Helping Nonprofit Leaders Transform Conflict

Leadership Coach and Mediator

Enjoying the jackal show

You sit on your cushion at your Sangha. It is time for tea. The two cushions on your left and right are empty. As is customary when tea is served and your neighbor is off to the bathroom, you take two cups: one for yourself and one for your neighbor to your left. The person sitting right of the empty cushion to your right does the same. She doesn’t. Frustration is rising.

So now you have two cups for three persons. Trying to practice generosity, you offer your cup to your right neighbor. Ostensibly you pick up your water bottle to join the tea drinking ceremony. You hope everyone sees your sacrificing generosity. No one does. More angry thoughts pop up.

Someone gets up to get herself a cup of tea. She wasn’t served either. Angry thoughts start to race. ‘Which idiot is not even able to serve everyone tea!’

Someone gets up to bring tea to the Buddha. Full blown angry storm. ‘My gosh, how can they let a newcomer serve tea and not instruct him clearly?’

Oh, my goodness! Here you are at Sangha, a sacred place of mindfulness and compassion, and all you do is judge, evaluate, condemn. What’s wrong with you! Thank God no one can see all these angry thoughts.

Image courtesy to

Image courtesy to

Then you remember Marshall Rosenberg’s invitation to ‘enjoy the jackal show’. Instead of judging your judgments, trying to get rid of them, you imagine them as little puppy jackal puppets, just doing their jackal thing.

A burden falls of your shoulders. Your shame dissipates and you start to relax. You see all these little jackal puppets jump up on stage, each with their specific line. They are actually disciplined enough to follow theater conventions and speak only one at a time. And they are quite cute, with their fluffy ears, doing their utmost best to deliver their lines as lively as possible. You are watching them with a certain interest and curiosity, and you’re noticing the detachment between these thoughts and you. You are not your thoughts, you’re just having them. Just thinking. Nothing more, nothing less. You start enjoying your water. You are right here, right now. Just drinking water, and enjoying the jackal show.


You want help to enjoy your jackal show? Contact me 512-589-0482 to schedule a complimentary, discovery session to see if and how I can help.

Am I my thoughts?

Image courtesy to Wikimedia

Image courtesy to Wikimedia

I love meditation. I love sitting on my cushion, lighting my candle, inviting the bell to sound, and bringing my attention to my in- and outbreath. And whenever a thought arises, labeling it as ‘thinking’. My meditation cushion is my sacred haven.

This morning I sit on my cushion again. I am so happy to have these 20 minutes to myself, to enjoy this open and loving space in which I can relax into my breath and let go of all my worries, anxieties, struggles, plans, and have-to’s. Just sitting and enjoying my breath.

“Now I understand why I felt so uncomfortable and disoriented at the retreat. That is my habitual fear of abandonment. It has nothing to do with the retreat, it has to do with an internalized pattern of fear. It is exactly the same experience I had when I was eight years old at girls scout camp.” It takes me a while, before I notice I am lost in my thoughts. I quickly label them as ‘thinking’ and bring my attention back to my breath. I relax and adjust my body as I breath in, and let go as I breath out. In, out. In, out.

“I remember how homesick I was, when my dad visited the camp. I just wanted him to take me home…” ‘Thinking!’ Bringing my attention back to my breath. In, out. In, out.

“I can talk to my empathy buddy about this. This is a rich topic to explore, and it would probably…” ‘Thinking.’

What!? Who are you to interrupt this thought process? Who are you to tell me that I should go back to my breath and let go of my thoughts? Huh?! Who do you think you are to tell me to stop this super interesting line of thought?”

And finally it dawns on me. I am attached to my thoughts. They make up my identity. I don’t know whom I would be without my thoughts. Whom would I be in this wide open space of presence. It sounds too scary. Too little me. Too little of the well-known, carefully crafted person I’ve come to identify as Elly.

Thich Nhat Hanh talks about our historical and ultimate dimension. The ultimate dimension is the shore of liberation. It is the insight of interbeing, that we consist of self and non-self elements, that we all are waves and water.

I realize I am not so sure I want to be liberated. It sounds all yummy and good, and I realize I want to linger a little longer on the shore of the historical dimension. It is a well-known place that brings me comfort and security.

Let me just breathe into that attachment for now. Let me just breathe into my fear of letting go. In, out. In, out.


You want help to let go of attachments? Contact me 512-589-0482 to schedule a complimentary, discovery session to see if and how I can help.

A cry a day keeps the doctor away

A friend of my teacher Kit Miller once asked her “Did you cry today?”, and upon Kit’s surprised “No.” “Well, you should. Crying once a day is good for you.

A sort of variance of “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.”

I agree with Kit’s friend. Every time I call Silent unity, I cry. Whether I call in with a sense of calm and peace, or a sense of anxiety and fear, I cry during every phone call.

It is refreshing, releasing, relieving. I call them, they pray for my abundance, prosperity, they tell me that all good comes from God, through Go. They reassure me that He will show us ways -both known and unknown- to make enough money to keep the house. And all this time I cry.

I love it. A safe haven to let go off my anxiety, my worries, my tiredness. No questions asked. They describe the picture of what I want so much, affirming I have everything I need and that God provides for us. And I can rest in that trust and redirect my energies to that which is positive and within my circle of influence.

The first thing I do, is ask God to take away my negative thoughts. This is new for me. Usually I empathize with my negative thoughts. I connect to the feelings that come up with these thoughts. I explore the universal, human needs underlying these feelings. I follow Pema Chodron‘s advice to lean into this experience. To use this experience to expand my compassionate understanding of what it’s like to be human.

Not these days. These days I ask God to take away my negative thinking, my looping, habitual, reiterative thoughts of scarcity, lack, not enough. And I happily have energy to do what needs to be done. Creating the conditions my husband and I need to be able to concentrate on generating income. Joy, love and harmony. My mom’s motto: Rust, reinheid en regelmaat. (rest, cleanness, and regularity).

So far, I am successful. My husband is chunking along on a deal that will generate our abundance and prosperity. I am expanding my web presence, so I’m easier find to by potential clients. We’re eating well, sleeping peacefully, exercising enough. We’re in it for the long run. This is not a sprint, it is a marathon. We’re prepared.

Crying certainly cleans up the inner space to be ready and run.