One of our loving supporters just emailed me from Washington, DC, that CAST, the Los Angeles-based Coalition to Abolish Slavery & Trafficking where he’s been volunteering, is the first non-profit organization to receive the Presidential Award for Extraordinary Efforts to Combat Trafficking in Persons. CAST is the longest-running anti-slavery organization in the country, the first to advocate for laws to protect survivors.
He said, “to my amazement and gratitude, I saw and felt that this cabinet is mindful! Most of the cabinet members were at the meeting, chaired by Secretary of State John Kerry; the whole cabinet is…dedicated to helping survivors and stopping slavery.” Here’s an unofficial video clip of the award presentation:
Our collective heartfulness and wisdom inform the way we’re running InsightLA day to day. In our office we’re busy serving hundreds of people as we tend our community. It is our dharma practice.
How do we translate spiritual insights into mindful management, wise policies, words, website? Together as a staff we’re studying Sharon’s new book Real Happiness at Work to support our mindfulness practice on the job. She teaches “stealth meditations” you can do in the midst of busyness:
“Feel your hands. See if you can make the switch from the [...]
I’m happy to welcome some of our InsightLA teachers back from silent mindfulness meditation retreats — and several more will be going during the next months. I love to see their openness and radiance! Our teachers are part of our Dream Team at InsightLA (Click HERE for an introduction to our staff Dream Team) and we celebrate their depth of practice.
We live in a culture that doesn’t teach us how to nourish ourselves in truly fulfilling ways. Taking a day or a week or a month or more for retreat, at home or in a group, can provide the protected, safe space we need to deepen our trust in experience, to discover what we really want in this life, and to fall in love. We fall in love with life, with the miracle of awareness, with this vast reality we inhabit together.
As lay people devoted to a life of mindfulness and awakening, we are creating beautiful contemplative forms that allow us to weave loving awareness into our everyday lives. Learning from our teachers and ancestors, we respectfully bow to the ancient wisdom traditions while experimenting and inventing our own.
The forms of our Vipassana/Mindfulness/Insight meditation retreats have matured to allow us [...]
I don’t know what I expected to find when I returned to InsightLA. It was the longest I’d been away for over ten years, on pilgrimage with Jack for five weeks in Burma and India. The timing of our trip seemed terrible – our Executive Director was gone and our new staff member, Sue Keintz, suddenly became acting ED and had to pick up the pieces, without me.
When I walked in to the office, what I found was astonishing: a well-run group of happy co-workers, whole-heartedly connected to each other and their work. I found warm welcome, cool, calm professionalism and caring, creative flow. I found mindful leadership and loving awareness – and huge appreciation for the inclusivity and genuine respect Sue has brought to everyone in the workplace. I wanted to pinch myself to make sure I wasn’t dreaming this dream team!
Allow me to introduce our InsightLA staff to you. We are honored to have Sue Keintz as our new Executive Director of InsightLA. Michael Krass is our Director of Programming; Heather Fox, Assistant Director; Melanie Downhour, Administrative Assistant, and Kevin Salazar, Administrative Assistant. You can learn more about them at:
Before leaving in February, I wrote about inner pilgrimage [...]
My long-time friend from Boston, Lila Kate Wheeler, arrived yesterday to teach our annual weekend retreat. Her father and mother-in-law died very recently, so in the midst of the great pleasure of being together, we’ve been talking about life’s inevitable sadness, too.
In last Sunday morning’s sitting group with Jack and me, someone spoke of feeling discouraged, helpless to remedy the vast poverty in the world. And I recalled drinking chai at a muddy little roadside stand on an overcast morning in Bodhgaya, India. A thin old man stopped his rickshaw across from our picnic table and stared as Jack ate a couple of warm puris. Soon he was joined by three little children wrapped in rough shawls. They all stood there in silence, staring hungrily – not at us, I discerned, but at the food.
What to do? Pretend they didn’t exist? Shoo them away? We ordered thali platters of delicious crisp dosas and dal/rice – which they graciously accepted. Within minutes, I was tasting their golden dosas and samosas — we were all sitting together at the picnic table enjoying a happy moment. It was a small gesture, but it was something we could do.
Lila told me what Gerardo Abboud, [...]
Last week I wrote about the Bodhi tree and the river of pilgrims circling the tree of refuge where the Buddha sat down, determined to meditate until he truly understood the nature of human suffering, identity and freedom.
This week in Rishikesh, Jack and I taught at the ashram Parmarth Niketan, right on the banks of the river Ganges. Rishikesh is the birthplace of Yoga with ashrams and swamis everywhere, with Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists, travelers of all faiths, gathered here. The Ganga becomes a river of refuge, the holiest of all the rivers of India. Each morning, people do their bathing rituals, ending with a splash of the sacred water on their faces, heads, and yes, mouths. Here in the foothills of the high mountains, the river is clear, like the air. Soft green jade, Mother Ganga pours down from the Himalayas through pale rocks and granite grey sand – offering her waters to all, for bathing, rafting, irrigating, purifying and drinking — for burials, puja (ceremony), for a bathtub or toilet, always a river of blessings, source of life.
The Buddha spoke of the river of life, describing an unceasing flow of senses and thoughts, of joys and sorrows, of praise [...]