QUESTION: I’ve been trying to live more consciously, and I feel like a lot of “consciousness” speakers always mention the bright positive side of a spiritual awakening without really talking about the actual work you have to do in the darker places of yourself while you are on the path.

I am writing because I saw the Wake Up documentary, and Jonas Elrod mentions that he learned meditation from you and that it’s been tremendously useful for him. I wanted to ask what kind of meditation you usually recommend? I have tried guided meditation, but am always open to other kinds, as well.

ANSWER: That is an important observation that you are making: the need to delve into the darker places in ourselves. It is not fun, and it certainly takes time and devotion, but it is unavoidable. We are a culture of easy fixes, and hence the fact that this issue is glossed over frequently. The shadow has to be recognized, and then integrated into our psyche, for us to be fully here. It is a prerequisite on the path to remembrance and wholeness. The unsavory issues that come up constantly in spiritual circles around power, money, and sex are a direct result of the refusal to deal with these issues.

As for meditation, I have found mindfulness techniques to be useful. Different meditation techniques have varying intentions behind them. The beauty of mindfulness is to connect us with the moment. Guided meditations are wonderful, but they can also disconnect us from our own experience. Just sitting, breathing, and feeling, as a way of connecting to the moment, is quite profound. Try it and see how it feels to you.