Monday, December 10, 2012

Soft December light today.  Soon Solstice will arrive and the days begin to lengthen.  In this season of gift-ing I offer you a few links below to help with opening the energy of generosity in your heart.

Compassionate Giving Online
abchomeandplanet.org: ABC Home’s Gifts of Compassion
alternativegifts.org: gifts of service, gift registry for 34 nonprofits
changingthepresent.org: gifts of service, gift registry, wish lists
charitynavigator.org: rates nonprofits on how they use donor dollars
guidestar.org: rates 1.7 million nonprofits, with tips on giving wisely
justgive.org: gift certificates, gift baskets, gift registry, wish lists
heifer.org: Heifer Project’s online catalog with gifts, wish lists, wedding registry
oxfamamericaunwrapped.com: Oxfam America’s online gift catalog
seva.org: Seva Foundation’s Gifts of Service
directrelief.org: tribute cards, gifts of service
HealthyVida.org

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

  I was listening to a tape by Rick Hanson (author of Buddha's Brain) and wondering about a point he was making about the brain and sensory stimulation.  If I understand correctly, and my experience supports the notion, the more we pound into our brain via sound, sight, movement, smells, and touch, the more the brain requires further stimulation.  As if the brain becomes habituated to the intense level and almost "needs" that level in order to recognize information.  The less we cram in there, the more the brain "relaxes" with what is, and turns down the level of input needed for survival.  I remember the first time I got into my car, after years of constant listening to music on transistor radios, record players, and then i pod, when I turned on the radio to my favorite channel, listened for a few moments to a perfectly wonderful song, and then turned it off.  I just wanted to drive along in silence!  What an interesting moment.  Seems as if those weeks of retreat had started something...or ended something.
  So it seems as we deepen into our silent sitting practice, we notice a quieting and an appreciation of that quiet.  The initial fears of boredom or facing our inner self recedes like a wave out into the ocean of experience.  We ride the quiet flow of noticing the Now.  May we all find peace and joy within this delicious emptiness.

Friday, August 24, 2012

A whiff of cool breeze last night reminded me of how soon we will be in another Fall with the rich smells of ripeness and decomposition, the luscious colors of orange and red, and the crisp textures of dry leaves and cold air.  We are flying through a continual beginning of endings marked by the bittersweet qualities of growth and change.  Everyone one of us experiences some sort of autumn perhaps more than once in our lives.
The following quote was forwarded by a friend.  What a wonderful way to think of the changing nature of consciousness.
"It is possible that the next Buddha will not take the form of an individual. The next Buddha may take the form of a community --   a community practicing understanding and loving kindness, a community practicing mindful living.  This may be the most important thing we can do for the survival of the earth.

-- Thich Nhat Hahn"

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Watching the hummingbird dip around the flowers of my backyard, the mystery of its flight, the mystery of the nectar of the flowers, the mystery of the moment leaves me in wonder.  Boredom must mean one has lost curiosity because the seemingly simplest things of this world are so remarkably complex and fascinating when you really allow yourself to get curious about them.  Just a little bird flying about the yard.  And also a layered interplay of the forms of being--from the millions of micro organisms inside the bird to the macro view of this spot of my yard on Google earth.  So I return to watch my breath for another moment.  I feel the rise and fall of the abdomen as the strong diaphragm muscle expands and retracts.  The same mystery resides in my attention to the breath. How does the mental chatter quiet as the breath occupies the focus of attention?  How do the objects about me disappear within the inhale and exhale?  How is it that even time changes from compartments of minutes into a fluid experience with no discernible beginning or endings?  Even these questions fly away on the beating wings of the hummingbird.  Silence remains.

Monday, June 11, 2012

The shadow of anger seems to sneak up on us from unexpected directions.  On my way to a retreat I am getting in my car and a fritos wrapper from someone's trash blows into my driveway.  "Damn," slips out of my mouth faster than a shooting bullet.  I had to laugh.  But that tightening of the jaw, furrowing of the brow, hardening of the heart, and little hit of adrenaline takes its toll.  Where is my equanimity now?!  And all that for just an irritating moment, what about when someone else is aggressive with me, or I am beating myself up?   First step--time-out to notice and name.  Second step--check in with body sensations.  Hot, cold, tight, constricted, location?  Third step--What is really happening?  Anger is energy, not innately bad, even though there is a strong prejudice against it among the spiritual.  Inquiry helps identify the shadow of fear hidden in most anger.  Fear of loss of self and separation from others.  Everyone wants to be safe.  The habit of angry reactivity can open to compassionate inquiry.  To rewire that habit takes practice.  So we sit.  Quietly.  Watching monkey mind chatter defensively or offensively.  Recognizing the fear and gently bringing oneself back to Truth, that stillness within the breath, that place of calm presence that is beyond/within the identified self.  Practice.  Taking oneself lightly.  Watching the fritos wrapper blow about until I finally catch it. 

Wednesday, May 2, 2012


The sun shining on the sprouts in the garden and the soft breeze coming in the window lighten the heart and ease the mind.  Good to take a breath, pause, and sit within the stillness.  Consider the stuck spots in mind where grudges and judgment hide in the dark alleys.  Look and inquire about how to shine some light on those heavy thoughts.  We are the only ones lugging them about day to day.  Time for Spring cleaning!
Here's a link http://events.powerstream.net/008/00189/2012_ISCS/
That's for the Mind Life Institute Symposia held in April.  Some good talks by good people for your inspiration.

Monday, April 9, 2012

We all have heard about the benefits of meditation for reducing stress, improving our heath, not to mention leading us on the path to enlightenment.  And we all have heard about a vision quest where we take time away from our lives to discover our life's true direction.  Many of us are attracted to the magical and unique nature of a vision quest whereas meditation may seem drab and challenging in comparison.  What if we make our daily meditation time into a vision quest?  All the elements are there!  Being alone, quiet, and opening to a world outside of our small self.  May the wonder of your daily vision quest be easy and relaxing.  May you sit quietly for three minutes and discover the peace within yourself that leads to peace within the world.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Begin again.  These words are so helpful as a mantra, or repetitive saying.  "Begin again" helps us to remember that every moment we can take a breath, relax our shoulders and jaw and tummy.  We can then remind ourselves that any thought or action we take in the present can come from our wisest intentions.  We do not have to repeat past mistakes.  Although the slate may not appear spotlessly clean, we have the choice in every new moment to think and act more wisely and more compassionately toward ourselves and others.