Tonight is the April full moon, and the first night of Passover. This full moon is supposed to be a perfect time to plumb our depths, release fears, and commit to embracing life fully — freeing our demons so we can participate in the deep, abiding goodness of life itself.
As the moon was waxing this week, Jack proposed to me at noon, in mid-air, on top of the Santa Monica ferris wheel. I love that 300’ majestic, multi-colored wheel; it spins kaleidoscopic light patterns at night and has comforted me many times since I first moved to LA. This week it became a wheel of JOY!
I’ve been amazed by the outpouring of mudita (unselfish joy) coming our way as you learned of our engagement. Your sympathetic joy melts the walls of loneliness, isolation, and doubt that can separate us humans. My heart overflows with delight in how we reflect each other — this shimmering full moon of happiness shining from you to us, and from us beaming back to you.
Thank you for your smiles and love, for being part of our InsightLA community, for joining Jack and me as we widen our circle of joy. It’s never to late to [...]
From the beginning, the trainings in mindfulness include attention to both the inner and outer worlds. As we mature in our practice, our courage and awareness grow. Mindfulness becomes flexible and strong enough to face the ocean of suffering within and around us. With loving awareness, we can walk a path of freedom across the world.
I just returned from three days of a special mindfulness training at Spirit Rock Meditation Center offered to staff and teachers by the People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond. Called “Undoing Racism,” the trainers showed us how to look deeply at our organizations and begin to see how our institutions inevitably participate in the racism we deplore. We were taught how to expand the skills we’ve cultivated to alleviate personal suffering to understand more systemically our history and our culture.
We opened our collective eyes to see the many hidden yet widely sanctioned institutional arrangements that perpetuate poverty and divide people through fear and resentment. Looking deeply, we saw how being afraid of each other precludes finding common ground and taking a united stand against widespread social injustice. We were encouraged to be “critical lovers,” to widen our personal lens and analyze our organizations, to love [...]
Move it and listen: Calling all dancers
Do you enjoy meditating after some form of stretching or workout? For many this is not new: after moving the body for even just a few minutes, quiet sitting meditation is usually easier and more pleasant. Why? Because the body feels more alive, more real. It’s so much easier to stay present with the body when we can actually feel it in an alive, vibrant way. Yoga or Tai Chi are some ways to do this; dance is another.
At InsightLA we are moving (literally!) into a new field exploring this overlap and mutual support of dance and meditation with our monthly sessions called “Move It and Listen.” If you prefer a calm and slow movement class, please check out Mindful Movement and Awareness with Karen Cryer.
For me, my body pulls me to dance these days just like I observe my 10-year-old son being pulled to his iPod. I can hardly wait to move again, to let myself be moved through the music, to get out of my head, out of my mind and into my feet, my hips, my entire body, to listen to how my body wants to move. I like to dance [...]
I’m happy to announce that as the Founding Teacher, my work is now being supported by a new Guiding Teacher Council made up of four of our most experienced teachers: Ron Ames, Maureen Shannon-Chapple, Beth Sternlieb, and Allen Weiss. I have complete confidence in their fine and varied skills and their years of dedication, both to InsightLA and to the practices of wisdom and compassion. They are taking on great responsibility — this is a sign of the growth and maturing of our community, truly something to celebrate!
Dr. Christiane Wolf will continue her teaching and mentoring at InsightLA as well as being the Director of MBSR, Health and Healing, and VA CALM. From the start, she’s been my partner in creating and developing the whole mainstream mindfulness branch of InsightLA. Now Christiane will take some welcome time to step back from her central leadership role to reflect on next steps and recharge.
In 2001 I came to visit family in Los Angeles after spending a couple years practicing intensively in the U.S., Bhutan and India. Seeing how busy the pace of life is in our inconceivably vast and glorious metropolis, I felt my contribution was to teach mindfulness while embodying a [...]
The Buddha wanted his work to be accessible — not out of ego, but from his compassion and insight. He wore the robes and people knew it meant they could ask for spiritual teachings. He taught in the vernacular, deliberately using similes and common language people understood. He walked across the plains of northern India barefoot, teaching tirelessly for forty years. In his dedication to freeing the hearts of countless beings, he went to Agra, Sarnath, Bodhgaya, days apart even with modern transportation. When he sent his students forth to teach, he said, no two go the same way. He wanted them to get the word out most efficiently, to ‘go forth for the welfare of the many.’
Nowadays, his loyal attendant Ananda would surely be tweeting, disseminating posts on Facebook and Instagram, even asking disciples to like his teacher and follow him on the web instead of on foot. Audio and video teachings would be posted promptly on the website, freely available. There would be a dana (donate) button, podcasts, live-streamed talks, all accessible day and night.
Fast forward a few thousand years. It was pretty lonesome when I moved here, driving around LA all alone in my Mom’s 12-year old [...]