “yes” or “no.”)

2. Am I totally, absolutely sure it’s true?  (Only necessary if you answered “yes” to #1.)

3. How do I react to this belief? (It’s important to look for an answer to this question in your body or emotions, not your mind. Find the place in your body, where the reaction is strongest, then explore this reaction as deeply as you can.)

4. Who would I be without this belief? (Again, directly experience the answer in your body or emotions as deeply as you can.)

5. How do I react to this belief? (Going back and forth between these two questions at least a couple times is very powerful. After you’ve deeply experienced your reaction to this belief, invite fresh energy into the  center of the pain or contraction as you inhale, then release it on exhalation.)

6. Who would I be without this belief?

7. Could I let it go? (Is letting go of the belief a possibility?)

8. Would I let it go? (If letting go of it is a possibility, would I choose to do so?)

9. When?

10. What is a new affirming, supportive belief I could substitute for the one I am letting go of?

11. What will my life be like with this new belief? (Close your eyes to see, hear or feel images from your new life.)

12. What can I do in the next week toward moving forward into this new chapter of my life?
This approach is built around asking yourself questions. I’ve found that self-inquiry is an extremely powerful tool. When you ask yourself questions with genuine desire to know the truth (not simply to validate a preconceived opinion), you are opening yourself to the possibility of real change. The key is to look for the answers in your body, not in your mind. The most powerful answers will come as a direct experience, not in words or concepts.

The first question, “Is it true?” is a critical one. When I am guiding clients through this process, I often throw a pen in the air, then ask, “If I throw this pen in the air 100 times, how many times will it come down to the floor.” The answer is, of course, 100 times.  That’s the definition of true I use in this process. A belief is true only is if it 100% accurate. Realizing a belief is not true is deeply liberating. We begin to see that unlike the law of gravity, which we are always subject to (at least as long as we make our home on this Earth), the belief we are exploring is just a thought. That thought only has power over us to the extent we accept it as reality. Once we question it, it begins to lose its hold on us. We can then make a conscious choice of whether or not to keep that belief.

The last question, “What can I do in the next week toward moving forward into this new chapter of my life?” is also vital to the success of the process. There is an old saying that, “Actions speak louder than words.”  If you go through this process, but continue to act in a way that is consistent with your old belief, the work you’ve done to shift it will be undermined. On the other hand, if you immediately begin to take actions consistent with the new belief, you’ll build some serious momentum toward a deep and lasting shift.

If a belief is deeply embedded and held in place by fear or other strong emotions, it probably won’t disappear forever after the first time you use this process. If you go through this process honestly and deeply, you will almost certainly weaken the belief. Most likely, it will come up again to challenge you.

When this happens, the key is to be grateful that you’re aware of the belief, rather than unconsciously falling back into it. From this place of grateful awareness, you can simply chose to refocus on your new empowering belief or, if the old belief still has a strong hold on you, go through the process again. As many times as the limiting belief, comes up, continue to meet it with grateful awareness. It will get weaker and weaker until you are free of it.

The more these old, false beliefs are released, the more the truth of who you are will shine through. You will be a beacon of peace in these changing times.

Andrew Oser is a guide for spiritual retreats in Mt Shasta. Click here to learn more

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Gratitude Is All You Need

mount shasta guide tour, mt shasta spiritual retreat
Meister Eckhart, the great medieval mystic, once said that “Gratitude is the only prayer you need.”  This could perhaps be paraphrased as “Gratitude is all we need to come home.”  It’s easy to get caught up in the belief that the spiritual path is difficult and involves sophisticated understandings and techniques.  But, the simple doorway of gratitude is always open. In this piece, we’ll explore three different ways to go through that doorway:
1)      Being grateful for the gift of life
2)      Meeting emotions with gratitude
3)      Finding gratitude for awareness when you notice that you’ve lost focus

The Gift of Life

Each of the perhaps a billion or so times we inhale in our lifetime, we receive the gift of life. We take in the oxygen our body desperately needs. We receive fresh, pure energy containing all possibilities for new creation.  The life we receive each time we breathe in is a free gift. We don’t need to earn it through good behavior or hard work or anything in particular. We are pre-qualified for this gift simply because we have been born into a human body.

When we receive a gift, our natural response is gratitude. Most of us spend the vast majority of our lives oblivious to or taking for granted the incredible gift we are receiving with each breath. When we bring our awareness to the breath and consciously receive it as the gift it is, naturally our hearts open in gratitude.   It doesn’t take any particular belief system or profound spiritual understanding to be grateful for the pure life energy that is so freely given with each breath.

To me, the simplest way to do this is by allowing my breath flow naturally, letting go deeply on the exhalation, and being grateful for the gift of Life on the inhalation.   When I make any effort to control the breath, it puts me in a state of efforting rather than relaxation and receptivity.

The first moment when you awaken from sleep is a moment of great opportunity.  If you start thinking right away about all the things you have to do this day or the problems you’re facing in your life, you’re beginning your day on a stressful note and you may well have that kind of a day. If you instead bring your attention to your breath and experience the gratitude that naturally arises, that sets a wonderful tone that reverberates throughout your day.

Then, during the day, take brief pauses from whatever activities you are engaged in to bring your focus to your breath.  Taking one or more conscious, grateful breaths can bring you powerfully back into the present moment and releases the build-up of stress from the last period of activity.  If you have trouble remembering to do this, try setting the hourly chime on your watch, and committing to pausing for at least three breaths every time it goes off.  It is also helpful to put notes saying “Breathe” on your desk, refrigerator, and other places where your gaze frequently goes.

The Gift of Pain and Fear

When I am grateful for the present moment as it is, I am home. Of course, it’s easy to be grateful for a beautiful sunny day, a walk on the beach, or a visit with a close friend. What’s more challenging is to still be grateful when I am experiencing intense pain or fear.

A few years ago, I stumbled upon a way to convince my left brain that it made sense to be grateful when I am experiencing emotional pain of some kind. I realized that the pain doesn’t come out of nowhere; it comes from my subconscious. When the pain is subconscious, it’s controlling me and there is nothing I can do about it, since I have no awareness of it. Once an incident triggers the pain, I have the opportunity to bring awareness into it and free myself of its control. Now, that’s truly an occasion for gratitude!

So when fear, judgment, sadness, or some other painful emotion comes into my awareness, I do my best to be grateful for the opportunity to meet it. Then, I scan my body to find where the emotion is most strongly present.  I bring my awareness to that spot, experiencing both the physical sensations and the emotion. I maintain an attitude of curiosity and exploration, rather than trying to heal or analyze. After a while, I focus again on gratitude, both for the opportunity to get to know this emotion and for my willingness and courage to go deep into it.  For at least a couple of breaths, I allow myself to feel gratitude as deeply as possible. Then, I dive deeper into the emotion. I continue this alternation between deeply being with the emotion and feeling gratitude as long as it seems useful.

The Gift of Awareness

If you’re like me, you spend lots of time caught up in thoughts about past and future.  A small percentage of these thoughts are practical, but most are useless or even harmful.   When you’re lost in thought, you’re missing out on experiencing the richness of the present moment.  If your thoughts are judgmental, rather than neutral, you’re causing yourself unnecessary pain.

When you notice that you’ve been lost in nonproductive thoughts, you have a chance to come home to the present.  The challenge in this moment is to avoid judging yourself for having been caught in thought.  Instead, be grateful for the awareness.  Awareness is a great gift.  If you can be grateful for the awareness that you’ve been lost, rather than judging yourself, you will find yourself right back home in the present moment.

So, next time you find yourself feeling confused, afraid, or disconnected from yourself, use gratitude to come home.  It’s the doorway that is always open!


Whether you’ve been to Mt Shasta many times before or will be making your first trip; 2015 is the year to make sure to journey to Mount Shasta.  Your guided tour or spiritual retreat will help you enhance your life skills to truly start living the life you came here to fully experience!