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Alex Mill
I trained in a Zen monastery for nearly 14 years. Now, I offer my extensive experience to transform people’s lives & businesses through timeless Zen principles.

I didn’t decide to train in a Zen monastery.

I didn’t say to myself one day, “I think I’d like to give up everything I have and go train as a monk in a Zen monastery for 14 years.”

Before I discovered Zen, I had no interest in anything even remotely resembling spirituality. I was interested in the exact opposite. I was just a regular artist dude who liked to read a lot and collect shiny objects. By all rights, I had everything I thought I should have that would warrant happiness. My planets had aligned. …

Photo credit: Flo Karr

“Life always gives us exactly the teacher we need at every moment. This includes every mosquito, every misfortune, every red light, every traffic jam, every obnoxious supervisor (or employee), every illness, every loss, every moment of joy or depression, every addiction, every piece of garbage, every breath. Every moment is the guru.”
— Charlotte Joko Beck

I was in a conversation with a client, and we were talking about the voices in our heads. I told him the good news and the bad news about the voices. I started with the bad news. I told him that the voices never…

Photo Credit: iStock

“But what about your savings for when you retire? Aren’t you concerned about your future?”

My father and I were standing in the kitchen arguing about my decision to train in a Zen monastery. I’d been there for over two years and every time we’d see each other, we would inadvertently go “here” in the conversation. His major objection was that I wasn’t out in the world making money, putting it away toward what I might need. No 401(k). …

Photo credit: Roman Kraft

“Love every leaf and every ray of light. Love the beasts and the birds, love the plants, love every separate fragment. If you love each separate fragment, you will understand the mystery of the whole resting in God.”
— Fyodor Dostoyevsky

While I was training at the Zen monastery, I transcribed this quote by Dostoyevsky onto an index card and posted it up on my hermitage wall by my bed. Every morning, I’d read it to remind myself that the quickest way into the experience of unconditional love and acceptance was to love everything. Because let’s face it, it can…

Photo credit: Matt Hardy

“We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop.”
— Mother Teresa

The ego needs constant consolation that it is significant, that it is important, and that what it’s doing here is purposeful. It can be very disconcerting for us to comprehend just how insignificant our blip of life here truly is. I don’t care if you’re an anonymous person in some village or the most powerful, beautiful, talented, successful person on the planet. From each one of our vantage points, everything revolves…

Photo credit: Shttefan

“We are not held back by the love we didn’t receive in the past, but by the love we’re not extending in the present.”
―Marianne Williamson

Held back.

It’s very tempting to use old grievances as an excuse to stay stuck. To lick old wounds. To take time to heal. To complain that you were never loved enough, or the way you wanted, so you must hold back now.

But I would argue that you can change your entire life at the drop of a hat by letting go of that identity right now.

Did you hear a voice in…

Photo credit: Mantas Hesthaven

“Making your unknown known is the important thing, and keeping the unknown always beyond you — catching — crystallizing your simpler clearer vision of life… that you must always keep working to grasp.”
— Georgia O’Keefe

Have you ever noticed this most interesting thing?

We tend to keep around us that which we agree with and know while we keep away from us that which we disagree with and don’t know. I hear people say they like a certain teaching or an exercise in my retreat, and I will remind them that “liking it” isn’t the point. It doesn’t matter…

Photo credit: Pixabay

Zen students are with their masters at least ten years before they presume to teach others. Nan-in was visited by Tenno, who, having passed his apprenticeship, had become a teacher. The day happened to be rainy, so Tenno wore wooden clogs and carried an umbrella. After greeting him Nan-in remarked: ‘I suppose you left your wooden clogs in the vestibule. I want to know if your umbrella is on the right or left side of the clogs.’

Tenno, confused, had no instant answer. He realized that he was unable to carry his Zen every minute. …

Photo credit: Lauren Kay

“I’ve been knocked down a lot of times.”
— James Brown

So here’s the scenario…

The night before, I get super-jazzed about doing yoga at 6:00 a.m. (anyone else out there who gets super-jazzed about exercising early in the morning the night before?). I go to bed and set the alarm to be sure I don’t sleep through my commitment. I pull the covers over me in my warm flannel sheets and snuggle into my pillow with a smile on my face. …

“When someone beats a rug, the blows are not against the rug, but against the dust in it.”

At the monastery where I trained, we had a saying that went something like this:

“If you had people in your life that treated you as badly as the voice in your head treats you, you would have gotten rid of them a long, long time ago.”

Many folks have mentors, coaches, personal trainers, and loved ones who support them. Lord knows we could use one inside our own heads!

We pull through for others — we’re even kind and compassionate…

Alex Mill

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