When we step out of distraction, the gift of mindfulness allows us to see what’s really happening around us. We tune into the joys and the struggles of humanity wherever we are; we see and hear compassion everywhere. Listening to the radio this morning, I heard the poetry of Bengali workers in Singapore. My heart wept tears for families who’ve been separated for so long, sometimes for years, missing each other: “what you and I have, is remembering.”
Compassion connects us, with insight and kindness, to reality as it presents itself in a flow of unfurling moments forming and dissolving, like bubbles in a stream. Compassion connects to the overlooked sorrows and hidden parts of life. And then it responds — wanting ourselves and others to be free from suffering. Compassion happens when I feel unselfishly sorry with, not for, you, caring about your pain and my own, and wanting to help.
With compassion, the pain and difficulties we face become part of the path of mindfulness, instead of obstacles to finding the relief we know mindfulness can bring. There’s no way to be bad at compassion, or to fail, because we’re not trying to force anyone or anything to be other [...]
The frustration, doubt, and judgment that plague us are born of fear, fear of being unworthy, too imperfect, somehow. We’re like children who believe they will be more loveable if they tell stories that change the truth of their life.
When I started InsightLA, I wanted to create a welcoming space for insight into truths we can accept about ourselves and begin to share with others as we explore knowing ourselves more.
The truth of who we are is enough.
When we can be loyal to what we truly love, when we learn to love ourselves just the way we are, somehow the world around us is inspired to come closer. We no longer have to stare at love at a distance. Through the practices of mindfulness and lovingkindness, we can be part of love, moment to moment.
It takes time to shift our attention from what we need to do, offer, and be for the world to being willing to receive. Rather than have to be more, can we simply see more? Can we prioritize that which gentles our life lovingly? Can we go for whatever nurtures and feeds trust in our own loveableness?
Whenever you find this trust, stay there as long as [...]
Hyperconnectivity is the increasing digital interconnection of people and of things like cars, coffee makers – anything – anytime and anywhere. By 2020 there will be 50 billion networked devices, 26 billion devices on the Internet of Things. This level of connectivity is felt across every dimension of our everyday lives, in both the pleasure and promise of wild possibilities, and as a cause of massive stress.
This past weekend, Jack and I taught at the ever-growing San Francisco Wisdom 2.0 conference. A community of thousands came together to explore how technology can be used to bring more heartfulness into the workplace and how to help shape a more compassionate hyperconnected world.
In the midst of this festival of tech-interested folks, the writer Pico Iyer spoke movingly about how simply he lives with his wife in Japan, unplugged, without a cell phone even when he travels. His meditation consists of sitting at his desk; sometimes for hours…without doing a thing. His whole life is an act of resistance to living at the speed of machines! A hush fell over the huge auditorium when he said, “Traveling is how I make a living. Stillness is how I make a life.”
Pico suggests living mindfully: [...]
When you constrain freedom, freedom will take flight and land on a windowsill. – Ai Weiwei
On Alcatraz Island in San Francisco Bay sits a crumbling old federal penitentiary notoriously feared in its day. Faded red letters over the United States Penitentiary sign announce “Indians Welcome” from the 1969 Native American protest and occupation. Today I took a ferry to Alcatraz to see an exhibit of seven installations by Chinese artist/political activist Ai Weiwei.
Interspersed throughout the decaying prison, Ai Weiwei’s visionary work explores confinement, oppression, and the fresh wind of freedom that cannot be constrained, starting with a huge dragon full of prayers for wisdom and compassion and a giant floor installation with the faces of imprisoned human rights activists constructed from one million colorful Lego bricks. Down the cell block, I enter a series of unbearably small, stark cells hearing within voices of individual prisoners of conscience: Native American chants, Tibetan prayers, Pussy Riot singing, Persian prison poems – each an expression of unquenchable spirit.
That spirit is in each of us. And while we are not held by force, and outwardly free to move about, we too experience times of inner confinement. Ai Weiwei says, “We are all potential [...]
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 [...]