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.
Free Orientation 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
“J. Crew up in here one more time & we gon’ United Colors of Benetton all on your ass.“
That’s how I dream. I understand what my mind was trying to say, lol, bad metaphor though– I never could afford one of those Benetton sweaters. That marketing though! What a beautiful vision of bright colors, diversity, access and social justice. “Benetton’s United Colors gave the brand license to embrace the full spectrum of humanity, promoting itself as diverse, fun, and playful, unlike competitors, which often appeared stark and serious.” No correlation to the products themselves, or the consumers who had the means to buy the products. Marketing is just pretend: create a vision people have feelings about and manipulate people through their feelings, driving them into the marketplace to buy more.
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.
From the Guardian, “Donald Trump is effectively abandoning a public health strategy for the coronavirus pandemic and showing a “clear willingness to trade lives for the Dow Jones”, critics say. A leaked internal White House report predicts the daily death toll from the virus could reach about 3,000 on 1 June, almost double the current tally of about 1,750, the New York Times revealed on Monday.”
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 up with Jared’s PPE stash?) Who’s benefiting from this pandemic, how specifically? Always follow the money.
I woke from the dream this morning to news that J. Crew has filed for bankruptcy. “The first national US retailer to file for bankruptcy protection.” The landscape is shifting all around us. As Jen Hofmann‘s been detailing for a long time now with the Americans of Conscience checklist, it is important to pay attention to what’s changing.
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.
- Too anxious to generate new material? Write into or from (take a line, phrase, words, ideas, anything you like) this poem https://poets.org/poem/i-sing-body-electric or any other text or song that you like.
- 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.
- If none of that’s working, ask what Bernadette Mayer would do & try that: http://www.writing.upenn.edu/library/Mayer-Bernadette_Experiments.html
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.
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.
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.
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 email@example.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.
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.
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:
- Eightfold Path basics at Lion’s Roar: https://www.lionsroar.com/what-is-eightfold-path/
- Practical instructions to end suffering at Tricycle: https://tricycle.org/magazine/noble-eightfold-path/
- Gina Sharpe speaking on Right Understanding at New York Insight PoC Sangha available at Dharma seed: https://www.dharmaseed.org/talks/audio_player/75/14111.html
- Joseph Goldstein‘s got a whole series of talks on the Satipatthana Sutta that are brilliant & available for download at Dharma seed. The first of two talks in the series about Right View is available to listen to or download here.
- The Noble Eightfold Path, The Way to the End of Suffering by Bhikkhu Bodhi at Access to Insight (suttas, commentary, analysis)