stress reduction

Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction online with Betsy Fagin April 9th-June 4th, 7-9:30 pm EST. Details & registration: http://betsyfagin.com

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.

boundaries: new date

NYC Transformative Justice Hub How to Communicate Your Boundaries Postponed to 4/11

The NYC Transformative Justice Hub’s upcoming event, How to Communicate Your Boundaries has been postponed to April 11th. It will be held at 60 Washington Square South NYU Kimmel Center Room 802 from 12-2pm, wheelchair accessible. Details are available on the NYCTJ Hub website.

boundaries

On Saturday March 28th, the NYC Transformative Justice Hub will be offering a workshop on How to Communicate Your Boundaries from 12-2 pm. I’m excited to be holding space again with friends to support the event: meditation & mindful movement will be on offer as well as supportive teas and space to chill, process or whatever is most needed.

From the NYCTJhub website: “This political education workshop will offer space to reflect on our habits and practice boundary-setting with peers. Participants will be invited to engage in reflective and interactive activities and bring examples or experiences from their own lives into the space. You can RSVP here. If there are not tickets available and you are from New York or are BIPOC, please contact our Hub Coordinator at nyctjhub@gmail.com.”

I’m posting this toward the beginning of the month, right now lots of events and gatherings are being cancelled due to the spread of COVID-19. Change is happening rapidly, so please check in with the TJ hub website closer to the time for the most current event information.

devotions

There are so many beautiful lines from Mary Oliver that are quoted regularly in mindfulness and yoga circles, probably because they’re beautiful and they’re also very true. One of them is “attention is the beginning of devotion” from her essay “Upstream.” (An article in the Atlantic, reflecting on that essay is here.) I could spend ages diving into Oliver’s work and I’m incredibly grateful that I have the opportunity to do just that.

I’ve been living closely with her work for the past few months and will continue to do so through the summer when I’ll be guiding a workshop at Poets House on her work.

In this practical workshop, we’ll dive into Oliver’s work and make use of Poets House’s waterfront location to cultivate attention as we listen to the world and explore our “place in the family of things.” We will create new poems and investigate earnestness, accessibility, and darkness in Oliver’s work, focusing on Dream Work and Devotions.

The course runs from June 11-July 16, 2020 and registration is open until May 22nd.

Poets House is wheelchair accessible & located at 10 River Terrace in New York City.

there is a path_wisdom

It is said that all the Buddha ever talked about was suffering and the end of suffering. In the Four Noble Truths, the Buddha laid out the diagnosis, the prognosis & the prescription to end suffering: there is a path. I don’t want to leave folks hanging, let’s get right into it – that path is the Noble Eightfold Path (ariya-magga in Pali, the language spoken in the Buddha’s time) & it can be explored in three different sections.

Discussing the Eightfold Path, folks often use term RIGHT (“right view,” “right speech,” “right livelihood”); I find myself using WISE instead. Right can imply wrong. Wise works just as well and allows for a little more subtlety.

The first grouping deals with the cultivation of wisdom or discernment (pañña) and is made up of wise view and wise intention. The second group is concerned with the cultivation of virtue (sila) and is made of wise speech, wise action and wise livelihood. The third is all about concentration and meditation (samadhi) – wise effort and wise mindfulness. Let’s check out wisdom.

1: Wise View: knowledge of the Four Noble Truths

(crying emoji!) If a clip of a half-naked Seth Rogan singing the “Age of Aquarius” is enough to lure anyone into learning more about Right View, then my work here is done. This is time well spent.

2: Wise Intention: motivation to resolve suffering – resolve, renunciation, loving-kindness

I’m not much of an Aziz Ansari fan anymore, but it’s a good clip. Apologies if that kicks anything up for anyone. I haven’t gotten around to writing up notes on supporting last weekend’s API Chaya / Project NIA training to address gender-based violence, support people experiencing harm, and support people causing harm to change. That’s a post for another time.

Right now is a chance to learn more about about the Eightfold Path! Here are a few places to start:

letting go

I’ve been sitting with the intention to write up a dharma talk. It’s my homework. For weeks now I’ve been talking ideas over with friends, listening to other people’s dharma talks and writing unending notes, getting nowhere.

Not nowhere exactly. I got nowhere writing the kind of talk I thought I should be writing, but I’m getting everywhere looking at clips of little videos, which I LOVE. I could do this all day. I have actually. I present the fruits of my labor: The Four Noble Truths in video clips.

part one: there is dukkha (suffering), it is to be understood

part two: the origin of dukkha is craving (thirst, clinging) it is to be recognized

part three: dukkha ceases with the relinquishment of craving, this is to be known 

part four: there is a path leading to the cessation of dukkha (=eightfold path) it is to be cultivated

Read/hear more about it:
There’s so much to learn and study about the Four noble/ennobling truths. Here are a few links to start with:

how to give a good apology

I’m honored to support the NYC Transformative Justice Hub by offering guided meditation and holding space at their event Saturday January 25th (noon to 5 pm) at Judson Memorial Church, Assembly Room (239 Thompson St, New York, NY 10012). Wheelchair accessible, childcare available. Although it is currently *sold out*, if you are a BIQTPOC (Black, Indigenous, Queer, Trans Person of Color) who would like to attend this event, please email NYCTJHub at nyctjhub@gmail.com to learn more about community tickets.

Description from the NYC TJHub website: “This political education workshop will consider the opportunities and challenges of offering a sincere and meaningful apology.

Drawing on decades of work done by Just Practice and the Bay Area Transformative Justice Collective, this workshop will offer tools and practices for addressing harm we’ve inflicted and cultivating space for healing by making a good apology. For those of us working towards liberation, taking responsibility for harm that we cause is an opportunity to practice accountability and community nurturance. Instead of avoiding conflict and the wounds we’ve caused within our communities and movement spaces, we can learn to sit with our own complicated emotions, discern what responsibility is ours to take, and offer an apology without any expectations of others.

Light refreshments, vibe checkers + healing justice practice guides will be available.”

More information about NYC Transformative Justice Hub is available here: https://nyctjhub.com/public_events.html

meditation in an emergency

While I was off meditating in the California hills, the good folks at The Poetry Project put together a feature of some of the writing that was produced in our Meditation in an emergency workshop this Fall.

New work from Janae Brux, Anna Gurton-Wachter, E.C. Kane, Peter Bogart Johnson, Susana Malo, Ryan Nowlin, Victoria Ordway and Serge Rodriguez is now online at https://www.poetryproject.org/publications/work-from-meditations-in-an-emergency/.

I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to share some writing & meditation practices with this group. It’s wonderful to see some of what grew out of our time together. Join us next week for a free reading from workshop participants: Thursday December 12th at 8pm. The Poetry Project is located at 131 E. 10th St. NYC. Facebook event details here.

Accessibility: St. Mark’s Church is wheelchair accessible. Please call The Poetry Project at 212-674-0910 in advance of events to arrange accessibility. Please note on Fridays between 8-9:30pm the wheelchair accessible all gender bathrooms on the ground floor are unavailable because another arts project has performances in the sanctuary. There are All-Gender bathrooms on the second floor of the church. To access Parish Hall, attendees must pass through the main sanctuary and a corridor. There are 2 sets of double doors and two single doors to go through. The smallest of these doors at the end of the corridor is 28.5 inches wide. The Poetry Project will arrange for an ASL interpreter for any event with one week’s advance notice.

NYPD Surveillance Films

I love libraries & archives so much!! The Municipal Archives recently released 140+ hours of NYPD surveillance videos dating 1960 -1980.

Why is this important? Chris Nichols notes, “The footage provides an extraordinary, never-before-seen visual record of one of the most tumultuous eras in American history. Among the highlights in the collection is footage of the first Earth Day march in 1970, a Nation of Islam rally, CORE and NAACP protests of segregation, Young Lords building occupations, early protests by gay-rights advocates, massive anti-war marches and demonstrations after the Kent State shootings in May 1970.” Full article here: https://www.archives.nyc/blog/2019/11/1/nypd-surveillance-films

Who watches the watchers? Check out the whole collection at NYC Department of Records & Information Services. There are some highlights and commentary from Gideon Oliver on Twitter here

New Yorkers’ busy schedules

Our writing & meditation class at The Poetry Project, meditation in an emergency, continues apace. We made lots of little books last week. Above is an image from one of my own. I’m so grateful to get to offer what I love with/for others who share my interests. Writing and book making for me are gateways into flow states. There was so much wonderful energy and focus in the room, I didn’t want to disrupt it by documenting for social media. Participants will be sharing some of their own work at an upcoming reading at the Project in December.