“When a person sits and meditates, it is a special situation, a sacred act. In meditation, even the most impure, crude, or confused thoughts are regarded as sacred. You may fall asleep on your cushion or feel that you have not actually meditated at all. Even daydreams on the cushion are important. You should have the attitude that you are involved with a system and a tradition that is valid and has its roots in solid thinking. Meditation is a definite approach, an extremely valid thing to do. “-Chogyam Trungpa
It is almost impossible, no, it is impossible, to have any idea how to react to a tragedy as profound and senseless as the one that occurred today at an elementary school in Connecticut. It is impossible to grasp.
I’m sure that, like me, many of you have been crying all day.
An event this horrific causes us to see that all of our normal coping mechanisms are inadequate. We turn to each one—blame, hiding, medicating—and each one fails.
Nothing can make this okay. There is no explanation that helps. Blaming lack of gun control, insufficient guns, or inadequate mental health care may be entirely reasonable and valid, but it doesn’t matter. No matter how right you are (or aren’t), it doesn’t change the grief, rage, or numbness.
Using ideas to treat or metabolize feelings doesn’t work.
Then what? I’m afraid that there is not much we can do other than to be absolutely, irredeemably heartbroken. It turns out that this is helpful. Weep, sob, rage. Weep, sob, rage. Every time your mind tries to tell you, “this is because of poor gun control,” or “this world is rotten, terrible and I have to ignore it in order to survive,” and/or “if mental healthcare was better, we could help people before they explode into violence,” please ask it to wait. I’m not saying we shouldn’t act. WE SHOULD. But before we act, we should feel. Allow your heart to break. Let down your guard. There is strange redemption in heartbreak. Continue
Hello to the wonderful Open Heart Project community.
As we in the U.S. enter into our annual Thanksgiving, it is a great time to ponder the notion of gratitude. My friend, writer and teacher Patti Digh, has had ample opportunity in 2012 to contemplate gratitude and giving.
In the last year, her younger daughter was diagnosed with Aspergers and Patti realized she needed to shift her entire professional and creative world from one of teaching and traveling to one of teaching and staying home. She recreated her business as an online entity.
Some months ago, her husband was diagnosed with cancer and they came face to face with the fact that they had no health insurance–and all the anger, shame, and confusion that came along with admitting that. Friends started an Indiegogo campaign that promptly raised over a hundred thousand dollars and along with it, a cheering squad of thousands of loving folks. Continue
Meditation can a softening effect on our hearts. But having an open heart can feel kind of dangerous, unsettling. What to do? Instead of trying to scramble back into a more closed off situation, there are six actions that you could take instead.
Most of us begin a practice expecting to find some relief from stress or pain or to become more creative, successful and/or peaceful. These are all excellent expectations and they are entirely appropriate.
However, after teaching many students all over the world (basically), I’ve seen that there are additional things you can expect that you may not have thought of before. In the first video above, I talk a bit about them.
You can expect:
1. To find greater mental clarity
2. That your heart will soften
3. To be bored
4. To wonder if you really, truly need to follow all of the instructions
5. To discover fearlessness
6. That, if you stick with it, meditation will change your life
Hello, wonderful members of the OHP. Welcome to your meditation practice.
The lion’s roar, according to Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, is the fearless proclamation that whatever comes up in our state of mind, including powerful emotions, is workable.
Today, I want to continue our discussion about meeting strong emotions in meditation practice. As you may recall, our last newsletter reflected on what it means to simply feel what we feel as opposed to telling ourselves stories about what we feel. I hope the exercise of listening to music together was enjoyable for you.
I created that exercise in preparation for answering this question, received from an excellent OHP member: Continue
Today our topic is feeling: What it means to feel, how we meet our feelings in helpful and unhelpful ways, and how it is just plain difficult for so many of us to even know what it is we are feeling.
The question, “what do you feel right now,” presents problems for many of us.
Some people will tell you what they think.
Some people will search within and come up with a version of what they feel that is modeled on what they were told they should feel, whether by parents, friends, or TV.
Others of us simply have no clue how to answer because, well, we just have no clue. The heart-head-mouth pipeline is moribund.
The unwillingness or inability to feel is at the heart of so many of our problems. Continue
Whether you meditated for the first or millionth time today or are simply thinking about maybe giving it a try, it is good to review a few key points about beginning your practice. In any case, we’re all starting over right now. So this is the first time for all of us, myself included.
There are basic 4 points to keep in mind. Continue
One of the most common questions I hear about meditation is “why do we keep our eyes open in meditation practice?” This is a very good question and I thought I’d take this opportunity to revisit some of the reasons.
There are eyes-closed and eyes-open meditation styles and while both are valuable, they can have slightly different flavors.