Dear InsightLA community,
This week is a big week for me, and I want to share this with all of you. After a year of writing and refining with my colleague, Greg Serpa, we are sending the finished and edited manuscript for “Clinician’s Guide to Teaching Mindfulness” to the publisher. It will be on the bookshelves in June.
This book came out of our work at the VA of teaching clinicians how to teach mindfulness. I had already had quite a lot of experience and material from training new MBSR (Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction) teachers. Then, while working at the VA, Greg and I were putting together more lists, summaries, tips and practices. We found ourselves wishing that somebody had already done this work so we could simply refer to it: “Get that book,” or “Go to that website.” Since there wasn’t anything like that available, we finally stepped up and did it ourselves—really quite simple. There was a need and we responded. We had the knowledge and expertise and we wanted to share it so that more people could learn the life-changing practices of mindfulness and compassion.
This week in our “Deepening Joy” class at InsightLA, we looked more in-depth at the practice [...]
It was very early in the morning. The woman asked me, “How are you this morning?”
I told the truth, “I’m tired – I was out late at the Clippers game last night and I’m still half asleep. How are you?” She smiled, “Every morning that I wake up is a blessing.” The man sitting next to her nodded his head emphatically, “Yes – just to wake up in the morning makes me happy.”
Joy is contagious. Instantly I felt their pleasure in being alive, the simple happiness of waking up to discover a whole new day. I recognized the wisdom of gratitude that lifts us out of self-preoccupation into a quiet joy that can come in the most ordinary moments. Opening our eyes in the morning to see a beam of sunlight across the room, or feeling a cat gently pawing one of our eyelids, hearing a dog padding into the room, a birdsong, a baby calling, a loved one stirring…What creates the circumstances for joy to flow in your life?
Gratitude opened the door to the smiles of my companions on that very early morning with their appreciation for the gift of being alive. The French call it “joie de vivre,” [...]
InsightLA is celebrating a joyful occasion tomorrow (Saturday) at 5pm. It’s our second Teacher Authorization Ceremony. This special moment is the culmination of thousands of years of passing on the teachings of liberation and loving awareness from teacher to student. You’re invited to join us in honoring Ron Ames, movie producer, and Allen Weiss, professor of internet marketing at USC. Allen and Ron are being recognized as senior teachers — and you’re invited to join us at this important time for our history and our future.
You can learn more about them both on the Teacher Authorization event Page.
InsightLA is a refuge where we can bring all of who we are — our inspiration, longing, and very real life dilemmas. As human beings, we naturally face personal difficulties and losses; we live with the larger limitations of our society and our planet as well. Sometimes it can be hard to keep going.
All our teachers are here for you. They want to be a lamp, a guide, a buoy, a ladder; your teachers are the heart and strength of InsightLA. They help you learn how to be with yourself and your life with compassion and understanding. They show you how to [...]
In a conversation with a student, she told me with longing and sadness that she feels very far away from her practice, her spiritual life. You probably know what she means; sometimes our lives get too full to set time aside for meditation, mindful walking, or any other dedicated mindfulness practice. Often we experience a palpable sense of loss, as if we’re exiled from a vital connection to our true selves, far from what’s most beautiful in our lives.
As her teacher, though, what I see is different. She truly embodies her practice of loving awareness, expressed in countless ways — caring for her aging parents, her own large family, her work.
The sense of being far away is not something to overcome but to respect and include in loving awareness. This is the way to work with our difficulties, to include them and learn from them. Feelings that seem like adversaries can become our allies when they’re included, and mindfulness offers us nobility and joy as we open to what is present completely.
In fact, there can be something more authentic in the times you feel something’s missing than when you feel satisfied. The more deeply you practice, the more you realize [...]
At InsightLA we’re renewing our efforts to be a more diverse community; we want everyone who comes to learn and practice mindful living to feel at home. This means examining closely the various hindrances to diversity – institutional, cultural, and individual biases we carry in our hearts, often unwittingly, outside of awareness.
In some of our trainings on privilege we read Peggy McIntosh’s seminal article, “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack”. It was written 25 years ago and it’s still relevant and important. In it, she describes the ease of privilege that white people take for granted, privilege that also operates when we’re heterosexual, or young, or healthy or wealthy — it’s as invisible as the air we breathe. One participant writes:
“I do not see white privilege as a backpack, because my white privilege does not come off…. My white privilege is not a separate thing. It is my entire house, my entire life. I am made up of benefits that I have received at the expense of others. The clothes on my back are made by people who are not white and whose existence I ignore. When my back is tired, I go for a Korean or Thai massage, both [...]