Over the years, I increasingly understand the power of the heart, deep listening, and service. I've had the honour and privilege to learn, practice and offer numerous and multifaceted ways that support one's well-being and spiritual journey. My journey has been deeply affected by extensive travels and influenced by individuals highlighted here. I've had the honour of hosting or working closely with all of these individuals (except for E. Tolle and I include him because of his profound presence and spiritual teachings).

For each of these individuals whom I consider humble and wise, I highlight one message/teaching, which informs my life. These messages may seem simple, indeed perhaps they are. May they serve you in the best way possible.

Leslie with Maldioma
Byron Katie

Byron Katie

Trust the unknown.

I do not know better than God/the divine. Three businesses, including my own business, another's business and God' s/divine's business. When I'm in another's business, I'm then not tending to my own business and, therefore, not present. When I'm in God' s/divine's business, I believe I know better. Returning to my own business and being responsible for taking care of that is much less stressful. It's humbling to recognize when I am in "God's" business. It's a relief to realize I'm only responsible for taking care of myself, what I think and do. To do my very best, and accept the rest is out of my hands, and in God' s/the divine's hands.

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Any stress or suffering I experience is the result of my thoughts, which may include (and I may not be conscious of) underlying beliefs. No thought cannot be put up against 'inquiry' (the process of 'the work'). Inquiry brings you back to the peace you felt before you believed the stressful thought. Underlying beliefs are thoughts we've believed for years, and we use them as our judgements of life. The process of inquiry brings insight into unexamined thoughts and provides an understanding of the business to which you belong. It's been my experience that I find freedom and peace when I stay within my business and trust the unknown.

The process of the work includes four questions and turnarounds. For information and videos on this process, go to thework.com.

Diana Beresford-Kroeger

"The core of the global Bioplan is that if every person on Earth planted one tree per year for the next six years, we would stop climate change in its tracks."

Diana was mentored by the Lisheen Celtic Elders in Ireland when she became an orphan at a young age. She learned that every plant is intimately connected to human beings and our health. Later as an internationally recognized scientist, she has been able to prove almost all of the Lisheen teachings she received scientifically.

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Seeing the entirety of the global garden and that all living species are connected, she understood the world as a single unit. At this time, she also realized the potentially disastrous consequences of climate change. Looking at the degradation of our Earth and climate is a "daunting" task. Searching for solutions can quickly give way to hopelessness or denial. However, there is hope. Positive action, no matter how small, makes a difference. A significant part of the impact on climate is the fast rate of deforestation. "Cutting down the trees was a suicidal act."

A course of action for halting climate change, which Diana calls the global bioplan, is a "patchwork quilt of human effort to rebuild the natural world that will envelop the entire planet." She acknowledges it's not the ultimate solution, but it would afford us time to address the issues earnestly. 

The simple idea that if every person on Earth planted one tree per year for the next six years is the core of the global bioplan, which would halt climate degradation. If one doesn't have an area to plant a tree, then one can plant in a pot one beneficial plant (i.e. mint for airways of humans and small creatures) on the balcony of a high rise. The true goal of the global bioplan is for every person to create and protect the healthiest environment they can for themselves, their families, the birds, insects and wildlife. Diana's life and work have taught her "that nothing is as dire or insurmountable as it seems. The natural world's powers of regeneration and restoration stretch far beyond our understanding."


Eckart Tolle

The present moment is the foundation for everything.

The deepest fulfillment happens when we go into the present moment. To discover the present moment within you is the foundation for everything else. It is awakening, consciousness and being in the present moment that brings us peace.

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If we wish to manifest something, then whatever we manifest will not bring us happiness, at least not for long, if we are not accessing the present moment. When we are with ego/small mind, we have an agenda, are attached to the outcome, and we are not present. Often this results in feeling stressed. A sign of being present and conscious is feeling joy and peace, including when we are actively involved with something, whether a business, creative endeavour or job of some kind. Eckart encourages us to observe how we deal with obstacles when we are active with "doing." This tells us if ego is present or if it's coming from a deeper purpose, which transcends the ego.

If one is feeling depressed, Eckart encourages one to surrender and to return to the present moment. This means no complaints, for if one is complaining, one is resisting being present. Peace comes from being aware and contenting to return to the present moment.

There are numerous free videos online with Eckart Tolle sharing his teachings.

Elder Vern Harper
(Cree, deceased)

One of the greatest gifts you can give another is to LISTEN, truly listen.

One of the humblest men I got to know and work with is the Cree Elder Vern Harper. Chapon Asin (Great Grandfather Stone) was a spiritual elder, medicine man and storyteller residing in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. He was the fifth-generation grandson of Mistawasis, "Big Child," a hereditary chief. He was also the sixth-generation grandson of Big Bear, who fought the last battle between the Cree and the Canadian government in 1885.

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Elder Vern (Chapon Asin) was a wise and humble man, and many considered him a "holy man." Elder Vern once said to me, "What's the most important thing I do? I listen to them" (referring to people he met with including those dealing with extreme addictions). He continues by saying, "We live in a society where no-one listens to anybody. Learn to listen, learn to listen." 

I've witnessed countless times when Elder Vern held circles. At times his head would be bowed when another was talking, and he shared that this is a traditional way that many first nations people would listen. It is not necessary to make eye contact when listening; what does count is truly hearing what the other is saying. When one is sharing with another, I don't know of a greater gift than to be listened to and truly heard.

For more info on Elder Vern Harper and to hear some of his messages go to Wisdom of Elders on livingways.org 

photo credit: Matthew Wiley

Vern -2
Malidoma Somé

Malidoma Somé (Dagara, Deceased)

Nature is the foundation to live in an indigenous way, and it is in the connection with nature that enables us to transform. 

"The source and home of indigenous technology is nature and the world of Spirit, to that source you must go in order to learn and grow and evolve.

By being with nature, we learn about the extraordinary wisdom and beauty that is here with us. We also learn about our true nature and how we are part of the greater whole. They are one and the same. Nature is a key way to freedom. It is a way to truly restore.

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In the Dagara tradition, trees and plants are the most intelligent being because they do not need words to communicate.

Consistently the message I receive from wise 'elders' and teachers who are present and connected is that being with the plants, trees, animals and insects provides the greatest healing. How can we become more connected with nature? By walking in a forest, sitting under a tree or any place in nature and listening. By being still in and with nature. A powerful way to connect with nature in the Dagara tradition (and most if not all indigenous cultures) is through ritual. This may be on an individual or a group basis. An example of a simple ritual in nature is making an offering (i.e. of seed) to a tree, plant or the land.

Grandmother Tsering Dolma Gyaltong (deceased)

Have a spiritual practice and heed what you are being called to do.

A demonstration by the Tibetan Women's Association for which Grandmother Tsering was a founding member, was said to be 'instrumental' in creating the diversion to get the Dalai Lama out of Tibet in 1959. She took the same journey as the Dalia Lama walking from Tibet to India, with 2 of her three children on her back. In India, she continued to be actively involved with expanding the Tibetan Women's Association (including internationally) and also an orphanage for children.

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Grandmother Tsering had said that "If everyone did a true spiritual practice…which develops into a positive mind, the world would not be in the dire situation we find it today." She shared that competition and self-importance are the reasons most people don't seek inner peace. Being connected with pure love makes a true connection with each other. There is not enough of this. She felt that the real problem is that we do not love each other. We do not have this deep, pure love that makes the positive connection…there is not enough of that."

Grandmothers Tsering's life was an ongoing example of tending to her daily spiritual practices and heeding what she was called to do, no matter the obstacles and challenges.

206 Grandmother Tsering July 12, 2010

Mandaza Kandemwa (Shona)

Put your own house in order. Pay attention to your dreams. Be the offering.

Mandaza (Augustine) Kandemwa, of Zimbabwe, a Svikiro (a carrier of many earth and water spirits), a Lion Shaman, and Mhondoro (one in constant prayer for others in the Shona tradition), carries with great heart the African tradition of healing and peacemaking. He stands for Truth, Love, Justice and Peace in this world. 

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Put your own house in order; clean your kitchen within versus looking at what others "should" be doing or how they are to behave has often been shared by Mandaza on his travels. There is a humbleness in being aware of one's humanness. No-one has clean hands. Examining our own actions, our own thoughts and then taking responsibility to do our very best to be open and connected with our heart vs our (small) mind is a way to connect with spirit.

How do we know when we need to clean our own house? Each time we are judging others and looking outside of ourselves, we need to return to within and clean our own house -return to our heart and deeply listen. Tools assisting us to do so include meditation, purification ceremonies such as sweat lodges, water ceremonies (sweat lodges, water ceremonies), and attending to our dreams and making offerings. In most, if not all of the indigenous communities I'm aware of, including the Shona tradition, dreams are messages from the spiritual realm, from our ancestors. Dreams give important messages which inform our lives. Making an offering such as to nature with seeds is a way to connect with nature and the spiritual realm. When we have been cleaning our own house, then a deeper spiritual connection is to become the offering. We are then open and asking to be used by spirit to serve - to do whatever is being asked of us to do in the world. It may be a small task; it may be a large task. It is not "us" doing it - we are then vessels and connected with spirit/soul/source/the divine.