Feelings, part two

“A lot of tragedies happen around the world because somebody’s feelings were hurt.”—Sakyong Mipham

I see part of our work together as returning a sense of grace and power to the realm of feeling. For far too long, feelings have been ghettoized as girly, weak, something for losers. Feelings are what you talk about when you’ve run out of ideas, jokes, and stories. When someone says, “I want to talk to you about my feelings,” we gird our loins for battle or try to run away. Anything but feelings! Conversely, however, some of us make a very big deal about feelings and treat them as precious, fragile, even magical. Some kind of middle way is best.

The last thing we want to do to someone we care about is hurt their feelings and we will go to great lengths to avoid having our feelings hurt. And for good reason. They can cause relationships to end, companies to collapse, and wars to start. I am not even exaggerating. (I don’t know too much about wars, but I do know something about work and I’ve never seen a great idea fail for lack of funding, positioning, or talent. Great ideas fail because someone’s feelings were hurt.)

Can you imagine what your life would be like if you weren’t afraid of getting your feelings hurt? I’m not saying there is a way to avoid hurt feelings, but there is a way to develop the capacity to meet them as a part of your spiritual practice. Seriously, ask yourself: who would I be and what would I create if I was not afraid of my feelings but saw them as my allies?

You could say that learning how to feel is the foundation of a good life and a good human society. As you develop a relationship with your feelings you create the pathways (Sakyong Mipham’s word) to feel how others feel.

In meditation practice, the pathways create themselves with each moment you spend simply being human. The wider you open the door to joy, sorrow, and confusion, the more wisdom you invite. With each molecule of feeling you allow, you create a molecule of compassion.

In other news, what do you think of this logo for us?

Do you have questions about meditation practice?

Photo on 7-23-14 at 12.08 PM #4









This is me, awaiting your questions.

Please post in comments and I will do my best to offer you a helpful answer.

You are the sky.

When you trust your own happiness, you can allow the entire scope of experience to touch your heart. This is the mark of the spiritual warrior. She can hold sweetness, sorrow, rage, and delight equally and fully. She can watch as emotions rise and fall, notice how she reaches out so some and recoils from others, and know that somehow she’ll find a way to make whatever she experiences a part of the path. Whether her world is friendly or inhospitable, smooth or rocky, she can abide in it wholeheartedly. A joyful mind is as infinite as the sky and, like the sky, can contain sunshine and storms, snowflakes and hail. Conditions are continually shifting, but the sky is always the sky. It never gives up. From within it, the great sun rises in the east, the moon meets the tide, and the circle is always complete.

From “How Not to Be Afraid of Your Own Life”

Hello, dear Open Heart Sangha members. For some reason, I was thinking about this passage that I wrote for “How Not to Be Afraid of Your Own Life.” When I read it now, I don’t know where it came from. I didn’t even know when I wrote it, it just came out, and when it did I felt like someone had dictated it to me. It remains the favorite thing “I” ever wrote and I just wanted to share it with you.

We are all working with so much—so much sorrow, so much love, so much confusion, so much longing, so much divine light. The older I get, the more I feel that our work is not to accomplish anything but to make room for it all.

Sending love,



PS I sent you an email last night with the results of our first survey about how this program is going. If you missed it or would like to comment in any regard, I posted it here.

Reminding yourself who you are

I recite four lines before I practice and I find that they remind who I am, why I practice, and where it is all going. These four simple lines point to the whole path and before today’s practice I share them with you.



Audio-only version can be downloaded here.

Everyone struggles to get to the meditation cushion

Everyone! We all encounter obstacles in our quest to become meditation practitioners. We are too busy. We think it’s not “working.” We don’t think we’ll ever get good at it. And so on. Classical Buddhism has actually categorized and described these obstacles. The primary obstacle is called “laziness” and it may not be defined in the way you imagine. There are actually three kinds of laziness and only one involves lying on the couch watching Real Housewives of New Jersey. For five hours. ;-)

Before today’s practice I describe the three kinds and how to deal with them.



Audio-only version can be downloaded here.

Elephant’s tears, suffering, and liberation.

I had an experience the other day that I’m sure you too have had–suddenly the whole world and all its suffering became too much. I started sobbing at the super market. (I seem to be doing a lot of crying lately.) The experience caused me to reflect and I share some of these reflections with you today before our 10-mintue practice.


Audio-only version can be downloaded here.

The Dharma of Depression


Having trouble viewing the closed caption version? An un-captioned version can be found here:

Before today’s 10-minute meditation session I offer a few thoughts about depression, sadness, and how meditation can help us work with difficult emotions.


Audio-only version can be downloaded here.

Why do we sit with our eyes opened?

Hello and welcome to your meditation practice!

Often people wonder why we sit with our eyes opened. Before today’s sit, I explain

Thoughts or comments? I love to hear what you’re thinking..


Audio-only version can be downloaded here.

Book Recommendations

Hello, wonderful meditators.

Some days it is hard to find a way into your practice. We are each so busy and have so many responsibilities that it is hard to settle in. One way to sort of ease your way into practice is to keep a book in your practice space and read a page (or even a paragraph) before you begin your practice. This simple act begins to turn your mind toward practice and away from everyday concerns.

The best book to have is the one that helps you make a greater connection to your practice by illuminating the underlying principles. Here are two of my all-time favorites:

Turning the Mind Into an Ally by Sakyong Mipham

Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind by Shunryu Suzuki

What books have been meaningful to you? Please share as I know it will help everyone in our wonderful community.

Love, Susan

Audio version is here.

In which we listen to music to learn how to listen to ourselves

Hello, excellent meditators.

It is not uncommon for difficult emotions to arise during meditation practice. (It is also not uncommon for them not to arise.) The instruction for those times when they do is to feel the feelings and, most important drop the story line behind the feelings.

What does this even mean?! How on earth do you do that?

The way we listen to music illustrates this principle perfectly and that is exactly what we do in this video: listen to music together!

With love, Susan

Audio-only version can be downloaded here.