Monday, February 28, 2011

Will U #disconnect With Me?

Using the Power of Twitter to Encourage Disconnectivity in Hyperconnected Online World.

As a followup to yesterday's post and Wisdom 2.0 conference, I am starting a new trend on Twitter, using #disconnect hashtag. It has to do with intention. 

Every morning, after I get a chance to sit for 30', and I spend some time engaging in meaningful connections with my online 'friends', I vow to log out from all my favorite social media venues, and keep it that way for the remainder of the day.

This is about protecting myself, and giving the mind a chance to settle, not adding extra stimulation beyond what is absolutely necessary. 

Will you join me? If you do, I would like to invite you to use #disconnect in your tweets. Maybe we can change the way we collectively make use of social media, one tweet at a time? Using the poison as antidote. 

The power of community, to #disconnect .

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Wisdom 2.0 From the Inside Out

A Frank Look at the Shadow of the Hyper Connected Self in a Technology Wired Society.

Mind overstimulated from the electric atmosphere at Wisdom 2.0, I could not wait to get home and finally get a chance to sit in silence. It was that intense. Jon Kabat-Zinn and Jack Kornfield's contemplative presence was dwarfed by the pernicious effects of all out technology.  While attempting to be different, this conference felt very much like so many of the Silicon Valley events I have attended in the past. Same actors, same greed, same ambitions, same driven-ness, same addictions, same delusions . . . a toxic mist that gets into one's system, real fast.

Taking place on my seat, I could finally feel the aftermath from the past two days. Inside, I found an overwhelming sensation of complete fragmentation and bruising from repeated assaults on one's natural inner tranquility. Sitting perfectly still, I watched . . . Body imploded, into a mass of energy gone mad, with millions of particles dancing around without any purpose. Head, aching from too much stimulation, yearning for a place of rest. Heart, bruised from violence done to myself, by me. Tears came, along with a deep sense of loss. I settled down a bit after 30', and went to bed yearning for some peace, at last. I woke up this morning, determined to not let myself down. I wanted to sit some more, and just be. Sitting in my seat, I felt the powerful impulse to grab my iPhone, and to check emails, and Twitter DMs. There was sadness, and disappointment at the realization of my powerlessness with electronics.

Consistent with the Dharma way, it is through such direct experience that I have come to understand the true meaning of Wisdom 2.0. The rise of the online world is both a beautiful and terrifying phenomenon, and we are at a point, collectively, where its shadow elements need to be acknowledged and dealt with, fully. I found it interesting that the conference was hosted at the Computer History Museum. History was indeed being made as we all gathered and explored the paradox of disconnectivity from hyperconnectivity. This was a clear shift from the first Wisdom 2.0 conference last year, when the awareness of the problem was still dim.

I was especially moved by Ben Fullerton's short presentation on 'Designing for Solitude'. Ben is at the forefront of intelligent interaction design and is working on creating new online tools that will help us disconnect, based on the following design principles:
  1. Don't require the network
  2. Make it okay to be away
  3. Aim for balance
  4. Ask "why" and "when" as well as "how"
Ben shared this wonderful quote from Alain de Botton, founder of the School of Life: "We have become such experts at being always in touch, informed, connected. Now we must relearn how to be silent, disconnected and alone.” The irony is, this quote came in the form of a tweet . . .

When Ben talked about the importance of alone moments, and the generative nature of solitude, I went straight to a recent talk from Gil, on solitude, the first one in his series on 'Solitude - Listening - Speaking - Meeting'. It is true, that in order for us to honor our innate need for relatedness, we need to first spend time alone, so that we can connect with ourselves. Only then, are we able to meet another person, heart to heart, mind to mind. Also, only in solitude, can we draw from the deep well of our creativity and have a chance to lead a rich and meaningful life. Right now, I am all to the joy of writing this post, thanks to no distractions. Nobody in the house, ringer off, emails not considered, Twitter and Facebook dismissed . . . Heart settling, the mind can play.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Seeing the Whole Truth

Today, I encountered anger, several times, in the privacy of my heart. Free floating, like a bunch of dark clouds. Menacing one moment, gone the next, with some grey sky to provide continuity in the background. I watched each cloud go by, and my reaction to it. A feeling of intense dislike, that I immediately identified as vedana. Knowing that, that too, is part of the experience made all the difference. Knowing that, I did not have to like the cloud, and that the not liking was just as good as anything else. That made me whole somehow . . . Knowing, based on the meeting of direct experience with stored wisdom.

I remember twenty some years ago, when mindfulness and vedana were not part of my psychological toolbox, and when rage would keep me company, often. I remember hating myself so much for feeling that way. I remember wondering, when would it end? When would I be finally rid of my anger?

I am sharing this, for those who might be walking in the same shoes as I did then. So that they don't have to wait so long to see the whole truth about themselves. The truth that sets one free.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

There Is No Telling

One of the friends I made during my recent retreat with Jon Kabat-Zinn emailed me today:

"The MBSR leader I was speaking to has told me that it will take 3 years or so for me to feel comfortable enough to teach an MBSR group. He felt that it would take that long to develop my own mindfulness practise. Would you agree with that?"

I find it interesting, this need from some Dharma teachers to frame mindfulness practice in terms of the number of years on the cushion. To my friend's teacher, I want to say, why 3 years?  Why treat the dharmic journey as if it was a course of academic studies. Doesn't it matter more how one is while on and off the cushion? I have known 'long-term meditators' that had little to show for in terms of emotional and spiritual maturity. Also, we are not all equal in terms of the amount of dust we have in our eyes . . . The Buddha's teachings abound with accounts of students becoming enlightened instantly after listening to him. 

Maybe a better answer to my friend's question is, practice with all your heart, under the guidance of a skilled teacher, and with the support of a sangha, and one day you will know when you are ready. You will know when you have found out for yourself, the four noble truths spelled out by the Buddha, the five hindrances that keep on demanding to be examined, the four foundations of mindfulness that will become your friends . . . You will know, and there is no telling when that will be.

And of course, the teacher was right. Having an established mindfulness practice is essential before one is to go out and teach even 'pre-digested dharma' in the form of MBSR . . . 

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Drama Within

Dreams have a way of giving meaning to an otherwise elusive internal climate. I woke up with much fear, and unease. The sweet dinner in a nice restaurant had turned into a nightmare. I remembered the waiter coming to warn us of a dangerous man on the loose, and then us leaving in search of a safe place. I was also told that my little dog, Coco had been run over by a car, and had been taken to the hospital. Two opposite forces, aggression and love playing out their drama inside the psyche.

Coco

Andrea Fella's talk at IMC last night was about fear and mindfulness. This morning, I am getting to practice . . . Using the quality of sustained attention to explore the mind-made fear palpable inside. Andrea talked about getting in touch with the sensations in the body, when no identifiable thoughts or beliefs are to be investigated. There is tightness in the throat, and an overall constriction. And an aversion to the experience itself. A fear of the unpleasantness. I remember Andrea's teaching about not jumping to premature conclusions. "You are to be with what is right in front of you. Do not try to get to the center right away". 

An invitation to dwell in stillness . . .

Sitting, I found the angry man who aggressed me at the pool. Very much alive inside.  A rageful guest, who left after a while. And then the bittersweetness of love laced with sadness.

You may listen to Andrea's entire talk on AudioDharma, under 'The Five Faculties and Fear'.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Who's Got the Power?

Minding the Whole Reality of Institutional Elder Care.

In the course of my work with eldercare communities, I have become fascinated with the power differences that exist between the various groups present, some more obvious than others. This weekend's workshop with Max and Ellen Shupbach, from Deep Democracy Institute, enabled me to frame my experience within the context of rank theory. It goes like this:

Walk into any assisted living facility or nursing home in the U.S. and you very quickly get a sense of the two most flagrant power structures at work. First, is an organizational hierarchy with the director and staff in charge of dictating the daily operations, including how the care is to be delivered, by whom, and at what times of the day. Caregivers are to provide care to residents, following an established routine, mostly centered around ADLs - activities of daily living - There is a pre-determined time for wake-up, showering, getting dressed, eating breakfast, attending activities, getting changed, having lunch, taking a nap, attending more activities, having a snack, eating dinner, and being put to bed. Caregivers get their instructions from the organization, as represented by its executive director, wellness director, nursing supervisor, and activity director. In turn, residents are the passive recipients of care from caregivers.

Second, is a social hierarchy with at the top, higher-paid, educated, fully physically and mentally able members of the majority class. Below, are the care partners, who share with their bosses the good fortune of being fully employed and healthy,  while also incurring the disadvantages of being lower-paid, and being most often members of minority cultures, including sometimes a weak command of the English language. At the bottom, are the residents who suffer from the physical and also sometimes cognitive limitations of old age, along with the loss of identity from no longer working or being perceived as active contributors to society. Organizational and social hierarchies go hand in hand. Consequences of these power structures are dramatic, as demonstrated by the outrageously high turnover rates in caregiver staff in those facilities, and also the high incidence of behavioral symptoms exhibited by residents. 

There is more than what meet the eyes however. Other less apparent power structures also operate, that can open the way to a better way of caring, and greater happiness for all involved. With care partners, the power lies in them being the custodians of the care. Ultimately the quality of care comes down to, does the caregiver - or rather care partner - really care about the resident in her care? Does she feel genuinely moved to serve the other in need? Does she see him as a whole person? Does she respect him? Does she see her care tasks as opportunities to build a relationship with the resident? Is her heart involved? Does she feel empowered to use her whole self? This is deep democratic power in action.

Another form of such power resides with the residents themselves. One of the most powerful experiences in an elder care community lies in the witnessing of residents in various states of distress. Unattended residents, gathered in a common area, and left sitting in their wheelchairs, either drooling or muttering to themselves. Or pacing the hallways with blank stares, or screaming for help. Or aggressing each others out of sheer frustration . . . You may wonder, why care, besides the natural urge to care for other, less fortunate ones than oneself? As it turns out, many reasons. Living within such a climate, day in and day out, exacts a high price from the staff in charge, in the form of systemic psychological distress and eventually burnout. From a strictly business perspective, there is also the risk of turning away prospective families. I know this was one of the key deciding factors when looking for a community for my mother. Did the residents there appear relatively happy and well cared for? Or were they parked in the lobby with no one sit at their side? Because they have been silenced, does not mean that elders do not have the last word. 

What this reveals is an unexplored gold mine of possibilities for elder care, where the respective powers of elders and their care partners get fully acknowledged. Shifting the paradigm of care from solely organizational and social hierarchies to an inclusive model that takes into account all the constituents of deep democracy within the context of institutional elder care. Concretely this means, working collaboratively with care partners and residents to better understand and meet their needs. Inverting the pyramid of care so that it looks like this:


residents
family members
care partners
managers and directors

Paying attention to the whole reality. Being mindful . . . 

Saturday, February 19, 2011

A Very Angry Man

"soon, swimming #meditation at the Y - just being with experience of body moving through water, lap after lap after lap"

My swim started just as I had tweeted. Nothing like a fast swim to ground one in the present, registering the deafening noise of body kicking and slapping the water, being aware of taking in air in between strokes, and being with the subtle pain from back and shoulders stretching, stretching . . . meanwhile keeping track of the number of laps. 

Then, in the midst of  a turn, a sharp pain at the right ankle that brought me to an immediate stop. A big man had grabbed me forcefully, and was shouting at me that I did not know the rules, and that I should have stopped for him as he entered the lane. I recognized him from another similar interaction two years ago, and I reacted with a firm "You are so rude! You cannot do this." The man continued with his angry rant, and aggressive gestures. I remained calm, and was comforted by the rally of support from fellow swimmers and the lifeguard. I was told "This is not his first time. He is a very angry man. He's done the same thing with other people." I moved to the next lane, and resumed swimming. 

The energy of the interaction was still with me. I realized I was not done with my aggressor. Being mindful does not mean turning the other cheek. It means, standing for what is right, and in this case, taking measures so he would no longer spoil the safe sanctuary of the Y pool. Still swimming, I started to plot filing a report. A crowd assembled as  I wrote down my complaint by the side of the pool. The man was watching from behind his goggles. I looked at him 'in the eyes', and in silence wished him to find peace. 

Now, I have to be careful. To not fall into self-righteousness, and the illusion that I am so much better than 'him'. 

Friday, February 18, 2011

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Towards, Curious, and Relaxed

This is part 3 of a series on the inner attitude that has been permeating my heart as of late. I call it A Change of Heart, and A Happy List. Last night, during several bouts of sleeplessness, the words from wise teachers kept dancing in the darkness. Words to articulate what it is I have been feeling . . . 

From Saki Santorelli, "turning towards", inspired by the Rumi's poem:

Don't turn your head. Keep looking
at the bandaged place. That's where
the Light enters you.

Turning towards . . . Saki kept repeating those words throughout our retreat. 

From U Tejaniya, the title of a Tricycle article that never left me, 'The Curious Investigator'. And after further checking, the realization that the original title is instead 'The Wise Investigator' . . . The 'curious' part is for me to own completely.

Also from U Tejaniya, his wonderful list of 23 points regarding What is the Right Attitude for Meditation? Particularly 'relaxed', 'light', 'free', 'faith', and 'confidence'.

And I wonder, what is the urge of putting words on THIS? 

The answer comes, easy. So I do not forget.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

A Happy List

What are the necessary qualities I wondered, that are conducive to inner happiness? Inside my heart, I searched and found this lovely mix:

love
patience
curiosity
open to surprises
impartial
even-minded
steady
calm
spacious
investigate
persistent
determined
warm
light
trusting
faith
fierce

For a more on this, read Ajahn Sumedho's recent post,  Liberating Emotions.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

'Think Twice Before You Speak'

Gil's talk tonight was about right speech. I agree with him that "the most difficult place to be mindful is in social settings." Time and time again, I find myself slipping with the tongue and wishing I had kept silent instead.  And the more I notice, the worse it seems to get. Do you know that one? :)

Here is the essence of Gil's teachings as I heard them:

When aggressed verbally by someone, do not fall into either usual extremes of turning the other cheek, or an eye for an eye. Instead, look the person in the eye and engage the person, taking a stance without either aversion or clinging. Taking the time and interest to find out 'Who are you?' Every human being has depth.

Speaking is not an innocent act. It is true that 'Words can kill. Words can give life.' One is wise to follow the Tibetan Buddhist teaching: 'In meditation, watch your mind. In public, watch your mouth.' Most powerful is to understand why you are going to say what you are going to say. For instance, are you trying to look good, or get what you want, or want to avoid something, or are afraid of exposing yourself, or of getting rejected? One consequence of Buddhist practice is that one can become more eccentric. 

One value of Buddhism, relative to speech is concord, as in warmth and kindness. The way to cultivate concord is, don't talk so much. When asked a question bring it back to the other person and ask her a question.

Other value is, is your speech useful? Often what we say either undermines, slanders, or criticizes.

Next value is, is it timely? One of most difficult place to be mindful is in social settings. It is also one of the most useful place to cultivate mindfulness through speech. One way to do so is by connecting to the body, and paying attention to the posture, physical stance one takes. Keeping track of emotions, thoughts. Noticing when when is rehearsing an answer. Better is to pause before speaking and preparing what your are going to say. Notice which parts of the body are activated? What is the energy level? When does it rise and drop? Become aware of the act of speaking itself. Always evaluate what you are going to say, or what you said. 

In summary the four aspects of right speech are:
is it true?
is it kind?
is it useful?
is it timely?
does it create concord?

Gil's homework:
Each day this week, practice one of five values of right speech. Take a break on the sixth day, and on the seventh, integrate all five. 

For me, most useful is to treat speaking as practice, and to give myself a pause before responding to someone or initiating a talk. The old adage of 'Think twice before speaking once' sums it all. 

For the complete talk, go to AudioDharma. It should be up in the next few days.

Monday, February 14, 2011

A Change of Heart

There is understanding . . . and there is knowing. During last week's retreat with Jon Kabat-Zinn and Saki Santorelli, I came to experience at a deeper level what it is to actually accept all of myself, even during those moments when unpleasantness arises. Ambition, sadness, greed, boredom, frustration, anxiety, jealousy, regret, and a whole bunch of other guests took turn to keep me company as I sat and walked with my fellow retreatants, and watched wondrous sunsets, and ate delicious vegetarian food, and hiked up Mount Madonna mountain . . . I watched the initial impulse to recoil and not like myself. And the wish for more blissful states, filled with peace, love, and happiness instead. There was a sense that this moment was wrong, and that maybe some day if I practiced hard enough, I would be rid of such hindrances.  I realized the delusion.

There was a gradual turning towards the yukiness, and a true meeting of the sensations, the thoughts, the emotions for what they were. No point in waiting for a 'better' moment any longer. No, instead, I started to really enjoy the exploration, the discovery of all that was, inside. And paradoxically, found much peace, love, and happiness . . .  

Below is a list of poems and writings* that have served as catalysts for this dramatic change of heart:

This opening to the life 
we have refused
again and again
until now.

Until now.

~ David Whyte ~

The time will come
when, with elation,
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror,
and each will smile at the other's welcome

and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you 
all your life, whom you have ignored
for another who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshefl,

the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.

~ Derek Walcott ~

We have no reasons to harbor any mistrust against our world, for it is not against us. If it has terrors, they are our terrors. If it has abysses, these abysses belong to us. If there are dangers, we must try to love them, and only if we could arrange our lives in accordance with the principle that tells us that we must always trust in the difficult, then what now appears to us to be alien will become our most intimate and trusted experience. 

How could we forget those ancient myths that stand at the beginning of all races-the - the myths about dragons that at the last moment are transformed into princesses. Perhaps all the dragons in our lives are only princesses waiting for us to act, just once, with beauty and courage. Perhaps everything that frightens us is, in its deepest essence, something helpless that wants our love.

So you must not be frightened if a sadness rises before your larger than any you've ever seen if an anxiety like light and cloud shadows moves over your hands and everything that you do. You must  realize that something has happened to you. Life has not forgotten you, that it holds you in its hands and will not let you fall. Why do you want to shut out of your life any uneasiness, any miseries, or any depressions? For after all, you do not know what work these conditions are doing inside you.

~ Rainer Maria Rilke ~

Kabir says this: just throw away all thoughts of 
imaginary things,
and stand firm in that which you are.

~ Kabir ~

and of course, The Guest-House!

This being human is a guest-house
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they're are a crowd of sorrows, who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,

still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you 
out for some delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

~ Rumi ~

Back home, walking through the aisles of Home Depot with my husband, I felt once more discomfort rising, just like that, and I smiled . . . Heart moved by kind curiosity, I longed to discover what sat inside. And I rejoiced. Really.

Now, may you be well, may you be at peace, may you be happy with yourself, no matter which moment.

* All citations from Selected Poems and Readings list handed to us during the retreat.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

A Radical Act

(This whole week, I am at Mount Madonna Center, attending a retreat with Jon Kabat-Zinn and Saki Santorelli. In honor of Jon Kabat-Zinn, I thought I would feature some of my favorite videos of him in my absence. May you enjoy!)

Lots of wisdom packed in this short video:



Taking our seat, shutting off our cell phones, being present . . . How radical!

Friday, February 11, 2011

It's Already Here

(This whole week, I am at Mount Madonna Center, attending a retreat with Jon Kabat-Zinn and Saki Santorelli. In honor of Jon Kabat-Zinn, I thought I would feature some of my favorite videos of him in my absence. May you enjoy!)

I really love this talk about uncovering our natural compassion:



So true! For me, compassion has evolved over time, and is a direct outcome of my mindfulness practice. Its opposites, unconscious indifference or harming come from not seeing things, or people the way they really are. I know this, from looking back on those times before when I failed to love. 

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Showing up For Work

(This whole week, I am at Mount Madonna Center, attending a retreat with Jon Kabat-Zinn and Saki Santorelli. In honor of Jon Kabat-Zinn, I thought I would feature some of my favorite videos of him in my absence. May you enjoy!)

Here is Jon, talking about the practice of mindfulness and 'showing up' at work:


How present are you, at your place of work? Can you set the tone, and start your meetings with just a few minutes of quiet sitting? How revolutionary . . .

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Coming to Our Senses, with Jon Kabat-Zinn

This whole week, I am at Mount Madonna Center, attending a retreat with Jon Kabat-Zinn and Saki Santorelli. In honor of Jon Kabat-Zinn, I thought I would feature some of my favorite videos of him in my absence. May you enjoy!

Here is Jon talking about 'Coming to Our Senses', reminding me a lot of Ruth Denison, another one of my favorite teachers, also very much into being in the body, and the sensing experience:




Mindfulness. Not just in the mind, but also and first in the body . . . 

Monday, February 7, 2011

The MBSR Revolution

(This whole week, I am at Mount Madonna Center, attending a retreat with Jon Kabat-Zinn and Saki Santorelli. In honor of Jon Kabat-Zinn, I thought I would feature some of my favorite videos of him in my absence. May you enjoy!)

Here is Jon talking about the MBSR (Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction) approach he invented, and its now well documented health benefits:



I feel greatly indebted to Jon Kabat-Zinn, for paving the way for other mindfulness-based undertakings, including the Presence-Project I am currently involved with, to bring mindfulness into the care of persons with dementia.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

She is Telling Me

I just got off the phone with my mother. Thousand of miles away, there are only words, and the tone of voice, and loving energy to carry through what I want to say to her. That I love her, and that I understand. I got news from my brother that her condition has deteriorated since I last saw her two months ago. She is even more hunched over, and her gait is not as steady as before. She needs to lean on furniture and walls to move around. Today, I suggested to her that she uses a cane, and she agreed that yes, some times, she might need it. "That's true, I am 88 . . . " I told her about my life, and my two daughters. "You have two? How old are they?" She got a bit confused when I mentioned my brother and his three year old son. "I need a book to keep things straight." Yes, absolutely, she needs all this information written down. Pictures alone are not enough, anymore. 

Caring for a loved one with Alzheimer's is first and foremost about mindful listening. No need to wonder what to do. She is telling me.

Project for the day: making a collage of family pictures with names of people and relationship to my mother.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Riding the Desire

Yesterday, I resonated with something Gil said as we were recording our monthly Q&A session for the IMC Online Community. While Gil's comment was in response to a question about food and cravings, its application to other types of over dependence was not lost on me. My problem is not food, but electronic gadgets, such as iPhone, and computer. I struggle with staying away . . . 

Gil's practice goes like this. Whenever feeling the urge, resist and find an easy chair to sit in. Stay seated until the urge goes away. While sitting, just be aware of all the phenomena, thoughts, emotions, sensations. Simple enough!

And probably very hard also. I will let you know what happens tomorrow, as I vow to stay away outside of a few planned islands of working on the computer. 

Will you join me? What is your addiction?

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Speaking for the Silent Ones

The man was sitting all by himself in a waiting room in a hospital. I happened to walk by and noticed he did not look well. I went to fetch the doctor in the next room. The doctor quickly checked on the man, who asked for a bedpan. The doctor left, and I assumed he had gone to get what the man asked. Minutes passed, and no sign of the doctor. I sat by the man who was now looking worse and worse, and no longer spoke. I reached out for his hand, and was surprised when he squeezed my hand. I wondered how to get him the help he so badly needed.


This was my dream last night. I awoke with pain in my heart, and even greater determination to carry out the elder care and dementia project I have been working on with Dr. Allen Power. Foremost in my mind have been all the men and women living with dementia and who can no longer care for themselves or be cared for by their loved ones. My mother is one of them. I feel their immense distress, and also the craziness of a system that compounds their original plight with unnecessary added suffering. There is a better way, I know, and it demands a complete overhaul of the current biomedical approach. Out the drugs, out the institutional buildings, out the task oriented approach to care, out the erroneous beliefs, out the legitimized abuse, out this cruelty of epic proportions . . . 

Mindfulness is a radical act. It leads one to unplanned territories, as in becoming aware of the suffering right under one's eyes, and then taking action towards some mass remedy. I have been thinking a lot lately about engaged Buddhism, and what it means for me personally. Once hesitant to join the bandwagon of activism, I am now right in the thick of it. I have found my cause, and will not rest until my mother and her cohort of silent sufferers get their needs met, at last. 

What is your cause? How did you open your eyes to it? How does it tie in with your mindfulness practice?

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

From Garbage to Flower

Experience this morning prompted me to write this tweet and Facebook update:

'the mind (mine at least) seems to have never ending capacity to produce garbage - just produced two such thoughts in last 5' :) #mindfulness'

View of street garbage from traveling bus during
last year's Buddhist pilgrimage with Shantum Seth

An hour later, I already forgot one of the two offending thoughts. I still remember the other, though, and wonder, where does it come from, the mind's propensity to create such nastiness? Looking into the content of the thought, I find below the surface much hurt from difficult interactions with someone very dear. From hurt to ill will, the path can be very short, especially when the sticky self is involved. This morning I made it all the way to the other end, in my mind only. No action taken, thanks to watchful mind. 

And this gift from dharma sister Katherine Rand - in response to my  Facebook update:
You are me, and I am you. 
Isn't it obvious that we "inter-are"?
You cultivate the flower in yourself,
so that I will be beautiful.


I transform the garbage in myself,
...so that you will not have to suffer.
I support you;
you support me.
I am in this world to offer you peace;
you are in this world to bring me joy.
~ Thich Nhat Hanh ~
I love, love that image of garbage, turning into a beautiful flower. 

May you please share some of your garbage moments! May your sharing become a part of the retrieving of the splendid flower within.
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