Thursday, May 21, 2015

Love is the Answer

"Love is patient and kind. Love knows neither envy nor jealousy. Love is not forward and self-assertive, nor boastful and conceited."  St Paul,  1stCorinthians 13:4
Sunday before last, Susan Russel, one of our priests at All Saints, delivered a sermon on “What is most simple is the most difficult.” Meaning Jesus’s message is very simple, but not easy for us humans to consistently practice: Love one another as I have loved you and love your neighbor as yourself.
One problem being that many of us don’t feel loved and don’t feel loving towards ourselves. So love of Self and allowing God to love us is actually one of the foundational spiritual practices. If we know that we often experience shame, guilt, depression, self rejection, and chronic fear, then the practice of Self Love would be highly beneficial for our souls.
Whenever one of these negative feelings arises within our consciousness, it would be good to go directly into Self Loving. We can do this by placing our hands over the places in our body where we feel these emotions, often the heart space and the gut. And as we connect to these hurting places in our body we send loving to them. This is simple spiritual first aide that is so simple, straight forward and provides great consolation and healing.

Saturday, May 2, 2015


 Have you longed for a small group where you could keep learning new ways to serve others as you continue your own spiritual and psychologically development? Do you wish you had a group of fellow practitioners with whom you could be totally real and work on your own personal growth with their support? Have you dreamed of the possibility of integrating spirituality with your professional healing work? Well, wait no longer! This is the future of our fields; come join us!
 Soul Work is accomplished in small groups. We gather together from many schools of healing and faith traditions to engage in deep spiritual practices such as Contemplation, Lectio Divina, Forgiveness, Loving Kindness Meditation, Enneagram Work and a combination of psychological processes such as Gestalt, Inquiry, Somatic Processing, Emotional Freedom Technique, etc. 
 Robert Cornell, Counselor & Spiritual Director is a former Zen Buddhist monk and has practiced and taught Buddhist and Christian meditation techniques for over forty-five years. He has a Masters degree in Spiritual Psychology from the University of Santa Monica and is a licensed Marriage & Family Therapist. His particular passion has been to create small groups that engage in Integral Practice.
 Anthony Glenn Miller, Servant & Soul Friend is an Episcopal Priest in the Diocese of Los Angeles with over 20 years of experience in parish ministry. Anthony holds degrees from General Theological Seminary (M.Div.), Yale Divinity School (S.T.M.), and Harvard University (Ed.M.).  Anthony has a passion for ministering to people on the margins as well as those looking to live a heart-centered life.
 FOR FURTHER INFORMATION OR TO CONTACT US:           Phone: 626-398-5581.

Friday, April 24, 2015


The Perfect Way knows no difficulties except that it refuses to make preferences; Only when freed from hate and love, It reveals itself fully and without disguise.
A tenth of an inch's difference, and heaven and earth are set apart; 
If you wish to see it before your own eyes, have no fixed thoughts either for or against it. To set up what you like against what you dislike, this is the disease of the mind: When the deep meaning [of the Way] is not understood, peace of mind is disturbed to no purpose.                         “On Believing in Mind” by the Third Chinese Patriarch of Zen     - Translated by D. T. Suzuki
Much of the time we human beings are trying to make our experience “good” and not “bad.” There is perfect sense in this. For example, we should get out of the sun when we feel it is too hot so we don’t get sunburned or have heat stroke. Our body sends us messages constantly that this hurts, that tastes good, etc. and it does this for a very good reason: survival.  But if our life only revolves around making ourselves feel good, we start shrinking from a spiritual standpoint.
One of the things that meditation as a non-dual practice helps us to do more skillfully is to learn to be with our experience AS IT IS, without the overlay of reactions of aversion, clinging or zoning out. Buddhism develops this practice in spades. A core teaching of Buddhism is that we experience unnecessary suffering because we resist “bad” experiences, hold onto “good” experiences and space out when experience is neutral (“boring”).
When we meditate, the “goal” is to have no goal. Not to set up anything (even great enlightenment) as the desired endpoint. Otherwise, we keep ourselves trapped in dualistic thinking where one thing is desirable (good) and another is undesirable (bad.) But this goes so counter to our usual way of relating to our life and, frankly, is a very hard sell in our culture of “every day getting better in every way.”
best wishes, Robert Cornell

Wednesday, April 8, 2015


As I write this, I am experiencing a bad cold: sinus congestion, copious sneezing, sore throat, and an achy feeling running through my body. In practicing being with it, as it is, my sneezing subsides, and I am aware of the achiness from a non -judgmental, non resisting place. Interestingly enough, from this place, the ache doesn’t seem “bad. ” Yes, it has a certain intensity, but the achy feeling has no hard edge produced  by resistance to it. I could say from this vantage point I am not suffering - meaning I’m not adding any judgment or resistance to the normal experience of having a cold.

 When we are experiencing something painful, it is so common for us to complain, judge the experience as bad and to resist experiencing it by tensing up our body and trying to distract ourselves. Some of this is innocent enough: we watch TV, we listen to music, etc. so as to not be so aware of what we are feeing. And other attempts are more likely to do us harm - when we take heavy doses of pain killers or anti anxiety medications to not feel the pain or anxiety. In the long run, heavy medication and avoidance do not let us befriend our experience just as it is.

 I don’t mean that we should be masochists and not take medication when it is too much to bear. It’s learning to befriend our pain when it comes to us as it inevitably will as long as we have a body. It’s learning to tolerate the shaky, vulnerable feeling of being present with our experience in the moment, just as it is. If we are control freaks in some way, this is what we strive at all costs to avoid. So letting go means letting be – it’s as simple as that. Simple but not necessarily easy!

Monday, March 16, 2015



Stop. Listen.
Your Soul is calling to you.
But you are busy with the too many things
some bright and beautiful,
others heavy and dark.

But go below this.
Go deeper:
your Soul is calling to you.
You are larger than you think
and your Soul knows.

It knew before
you were even born.
It knows that the world waits for you-
for the one precious thing
you were born to do.

Listen to the silence
that is below the too many things.
It too knows what
you were meant to be.

Let go of fear, let go of shoulds
Your Soul is calling to you,
inviting you into the great world
that is waiting for YOU.

blessings, Robert Cornell

The Beloved

We look for the Beloved, but                                               
we look for Her in all the wrong places.                         
Until, at last, trusting in ourselves,                                          
 far beyond the wiles of the World,                                     
our Heart rests in its heart of hearts,                                 
 where true love is found.         

 One of the most beneficial spiritual practices we humans can do is to give ourselves self love. For some of us , this may be easy but for others of us it is very challenging to practice because of childhood wounds and hurts where our very lovability was called  into question. Also for men (and I’m talking specifically about straight men), because of our enculturation into being strong and invulnerable, this practice seems quite off putting, sissified, suspect. As straight men, we are often afraid of anything that would imply that we are anything less that virile and masculine.

 In any case though many of us have parts of ourselves that we reject and push underground. So in our meditations this week, we are going to be making friends with all of ourselves, even those parts – especially those parts  - we don’t like. There is real courage in this; the root of the word “courage” is “cour,” the French word for heart. For indeed this is work of the heart.


Because we are different people with different personalities, different issues, and different strengths the spiritual practices that will work best for us will be different as well. That is why I do not teach one style of meditation practice. Now that makes it hard for some people because they want someone to just tell them,” Here do it this way. This is the best way to meditate.” So that may relieve you from some uncertainty initially; the problem being that later on, you may find that another style of meditation works better for you and you have spent a lot of time struggling with a type of mediation practice that you find frustrating and which may cause you to give up.

 I like to encourage newcomers right off the bat to try on different practices to find the one that fits them best. Some practices such as mindfulness are very helpful for developing a somewhat detached observer awareness that can see more clearly past the waves of emotion / thought. Other meditation practices such as Zen plunge the practitioner directly into the experience of formlessness. Still others like Christian contemplation bring you to a centering in the heart space.

 All of these practices have their strengths and their weaknesses. What they have in common is a stilling and taming of our scattered and distracted monkey minds which keep us from seeing deeply into the nature of Life and Reality.still 

Wednesday, February 25, 2015


Within each one of us there is a treasure box full of the bliss bestowing jewels of paradise. But we don’t want to open this box. Why?  As one of my teachers, Charlotte Joko Beck said we live in the “if onlys”  If only I had  _____ , I would be happy. If only my spouse would love me, if only I had a better job, etc, etc. We keep looking outside of ourselves for something only we (or God) can give us But the treasure box doesn’t lie outside of us. That is the mistake we continually make.
Each day I work with my therapy clients to help them open their treasure boxes which lie deep within them right down amongst their pain.  Of course, being with these difficult feelings is exactly what we don’t want to do. But that is exactly where our treasure boxes often lie: right in the midst of our anger, sadness, longing, hurt, and loneliness.  And we open them with radical acceptance and loving awareness. These are the keys to our treasure boxes and with them we gradually open our hearts as wide as the world with all its joys and sorrows. Our open hearts ARE the treasure box! 

Monday, February 16, 2015

Free Sunday Evening Mindfulness Meditation in Pasadena 6-7:30PM

Dear friends and colleagues,

I am now doing a regular free Sunday evening mindfulness meditation offering at East Village Yoga in NE Pasadena at East Village Yoga Pasadena 
1720 E. Washington Blvd. Suite 204  Pasadena, ca 91104. This occurs every third Sunday from 6-7:30PM. There is plenty of parking in the rear of the building off Sinaloa Ave. 
I am concentrating on somatic connection (body awareness) right now as this is critical for our physical, mental, and spiritual healing and growth. Below is a description of the class for this Sunday. Please drop in and check it out. Also, Jenny Buchanan who runs the yoga studio is a personal long time friend and colleague.
More info:
Best Wishes, Robert Cornell LMFT

 There is a wonderful way to stay centered  and connected with our inner divinity even when we are upset. When we are triggered into some difficult emotion, we are tempted to pull back from our experience, to try to avoid or to control our emotion. This puts us into conflict with our experience and often makes our suffering worse. And it does not to lead to healing.
 When we encounter a difficult emotion, one excellent way to engage with and heal it is to put one of our hands on our heart space and the other on our belly. Our hands have the most nerve endings of any part of our body. When we put our hands on our heart and gut, we are connecting directly with our bodily experience. And by doing so it is if to say to our vulnerable hurting selves, “ I am here for you.”
 This practice of loving presence brings healing to our inner hurting selves. This practice can be one of the most effective and loving things we can do for ourselves.As we do this practice we are re connecting  with ourselves. And this connection is the healing.

Monday, February 9, 2015


 Very often when someone triggers our anger, there is a strong impulse for us to say something hurtful or spiteful in return. This is practically a reflex action and if we do this, we are acting on automatic pilot. It might feel good at first, letting it all hang out, telling them what we think of them, but often we regret it later for the damage it causes to our relationship with the other person.

 What would be the alternative? We work with our anger like any other challenging emotion. First we hold it  compassionately in our awareness (not suppressing it), watching for and refraining  from any impulses to act out. This is one of the reasons why some kind of contemplative practice is so valuable for daily living. Mindfulness practice in particular gives us the ability to have this perspective on our strong emotions.
 It is important that we not judge ourselves or blame others for our anger. Instead when we are away from the triggering event we can start to inquire as to what the anger is about.

 We can listen compassionately to our inner dialogue of anger and ask ourselves: does it seem familiar, like an old story we have experienced over and over? Does it require us to do something that might be different than the way we have usually reacted before? Gradually as we work with our anger the patterns and meaning becomes clearer to us and we can act with more intelligence.

Thursday, January 29, 2015


Anger is often seen in spiritual practice as undesirable and to be let go of as soon as possible. And in a general sense it’s true; we  have all seen people who hold onto their grievances and resentments and carry them around like valuable possessions, bringing toxicity into their own lives as well as those around them. However, while it’s good general advice to release our anger quickly, it does not always help us in the nitty gritty of our own daily lives.
 Anger is a signal like any other emotion. Often anger signifies that an important personal boundary has been crossed and we need to listen carefully to the message contained in the angry emotion to discern what is to be done. And it might mean an old hurt has  surfaced that needs further healing. So it is important that we investigate what our anger is about before we either attempt to let it go or act in some way to defend ourselves. 
 Often there is an intermingling of a past hurt and a current situation that we are facing. For example we have a difficult relationship with a boss at work that lines up with old issues with a parent. This takes particular care to sort out as to what part of the situation may be our own issue and what part we have a legitimate cause for wanting to confront the other person, while not acting out and undermining our position.

Monday, January 26, 2015


There are two basic paths in meditation practice: one is about detachment from thought and emotion and is typified by Buddhist meditation practices to develop insight into the empty nature of reality ( more about what emptiness means another time. ) And then there is the heart centered meditation practiced by mystical Christianity and Sufism.
 In my own practice I lean more and more to heart centered meditation and I am going to be teaching more about that in our group. In heart centered meditation, you bring your awareness to your heart center and let yourself open to the source of loving which Christians and other theistic faiths call “God.”  When we bring our consciousness to the heart, we feel deeply connected to our very selves and deeply connected to others and the world around us. 

Thursday, January 8, 2015


While we seek healing and spiritual growth for ourselves, there is another loving force operating from the other side. We could call this “Grace.” Unlike other things, Grace is unearned, unconditional love; it is given to us simply for being human beings. This is not the normal economy of the world where everything has to be bought and is also usually bargained for with others: you give me this and I will give you that.
 For most of us, even those who have had so called normal lives, we cannot imagine something that is given free of charge, so to speak. “So what is the catch?” the cynical or doubting part of you might ask. There is no catch; we simply have to open ourselves to receiving this grace. Of course this is just too good to be true for us with our experiences of being hurt by others, of being made to feel small and unworthy. It is very hard to imagine living in the economy of unearned Grace where no demands are made of us, no conditions are put on our being accepted, and there is no hidden agenda that could be turned against us.

So the work we are invited to do in spiritual practice is really an undoing, a letting go of all the old limiting beliefs that we harbor deep inside of us of being unworthy, of suspecting the motives of others – even God or our higher power, of holding on to the belief that nothing is for free… And giving up the old agendas of our ego self that has thought to buy this love and protect itself by trying to be successful, being a good or bad boy/girl, etc., etc. So there is a price after all: letting go of everything that gets in the way of receiving this love. This deep incredulousness about the gift of Grace is the fundamental wound of us human beings. It is everyone’s spiritual wound, without exception. And we heal it by gradually opening ourselves to this gift.

Peace, Robert