Keeping Calm Amid the Chaos

I found this Tim Ferris podcast with Jack Kornfield to be quite helpful and refreshing that it didn’t focus solely on COVID-19.

Jack Kornfield trained as a Buddhist monk in the monasteries of Thailand, India, and Burma, shortly thereafter becoming one of the key teachers to introduce Buddhist mindfulness practice to the West. He has taught meditation internationally since 1974.

Tim Ferriss

In the podcast Jack reminisces about his time spent with Baba Ram Dass, particularly in the last few months of his life. I had picked up Be Here Now after hearing of Ram Dass’ passing. I’ve been on a new spiritual path the past 6 months of my life, and found Ram Dass’ teachings shared in his book very uplifting and admittedly, at times, frustrating as the illustrations are a typographer’s worst nightmare. But above all, in tune with the path I’ve been on lately in terms of awakening consciousness.

For most of my adult life I’ve rejected the notion of being spiritual. In fact, I actively avoided it, despising the Catholic upbringing I had and the hypocrisy of it all. On one hand the religion tries to teach you only god can judge, on the other hand I see endless amounts of catholics taking that role on for themselves. Once my mom passed, I rejected it even more so. Her spiritual connections would send me into such deep sorrow and anger. I’ve mainly spent the last 17 years avoiding that grief.

Fast forward to 2020 where I’m now facing much of this again. My stepmom passed away unexpected late last year, and it’s been the first time that I’ve enjoyed my spiritual encounters with her. Right after her passing she would come to me as a bright orange, warming glow. I felt happy, reassured, and comforted by her presence. I’d wave at where I felt she was, giving her a smile, letting her know I “see” you. Ever since her twin passed away when she was 19 she’d always tried to reconnect with her on a spiritual level. The instant I learned of her passing I felt solace knowing their souls were reunited again.

Now I have a different relationship with spirituality. I was mistaken for most of my life thinking this meant religion. Today I view it more as allowing myself to connect with myself on a deeper level. I’m sure at it’s essence most religions are trying to teach this as well, however I think that message has been diluted with the passing on of teachings over time. I used to completely close down my energy centers at the mere thought of “God”. Now I embrace the fact that we are all “god”, not that we are “gods”, but to mean we are all connected as one.

I can’t help but think that my newly found spiritual awakening was preparing me for my stepmom’s death and the continued loss I experienced for months after. I believe it’s still preparing me for what’s ahead. In the upcoming months and years, I imagine many of us will be experiencing overwhelming loss, grief, and depression. It’s often not until we hit rock bottom that we seek out changes to help improve our wellbeing. But why do we wait until it gets so bad that we feel like we can’t take it anymore?

One of the things that Jack mentioned in the podcast really resonated with me was how depression often spirals people down into negative thoughts to the point that they convince themselves that they want to die. No doubt many of us have been there at some point in our lives, if not perhaps there right now. Our psyche can be evil telling us over and over how bad things are, how awful this life is, how horrible you are. Jack paraphrases teachings he’d learned from Stan Grof, psychiatrist and expert in non-ordinary states of consciousness and one of the founders and chief theoreticians of transpersonal psychology, saying:

“When people feel that they want to commit suicide, they are right that something needs to die, they’re mistaken in thinking that it’s their body that needs to die. But they are facing something that really does have to die, and changing maybe the whole way they’re living their life, it may be the history that they have, that they have to die to—that you could call it ego death, some sense of identity that they have that they don’t want to let go of, but they have to.”

Jack Kornfield, Tim Ferriss podcast #414

Among such dark topics I oddly found myself at peace with this segment of the interview. How true I found it to be, and how confused and sad I was in years past when I’ve let myself get to this point. In the weeks (and more likely months) ahead where we need to practice self-isolation and social distancing I encourage everyone to not allow your psyche to bring you down. Do things today that can help you feel better now, tomorrow, and down the road. Invest in your mental health by practicing being present, allow yourself to quiet your mind, get in-tuned with your body. Turn off the TV and distance yourself from social media, even though it can give you tiny spurts of dopamine now, it will only make you feel worse in the end.

Allow yourself to feel bored.

I know that sounds counter-intuitive to our world today, but it’s in that boredom that your intuition will speak up. It can allow you to tap into your conscious awareness to reveal what we all have within, our intuition guiding us on the right path we are meant to take. Reach out to a friend on the phone. Even though the current times require us to be physically apart, I believe now is the time to allow this to bring us closer together, by being there for each other in whatever means we can.

Deep breath in….

Long exhale out…

Deep breath in…

Long exhale out…

As long as you focus on improving yourself in healthy ways, everything will be ok.

AOC is KILLIN’ it!

I’ve really been loving the raw honest truth and pressing nature that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is bringing to politics today.

Here’s some recent gems:

And this one where AOC interviews Susan Bro, the mother of Charlottesville victim Heather Heyer, who explains the distinction of being anti-racist and non-racist during a House Oversight hearing ‘Confronting White Supremacy.’ POWERFUL message here everyone should hear:

These are just 2 examples, but each and every video I see of her gives me a little bit of hope in this otherwise pathetic political landscape.


Finally, some logical sense to one of the most important constitutional amendments we should pass: Elizabeth Warren wants to abolish Electoral College system

“I believe we need a constitutional amendment that protects the right to vote for every American citizen and makes sure that vote gets counted,” she told a CNN town hall in Jackson — noting presidential candidates didn’t tend to campaign in states like Mississippi, which are not Electoral College battlegrounds. “And the way we can make that happen is that we can have national voting and that means get rid of the Electoral College.”

Elizabeth Warren, via

Future of Work: Distributed for Success

I love this video from Matt Mullenweg, the CEO of Automattic, the company I work for, on the benefits of a successful distributed work culture. While Automattic started as a fully distributed company, Matt delivers some tips on how you can start to introduce this into a work environment that traditionally requires you to go into an office. As one of the commenters suggested on Matt’s post, the quality of life is so much greater when you don’t have to deal with a commute and have the benefit of working when your mind is in it, rather than the traditional 9-5 that most people subscribe to.

Matt Mullenweg, CEO of Automattic, on why working from home is good for business.

I’ve mentioned countless times in the past how I don’t think I could ever go back to an office work environment again, and I’m excited for the future when employers won’t have this as a blocker for hiring the best talent across the globe. The diversity and inclusion benefits of this approach are vast, and one severely needed in the tech industry.

2019 International Women’s Day Panel Discussion & Live Q&A

This Friday, March 8th, at 10am PST I’ll be hosting an International Women’s Day (virtual) Panel Discussion & Live Q&A with 4 amazing women from the tech industry, to discuss leadership development, self-advocacy, and mentorship. We will be using the Zoom video app to host the panel so as long as you have an internet connection you can join us! It’s free!

Continue reading “2019 International Women’s Day Panel Discussion & Live Q&A”

Research finds heavy Facebook users make impaired decisions like drug addicts | TechCrunch

You don’t say…
— Read on

And more research findings on the impact social media can have on the brain, from the Guardian: How Instagram takes a toll on influencers’ brains

I also found this article to have quite a bit of useful research on the subject of children and screen time: The Tech Industry’s Psychological War on Kids: How psychology is being used as a weapon against children.

“According to a Kaiser Family Foundation report, younger U.S. children now spend 5 ½ hours each day with entertainment technologies, including video games, social media, and online videos. Even more, the average teen now spends an incredible 8 hours each day playing with screens and phones. Productive uses of technology — where persuasive design is much less a factor — are almost an afterthought, as U.S. kids only spend 16 minutes each day using the computer at home for school.” 

Richard Freed

Persuasive design

If you haven’t heard of persuasive technology, that’s no accident — tech corporations would prefer it to remain in the shadows, as most of us don’t want to be controlled and have a special aversion to kids being manipulated for profit. Persuasive technology (also called persuasive design) works by deliberately creating digital environments that users feel fulfill their basic human drives — to be social or obtain goals — better than real-world alternatives. Kids spend countless hours in social media and video game environments in pursuit of likes, “friends,” game points, and levels — because it’s stimulating, they believe that this makes them happy and successful, and they find it easier than doing the difficult but developmentally important activities of childhood.

Think about it…

“We can now create machines that can change what people think and what people do, and the machines can do that autonomously.”

Dr. B.J. Fogg. Founder of the Stanford Persuasive Technology Lab

What will we do with this power? Or more importantly, what will we do with this information?