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 [...]
Last Saturday, I received a call that my psychoanalyst from forty years ago, Larry Strasburger, passed away. Larry was a meditator, rare for the early seventies; I was a Zen student who needed therapy. Together, we discovered the powerful synergy of Dharma and psychotherapy which inspired my life’s work.
A gentle, noble, and generous soul, Larry helped me learn how to quiet down and be present with the overwhelming emotions of a young 20-something. I’m not sure I could have entered the path of intensive meditation training without Larry. I carry his priceless teachings about relationship with me every single day.
It’s so mysterious how we have deep connections and love relationships and – they all end. People die. And people are being born; cousin Kadie just had a new baby, delivered with Marea Goodman, a cousin who’s a young midwife…Just take a look at the world population clock, ticking away births and deaths each fraction of a second! http://www.worldometers.info/world-population/
Life is bittersweet; sad and rich, delightful and mysterious, fragile and enduring. The point of mindfulness – and psychotherapy – is to be awake to all of life. With loving awareness, we learn to experience the birth and death of each breath, of [...]
This week Jack and I are leading the IMS/Spirit Rock Teacher Training group here in Northern California. It’s a wonderful new crop of 26 teachers, growing like kelp in both skill and love. (Did you know, in ideal conditions kelp can grow from 12 inches to 24 inches each day?) Beth and Christiane, midway through their four year training, bring ever-new learning and insight back to share with you at InsightLA.
The kelp in our Pacific Ocean nourishes myriad species who graze on the blades (leaves); it shelters fish, seals, sea-lions and whales who seek safety and refuge in the forest fronds; the anchoring roots are home to anemones, sponges, and starfish. Sea otters take naps wrapped in a kelp frond hammock so they don’t drift out to sea while they’re sleeping. And kelp stores carbon as efficiently as tropical rainforests!
The ideal conditions for kelp to grow – upwelling cool water, strong rock foundation, sunlight – remind me of the teaching at our Dharma centers, like Spirit Rock and InsightLA. Why? Both are centers dedicated to awareness, to the upwelling of nourishment for our hearts, and to providing a stable foundation of mindfulness to light up our lives. Like the refuge [...]
When many of you generously donated in support of our work during our annual end of the year appeal, you expressed the hope that your gift would go towards matching the $50,000 grant we received. Guess what — thanks to all of you, we met our donors’ generous 1:1 grant! You gave $61,000, and I want to begin this new year by thanking you and wishing you a loving and fulfilling 2015. Let us celebrate!
Lama Chogyam Trungpa explained that those who are accomplished in Dharma have done so through love and generosity. As a community you have demonstrated this.
May your generosity blossom in joy
May your mindfulness invoke dignity, poise and balance
May your love shine upon all.
May your meditation open the gate to a quiet mind and friendly heart.
May your inner stillness bring the smile of wisdom.
May you tend yourself and all you touch with care
May your strength carry you through the unknown
May your best intentions be fulfilled.
In the year ahead may your practice and connection with InsightLA deepen and bring you
understanding and blessing.
With a warm bow,
Last Sunday was winter solstice, the longest night of the year — with each day now sunlight lasts a few minutes longer. All over the world, people have forever marked the return of the light with joy and celebration. Our practice of mindfulness and lovingkindness, too, is an invitation to awaken joy amidst it all. We turn toward goodness, joy and wellbeing, nourishing these qualities in ourselves and in the world.
This season at InsightLA there is much love and joy, honoring our year of wonderful programs and community successes. This week we are also excited to celebrate the new offering of a matching grant of $50,000 (thanks to Alan and Daveen Fox as well as the Goldhirsh Foundation). Our visionary donors agreed to a 1:1 match, which means that any amount you give (or have given this month) will be doubled. This is inspiring for our donors, who see that our community is capable of generating support with our own hard work and generosity. And it’s good for all of us who love InsightLA; our gifts doubled can fund more needed projects.
Most importantly, we are celebrating joy itself – joy is contagious! Like the laugh of the Dalai Lama, we [...]