From February 19, 2021 – April 9, 2021 8 Fridays from 12:00 pm – 2:30 pm (EST) Practice Day: Sunday, March 21, 9:00 am – 5:00 pm Free Orientation: Friday, February 12, 12:00 pm – 2:30 pm (required if you intend to register for the class)
Tuition: $723 – $297 includes materials and Practice Day There are a limited number of partial scholarships
All I keep seeing and knowing again and again is to sit with it, be with the discomfort. Allow the anger and pain to arise and be with it, be in it. Care for myself enough to recognize what’s happening for me, in me, around me and bring care and compassion to myself because this is how it is now. This is what’s happening. Turn to myself with kindness, feel into my own experience and meet myself there, meet my experience with love. However it is in this moment. (A note on pronouns: “I/me” could be “you” or “they/them” could be “we/us”. Use what works.)
Check in with your self and recognize the qualities of your experience. How is it in your heart? How is it in your mind? What sensations are arising in your body? What thought forms are passing through in this moment? How is it right now? See how it is, be with how it is and generate some kindness and compassion for yourself. That’s the beginning. That’s the initiation point. Move from there. Sit in whatever is happening, allowing it, meeting it, naming it, recognizing it for what it actually is. What is true right now: not what stories you’re hearing or telling yourself. Not your ideas or beliefs. Not what you think is happening, what’s ACTUALLY HAPPENING right now in the body, at the sense gates. What sensations. Is the body hot or cold, is the heart racing or is it steady and calm, how is the breathing? What are the qualities of the breath? Is the breath cycle long and deep or short, truncated, shallow. What’s it like to take a breath? Is it easy? Is it a challenge? How is your heart, the heart beat? Is it racing, pounding, is it steady? Notice. Notice these things. Recognize what is true.
Dharma is truth.
Idgaf what you THINK or what you BELIEVE. I don’t need you to agree with me. I’m asking you what’s happening right now. Only in the body. Only at the sense gates. What do you smell, what do you see? What’s above you, behind you, below you. Look at what’s happening within, internally. Attend to experience as it is. Not your stories, not what others have convinced you to believe, not what your parents or friends say or what you saw on the internet. Your own experience. See for yourself. How is it for you right now in this moment? What are the tastes in your mouth? Does it taste like blood? Can you feel the sensation of the air on your skin? The texture of the ground or floor beneath your feet? The texture of clothing against the skin? Is it tight, restrictive, loose? Soft? Pinching somewhere? What are the sounds in your environment? Is it sirens like it is here? Is there yelling? Is there pounding at the door? Are there mobs in the streets? Are you sheltering in place, hiding under your desk like we’ve trained the children and senators to do? Maybe you can hear a gurgling stream or a peaceful fan whir, the wind in the trees nearby. Can you hear birdsong? Traffic rumble? Explosions? How is it for you right now?
Be where you are right now. Recognize what’s happening, physically. Bring this attention, this awareness to your experience. What’s happening internally in the physical body, the emotional states, what’s the quality of mind? Distracted? Concentrated? Where is your focus? Are thoughts racing? You making some plans? Fantasizing about something better, different? How is it right now? This investigation leads to a cultivation of capacity, the strength to stay with what is, whatever it is. So that you can sit still long enough to tolerate discomfort. You can tolerate uncertainty, you can tolerate hostility, fear, aggression. (Is there some reason you feel you should be immune to discomfort and uncertainty, always get your way? That could be interesting, look at that.) Build the capacity to sit with whatever arises. Joys and sorrows. Not only pain also pleasure, sublime states of joy. Anything that is possible, the whole range of experience is all right here. Can you be with it? Can you recognize it as it’s happening?
Can you allow it to unfold without trying to exert control or influence over the outcome? That’s a sticky question. Why would I want to do that gets into examining wtf you think an I is, which is a larger exploration. (Where I am, how I am, what I am, why I am, whereby I am: I am a reassuring illusion.) For now, maybe we can leave it at this idea of building tolerance, capacity. Maybe it’s possible to accept that responding from anger hurts us and hurts others. Responding from anger, responding unskillfully causes more harm than good. I’m not sure about this, just testing the idea out. Isn’t it always more skillful when responses come from a place of calm and self-care, self-compassion rather than reactivity? When we’ve allowed whatever is happening to happen, taken it all in, been able to receive it, see it, come to know it in some way before we engage with it.
Deeper investigation of the video of “Elizabeth” from “Knoxville, TN” (or is it Bowie, MD?), the one wearing a Trump flag as a cape who stormed the capitol building the other day because “it’s a revolution!” showed that she was rubbing her eyes with a sliced onion she held in that towel in her hand. Was she really maced? She gave a great performance. Lots of performances happening, lots of grifters, lots of emotion. I’m not giving my power away to any of this. I’ll choose what I get worked up about, what gets my attention and what doesn’t. I am human, so of course I have my own reactions, but I also have choices about how I respond. When we move away from pure reactivity, we have more power, more agency. We’re not as tossed about by emotional reaction or habit patterns, we can begin to decide for ourselves. Use discernment to identify an appropriate response. Sometimes the appropriate response is to do nothing.
I can’t believe I’m saying this!! I’m Mars ruled, Mercury in Aries. Believe when I tell you I can’t believe this. I like ACTION. I’m all for action: quick, direct, decisive action. Direct action gets the goods. I can’t keep my mouth shut most of the time, I truly can’t. Especially when I feel somebody’s doing wrong/being wronged. Anybody who knows me has seen. For me it’s like a volcano inside, I feel like I’m going to explode. Just saying this to say that I surprise myself hearing me preach temperance, but apparently I do now. I’m not saying do nothing. I’m not saying don’t respond. I see a lot of buddhists out here will just close their eyes, sink into a meditative state and bypass. Not about that. Fuck that. That’s not what I’m saying at all. Don’t do that, that’s bullshit. We have ethical responsibilities, moral obligations and there are karmic consequences for folks who believe in karma.
May all beings be safe and protected from harm. May all beings be happy and peaceful–free from fear, anxiety and worry. May all beings be healthy and strong. May all beings live with joy and ease. May all beings be free. I am one of all beings, may I be safe and protected from harm. May I be happy and peaceful–free from fear, anxiety and worry. May I be healthy and strong. May I live with joy and ease.
May I be able to recognize and touch the seeds of joy and happiness in myself. May I learn to identify and see the sources of anger, craving, and delusion in myself. May I know how to nourish the seeds of joy in myself every day. May I be free from attachment and aversion, but not be indifferent. May we all know peace.
I’ll be co-facilitating a cycle of MBSR with Jon Aaron offered online through Mindful Leader on Fridays 12-2:30 pm (EST) from February 19th through April 9th, 2021. The orientation session (required to participate in the course) will be Friday February 12th and the all-day practice session will be Sunday March 21st. Registration details available soon.
Today’s Gemini full moon/lunar eclipse launches us into eclipse season again. I’m always excited about that and even more so about the Great Conjunction next month: Saturn/Jupiter at 0º Aquarius. I don’t tend to post too much here about astrology, but December 21, 2020 is the beginning of the future. A new era. May it be so.
When I was a kid my parents had an album from The Fifth Dimension laying around & I remember loving this song before I ever learned anything about astrology. (I hope the youtube gods let me embed this video, because check out these outfits!!) Mystic crystal revelations? The mind’s true liberation? YES!! Sign me up!
Looking forward to knowledge, ideals and communication shaping the next 200 years, releasing the emphasis on material possessions, consumerism, division, strife. May the culture of care so many of us have been working toward manifesting finally blossom, bear fruit. Our roots already run deep.
lockdown life has me remembering fondly the time I got to run around in the woods a few weeks back. feels like ages ago. I love the picture and love remembering the time. I smiley out my companion for anonymity’s sake. 😍
Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Free Orientation: Wednesday July 29, 2020 | 6:30 – 9:00 pm EST (required if you intend to register for the class) Course Sessions: Wednesdays, August 5 – September 23, 2020 | 6:30 – 9:00 pm EST Practice Day: Saturday, September 12, 2020 | 9:30 am – 5:00 pm EST
What is MBSR? Originally developed for people with chronic pain, Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR)’s applications have expanded to benefit people dealing not only with serious illness but also the day to day pressures and anxieties of modern life. Research over the past 35 years indicates that a majority of people who complete the course report a greater ability to cope more effectively with short and long term stressful situations; an increased ability to relax; lasting decreases in physical and psychological pain; and, most importantly, a greater energy and enthusiasm for life.
What To Expect: This course is not group therapy and it is not a healing circle. It is not offered as an alternative to traditional medical and psychological treatments, but as a complement to these approaches.
MBSR is a guided, experiential investigation into our relationships with stress and the habits of our minds. MBSR uses meditation, yoga, and inquiry to support people in relating differently to the stresses in their lives. We will practice paying attention to what arises in daily practice and together we will explore challenges and how we meet them through self-reflection and group discussion.
Participants are supported by recorded guided meditations and are expected to practice 45 minutes of formal meditation daily in addition to various informal practices. The course will be held online on the Zoom platform. To participate fully, a stable internet connection, a computer, tablet, or recent smartphone and space to participate in mindful movement exercises are required. We will be engaging in all the practices included in the in-person course.
Tuition: Sliding scale $350/$250/$150 Includes materials and practice day. Course fees have been adjusted. Please pay at the highest level you are able to support the participation of others with greater financial need.
FreeOrientation Session: Wednesday July 29, 2020 6:30 – 9:00 pm Zoom link will be sent upon receipt of registration.
Attendance is required at the orientation session. If this is not possible, arrange to speak with me before the first class. Register for the orientation session or the entire course below. Please feel free to reach out with any questions to email@example.com.
Instead of pretending, let’s look at what’s real, examine what’s true. Leaving behind and perhaps building upon our delightful fantasies and our faith, cultivating more rigorous inquiry into how things are. Facts not feelings. Marketing trades on people’s feelings in some of the same ways what’s happening in the U.S. politically right now does. As public health officials are being excluded from congressional hearings, we’re being asked to believe a vision created for us by people who do not have our best interests in mind.
It’s not cynical to think that what’s fueling the unfolding tragedy in the U.S. isn’t only a matter of lack of leadership, but an intentional focus on profit over people. (What upwith Jared’s PPE stash?) Who’s benefiting from this pandemic, how specifically? Always follow the money.
I believe in science. I want to hear facts, data, information, real questions being addressed, not emotional manipulation, fantasies, magical thinking and gaslighting. I look forward to Dr. Fauci’s testimony.
I don’t often go into astrology here because it’s not everybody’s thing, but today’s Taurus new moon is joining up with Uranus as it’s squaring Saturn. That’s talking about a profoundly deep movement toward liberation & previously unimagined possibilities while confronting restriction, rules, limits, pressure, with possibly burdensome responsibility.
It’s got me thinking about embodiment, this 50th anniversary of Earth Day (lol, every day is earth day). Really being present with the transformation happening now, including the chaos, uncertainty, fear and grief that accompany it. It’s a wild ride & these bodies are our vehicles. Our physical bodies, the body of the earth. Sitting with what makes a body up.
In the Satipatthana sutta, we get great instructions about how to contemplate the body internally and externally, both internally & externally at once. We attend to our breathing, the breathing body, the whole of the body being breathed. The body in different positions: sitting, walking, lying down. Attending to the ways the body inhabits and moves through space aware that our experience of moving through space is different for different bodies. There was an article in the NYTimes recently addressing this, about being a black man wearing a mask in public during this pandemic, “For Black Men, Fear That Masks Will Invite Racial Profiling.” To extend the contemplation of the body externally, contrast that to the masked and armed “protests” taking place around the country to “liberate” the states.
That’s not the kind of liberation I’m talking about when I say liberation.
How it is to be embodied in this time is unique to each individual body. We are sharing a collective experience and can talk about the collective body, but our experiences are wildly different. (There’s an insightful reflection on It’s Going Down, “All We Have Is Us: A Report From A Delivery Driver In Manhattan.”) Structural inequities are laid bare now. We’re seeing what there is to see, but how are we experiencing it in our bodies, how are we making sense of it?
The body doing activities, the body’s experience of impermanence– of arising and passing away in the body. I love the anatomical parts part of the Satipatthana myself: “in this body there are head-hairs, body-hairs, nails, teeth, skin, flesh, sinews, bones, bone-marrow, kidneys, heart, liver, diaphragm, spleen, lungs, bowels, mesentery, contents of the stomach, faeces, bile, phlegm, pus, blood, sweat, fat, tears, grease, spittle, snot, oil of the joints and urine.” (from Ven Analayo’s Satipatthana, the direct path to realization.) These detailed methods of contemplating our component parts are a highly effective way of herding our attention toward what we’re made of.
Disclosure: that’s an affiliate link. My first one ever. If anyone ever buys a book from my site, Bookshop will throw me a couple coins. Literally, it’s pennies. I want to encourage and support independent bookstores especially in these times. Bezos won’t miss your business, I promise.
These parts of ours (each part worthy of attention, worthy of love and care) are comprised of elements. “In this body there are the earth element, the water element, the fire element, the air element.” Celebrating earth day, honoring the earth, we celebrate ourselves. It’s not poetry, it’s highly practical and pragmatic. As within, so without. What are we embodying in our lives, in our bodies, in this present moment? What are we made of? What will we create with the elements we share? What’s in our hearts now? What are we capable of? How will we shape this transformation? What structures will we put in place? New moons are for planting seeds for future harvest. These are the things I’m thinking of as I do what I can to move us all closer to true freedom.
Laura from the Poetry Project asked me to share a few writing prompts from the workshop I led in the Fall, meditation in an emergency. I’m sharing them here as well, a few writing prompts to cultivate awareness of the body and practice communicating with/through embodied presence. Some ways to write when it feels like an emergency–
Cultivate present moment awareness– deliberate, non-judgmental, bare attention to the now. Write from that place: what you can discern through your senses right now, in this very moment? What do you see, hear, feel, taste, smell? Not thoughts or ideas, you’re the scribe of direct experience, what’s happening now? And now, and now?
Inhabiting that awareness, write to and from the body (personal body, body of the earth, fear body, grief body, body electric) &/or body parts.
Anything that supports moving beyond self-focus can be a useful path through emergencies. Finding and creating flow states, for example. Flow = a state of being completely immersed in a project or learning experience that challenges us.
Write for 3 minutes without picking up your pen. I do mean write, not type. (I guess you could type if that’s your thing.) Try to incorporate the sensations of the writing experience into the work. (How’s your posture? How are your eyes feeling? Are you getting sweaty? Is trying to write new work stressing you out? Are you having fun yet?) Try 5 minutes.
Try creating: collaging, chapbook making, drawing or painting without judgement around it, simply focusing on the pleasure of the experience.
Here we are. I hope everyone is feeling as safe and cared for as possible in these unprecedented times. Amid all the uncertainty and emotional extremes, I want to offer some of the practices that have been supportive to me, hoping they may be useful for others as well.
To that end, I’ll be offering the traditional 8-week Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program online beginning next month. Who couldn’t use a little stress reduction right now? The virtual course will run on the Zoom platform on Thursdays from 7 – 9:30 pm from April 16th to June 4st with an all-day practice session on Sunday May 24th.
Free Orientation: Thursday April 9 | 7:00 – 9:30 pm (Required if you intend to register for the class. If you can’t attend the orientation, arrange to speak with me before the first class.)
Course Sessions: Thursdays, April 16 – June 4, 2020 | 7:00 – 9:30 pm Practice Day: Sunday, May 24, 2020 | 9:30am – 5:00pm
What is MBSR? MBSR uses meditation, mindful movement and inquiry as a way of supporting people to relate differently to stresses in their lives. Originally developed for people with chronic pain, it has expanded to benefit people dealing with the serious illness or the day to day pressures and anxieties of modern life. Research over the past 35 years indicates that a majority of people who complete the course report a greater ability to cope more effectively with short and long term stressful situations; an increased ability to relax; lasting decreases in physical and psychological pain; and, most importantly, a greater energy and enthusiasm for life. More info on MBSR here.
What To Expect: This course is not group therapy and it is not a healing circle. It is not offered as an alternative to traditional medical and psychological treatments, but as a complement to these approaches. What MBSR is, is a guided, experiential investigation into our relationships with stress and the habits of our minds. MBSR uses meditation, yoga, and inquiry to support people in relating differently to the stresses in their lives. We will practice paying attention to what arises through daily practice and together we will explore the challenges that arise and how we meet them through through self-reflection and group discussion.
Participants are supported by recorded guided meditations and are expected to practice 30-45 minutes of formal meditation daily as well as various informal practices. The course will be held online on the Zoom platform. To participate fully, a stable internet connection, a computer, tablet, or recent smartphone and space to participate in mindful movement exercises are required. We will be engaging in all the practices included in the in-person course.
Tuition: $350-$250 Includes materials and practice day. Course fees have been adjusted to reflect the current economic hardships many are facing.
Space is limited. Registration ends March 31, 2020.