I remember a teaching I received on unconditional friendliness several years ago at Thich Nhat Hanh’s monastery, Deer Park, near San Diego.
My husband, Ben, and I were in the area and stopped by Deer Park uninvited. As we entered the retreat center I saw a group of Vietnamese monks and nuns wearing traditional dress. Their robes and conical hats reminded me of growing up during the war in Vietnam. I felt like an unwelcome intruder and had such a sudden visceral feeling of shame that I wished I could disappear.
Instead, a nun with an open smile approached us and invited us to lunch. We joined the community of monastics as welcomed guests for spring rolls and tea. Someone showed us how to soften the rice paper wrappers in water and place greens from the monastery garden into the wrappers. I never realized that spring rolls were made from spring greens!
Through the practice of mindful self-compassion we can offer this gift of unconditional friendliness to ourselves… sweeping out the dark corners of our hearts and inviting all parts of our selves to a meal of forgiveness and peace.
Thank you Thich Nhat Hanh. Your practice of peace in times of heart breaking [...]
This letter was written by Kitttisara and Thanissara and edited by Jack and me; to learn about them, go to: http://www.dharmagiri.org/founders.html.
It is with great dismay that we witness the failure of justice for the community of color in the killing of 18-year-old Michael Brown of Ferguson [as well as other recent incidents around the nation]. We are also dismayed that the killing of black men by state power is done with impunity. Equal protection under the law is consistently denied People of Color, and African Americans in particular, who have endured centuries of racism and oppression. This oppression includes mass incarceration in profit prisons as a result of a system that disproportionately targets non-whites. Such systemic disregard for the rights, welfare and protection of African Americans, and People of Color communities in general, is against Buddhist ethical principles and our collective civil liberties enshrined in the Constitution.
We call on all our brothers and sisters across America to join in actions to shrink our prison system and support genuine opportunity and inclusion for all, especially the next generation of youth who represent our collective future and the hope for a wise and fair society.
As those practicing the Dharma, we [...]
When I became the executive director in January, I felt both great joy and great responsibility. My joy arose from this chance to work with an organization which had given me so much. It was and is a chance to give back, to grow our programs and services, to reach more communities. My sense of responsibility came from the same place in my heart. I wanted to make sure we would thrive and embrace our community (you) in the best way we could. After eleven months, I still feel joy and responsibility and, along with that, tremendous gratitude for each of you in this mindful community.
Over this past year InsightLA doubled its number of classes. Along with that, we also increased the number of people who received financial assistance for all of our programs to more than 200 individuals.
InsightLA now offers 16 different sitting groups in 7 different locations, from Laguna Beach to LMU to Los Feliz to Santa Monica. Sitting groups are a wonderful way to support your practice and are offered for donation only. I invite you to check out the many opportunities listed on our website: http://www.insightla.org/meditation/sitting_groups.asp
This year members of the InsightLA family along with other mindfulness [...]
In the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, Tara is the embodiment of our innate great capacity for compassion. She is lovely, sitting gracefully in her meditation with one leg down, ready to stand and help any suffering heart calling out to her. Tara extends a limitless invitation to us to come experience her ease and joy, right in the midst of life’s challenges.
Mindfulness, too, is a limitless invitation. Wherever you are in your busy life, meditation invites you in — maybe for a few minutes, a few breaths or a pause to look at the sky. Like Tara, InsightLA invites you to experience this in your own life. You can learn how to sit still, and to take the insights that arise from your moments of stillness and embody them in your life in a good way.
Here is part of a song to silence by the great poet Pablo Neruda, called I LIKE FOR YOU TO BE STILL:
I like for you to be still,
…Let me come to be still in your silence.
And let me talk to you with your silence
That is bright as a lamp
Simple, as a ring
You are like the night
With its stillness and constellations
Sometimes I long to slide into silence [...]
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 [...]