I shared this a while back on FB but never here... I am in the process of sending a newsletter; something I haven't done in over a year since Miya was born. In order to streamline where people can check in with me - I thought I would repost. Enjoy. Much love.
The "Right View" (here right is not right or wrong but means something like thorough and profound) is the one that is not conceptualized. It does not create good or bad. It does not state that only under certain circumstances can we appreciate our life. To paraphrase Thich Nhat Hanh, it is the very concept of what we think will make us happy which prevents us from actually touching happiness.Read More
I told one of my students, Annie, in NYC over a year ago that I would do podcasts for all my New York students when I moved to Zurich. A lot has happened since then - getting married, becoming pregnant, having a baby and moving overseas... but I finally did it! And on her birthday as a surprise. Happy birthday, Annie!
The end cuts off without any fanfare or clear ending, but baby was waking and I thought something is better than no thing.
I definitely need some help with simplifying the editing process, so if anyone has pointers, shoot them my way!
We certainly are reminded of the great need for mindfulness when life hands us intense shifts such as the loss of a loved one or the birth of a baby. But the teachings as well as our own experience tell us that actually our life is worth tending to in all moments.Read More
In Buddhist meditation, you do not turn yourself into a battlefield, with good fighting against evil. Both sides belong to you, the good and the evil. Evil can be transformed into good, and vice versa. They are completely organic things.
If you look deeply at a flower, at its freshness and its beauty, you will see that there is also compost in it, made of garbage.
The same thing is true of your happiness and your sorrow. Sorrow, fear, and depression are all a kind of garbage. These bits of garbage are part of real life, and we must look deeply into their nature. You can practice in order to turn these bits of garbage into flowers. It is not only your love that is organic; your hate is, too. So you should not throw anything out. All you have to do is learn how to transform your garbage into flowers.
From You Are Here by Thich Nhat Hanh
I am a wholly different being, I feel, when I step onto my mat. My belly is softer. My biceps are stronger perhaps from holding Miya, but everything else feels weaker. My skin is stretchier. I hold some more weight, and I try not to stress about it, which is hard for someone who spent her early 20s battling bulimia as a dancer and the rest of the time since reworking the notion of what it is to feel at home in her body.
But one thing is also for certain: my heart is way more open. My patience has crested to the surface of every moment and overflowed into my reality in a way that it never has before. I move slower. I pay more attention to many things that I do, like how quietly I can put away dishes while my daughter sleeps.Read More
Tonglen reverses the usual logic of avoiding suffering and seeking pleasure. In the process we become liberated from very ancient patterns of selfishness. We begin to feel love for both ourselves and others; we begin to take care of ourselves and others. Tonglen awakens our compassion and introduces us to a far bigger view of reality.Read More
Here is a lovely passage from Chogyam Trungpa, whose writings have inspired me very much. Hope this is helpful!
"Meditating in the midst of physical discomfort actually helps you to be in your body, and it may help you to connect with the aliveness or the living quality of your meditation practice.....Read More
The gentle spring rain permeates the soil of my soul.
A seed that has lain deeply in the earth for many years just smiles.
Thich Nhat Hanh
I recently completed my third weekend of buddhist studies immersion and meditation instructor training with the Interdpendence Project. This weekend was comprised of roughly twelve hours of instructing, receiving instruction or discussion on compassion and loving-kindness meditation. A lot can touch your heart when a group of people come together and focus two and a half days on these practices. As the weekend slowly fades in the distance of my “busy” New York life, I am left with a sense that what transpired was a dance of the heart. It was a dance to help us all remember that even in the darkness of our worst self-aggression, glimmers of true happiness arise. And even in the shadows of ourselves where envy, ill-will and judgement dwell, the opportunity to see the light that casts the shadow is ever greater….
Compassion practices take us home to the tenderness of our hearts, which is both incredibly powerful and quite jarring at times. Practices like metta (loving-kindness) ask us to work with not only those people who inspire and support us, but also those with whom we may have conflict or challenge us in some way. Metta doesn’t stop there. It further looks at the ways in which we move away from the open heart, ways that we cling to or create conditions for the love we give to ourselves and others.
So nothing about Metta is fluffy. It is not all love and light, and that is what makes it such profound work. One of the things I appreciate about this work, is that it very much forces us to keep it real, to look at our shadows with great gentleness and work with the things that bar us from the vast capacity of our own heart.
Dancing is also not just fluff. It is gritty, sexy, light, fluid, graceful, sometimes awkward, still or frenetic, intensely sad or humorous. While remaining a serious discipline it also evokes all of the hues and saturations that color a life.
As we sit down to open our hearts, we might contemplate our work as a dance. We can approach it with a real sense of discipline, but we will not be surprised when it evokes tears or tightness in our throats or deep longing. We can work with these emotions just as we work with the heart: with gentleness, openness and hopefully an occasional giggle or fit of laughter.
may you be protected and safe.
may you be light of heart.
may you be in tune with the rhythms of your own body, mind and path.
may you be naturally unfettered, unadorned, and at ease.
…. my own interpretations on the cushion with lovingkindness (metta/maitri) meditation. what words or phrases work for you?
At the end of my “Joy in Everyday Life” course at the Shambhala Center recently, we had a feast (which is paramount to the Shambhala gathering-of-any-kind tradition I am learning)… Part of the ceremony this time around included the group as a whole participating (even by listening) to a free-form spoken word or poetry circle. I had never done anything like this so it freaked me out a little. (Imagine facing one’s fears at a place like Shambhala -ha) Nevertheless I tried to clear my mind and allow myself to participate in any way that felt natural. Believe it or not, I spoke a line out loud spontaneously, surprised at my own lack of inhibition.
Here is what we came up with as a group. Each line is a different person speaking. All in all it probably took not much more than a minute to compose, however I am impressed by its resonance and how it could be read.
Despite all my initial hesitations, I do think this could be fun in a lot of settings…
Try not to cling on to the sides of the river
Put on your oxygen mask first
Hear the music, feel the magic
Don’t change change
Synchronized swimming in the vast blue sky
Parting is such sweet sorrow
Supported by my sangha
Losing is gaining
No feeling is final
What a beautiful feast
Ever try listening to someone speak for five minutes without responding or interjecting? We practiced listening fully in my Shambhala meditation course today. It was amazingly eye-opening.
Try it sometime with a friend. Pick a topic that could be something you both care about. Time five minutes of talking/listening for each person. Take turns speaking genuinely and then listening fully. As you do this, watch yourself, your reactions, tendencies and discomforts.
You might learn a lot. I found it revelatory.
From Pema Chodron, this practice allows us to focus on the pain and suffering of others, to transform it, and by doing so transform ourselves.
This is dedicated to Zoe. She is going through a painful and difficult mastectomy today. We send all of our love and good energy.