Hello wonderful Practitioners. My retreat / vacation is winding down. This wonderful two week period will come to an end on Sunday. While I’m looking forward to getting back to my regular schedule and creating new material for you, I have so enjoyed this bit of time-out-of-time.
I’ve received wonderful messages of support during this time and very kind responses to my “an impassioned plea” post. Many of you have written to say that you too struggle with free-floating feelings of shame and self-loathing. I wonder, is this particular to women? First world denizens? Spiritual seekers? I encounter this struggle in almost every meditation student I’ve ever had. We really need to get to the bottom of this! It is a very real block in the spiritual road. When we doubt in our basic goodness, we become fearful. When we have confidence in our basic goodness, we become fearless. Continue
No matter how deeply spiritual we may consider our meditation practice to be–and all transcendent notions aside–at some point we all wonder what to do about things like itches, pain, yawning and so forth on the meditation cushion. So in the video above, I tried to tackle them all:
- I yawn a lot during meditation. What should I do?
- When I have an itch, should I scratch or try to remain perfectly still?
- What should I do if my foot falls asleep?
- What should I do if I start to cry?
- If something begins to ache (knee, ankle, shoulder, etc), it is ok to move. Continue
Hi! This morning, I went for a run at about 630a. The streets were mostly deserted but occasionally I would pass someone on the sidewalk. When I did, I said, “hi.”
OK, I live in Boston. Boston is not a hi-saying town. I used to live in Austin, TX which is very much a hi-saying town–you say hi when you walk past someone, hi when you enter a retail establishment, hi to the people at the table next to you in a restaurant. It is no big deal. Nobody freaks out. They just say hi back. Continue
Next week is Buddhist New Year: Feb 22, to be exact. In the Shambhala Buddhist tradition, the week or so preceding the new year is called Dön season and is thought to be a time of obstacles, difficulties, and stuckness. I don’t know about you, but when I find myself feeling trapped and frustrated and “I need things to move!!!” my confidence begins to wane.
During a time of obstacles (whether or not you find yourself in one right now), there are steps we can take to meet such obstacles head-on. These steps have nothing to do with slashing through limitations and everything to do with trusting our experience. We will always meet with periods of greater and lesser limitations and we can work skillfully with every kind of experience. When obstacles arise, we can acknowledge them and shift our presence to relate with them intelligently–without feeling (as I so often do) I’m doomed, this is the big one, I have royally f-ed everything up–which is so deeply unhelpful. Similarly, when we find ourselves in periods of flow, we can ride these energies by simply letting go into them–without feeling (as I so often do), I’ve made it, this is awesome, it’s all clear sailing from here–which is simply irrelevant. Continue
Check the little video below about my upcoming meditation + writing retreat in beautiful San Miguel de Allende and meet the program coordinator, John Perkins. John has lived in San Miguel with his family for several years. I know a lot of folks are nervous about traveling to Mexico these days, so I asked him to say a few words so we could all feel like, hey, he seems like a nice guy! San Miguel seems like a cool place! We are unlikely to get involved in drug traffic-related incidents there.
I am so excited about this program!!
March 23 – 29, 2012
San Miguel de Allende Shambhala Meditation Group
I have a dream.
That one day, we will live in a world where we recognize all beings as one family.
I have a dream that on that day, when any one of my brothers or sisters, be they known to me or unknown, seen or unseen, animal or human, finds themselves in sorrow for any reason, a dark blossom will flower in my own heart and in yours and yours, until all of creation sways in the darkness of night, together, and together we sing the song of love.
I have a dream that when a brother or sister knows joy for any reason, I find myself also standing under that cascading waterfall and so do you and you and we are each refreshed, nourished, and cleansed by it together, and together we sing the song of love.
I dream that all beings of all the times in all realms have utterly open hearts and are thus capable of living in the great equanimity free from delusion, free from grasping, and free from hatred.
You have a dream.
What is it?
In the Shambhala Buddhist lineage, we say that meditation trains us to be warriors in our lives—fearless, open hearted, and genuine. Today I want to talk about fearlessness and its connection to meditation practice and I’ll start out by relating a story I heard Pema Chodron tell in one of her books. It is about her teacher, the founder of Shambhala Buddhism, which is the lineage I practice in: the Tibetan meditation master Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche.
Trungpa Rinpoche and some attendants were approaching a monastery on foot and for some reason no one was there to greet them. A large guard dog, a mastiff, protected the entrance to the monastery and apparently he was snapping and fierce, frothing at the mouth, straining to get at them. At some point, the dog actually broke free and began to run toward them. Understandably, the attendants began to run the other way. Chogyam Trungpa started to run, too—right at the dog. At this point, the dog became afraid. He stopped. He looked at Trungpa Rinpoche. He turned and went the other direction. Continue
As we move into a new year, I want to offer you a few personal reflections, some suggestions for your own process of reflecting, and opportunities to practice together into 2012.
For me, this week provides the perfect circumstances for turning within and asking myself honestly, how did I do in 2011? What do I hope for in 2012? How might I get there?
I’ve found that it doesn’t do to make lists of things I hope to accomplish but feel are lacking currently. This just makes me sad. Instead, I’ve found it more useful to begin training myself into the feeling state I know is most beneficial, which is to have an open heart and a sense of possibility. No matter how things are going in my life, if I know how to return to this state of receptivity and curiosity, then I have found the key to joy. And after all, this, a joyful life, is my objective, not making a gajillion dollars, weighing less pounds, or possessing a particular title. Not that there is anything wrong with those things but if my happiness is dependent on them, they are traps. Instead of requiring certain things to feel joyful, I could just feel joyful, on the spot. When I turn my attention to the truth of my experience rather than what I wish my experience was, this wakeful state is always what I find. And my favorite definition of joyful? Awake. Continue