|CONFERENCE CALL DETAILS
Thank you so much for your enthusiastic response to the possibility of a conference call to review meditation instruction and have a Q & A. I’ve scheduled the call for two different dates. Each call will take about one hour and will have the same agenda:
All you have to do is dial in a few minutes before the appointed time, enter the access code, and wait for the call to begin. Click on one of the links below to register. Attendance is limited to 50 people per call.
If you have a question, please enter it into the body of the email and I will do everything I can to answer it on the call. If I don’t get to it, I will answer you directly.
If you can’t make either date, don’t worry! I’ll record each call and send you a link to the recording.
Here are the dial-in details.
|Dial-in Number: 1-213-289-0500
Participant Access Code: 931276
8a EST. Having my gallbladder removed for reasons I can explain later. In fact, getting to the point of having this prosaic medical procedure (the most common surgical procedure in the US, I’m told) has been anything but prosaic and might actually make a decent story. (Which I suppose is true for everyone who has it.)
For reasons relating to this story but that will go unmentioned for now, the surgery has to be open, i.e. not laparascopic. Meaning incisions and the like. General anesthesia. Several hours (or more, I’ve been warned terrifyingly) on the table.
A complex procedure.
I look forward to awakening with further tales from the bardo.
Well, hell, at this point I’m just looking forward to awakening. Like, completely. Hey! That might not be so bad.
Much love to you who partake of this blog and The Open Heart Project and wishing you all the joys of awakenment.
On Monday, I wrote a little about my response to Osama bin Laden’s killing. Upon hearing of his death, most people expressed heartfelt and understandable relief that our hunt for one who wished to destroy us was over. Others participated in “celebrations” that seemed tinged with what could be described kindly as poor sportsmanship. The question I was trying to raise was this: if we must kill (as in this case), is there a way to do so that will increase chances for peace (which is why we did it in the first place) rather than violence?
The practice of sitting meditation begins to shed some light on the Buddhist view of discipline. In meditation, you cultivate focus and awareness by placing your attention on your breath rather than your thoughts. PS It has nothing to do with emptying the mind of thought!! Almost impossible!! Stop trying!! Big hoax!! Instead, you take a different view of your thoughts by seeing them as passing phenomena while your primary allegiance, attention-wise, is to your breath as it flows in and out through your nose. When you forget to do this and become wholly absorbed in thought again, it’s not a problem. You simply come back, with kindness toward yourself and your thought.
This gentle coming back is our first clue as to what true discipline is. It has nothing to do with bullying yourself. It has nothing do with being “good” or “bad.” In fact, it has nothing to do with anything other than simply coming back. There is no narrative attached to this action, it is what it is. Continue
Why do we meditate with our eyes open?
Good morning, lovely people. Yes, I mean you. And you and you.
This morning, I’m going to talk about one aspect of the meditation technique: the eyes, which remain open–and then we’ll sit for about 10 minutes together. You can listen to this little talk (about 5 minutes) and then go right into your practice or, if you don’t have time, listen to one now and the other later. I made the talk and the practice in two files so you’d have some flexibility about how to use them.
And, btw: I’m still figuring out how to bring you meditation instruction and thoughts about the practice in these emails. I’m thinking that maybe everyday, M-F is too frequent, a bit much to absorb. So I’m going to cut back this week to just a few times and see how that goes. If you have any feedback, lay it on me. I want to offer these instructions and insights in the most useful way, so please don’t hesitate.
Regarding the eyes: people often wonder why they’re kept open during practice, saying that it’s just too distracting or that it’s easier to become peaceful with the eyes closed. Duly noted! And if the point of meditation was to minimize distraction and feel peaceful, this would be a problem. But the idea (of this practice, in any case) is neither. Instead, it is to find a sense of steadiness in the midst of all distractions and to cultivate acceptance of any and all mind states: including peacefulness, but also extending to irritation, ecstasy, sadness, dullness, silliness, sharpness, and so on. If we try to cut out all mind states but one, we miss the glorious wakeful brilliance of things as they are, of ourselves. So when you practice, keep your eyes open and the gaze soft. Feel what it feels like to open to your world, to sit with it all, and to relax. This is an extremely dignified thing to do.
Today’s meditation instruction:
You tell me. Has a book changed your life? Which one and why?
Recently, I’ve been asking you lovely readers to let me know if you have any questions or topics you’d like me to address in a blog post. I’ve received some amazing, deep, and deeply heartfelt questions. Stay tuned to hear riffs on issues such as:
“How can I maintain hope and foster hope in others in difficult circumstances?”
“I am interested in the subject of empathy – and especially cases when empathy is so strong that some people’s emotions and thoughts trouble you for days after. What to do?”
“How to overcome the fear of loneliness with an open heart. I’ve been longing for love and missing the intimacy that I had with my ex since our relationship ended fifteen months ago.”
“Any tips on maintaining relationship w chronically negative people? I’m a pos person…they’re bringing me down!”
Great, great questions/issues. But thought I’d start off with something a little more personal. This one was from Angela: Continue
Some thoughts on Valentine’s Day
What if we could celebrate Valentine’s Day in a whole different way? What if instead of celebrating whether or not we have someone to take us out to dinner, we celebrated all the love we have ever felt in our lives, all the love we have yet to feel, and all the love we could feel today, if we allowed it?
If you are in a relationship, make today all about him or her. Lavish gifts, attention, appreciation—but not for show. Make it real. Include lots of gazing into her eyes to see if you can connect with the very essence of this precious being. (Stop just short of being annoying.) Include slow dancing in your kitchen, whether or not music is playing. Add in something homemade, like a pie or an instagram or a poem you wrote about his face in the morning. Make a playlist of songs that remind you of her kisses.
If you aren’t in a relationship, make every being you encounter today into a loved one. No, not that kind. The kind where you think about what is on their mind whether or not they tell you and try to do something thoughtful—like you could laugh with them at what they find funny or cry with them over what makes them sad. You could make your very first question to yourself about everyone be “what is going on for this person and how could I lighten their load a teeny bit, whether or not I have any idea what they’re talking about?” That kind.
And if your heart is broken, you’re in the best shape of all for a day of love because all you have is love. It may feel like pain and longing (and sure, it is), but it’s also something else: love itself, unbound from an object. You know this is you when you feel everything—your own sorrow and the sorrow of others, and also their joy. So even though it can be a bit disorienting, let your openness work for you by agreeing that, just for today, you’re going to use your super powers of empathy to do good for others. And see what happens next.
Make it a day of love. Be a love ninja. Some suggestions: Continue
In gearing up for my big, huge (to me) launch of a daily (M-F) email about life, love, leadership, joy, and creativity based on a Buddhist point of view, I’ve asked people what they might like me to write about. Here are some of the requests I’ve received:
- Can you talk about making a distinction between drawing a boundary with someone’s unacceptable (or abusive) behaviour vs. “running away”…Especially with a partner. when do you not stay in a bad situation?
- How does one become fearless?
- How can I maintain hope and foster hope in others in difficult circumstances?
- Write more about deepening relationships while still being realistic and accepting.
- What has been the biggest eye opener you have had since embracing Buddhism?
- After a very long relationship has ended, how can you truly wish your ex partner happiness (because they deserve to be happy like anyone else) without feeling that pinched feeling when you actually imagine him happy with someone else?
- I want to be more compassionate and kind to people and change my ingrained habitual response to certain situations…(even when they) still annoy me.
- Could you do an email about distinguishing between compassion and what Pema Chodron calls “idiot compassion”?
These are all so awesome. What do you want to hear about? Sign up for the newsletter and let me know. xoxo S
Are you (or do you know) someone who is looking for an unpaid internship that will give an insider view of publishing, writing, and building a business to support your creative habits?
Building a business around my writing has taken a toll on my writing and I’m looking for an intern to work with me 10-15 hour/week.
We can work together in person and/or virtually, although Boston area is preferred. I will help you figure out how to get credit if you are in college studying related topics.
- Manage social media contacts
- Research best practices for self-publishing print-on-demand books, e-books, and audiobooks
- Research best practices for developing apps that extend the brand of my publications
- Stay abreast of current social media trends that could benefit marketing efforts
- Post my writing to the various platforms I use (WordPress blog, Facebook, Facebook fan page, Tumblr, Twitter, and so on)
- Assist with administrative tasks relating to travel, mailings, database management, and so on