Closer Than a Breath – Life is With Us

four album covers from various musicians

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Whether it’s the playlist we made or one we’ll put together some time in the future or the silence we share with our teachers, or the centeredness we feel while absorbed in our passion—we don’t need to fret. Closer than breath – life is with us . . . .

I have a quirky habit. Well, perhaps not a habit, exactly—but something I did once. In early 2017, about a year after I moved to New York, I put together a playlist, whose contents I’ll keep secret for now. I thought to use the playlist as a kind of diary, a record of my emotional-spiritual state, I suppose.

The Playlist

This particular playlist was curated in Bushwick. I lived there for about a year before I had to move. And I’ll not forget my neighbor who needed to practice his bull-whip moves on my roof at 2 am (and sometimes in his apartment with carousing friends, bros screaming, apparently having been caught by the tail of the whip as he practiced.) 
 
Anyway—later in 2017 I moved to Hudson Square, in Lower Manhattan, where I live now, about a 20-minute walk from the Rolfing studio.
 
Something happens when I listen to that playlist from Bushwick—a kind of centering. Music has that kind of effect. Sometimes when I sit down to write, I put on my headphones and search for a tune and write. Not always. Sometimes I need to concentrate too much to have music going on. But sometimes the music, paradoxically, forces me to concentrate more, which ends up being a help. As if having to concentrate against the music distills my mind more than if there were no music. Rap can serve as a kind of audial mandala.
 
Today before writing I cast about for music to focus myself. It was difficult as I have a number of projects in the works—reemerging from COVID lockdown, reassembling our North Carolina temple plans, which were temporarily derailed due to a costly and unexpected mudslide, and just about completing a writing project. Busy times.
 
I don’t know why I settled on this playlist this morning. But when I did, I felt centered. Focused. Why is it that when we hear a certain piece of music, or meet a certain person, see a painting, hear a phrase of sutra or poetry, we feel gathered, as if we have become one with our life. With ourselves. For a moment we feel perfectly realized.  

Purpose and Creativity Meet

I feel good now. The past two months have been a lot of work. And I know they’ve been a lot of work for everybody. It’s not as though any of us are foolish enough to think that the work is over, but when meaning and action, when purpose and creativity meet, we are able to rest even while working. 
 
In one of our recent meditation classes we spoke about the notion of savoring. ‘Savoring’ is a strange word because one thinks of eating something delicious. But savoring strikes me as a crude word for the experience of appreciating the totality of the moment in which one feels centered in one’s self.

When we savor, we’re not savoring the thing we’re ingesting; rather, we’re savoring the complete experience of a mind concentrated to the extent that its attentions are not divided or cast about. Thought is so tight that it disappears. In thought’s concentration, it disappears to itself and becomes absorbed by the object of its activity. Another word for this phenomenon is passion. And rather than to think of it as some kind of cold scientific technique, it is so much more enjoyable to think of mindfulness as passion—and passion as devotion. As love.
 
I don’t know why the Bushwick playlist spoke to me this morning as I sat down to gather my mind and write. But it did. Does it matter why? Or is it more important that I touched play, and kept writing to the end? To be sure, I won’t listen to the playlist all day.

Eventually, the objects of our passion lose their power to compel us. And we move on. The difference between a religious person and someone who is not, is that the religious person cultivates and deepens the object of their passion. The devotee arranges the affairs of their life so that speech, action, and thought in every direction express their passion for God. 

Nantahala National Forest

A week ago I was walking with my teacher in the Nantahala National Forest (worlds away from Bushwick). He wanted to show me a secret grove of the oldest poplar trees in the world. We arrived at the grove late in the day and stood at the base of those towering 600-year-old giants, put our hands on our hips, leaned back, and looked up to the crowns. 
 
The upper branches sprawled out in their maturity. Gnarled, twisted. It was as I imagine the mind becomes in the end days of life when we no longer have the energy to guide our mental habits but are borne away by them. Some habits have formed beautifully and express a calm, symmetrical grace. Others look more distraught. 
 
At that time of day, shortly before dusk, soft gold light streamed through the greenery. And walking back I traced my teacher’s steps. Wholly absorbed with being — rhythmically and symbolically – with all the Buddhas, I felt as though I stood in a singular mind.  It was, indeed, a moment of perfection. Like this moment, with you. 

Life is With Us

We don’t need to separate ourselves from life. Whether it’s the playlist we made in Bushwick or one we’ll put together some time in the future or the silence we share with our teacher, or the centeredness we feel while absorbed in our passion—we don’t need to fret. Closer than breath – life is with us. 
 
We don’t need to meditate. We don’t need to find our purpose. We don’t need to be this or that. It’s enough to be as we are. And live.

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6 Reviews on Bodhi Heart

Unfortunately, Yelp doesn’t show all of our client’s reviews on their website. 18 of 50, almost half of them, are hidden. But we want you to be able to see them all. See the excerpts below or read the full review by clicking the “Read on Yelp” button and logging into your Yelp account.

Joshua Levy
Joshua Levy
I have bee seeing Soken for while now. If you have some sort of lingering physcial malady go see him, don't wait. He's pretty busy and it might take some time to get in so call right now. Some of my injuries and pain that I have had for years have been greatly relieved by his rolfing work and he's also just a great human being. I would totally go see him for his other services as well. Rolfing doesn't need to be super intense though it can be. He will calibrate to what you need
Philippa Newman
Philippa Newman
I cannot recommend Soken highly enough. He will literally transform your life. I first came to meet Soken for his Rolfing services when I had been living with unbearable lower back pain for over a year. Numerous visits to doctors, various x-rays and months of physical therapy later, I was no better off and desperate to find an alternative solution. Having read about Rolfing as a technique, I discovered Soken's practice in NYC. I am now back pain free and able to do things I thought no longer possible. As I learned more about Soken during our Rolfing sessions, I became interested in his spiritual life coaching /contemplative guidance program. His carefully tailored program has given me enormous insight, and I am a better person, mother and leader as a result. Soken has a calming, peaceful and reassuring presence, and I am extremely grateful to have met him when I did.
A Rice
A Rice
Soken is an amazing coach that will get to the essence of your issues. Difficult issues seem to become easier handle talking to Soken. He is a great coach to have, especially in these times. He is clear and ensures you leave each session with an understanding and a plan of action.
Maya Kumits
Maya Kumits
I’ve been going to Soken for years for my bodywork and sending everyone I know to him too. The work he does with his hands is incredible - I cannot say enough good things. This review, however, is for life coaching. I was faced with a decision recently that I was having trouble making. I was going in circles. I kept changing my mind because I ultimately had no idea what to do. I felt lost and confused. I reached out to Soken for help and was so glad I did. After struggling for weeks trying to figure out the right thing to do, a 1-hour call with him gave me the clarity I needed. By answering a series of thoughtful questions and hearing my answers reflected back to me, I was able to untangle the signal from the noise. By the end of the call, the answer revealed itself. It’s been a few weeks since our call and I still feel great about the decision. I’m so grateful to Soken for helping me with this and won’t hesitate to reach out again for more life coaching.
Marni Gordon
Marni Gordon
I highly recommend Soken as he's a fantastic coach! Soken really helped me set clear goals and measures, helped me to get to insight, and ensures that I have a strong action plan with accountability in every session. Soken's coaching helped me overcome the fear of taking the next step. Soken is sensitive and provides compassionate support through the process.
faraz khan
faraz khan
Soken is an exceptionally intelligent person who seems to understand any multiple of bodily issues. I've been struggling with a reoccurring injury the past few years, and already after the first session I can sense a lot of good has been done. I highly recommend him to anyone 😊
Shonni Silverberg
Shonni Silverberg
I got to know Soken as a client of his Rolfing practice, where his expertise was immeasurably valuable in treating my plantar fasciitis. During the COVID crisis, Soken introduced me to meditation. Practicing under his guidance has been extremely helpful in these turbulent times. Shonni J. Silverberg, M.D., New York, NY
Anaina Mascovich
Anaina Mascovich
The meditation guidance and talk last night was phenomenal. I have had instruction on Metta meditation before, but your explanation offered so much wisdom and direct understanding. Much Gratitude to You Soken.
Lena Elkousy
Lena Elkousy
This review is long overdue, and I would give 10 stars if I could. I cannot recommend Soken's work highly enough. Rolfing is an investment in my physical and emotional health that I wish I had made long ago. To put it quite simply, Soken has changed my life. When we work together, he listens to what I say and what my body says, and works with me right where I am. He is a true healer. In our first series of sessions, he permanently relieved shoulder/neck pain and unfurled a chronic knot that no amount of years of deep tissue massage could even touch. One side of my ribcage was bound with fascia and scar tissue from physical and emotional trauma, to the point that I couldn't breathe into my lower right lung without feeling cramping in surrounding muscles. Over a few sessions, he set me free, and you can actually see the difference in the shape of my ribs. In a series other sessions, he relieved sharp cramping in my feet that I've dealt with since childhood. As a yogi and meditator myself, I find Soken's integrative approach quite profound. Do yourself a favor and an act of self love: and go see this wizard.
Stella Nyla Jules
Stella Nyla Jules
Soken has been transformational in improving and diminishing the increasing pain in my neck and shoulder that traditional physical therapies failed to resolve. His patience, caring, and intuition are top notch.

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