Shriyoga Blog

SALLY KEMPTON – Meditation For The Love Of It

Posted on January 11th, 2011

There has been no doubt in my mind for many years now that Sally Kempton is one of the greatest living meditation teachers.  Added emphasis on the word “living” is critical to understanding that she and the teachings she shares are vibrantly alive with Kundalini Shakti.

For those of us who have had the opportunity to attend Sally’s courses since she began teaching independently in 2002, the transmission is palpable.  There is a subtle, loving current of wisdom in every word and gesture.  Now, the gift of her new book, Meditation For The Love Of It, has arrived just in time for 2011 with a potent dose of that wisdom.

As a dedicated, on-going student of Sally’s, I am simultaneously privileged and daunted by the prospect of blogging about my experience of her book.  How can one truly explain the unexplainable: that Sally’s teachings and guidance literally altered the course of my life.  It seems over the top, right?  And, yet, when I opened my advance copy of the book to her Introduction, I was immediately catapulted into a meditative state by the end of the first sentence: “One summer afternoon during a meditation retreat, I discovered that I contain the entire universe.”

Even if I never had studied with Sally, to contemplate the ability to “contain the entire universe” is provocative enough for me to enter a place of deep stillness.  The book immediately succeeded in guiding me to meditate.  Now, I realize that one sentence may not be enough for someone else.  In fact, it may not have been for me either at another time in my life.  The wonderful news is that I am willing to wager that somewhere in the subsequent 13 chapters, and or in the final Troubleshooting Guide, a spark will be ignited to go on your own great adventure of the Self.

For more information on Sally, her teachings and to order her new groundbreaking book please go to:

I Thought I Knew

Posted on January 7th, 2011

After the initial year of the Transformative Journey with Sally Kempton, a smaller group of us decided to do a meditation teacher training with her in Carmel, California.  At this point, my partner and I had separated physically, and yet, emotionally and psychically, he and I were still very much “attached”.  I was hell bent on our getting back together and was willing to wait for an undetermined period of time for him to heal, as I “knew” we would prevail.

My Method trained mind was spinning all kinds of stories of when, how and where our reunion would take place.  I was creating the most beautiful of scenarios.  When emptiness alluded me in meditation, I simply reverted to thinking emotionally satisfying thoughts now that I realized I had this creative license.

My friends and colleagues patiently observed, “knowing” that I did not “know” no matter how much I believed that I did.

I hated hearing that I did not “know”.

I secretly felt myself superior in my abilities “to know”.

What I didn’t know was that I was trapped: Adept now at replacing planes of devastation with valerian fields.  I wickedly slapped away any darkness with Ham Sa or what had become my most intimate mantra Om Namah Shivaya.

And, yet, instead of staying with the space of pure Presence that eventually erupts from the mantra repetition, I would immediately begin to create an emotionally rewarding story which I believed with every cell of my being.

Lingering in spaciousness seemed like a waste of precious time with an agenda to fulfill. I was willfully determined to carve my life into what I wanted.

An intense year of continuous mantra repetition ensued to cut off the still very alive and darkly intense subterranean layers of my mind.  Mantra had become my salvation or so it seemed.

Then one day, about ten months into this process, a no bullshit friend and fellow spiritual journeyman looked me dead in the eyes, and said straight up: “It ain’t going to happen.  It is a very long road to recovery.  You will be waiting your entire lifetime.”

The words were raw.  They struck me painfully because I knew them to be true.  I had been pushing the truth away with mantra because I never allowed any space, and therefore the wisdom that arises from that space.

The next morning, Om Namah Shivaya, was the first phrase to move through my waking mind.  And, then… I paused, breathing… listening quietly for the message.  I chanted the mantra again silently, this time almost reverently, to what is called the Inner Teacher.  Om Namah Shivaya.

I felt an urge rising within the field of my perception.  The urge to… Let Go.

Thus began my true love affair with mantra.

I Am

Posted on January 1st, 2011

I am excited for 2011 in a way I haven’t experienced since I was 9, 10… possibly 12 years old.  Doubtful 12, as life had already become very complicated by then, with murky despair whispering her first hellos to me.  Every New Year moving forward was a desperate promise to be better, brighter, more “together”; strictly resolute to never miss a step, an opportunity… and never, ever make a mistake.

It has taken me decades to realize that Life mostly happens on Life’s terms.

In fact, I can pinpoint exactly when it began to shift: early in 2006 I was on a week long retreat in Joshua Tree with Sally Kempton and a diverse group of people committed to meditating and studying together in a year-long course called The Transformative Journey.

It was a heavy start to that January with my then beloved partner slipping slowly down a steep slope towards a relapse after years of recovery from drug addiction.  My “mind” was telling me that I could control, prevent and fix it.  There was no awareness of my identity being anything other than the thoughts in my head. As far as I was concerned, I was stuck with whatever I was thinking.  There was no possibility, no choice other than to continually think, plan and obsessively strategize.  Anything that passed through the lens of my mind was absolutely real and true.  What was playing out “inside” was something akin to a David Fincher film.  What came with those dark thoughts was agonizing emotion.

One pitch black, cold desert morning, as Sally ushered us to a deeper plane of meditation, I began to free fall inside of myself. It was simultaneously terrifying and exhilarating.  When I seemed to land, there was nothing there.  Emptiness. Presence.  I searched for thought, and nothing arose.  I heard Sally’s voice far, far away guiding us to silently call within “Ham Sa”.

I Am.

Blissfully, it didn’t matter what I was, how I was or why I was.  I just was… no place, no time, no thought.

Later that morning I asked Sally with outright embarrassment: “You mean I don’t actually have to think what I’ve been thinking all my life?”

“No.” she simply answered with a gentle, slightly amused smile on her luminous face.

“I can think whatever I want?  Create some other story.  Something beautiful?”


I was stunned.

Absolutely stunned.

Coming soon: Parts 2 + 3: Five years later… A dedicated love affair with mantra; and my “thoughts” on Sally’s new book: Meditation For The Love Of It