Beginning Anew, Beginning Again
This is the time of year when so many of us emerge from the festivities, celebrations, and doldrums of the holiday season ready for something new. We feel a longing to commit or re-commit to change. There is an inner urge to contribute in some way to our own lives or to our families or to reach out to the world’s many problems and lend a helping hand.
From deep within our psyche and heart, our conscience (that factor of being that intuitively knows when we are kind and caring and when we are not) is stimulated to clear out the old debris that is blocking the channels. Somehow we intuit that in this moment it is just and fair to rid ourselves of our unnecessary burdens — those extra burdens of what we no longer need, that have served us well, and are now blocking the plumbing. This practice is one partially of letting go and of then repairing what needs replacement. Continue reading
You Are Not Your Thoughts
How many times in a moment, minute, hour, day, month, or a year have you had a thought that emerged from no particular place and it seemed so imperative, actual, true, that you believed it’s validity and took it to be you — your reality? We become identified with these fleeting thoughts and begin to make them “me.” We all have thoughts; they arise seemingly out of nowhere, and if we do not buy into their story, they magically change, shape shift, morph into a different thought or dissolve. Continue reading
What is Awakening?
Awakening is often called enlightenment, liberation, freedom, nibbana (Pali), or nirvana (Sanskrit). Some say that it is the ability to be free from greed, aversion, and delusion — also known as “cessation” and “cooling out.” It is the freedom that arises when the mind is no longer attached to what it wants and is free from demands. The mind no longer rejects or reacts to what it is unpleasant (aversion) and does not crave sensory pleasures (greed). It no longer suffers from the Five Hindrances of greed, aversion, sloth and torpor, restlessness, agitation, and doubt, which obstruct awakening. It recognizes when they are present, and this awareness opens the path to working with them. It is said that the “Seven Factors of Awakening” antidote the Five Hindrances. Continue reading
How We Open to the Light of the New Year 2016
In mindfulness practice, I have often said, “every moment is a new moment, every breath a new breath.” This is the essence of our practice — to keep returning to the perpetually unfolding, changing moment. In each moment we can begin anew; we can start again to remain present to the here and now.
Speaking Wisely, Listening Deeply
“If you propose to speak, always ask yourself, is it true, is it necessary, is it kind?’ ~ Buddha
These words of the Buddha spoken 2,600 years ago have as much relevance today as when he originally said them. When the Buddha began teaching he first instructed his students in generosity as a practice to open the heart through compassion, connectedness, and support among the “Four-Fold Community” of practitioners (sangha) that were developing. Monastics, monks and nuns and lay people, men and women offered mutual exchange to each other through alms given freely and learning the teachings of the Buddha. Continue reading
What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is an inherent ability that we all have to live in a state of awareness moment by moment; to actually be present in a whole way. At any given moment mindfulness invites us to be aware of our breath and body sensations, our feelings, mental states, which are composed of emotions and thinking. It is non-judgmental awareness. How often do we really notice what is going on within and how influences are affecting us? Continue reading
“The belief that freedom is possible and that having it does not depend on having things, keeping or holding onto things. Having faith is giving.”
This is the time of year when most of us think about gifts, presents, shopping, and how we will squeeze in the time and space to accomplish all this. The days approaching the holiday season are filled with untold busyness, as we try to fulfill the needs and obligations of family, friends, and co-workers. Most of rush around in a driven state, trying to check another item off the never ending “to do” list and are left feeling exhausted and unfulfilled. Continue reading
The 4 Noble Truths: A Path to Happiness
The Buddha was called the “Happy One.” His capacity to truly appreciate life was strong and full because his home was the present moment and he could receive the aliveness and beauty in all forms of life and its manifestation. He truly understood the nature of reality; rejecting nothing and accepting everything. He cultivated a state of being that recognized what brings human happiness, called sukkha, the pleasant, happy moments. He also learned how to live in harmony with the myriad causes and conditions which life brings. His capacity for seeing life’s challenges and difficulties without backing away from them, denying them, or compensating for them, allowed him to live with what is. This was not a temporary happiness but a lasting happiness, not based on conditions. This was freedom. Continue reading
The Triple Gem, the Three Jewels, the Three Refuges
Taking refuge in the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha has traditionally been a way for people to begin their commitment to practice as they find a way to happiness, freedom and awakening. Continue reading
The earliest recollections of my childhood come to me in images — helping other little girls to care for themselves. Three distinct memories come to mind of wanting to help others — the tall, shoestring blond, gangly girl, who spoke very loud as if she had a frog in her throat and out of turn, in class, where she was constantly teased by other kids. There was the diminutive, cute Hispanic girl I met in Miami Beach while on vacation who could not speak understandable English and I tried to help by showing her how to speak the names of paper money. In addition, the poor farmer’s daughter who wore tattered clothing, her greasy, blond hair stuck to her scalp from infrequent washings. I wanted to let all three of them know that I cared, it did not matter that they were different — so was I. Continue reading