InsightLA Blog

White pear blossoms drift on the warm breezes, pink cherry trees emerge and spring birds sing the scent of joy and jasmine. Our life blooms in the midst of gladness and sorrow, blizzards and balmy weather. In our mindfulness practice, there is a place for rejoicing — rejoicing in one’s own good work and whatever good fortune we may enjoy. When we’re mindful of the goodness in our own life, we’re naturally more able to participate in the smiles, calm, joy we see in others. Mudita, or Joy meditation from an 18th century Srilankan text: How wonderful you are in your being I’m glad that you are here I take joy in your good fortune May your happiness continue Check out this brief video clip of a toddler reacting to Weather Channel’s Jim Cantore, reporting a rare outbreak of thundersnow in Plymouth, MA. The little one has no idea of what Jim’s talking about, but mirrors the excitement and joy. Research into mirror neurons demonstrates that when we see others enjoying something, the same areas of enjoyment can light up in our own brains. So keep an eye out for small gestures of delight and look for signs of happiness and contentment in others – you can [...]
Tue, Feb 24, 2015
InsightLA Blog
Valentine’s Day hearts, chocolates, flowers, surround us this week, coercing us towards love. Not only are jewelry, candy and card vendors helped by this holiday, we, too, can be inspired to live with a wide-open heart. It’s good to have a national excuse to express our love in an intentional and focused way. What kind of love are you celebrating this year? There are so many flavors and sizes of love. Love for yourself, for your lover, your friends and family, your community, your country, all humanity, the ocean, desert, mountains, forest, the life of all worlds. Romantic love, erotic love, close friendship, sisterly/brotherly love, bhakti or divine love, spiritual love for teachers who embody compassion and wisdom, love of truth. This day is for everyone who loves. But it’s not so festive if you’re lonesome and longing for romantic love. And if you’ve gone through a breakup, Valentine’s Day can mean heartache. Can you love yourself? Be your very own Valentine? If the idea of offering lovingkindness to yourself makes you squirm, use this day to send love to all beings, of which you are one! Come to our lovingkindness retreat this weekend with Kate Lila Wheeler and me (CLICK HERE FOR [...]
Sat, Feb 14, 2015
InsightLA Blog
When we meditate, the breath moves in and out in its own natural rhythm. Breathing mindfully is calming and compassionate; each breath sustains our existence, ebbing and flowing, gently rocking us into a more peaceful present. Each breath is a physical manifestation of the movement of life itself. The ocean breathes. We like to sit by the ocean listening to the sound of the waves sweeping in and streaming back across the sand, wave by wave, moment by moment. Watching the water, we can perceive the deep long breath of the tide rolling in, and away. And then the cycle of days. At sunrise we witness a day being born.  Maybe we stroll down to the beach at sunset to witness this day dissolving and passing away. A breath comes, a breath vanishes. This is our life. The sacred and the ordinary come together, and we love our life completely. Relationships sometimes tempt us — whether part of a community, a family, or a work team — to focus on each other’s shortcomings and the ways we disappoint each other.  When we really feel the preciousness of our own lives, we respect the preciousness of other lives. We appreciate the miracle of our [...]
Mon, Feb 09, 2015
InsightLA Blog
When I was giving birth, the circumstances were very different from hospital births today. I was mostly alone, with occasional checkups from a nurse. I was young and no one spoke about what to expect; they just chirped, “You’re doing fine” or, worse, “A few more hours.” This was little comfort. There was no escape, no choice but to allow the body to go through the fire of physical transformation during labor. As the day crawled by, I remember staring at the white hospital tiles wondering, amazed: “Is this how every single person comes into this world?” When twilight came, the tiles turned blue. I had a vision where my body and I disappeared into a vivid boundless space of equanimity and understanding where everything was clear. There was no pain. It was surprising, and stunning while it lasted. Since that time, I’ve always been interested in the question, what is left when we burn through our pain or suffering? What lies on the other side of suffering? Isn’t discovering this what our mindfulness practice is for? Remembering this unbidden experience brings a lot of confidence and trust. It happened before I ever learned to meditate, during one of life’s most common occurrences [...]
Mon, Feb 02, 2015
InsightLA Blog
Lately I’ve been reflecting on how much easier it often is for us to give in interactions than to receive – even when we trust the goodness of what’s being given. I sometimes feel shy or awkward when I allow myself to receive care, support and kindness. During the first couple years of teaching, I was terrified of being the focus of attention even when the group was genuinely interested.  Before my first dharma talk in a Zen retreat, I asked everyone to turn and face away from me so I could speak! It was also hard to give attention to myself in a friendly, relaxed way. It takes courage to ask for what we need, and then more courage to truly take in what another human being is offering  without somehow turning away or deflecting their gift. Opening our hearts and minds is an adventure; getting to know ourselves and each other more intimately takes — and cultivates — bravery and compassion. For example, how do we move from the protection of our silent individual mindfulness practice into the arena of our interactions with other people? How do we learn how to find the wise voice of our quiet internal mindfulness [...]
Fri, Jan 23, 2015
InsightLA Blog