March Weekend Wisdom with Dr. Brandon Nappi

girl looking out as sun sets


By Brandon Nappi


Weekend Wisdom is a weekly sharing from Copper Beech Institute’s founder, Dr. Brandon Nappi. The following are Brandon’s recent reflections, originally posted on social media each Sunday. We hope these simply lessons inspire, rejuvenate, and support you on your inward and outward journey.

 The moment of encountering the dark is not the time to doubt your light.


Trust that your heart is connected to its Source at all times. Limitless love, compassion, courage, and strength are available. Right now, the world needs you to trust that this Source lives in and through you. Remembering this reality is the essence of spiritual practice. Your inner critic will invite doubt. You’ll feel like an impostor from time to time. Many voices will criticize. Don’t be afraid--remember you are a light bearer. Staying true to this path will invite deep humility. There will be moments of confusion and soul-searching. You will be faced with your shadow. Your ego will tempt you to use your practice to feel superior. You’ll need to ask yourself and others for forgiveness. This too is part of the journey. Remember, you are a light-bearer. Being light in the darkness will be the most challenging task of your entire life. Yet this is the price we gladly pay for being used as an instrument of healing. We are here to support you on this journey. We hope you can visit and practice with us soon. 

 The Myth of 110%


The frequent mistake of beginners in the spiritual life or in any practice is to try too hard, to want even the most noble goals too badly, and to imagine that our lives would be better in some idealized future. The ego is hungry to use new skills and information to feel special or superior. Of course, you are already special (like everyone else), and there is nothing to add to your infinite worth. Whatever your practice is, there will always be a temptation to grind the body or the heart past the point of benefit. You do not need to seek discomfort for growth. Instead, let it find you, and it surely will. When it does, can you welcome it as a teacher in disguise? What if you stayed with your discomfort until you’ve learned the lesson it has to teach you? Spiritual growth is uncomfortable by definition, as we surrender old habits and patterns. When we let go of what is no longer serving our lives, we may feel fear—like the bottom has dropped out beneath us. Can we welcome even fear without pushing? Getting comfortable with being uncomfortable is not about pushing ourselves beyond safety. It’s not about exerting 110%. It’s about realizing that the growth we long for may not come quickly, when we want it, or in the form we want it. Nonetheless, trust in the slow work of surrendering over and over until you’ve found the beautiful balance between effort and no effort. This will only take the rest of your life. We are with you on the journey! 

 The messiest truth is more freeing than the prettiest illusion.


Why do we waste so much energy pretending? Pretending is exhausting. It’s incredibly freeing to live in the truth…so what stops us? Are we afraid of judgment or failure? Are we afraid of not being enough? We pretend we’re happy when we’re not. We pretend we are OK with a situation when we’re not. We silence our voices. We remain in relationships longer than is healthy. We tell ourselves alternatives to the truth hoping to convince ourselves of what we’d like to believe. We try not to make waves. We keep doing what’s familiar and safe. We play nice with others. TRUST that even the messiest truth is more life-giving than the prettiest illusion! This may feel vulnerable, and it may not seem nice. One thing that this spiritual life is not is NICE. The purpose of spiritual practice is not to make nice people; it’s to make FREE people who can live and serve the truth in love. While the truth will set you free, sometimes the truth will kick your butt before it sets you free. The spiritual life comforts the afflicted AND it afflicts the comfortable. May our practice help us to speak and live the truth courageously without pretending. We are breathing with you on the journey. 


 Silly is sacred.


Do you take yourself too seriously sometimes? Has life become a problem to be solved rather than a mystery to be explored? Being silly is the secret to spiritual practice. After a glorious Sunday afternoon nap, I awoke to discover that my daughter had applied generous amounts of lipstick to my face during my slumber. I kept it on for a few hours enjoying the pure silliness of looking so ridiculous. Seekers on the spiritual path tend to feel emotions deeply and intensely. We feel the heavy burden of people’s pain. Sometimes the weight of the world’s suffering can overwhelm our hearts. The gift of the empath is that we feel deeply connected to others. This empathy is a sacred treasure that needs to be cared for. Without a counterbalance to this intense empathic energy, we can quickly become depleted, hopeless, and resentful. We can even feel like an exposed nerve ending. The result is that our sacred passion for life, purpose, and meaning can become toxic as we take ourselves too seriously and feel other’s emotions too intensely. To heal this intensity and empathic overload, try laughing, smiling, playing more often. Sing. Dance. Try something new. Be silly…over and over again. I believe that silly is sacred! Is this true for you? 

 Your ego fears all you have to lose. Your spirit trusts all you have to gain.


We crave certainty. We want guarantees. If we invest effort, time, and energy in a project, a job, or a spiritual practice, we want it to pay off. The moment things don’t go our way, we create dramas. We catastrophize. We create stories about how things might go. The ego craves security, safety, and predictability. Yet what the soul longs for will only be found in vulnerability, trust, and NOT KNOWING. Can you trust that growth is happening even when you cannot detect it? Can you trust that you are infinitely worthy of love no matter how confused and lost you feel? The beginning and end of spiritual practice is the willingness to let go of control and surrender the need for a roadmap. Can you trust that the infinite source of courage lives within you at every moment? You have everything you need to begin growing--right now and in the messiness of life. Losing and gaining are intertwined along the journey. One thing falls apart so another thing can come together. Let’s not fool ourselves—this often hurts like hell. Living, loving, and letting go will break our hearts open over and over again. Losing what we think will bring us peace will be painful. Yet it is in the depths of pain that the fierceness of love is borne. Trust is the ultimate spiritual practice. Leap first and then the net will appear. 

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Writing to inspire mindfulness, contemplation and wholesome living, by Copper Beech master teachers, students and contributors.

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