I want you to think I am bullet-proof, but the truth is, I’m full of holes.

I am reading Byron Katie’s amazing book, I Need Your Love–Is That True?  A somewhat cumbersome title, don’t you think?

Upon brief introspection, I have realized that the real reason the title makes me feel uncomfortable is because it calls out a dark secret of mine–it calls out a feeling I’ve felt about a bajillion times in my life, but words I’ve never, ever, EVER uttered. Ever. “I need your love.” I’d rather die, than say that one aloud!

“I need your love.” When I think that thought, I treat it like an active bomb in my brain. I run from it, avoid squaring myself up to it, and cringe at the thought of looking at it in the eye. I am spooking myself out because it is such an old thought, and I must have made the assumption long, long ago that it is truth, not opinion.

But wait, “I need your love.” Is this a feeling or a thought?

“I need.” Fact or fiction? Sounds somewhat more like an opinion. Other fearful opinions rolling around in your head can try to convince you of otherwise:

“It is not wrong to need–you NEED air.”

“You need air, so therefore, needing is necessary, so therefore if you think you need somebody’s love, it is true.”

“Don’t question me, I am right.”

That last statement seems to always be thrown in at the end of the mind’s argument with you. Rather, with the mind’s yelling of opinions at you. Because,  the mind doesn’t argue. Even an “argument” has a connotation of an interchange of ideas (no matter how ineffectual). It is not a conversation the mind is interested in. It is a bullying.

Why?! Why do we have a built-in bully machine in our heads? This is perhaps one of life’s greatest mysteries, at least at present. Outside of the great mystery of what life is, of course.

* * *

I would like to share with you an excerpt from Katie’s book. It is an example a real individual wrote (and then performed) in one of her workshops. The exercise was an assignment to go to a place in your life where you were seeking love and approval, and to ask yourself questions about that situation. Here is what someone real said:

I ended up writing this exercise about doing this exercise. I didn’t pick a specific situation because I saw that I do it all the time. I wanted to do it perfectly to win the approval of all of you.

What did I want? I want you to like me, love me, think I am great, to find me interesting, to find me special, to find me better than others, to find me cute, to say I am lovely, to say I am wise. And [pointing to a man in the audience] I want you to think I am sexy. And where is that beautiful young woman? [Scanning the room] Where are you? Ah … I want you to think I am young, and I want all the other beautiful young women in this room to think I’m mature enough to know more than you. I want all of you here, representing all the people in the world, to think I am beautiful. I want you all to include me and make me belong. I want you all to appreciate me and to hear me. I want you to need me. I want you to seek me out in the future. I want you to never forget me. I want you to see me as a wonderful, sensitive, caring, witty, articulate, very strong person who is good at everything.

Did I try to manipulate the way you see me? Yes, I did. In the way I speak, in the way I move, in the way I stand. In the way I smile, or in the way I don’t smile, in the way I widen my eyes or lick my lips, in the way I look at you, and in the way I don’t look at you. In the way I stand close or move away. Did I lie or exaggerate? Plenty. In most situations I try to come across as a little bit better than you. I am doing exactly that right now.

Did I listen? No. I didn’t really listen. For instance [speaking to a participant], I didn’t really listen to you last night, I was just waiting for you to finish so I could put on the show of me again.

Did I get your approval?  I don’t really know if I got yours, but I know I didn’t get mine. I let myself down, and I knew it. It left me empty and insecure, unfulfilled and always wanting more. I doubt everything about myself. I am sure I wasn’t good enough.

Can I think of a time when I resisted seeking love and approval?  Nothing comes to mind at this moment. But I can imagine that it would be really intimate, that there would be authenticity, love, honesty, and no thought of gaining anything.

Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful. Raw honesty. Raw awareness work. Awareness work at a minute level of one’s consciousness. Past the things we buy or don’t buy, past what’s in our water, past the effects of [insert consumption item here] on the physiology. All of these things are important, but if we never dive deeper, even deeper than that outside level of consciousness, then we aren’t exploring the entire breadth of human existence.

To me, this kind of work is revolutionary.

My thanks to Byron Katie for her work, and to the anonymous woman who was bold enough to cut herself open and let it all pour out in front of this workshop (and whose wisdom was eventually shared in print in Katie’s book [and now by me on this blog!]).

Some might think that what this woman said was ugly, or mundane, or no big deal, but perhaps this is because we may know so intimately what she was talking about, and perhaps its also because we tiptoe around these beliefs in ourselves because we know on some other level that they are problematic. We may be terrified to look at the perceived “grime” of our souls. But there is nothing wrong with looking. It is what our being is calling us to do. Let’s respond to the call of its inquiry.

With so much love,


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Inspirations on the importance of intelligent landscape design

“Make places worthy of walking, and pedestrians will remember that they have enjoyed the experience. Americans are known for their dislike of walking, because they are daily asked to walk hundreds of forgettable yards through desertlike parking lots, characterless shopping malls, and identically beige corridors of large buildings.

It is not that Americans don’t walk great distances–it is that they don’t remember that they’ve done so, because the walking experience is a grim task. It is ironic how much of this walking is made necessary by the car. If you make places worthy of walking, you will find walkers there enjoying themselves and each other. We still need to get from point A to point B, but seductions along the path make the effort rewarding rather than a chore.”

–Alex Krieger, “Rules for Designing Cities”

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Community Permaculture: Beauty Shop Rooftop & KRUU

Sunday, May 9, 2011

Planting seeds at the Beauty Shop roof. Photo by Emanuel Schachinger

Last weekend, I participated in what felt like one permaculture/community development project after the other. It was great! On Saturday, after I finished helping at the MSAE site, I went home for a brief recharging time (shower, clothing change) and next Sascha  picked me up and we rode to a community garden next to KRUU 100.1 FM to plant some food seeds. Being very new to gardening, I feel so much how my own mind is wanting to soak up information each time I can be a part of an experience where I learn about growing or taking care of plants.

I did not get any pictures from the KRUU planting, but I can say that we set the stage for a potentially fruitful garden. Chard, bell peppers, cucumbers, and lots more. We’ll see what grows! Sascha also showed me how to divide from a raspberry bramble and we planted a few new raspberry plants around the garden plot.

* * *

The next day me and a group of people met up again with Sascha to plant some more food seeds in the garden beds on the Rooftop of the Bonnell Building, just above the Beauty Shop.

Me helping to untangle a hose to bring water to the roof. Pic by Emanuel Schachinger

Planting on the rooftop of the Bonnell was a great way to close out the weekend. Orchard-planting, permaculture gardens, and community food-planting projects! The weather was beautiful: sunny and a nice cool breeze that we all got to enjoy while planting seeds together on the roof. Having recently left San Francisco, California to come to Fairfield, Iowa to go school here at Maharishi University of Management, the value of urban agriculture is very apparent to me.

SF's mayor signing the bill to make urban agriculture legal in the city.

On a related side note, in April of this year, San Francisco’s city legislature just made urban agriculture legal throughout the city. SF also made it legal to sell your urbanly grown food to local restaurants or sourcers. To read more about this, check out the SF Gate’s article here: S.F. farmers delight! Urban agriculture now in the law.

Thanks to Sascha and everyone who came out to plant food on the roof!

All of us planting food on the Beauty Shop Roof. Photo by Emanuel Schachinger

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MSAE Permaculture Garden

Saturday, May 7, 2011

View from my digging spot at MSAE

This Saturday, beginning in the morning, I had the pleasure of volunteering on another planting project. The Maharishi School for the Age of Enlightment (MSAE) is a K-12 Consciousness-based school that lies just south of the buildings affiliated with MUM. My exposure to MSAE is this: While I have been attending MUM, I have had the experience of meeting people and being classmates with past students of MSAE, and I have nothing but praise-ful things to say about them. So when I heard that MSAE was wanting help planting a Permaculture garden, I jumped at the chance.

Some Anise Hyssop I planted at MSAE this Saturday.

Freshly warmed up from digging the orchard the day before, I started right in digging holes to plant some gooseberry bushes. This time I had a long enough shovel, so I employed Brian’s grass-scraping technique before removing the soil from the ground. Doing this helped the process of digging and planting. In this Northwest corner of the entire garden space, we also planted anise hyssop, and comfrey.  Across the pathway to our south, we planted fruit trees, which included some stone fruit, with supporting guilds of comfrey, strawberries, and moonbeam coreopsis.

This was a great event to participate in; I got to meeting people from MSAE and the outside community of Fairfield, while also working with fellow Sustainable Living students–more specifically students from my Permaculture Design course–as well as Doug, our Permaculture instructor. I feel lucky that a project like this came together so close to where I am studying permaculture. It is a benefit to put theory into direct hands-on experience, but also the relative location of the site being so near means that I can easily visit it, note its progress, and utilize it as a living learning tool. Thank you, everyone!:)

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Pleasant Orchard Planting

Friday, May 6, 2011


Freshly inspired after the end of my Permaculture Design course at MUM, the next day a group of friends (mostly from my Permaculture class) went with Brian and Avi to plant a fruit orchard northeast of campus, off of Pleasant Plain.

We dug 20 holes, and planted 18 trees. We held off on planting the 2 walnut trees the client had purchased because when they are growing, most walnuts send off stuff through their roots that inhibit the grow of other fruit trees growing nearby.

I learned a lot about digging today. Brian showed me how to scrape the top layer of grass off the surface you want to dig before you dig the hole. The shovel I was using was a little short and made it difficult to carry out this procedure, so we decided that it was cool that I didn’t carry this out. However, I found out later when it came time to plant the trees why the grass removal thing is a good idea.

Placing the baby tree on a little mound in the middle and filling in around the tree with soil, you want the soil to be easily shoveled in. If you dig holes, removing clumps of soil with grass on top, you have to wrestle the soil free from the grass either with your hands or the shovel. If the grass was gone first, the planting process goes a lot smoothly.

We were planting on a south-facing slope, and the weather was pleasant and not too hot. We began digging holes higher up on the slope, one row at a time, and as we moved downward toward the keyline of the valley, we notice how the soil went from hard clay to fluffy loam in a matter of several feet’s distance down the grade.

It was a great time, awesome to get out in the field immediately after the end of Permaculture class, and I look forward to helping with more projects with Brian and/or Avi!

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