November 23, 2016

Vulnerability and Gratitude

Like this leaf, I feel simultaneously delicate and bold; blurry and focused; vulnerable and brave. Honoring darkness yet reaching for light: looking for the good in myself, others, and the world.

In the States, it’s Thanksgiving week, which is a natural time to reflect: What’s good in our lives? For what are we grateful? It's a time to make food, share stories, listen, and commune. But can I thrive in community while feeling delicate, blurry, and vulnerable? (Reminder to self: I equally feel bold, focused, and brave.) I think there's strength in bringing vulnerability to community. I hope to show up, as is, with an open, grateful heart.

Each day, I'm inspired by all the good in the world. Inspired not in a Pollyanna-ish way, but in a real way. There's goodness when people cry and hold hands, or when they laugh and dance. There's goodness in nature, everywhere, when we see with fresh eyes.

I'm grateful for sunsets, hugs, postal mail, kindness, meditation, friendship, bird song, kale, coffee, photography, and laughter, especially from children. I'm grateful for love and support from people near and far (you're included in this gratitude: thank you!). Please join me: For what are you gratefulbig, small, or in between? Let's allow gratitude to spill forth into this complicated, wondrous, uncertain, and beautiful world.
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November 18, 2016

We Have Time to Pause

When we most need to pause, we often resist. Life feels urgent, scattered, anxious, or uncertain and instead of pausing we continue the cycle of busyness. We think: "There's no time to pause. I'll make time later." But later never arrives, because there's always something more to do. Until we actually pause.

I have a mindfulness bell on my computer. It sounds once an hour, as a reminder to pause for three breaths. Often, I step into another room: take a quick break while checking in with myself. Sometimes the bell arrives in the middle of what feels like very important work. (I take myself too seriously at times.) In these moments, I curse the bell; I might even yell a little. But if I remember to remember, I step away, because that's exactly when I need to pause. Nothing in my life is urgent. But if that's the story I believe, I'm not in a good place. I'm tense, disconnected, and not doing my best work.

When I create a little space, I feel and see differently. I remember what's most important. I reconnect with myself: my creativity, wisdom, and heart. And it doesn't have to be a big deal: it can be a small pause. My friend Steven thinks there should be a deity called "Wait a minute!" We invoke this deity whenever we pause. Instead of reacting from habit, we respond from intention. We refrain from unkind words, revive our work, and reflect on our lives.

An honest yet gentle reminder: We have time to pause. You can start right now:

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November 16, 2016

Look Inside: Coming Home to Yourself

After years of teaching in person, I want to broaden the audience. I developed this self-paced e-course, because I believe in the practices: mindfulness, awareness, presence, compassion, well-being, and wonder. In small yet important waysat your own paceyou can change your life. And you don't need special equipment. You can start right now, just as you are.

Coming Home to Yourself: A 6-Week Course in Mindfulness is a 78-page multimedia document: written teachings, videos, audio guided-meditations, reflections, mini-assignments, and photographs. Here are two sample pages from the class:

Mindfulness is everywhere, but this course is different:

Wondering who I am? Read my bio.

After you purchase through PayPal, you'll receive an email message from me, with the course document as an attachment. (This email comes within 48 hours of your purchase.)

Make Space. Start Small. Be Gentle.

November 13, 2016

Join the Kindness Movement

Today is World Kindness Day, which feels particularly relevant: After a tumultuous week here in the States, we need kindness. We need many things: honest sharing, deep listening, tolerance, equality, compassion, and healing. But kindness is accessible right now, in this moment.

You can make a pledge for World Kindness Day. They suggest interesting and varied ideas. For example, "Pick up trash in a local park", "Send a thank you note to your favorite teacher", "Learn about another culture", "Tell someone how much they mean to you," or "Let someone go ahead of you in line." Such wise, beautiful guidance. In a world filled with greed and hatred, we can generate generosity and love. It only takes a few minutes to be kind. And kindness changes the world in quiet yet powerful ways.

My pledge: Write a touching, inspiring note and leave it on someone's windshield. This secret kindness mission warms my soul and makes me gleeful. Because kindness opens the heart in ways that benefit everyone. Please join me.

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November 8, 2016

A Different Path to Compassion

During elections, sporting events, or work conflicts, it's easy to fall into us-and-them thinking. "We" are good, "they" are bad. This creates division and disconnection. We no longer see others as human—as people doing their best in a complicated world. This isolates us: we lose touch with our kind heart. 

Instead of "us" and "them," we can envision humanity: we all want to love and be loved; we all want to live with ease. We might disagreewe might have different opinionsbut we're still interconnected. If we ignore the human-ness in each other, we lose touch with love, compassion, and healing. 

We often resist difficult circumstances and cling to happy ones. These habits of aversion and craving are natural, but they don’t feel good. They constrict our mind, body, and heart. A different choice is to make space for painful feelings and give away positive ones. Breathe in pain, breathe out healing. Breathe in fear, breathe out compassion. Breathe in difficulty, breathe out the appropriate and wholesome antidote. This practice—which can be used in meditation or in daily pauses—retrains our minds and enlivens our compassion. With each breath we reduce aversion and craving, while we build generosity and love. Another “simple” practice that moves us toward connection. 

Create space, look inward, and allow for compassion. Give it a try, listen to this audio:

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November 3, 2016

Awakening Joy

The poet Hafez wrote about "Tripping Over Joy." He describes the difference between an enlightened person and us ordinary humans: "The saint is now continually tripping over joy and bursting out in laughter saying, 'I surrender!' Whereas, my dear, I am afraid you still think you have a thousand serious moves."

In my experience, joy is not something to conjure up or create. Joy arrives when I'm present, embodied, and aware. It arrives in the spaciousness of an open heart. And it shuts off when I think of my "thousand serious moves." Life is often far more simple than I make it. Over-complicating thingstaking myself too seriouslyis a method of protection and control. Though I know it's impossible, I want to control life: I want people not to die or suffer. Interestingly, grief can awaken joy. When I allow my heart to crack open with sadness, I allow it to crack open with wonder. I just need the reminder: Surrender control. Pay attention, with a loving heart. Let life flow. Be real, raw, and true. 

When I remember and begin again, joy always finds me. It surprises me in beautiful ways—ways that are not grand or extraordinary. Everyday moments can be filled with wonder.

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