Saturday, September 29, 2012

Friday September 28, 2012

Every Friday we light candles.  We light them for ourselves and for everyone.

chaos cherish
happy wonder

"If you take good care of yourself, you help everyone.  You stop being a source of suffering to the world, and you become a reservoir of joy and freshness.  Here and there are people who know how to take good care of themselves, who live joyfully and happily.  They are our strongest support."
--Thich Nhat Hanh

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Write your personal manifesto

For awhile now, I've been thinking about what my own manifesto (or personal commandments) might be.  I've been inspired by Gretchen Rubin, Brene Brown and Ali Edwards.  Mine came through more like a poem.  I'd love to hear your manifestoes, or pieces of them even if they are not complete.

How to Shine

Create love.

Practice kindness.
Follow joy.
Gather together.

Learn more.
Take your time.
Allow for beauty.

And then

Hold your breath
Close your eyes
and leap
as you take your place
on life's infinite arc.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Friday September 21, 2012

Every Friday we light candles.  We light them for ourselves and for everyone.

We observed the autumnal equinox.
A first fire in the fireplace.

calmer unknown glowing

"And at evening especially,
the piled firewood shifts a little,
longing to be on its way."
--Mary Oliver

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

How I accidentally went on my first meditation retreat

This summer I had the opportunity to attend a weeklong retreat in upstate New York led by Jon Kabat Zinn and Saki Santorelli.   Actually, I signed up for a professional training workshop for people who were considering becoming Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction teachers, but like MBSR itself, it was a bit of a bait and switch--but in a good way.

MBSR is a very beneficial adaptation of traditional zen practice.  I first encountered MBSR in a Bill Moyers PBS special called Healing and the Mind, and I leaned into MBSR when I struggled with insomnia in 2002.  In my own personal experience with MBSR, I never heard a word about dharma, buddhism, or zen.

The MBSR “training seminar” I attended this past summer was fascinating, in that Zinn and Santorelli pulled the curtain back to reveal just how zen they are and how zen MBSR is (and oddly, by association how zen, at least viewed through a certain lens, I might be).  

I realize how totally ridiculous it is to talk about “how zen” something is or is not; these words lead inevitably down an imaginary rabbit hole.  But especially, because I was recently asked by Momma Zen, to show up somewhere as a “zen mom” the whole thing of what is zen anyway, has been up for me.  And between going to this meditation retreat (aka professional workshop), and being asked to show up as a zen mom...I guess I’ll say this.  Sure, I’ll answer to zen and, as to what is zen is, I’ll rely on the venerable Justice Potter’s yardstick “I know it when I see it.

I am so grateful to Zinn and Santorelli for tuning their words so that I could show up.  I don’t know if I would have signed up for a 7-day meditation retreat, but now that I have, I’ll go again.  And this is how their work is so genius--MBSR invites real people using words that resonate with their lives by naming their suffering (are you stressed? do you want to be more professional?), and then gets them to practice.  

MBSR, at its very core, is practice.  It is meditation served up in three ways:  breath meditation, yoga meditation, and body scan meditation.  It acknowledges who we are today, by speaking to what ails, and offers a practice, a way, that opens us to become more wholly ourselves--not more zen, not more enlightened, not more buddhist--just more aware in the moment so that we can be there for ourselves and others.  Call it what you want, or don't call it anything at all.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Friday September 14, 2012

Every Friday I light candles with others.  We light them for ourselves and for everyone.

slower squeezed 
soft better

"You are whole and also part of larger and larger circles
of wholeness you may not even know about."
-- Jon Kabat-Zinn

Friday, September 7, 2012

Friday August 31, 2012

Friday September 7, 2012

routine tender healing home

"Meditation practice isn't about trying to throw ourselves away and become something better.  It's about befriending who we are already.  The ground of practice is you or me or whoever we are right now, just as we are.  That's the ground, that's what we study, that's what we come to know with tremendous curiosity and interest."
--Pema Chodron

and love

Clumpy Cooperation

In a recent Scientific American article about the evolution of cooperation, Martin Nowak, Director for the Program for Evolutionary Dynamics at Harvard, described five different evolutionary patterns that led to cooperative behavior in biological systems.  The one that stood out to me was a pattern that could be called "clumping."  This is how he described the pattern:

"in well-mixed populations, the defectors prevailed.  In populations with clumps of cooperators and defectors, in contrast, cooperators won out."

Now, to be fair, he was talking about populations of yeast colonies.  But, wouldn't you agree that "clumping" with like-minded people supports your good intentions?  Isn't this what support groups, AA, and teams have always known?  

Somehow, when we clump together, the energy we create, and the potential that we can manifest, is more than the sum of what we could each accomplish alone.  I love that.