For the Sake of True Love


But for the sake

Of true love

I let go…

Of pride

Of fear

Of illusion


Like a wind

Blowing through 

The forest

In a sacred dance

Of leaves

I let go…

For the sake

Of true love

I let go…

© Salem Islas-Madlo 2016*

“Everyday we say or do things that might leave behind ‘internal formations’ in the person we love. Following that, then the suffering and pain grow, and the person we love turns into something like a bomb that might explode at any moment. A few words are all it takes to trigger anger in this person, who you are afraid to approach and who you are afraid to talk to because he or she has become a bomb loaded with too much suffering. When you try to get away from him or her, this person thinks you do so out of contempt and their suffering increases. You also have become a bomb, because you have lost the ability to speak the language of peace, of understanding. You have lost the ability to listen, and so all communication has become impossible.”  ~Thich Nhat Hahn, True Love


Cultivating the energy of loving speech and deep listening is a daily practice that begins with ourselves. When we reach that point where we are no longer able to speak and listen with compassion either to ourselves or to another being then its time to pause and look deeply and to trust our heart to guide us. The practice of mindfulness can help us. Mindful breathing and walking. It can help us to come back to ourselves. Bringing our mind and body together in alignment. That happens because we take the time to be present with ourselves by connecting with our breath. Or if we are walking our concentration is on the step connecting with the Earth. This brings a sense of grounding to our being. A space of calm can open our hearts so that we can see ourselves again. Mindful breathing helps us to take care of our body, our painful emotions, and to become aware of our mind.  Sometimes we lose perspective and see ourselves as something apart…something separate. We become overloaded because we aren’t taking care of ourself. But, we don’t have to get caught up in the stories we tell ourselves. Instead, we can retrain ourselves to focus our attention. When looking at our views and perceptions we can find a way to let go of our conditioning, illusions and misunderstandings. We don’t have to do anything…we don’t have to try hard. Breathing happens naturally because we are alive. We just need to notice our breath. Coming back to our breath and reconnecting with our bodies and mind opens up a space for our heart to guide us back to safety…the island of mindfulness. Where we can reconnect to Life. To True Love.


*this poem is dedicated to the monks and nuns, Wake Up staff from Plum Village and laypersons who guided us through the retreat “Happy Teachers Change the World” at EIAB during October 14th-23rd

Lightness of Being


Aerial lightness

The last dragonfly ballet

Autumn rhapsody

© Salem Islas-Madlo 2016

“The dragonfly reminds us to embrace change…living life to its fullest. It leaves the underwater world it has called home for years to live at the whim of the winds in its brief time as a beautiful flying being.” – Author Unknown

“”The dragonfly spiritually embodies the stripping away of negativity that holds us back, helping us to achieve our dreams and goals. Dragonflies are the keepers of dreams, the energy within that sees all of our true potential and ability. Dragonflies inspire spirituality and creativity, they help us on the path of discovery and enlightenment. They reminder us that anything is possible.” – Beauty and the Green

“The dragonfly exhibits iridescence both on its wings as well as on its body. Iridescence is the property of an object to show itself in different colors depending on the angle and polarization of light falling on it.This property is seen and believed as the end of one’s self created illusions and a clear vision into the realities of life. The magical property of iridescence is also associated with the discovery of one’s own abilities by unmasking the real self and removing the doubts one casts on his/her own sense of identity. This again indirectly means self discovery and removal of inhibitions.” –

*art from Graffitipaintbar

Right on Track


Sometimes we have to repeat certain words to ourselves over and over again. Over days and even weeks just to help keep our focus. To help pick us up when we have fallen over a negative thought or feeling. It’s like that story that Pema Chödrön tells about the Buddha:

“On the night on which he was to attain enlightenment, the Buddha sat under a tree. While sitting there, he was attacked by the forces of Mara. The story goes that they shot swords and arrows at him, and that their weapons turned into flowers.

What does this story mean? My understanding of it is that what we habitually regard as obstacles are not really our enemies, but rather our friends. What we call obstacles are really the way the world and our entire experience teach us where we’re stuck. What may appear to be an arrow or a sword we can actually experience as a flower. Whether we experience what happens to us as an obstacle and enemy or as a teacher and friend depends entirely on our perception of reality. It depends on our relationship with ourselves.”

Well, that is why over the last couple of weeks I have needed to repeat some words over and over again to myself. Because I have been experiencing a lot of obstacles and unpleasant circumstances….particularly arising from within my own thoughts and emotions.

Here is what I’ve have personally had to write and say to myself over and over again to transform those arrows and swords into flowers:

“I am right on track, right on schedule. I trust that everything is unfolding perfectly. All is well. I am free to enjoy myself. I am right where I need to be, when I need to be, how I need to be. My life is enough. I am enough. Everything I say or do is enough. In chaos or order, it is enough. My life is natural and wholesome. I am natural and wholesome. I have the grace to recognize and accept that. I have the grace to be free. I go on and on past this moment, past boundaries, past time, past understanding.  I am an infinite being. I AM Infinity, itself. I AM Essence.”

*this post is dedicated to a dear Twitter friend, Ishani, @musicmoonlove “Be blessed, Soul Sister.” ❤

*photo by Alisdair Miller, New Day

Inside It’s Snowing


Sometimes the solace falling gently

A lace heart delicate and fragile

Sometimes a delightful crunch under toe

And yet to be trampled under way

But those are the weather conditions


Sometimes the howling wind in the head

A whirl of snow that blinds in confusion

Sometimes coldness of the soul

A paralysing grip leaving emotions helpless

But those are the weather conditions


Sometimes the ice begins to melt

A thawing into vulnerability

Sometimes piles shovelled aside

A necessity to see the path

Those are the weather conditions


Inside it is snowing

For god-sakes the purity!

The renewal of spiritual cleansing,

Shadows releasing new light

There is nothing one can do

……About those weather conditions


Copyright © 2006 Salem Islas-Madlo

photo by Roy Green

Looking Out The Barn Window


There is Something Wrong with You


My Name Is Toxic Shame

I was there at your conception

In the epinephrine of your mother’s shame

You felt me in the fluid of her womb

I came upon you before you could speak

Before you understood

Before you had any way of knowing

I came upon you when you were learning to walk

When you vulnerable and needy

Before you had any boundaries

My Name Is Toxic Shame.


I came upon you when you were magical

Before you could know I was there

I severed your soul

I pierced you to the core

I brought you feelings of distrust, ugliness, stupidity, doubt

worthlessness, inferiority, and unworthiness

I made you feel different

I told you there was something wrong with you

I soiled you Godlikeness

My Name Is Toxic Shame.


I existed before conscience

Before guilt

Before morality

I am the master of emotion

I am the internal voice that whispers

words of condemnation

I am the eternal shudder that courses through you

without any mental preparation

My Name Is Toxic Shame.


I live in secrecy

In the deep moist banks of darkness

depression and despair

Always I sneak up on you, I catch you off guard

I come through the back door

Uninvited  unwanted

The first to arrive

I was there at the beginning of time

With Father Adam, Mother Eve

Brother Cain

I was at the Tower of Babel

the Slaughter of the Innocents

My Name Is Toxic Shame.


I come from ‘shameless’ caretakers, abandonment,

ridicule, abuse, neglect—perfectionistic systems

I am empowered by the shocking intensity of a parent’s rage

The cruel remarks of siblings

The jeering humiliation of other children

The awkward reflection in mirrors

The touch that feels icky and frightening

The slap, the pinch, the jerk that ruptures trust

I am intensified by

A racist, sexist culture

The righteous condemnation of religious bigots

The fears and pressures of schooling

The hypocrisy of politicians

The multigenerational shame of dysfunctional family systems

My Name Is Toxic Shame.


I can transform a woman person, a Jewish person, a black person

a gay person, an oriental person, a precious child into

A bitch, a kike, a nigger, a bull dyke, a faggot, a chink,

a selfish, little bastard

I bring pain that is chronic

A pain that will not go away

I am the hunter that stalks you night and day

Every day everywhere

I have no boundaries

You try to hide from me

But you cannot

Because I live inside you

I make you feel hopeless

Like there is no way out

My Name Is Toxic Shame.


My pain is so unbearable that you must pass me on to others

Through control, perfectionism, contempt, criticism, blame,

envy, judgement, power, and rage.

My pain is so intense

You must cover me up with addictions, rigid roles, reenactment,

and unconscious ego defenses.

My pain is so intense

That you must numb out and no longer feel me.

I convinced you that I am gone—that I do not exist—you

experience absence and emptiness

My Name Is Toxic Shame.


I am the core of co-dependency

I am spiritual bankruptcy

The logic of absurdity

The repetition compulsion

I am crime, violence, incest, rape

I am the voracious hole that fuels all addictions

I am insatiability and lust

I am Ahasverus the Wandering Jew,

Wagner’s Flying Dutchman, Dostoevsky’s underground man,

Kierkegaard’s seducer, Goethe’s Faust

I twist who you are into what you do and have

I murder your soul and you pass me on for generations

My Name Is Toxic Shame.

-originally by Leo Booth, adapted by John Bradshaw-