PERSONALIZED MEDITATION INSTRUCTION

MEDITATION? REALLY?

Meditation means many things, even if some definitions seem contradictory. We might ‘meditate’ on a decision, which would imply deep thinking. Or, we might let go of thoughts in meditation, which implies a clear state free of mental constructs. And there are just as many reasons why we might do this. Some people are searching for a meditative state, some are seeking a religious experience, some are making a social or fashion statement. To some it’s de-stressing and wellness. And, to many, meditation is something we vaguely believe will help, but find hard to keep up. The idea that meditation can help is very true. But, it would be easier to keep up if it was less vague and more practical. What might make it sustainable is to know not only how to do it, but what it is and why we are actually doing it. Meditation need not be difficult. But, it does require understanding.

 

MEDITATION FROM A WISDOM TRADITION

 

If our meditation is about feeling good, then the moment we don’t feel so good, we are ready to call it a bust. If, on the other hand, our meditation is aimed at developing the wisdom to see our minds, we are actually handed the tools of our liberation.

 

I have experience teaching and guiding meditation in many orientations from wellness companies, to yoga and meditation studios, to meditation centers and, now more and more, with personal one on one instruction. I have guided sessions that lead people on mental excursions through jungles, over cliffs, and across the starlit sky. All of this is interesting and possibly helpful. But, the question of why still arises. Why do you want to be guided into an Hawaiian waterfall or past life living room?  If the answer is as an escape from the pressures of the world, then that is fine. But escape is not necessarily sustainable as an ongoing practice. If our meditation is about feeling good, then the moment we don’t feel so good, we are ready to call it a bust. If, on the other hand, our meditation is aimed at developing the wisdom to see our minds, we are actually handed the tools of our liberation. And, we will be motivated whether or not we feel good. In fact, we might be motivated to look beyond our personal discomfort and really learn something. If meditation, in whatever form it takes, is aimed to gain more wisdom about ourselves and our human existence, then we have a powerful “why” to motivate us. “I have difficulties in my life, and am not in control of my actions”, “I have to face myself and grow up”, “I want to be free of depression.” We can either use meditation to escape from, or turn directly into these afflictive mental states. One is a temporary balm, but the latter leads to a path of greater understanding.

 

There are traditions that are path oriented and promote personal knowing and empowerment over doctrinal acquiescence and academic understanding. We call these wisdom traditions and they have an onus on direct personal experience. Whether they be Buddhist, Native American, Muslim, Christian or otherwise, meditation from a wisdom perspective is a mind training that leads to practical and transcendent wisdom. The point is not to achieve a religious experience or salvation of any sort, but to simply become more sane and balanced in order to discover, develop and deploy our innate wisdom. And, while there are exceptions, Wisdom Traditions are often aligned with established lineages that rely on the daily practice of mind training as a developmental path.

 

The development of wisdom in daily life implies a practical involvement with meditation. The general recommendation would be to develop a daily practice of repeated placement of mental attention on the present moment. We do this in order to train the mind  progressively toward deeper and more stable relaxation and awareness. Many disciplines employ an object of meditation (such as a mantra, the breath, a visual stimulus, or a phrase) to facilitate a return to the present. So, commonly, one would return to the mantra or the breath again and again to stabilize the mind, and allow its awareness to develop more and more deeply into the present.

 

THE POWER OF PRACTICE

 

Sometimes the object of meditation takes on a tutulary function, acting as an agent of protection. Mantra, in particular, is traditionally considered mind protection. The practice of Mantra has its basis in ancient Indian yogic practice as the recitation of magical incantations to ward off evil. However, any tool aiding the mind to return to the present is acting as a protecting agent. Contemporaneously stated, the object of meditation is not protecting us from evil forces so much as our vulnerability to danger when we are not paying attention. The object of meditation protects us by returning us to awareness of present moment. In the present we are most aware and most capable of protecting ourselves. Life happens in the present. When we are not in the present we are entirely vulnerable to advantitions calamity and self-affliction. So, the breath or another object of meditation can be used to protect us, by bringing us back to our seat. Meditation trains the mind to return to the present, which in turn, returns self-agency to our life.

 

The true power of meditation is when the mind develops the capacity to recollect the discipline in everyday life. With training, we will remember to return to the present via the proxy of mantra or the breath every time we become distracted ot lost in our scheming, manipulating or daydreaming. In this way, we become less carried away with ourselves, and are able to retain balance and clarity in our lives. Of the various forms of meditation techniques I have studied, I prefer to begin with the breath, because the breath is reliably in the present. And, most importantly the breath is portable. It is always there with you. So, you can easily return to the present via the breath on a subway, in a car, on a date, in an interview or on the john. Mantra, contemplation and recitation can be used surreptitiously, but there is always a separation from the moment and a sense of doing something to correct the moment. The breath is elegantly brilliant as a tool because no one can fault you for breathing. Its fits right in to to the rhythm of living.  And, perhaps most importantly, the breath is an integral part of our somatic experience. The breath is not only happening in the present, it is happening in our body. So, it connects us to the body, and as we shall see offers us a very practical way of calming and soothing the nervous system to enhance mental clarity.

 

 

THE WISDOM TRADITION OF SHAMBHALA

The Wisdom Tradition of Shambhala is a western application of the traditional Tibetan Buddhist approach. The Tibetan Buddhist approach is very much aligned with its Northern Indian antecedents. In other words, like Indian Yoga, Tibetan Buddhist meditation is about synchronizing body, spirit and mind so the practitioner can have access to the present moment free of illusion, delusion or misapprehension. In Shambhala, however, the orientation is on the development of society into a compassionate and enlightened state. Therefore, rather than a spiritual ideal, it is a very practical way of manifesting ancient wisdom for the present time. Shambhala meditation is not sequestered to a cave, or darkened chamber. Instead, meditation is dedicated to the benefit of the planet and its attendant life. It is a very practical approach. Instead of removing the practice from the world, it is engaged in, and empowered by, our world.

 

I believe ancient wisdom once removed of its religious trappings is often based on very human, and as such, immensely practical, concerns. The Meditation from the Wisdom Tradition of Shambhala uses ancient wisdom to inform very present experiences.  At its core, is a belief in the fundamental goodness of humanity. It is a system based on developing the True Confidence which comes from training the mind. Simply said, if we develop belief in ourselves, and learn to trust ourselves, we can be a great benefit to ourselves and our world.  It is a manual, daily and practical approach that is empowering without ego building. In other words, its not flattering, or aligned with any competition. It does not offer any credentials. It is simply a way of connecting ourselves in order to connect to our life altogether. From that synchronicity, we are more in control of our lives. And, taking a warrior’s seat in meditation puts us directly in the center of that circumstance.

 

PERSONAL APPROACH AND SERVICES

My home school is Shambhala and this is the basis for which the other tools in the kit fit. Having a connection to a lineage offers the confidence to build a very customized approach to the student. I have also had extensive – and advanced – training in Vajrayana Buddhism, Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction, Mahayana Buddhist LovingKindness and Compassion Practices, as well as Somatic Experiencing, authentic movement and other therapeutic practices. I have a deep connection to Native American Shamanism and the study of Taoist philosophy and the iChing that informs my understanding of life and practice. It is my belief that ancient wisdom can be interpreted practically to treat modern disconnects, and that meditation is a primary tool for reconnecting to our basic human nature.

 

I am available to offer one time or ongoing support to your mediation practice. We can sculpt an approach that suits your needs and lifestyle. I also have a series of guided meditations that delve into embedded obstacles in our psychological, and somatic experience for those who would like that kind of support. Whatever your needs, feel free to contact me for a free session of basic meditation training. If the clouds part and we continue a deep dive into meditation instruction from there, that is wonderful. My fees for meditation work are donations based on whatever fits your circumstances at the time(s) of our meeting.

 

If we decide to continue with life coaching we can discuss a fee structure.

 

But, should you take the instruction and decide to move on to other support, you will have a basic practice toward a path of self-knowing. In all cases, I am available for phone and textual advice to support your practice, at no charge, as you continue your journey.

 

It is my L I F E W O R K to bring meditation to life. Let me help you find a practice that will remain all your life.

 

joe@josephmauricio.com

347.403.2066

 

A LIGHT IN THE DARKNESS

HERE IS A LINK TO A TALK GIVEN AT SHAMBHALA NEW YORK (followed by a written companion post. )

 

A LIGHT IN THE DARKNESS

I’m writing this from deep winter.  It’s a time of environmental, spiritual and moral darkness. My spirits, like many, seem very low at times. Despite the triumphant chorus of another new year, the nights, although growing shorter, are still very long. This darkness evokes an unease and disquiet in the mind. We tend to blur the images, filtering the trauma of our collective and personal life experience into every life challenge.

 

Sometimes everything seems overwhelming.

 

As psychological trauma is buried within our consciousness, so it is embedded in the body. We literally carry this ancient pain consciousness with us everywhere.  Thus darkness in life seems to provoke ancient fears that threaten to cloud every opportunity. Each time we meet a new possibility, instead of the joy and openness that could lead to success, we might feel deflated and unsure. We all experience this sadness sometime. But, some of us feel it all too often until it seems to be the primary informant of our life. This post is especially for you. I feel for you, as I share this darkness too. However, I’m not going to make it better. Sorry. You see, I have found the secret to allowing the darkness to be a profoundly rewarding experience. I have devoted my life to knowing. To discovery. So, it becomes essential that I make a relationship to this shadow that has forever been there. Otherwise, I will never know it.

 

There is much we can say to try and distance our fear. But, as fear is part of an awake mind experience, aren’t we robbing ourselves of an essential wisdom experience when we try and prop ourselves up artificially?  I can tell you it will all work out. That everything has a reason. That it always works out. But these are words. Words are reasoning based on trite sensibilities we find comforting because we’ve heard them again and again. They are not informed by much of anything other than what we think should be happening. Words may calm the mind, but that balm is short lived if we are not addressing the essential HURT at the heart of our depression. And this hurt is embedded in our somatic experience. From there it influences our psychological and life experiences. It is essential that we begin to see. Which means feel. Words can only calm us down until we get there. But, once we get there? All we can do is open our eyes. And begin to absorb the dark until we begin to feel our way in.

 

Okay, then will we find a light at the end of our tunnel, at least?

 

Well, not so fast. How can we find light at all if we’re fixated on what that light will shine upon?  Then we’re looking for a new job, or the right partner.  Something to make us feel better. But we are no longer seeking the truth. We are no longer seeking know. We are thinking instead of feeling, and we will miss the point entirely. But, if the point of this life is to know what that life is we can no longer run from fear or sadness toward comfort and a reward in some other life. If our intention is to know ourselves, we would do best to decode the mysteries in this life.  We can see into the darkness by beginning, after so many years of running away, to look right into shadows.

 

The only way to find a light in the darkness is to open our eyes. If all we see is darkness, then we can simply just stay with that. Through meditation, we can develop the patience to let the mind settle and our mind’s eyes adjust. That means looking into our darkness with all the compassion, patience and strength we can muster. If we have experienced this darkness in one form or another all our known life, then perhaps it’s now time to see into it. Maybe it’s time we get to know this ancient friend. And, if we begin to see anything new about ourselves, or our experience, in the midst of this darkness, then there must be light.

 

That’s right. Maybe it’s opposite of our usual materialistic approach where we have something we’ve imagined in mind and bend the rules until we see it. This is waiting until we begin to understand something. And -possibly that understanding begins the basis for the way out of danger. It’s the seeing itself that brings light.  There is no proof of light until that light shines on an object. It can be posited that until there were objects to be seen, there was no light to see them.  In our case, if we are looking to see something we’ve heard about, we will likely only find darkness, or at best, shadows against the cave wall. But, should we decide to drop any project and simply turn from the cave our eyes will develop the strength to see.

 

Sakyong Mipham breaks the path of meditation into three components: Stability, Clarity and Strength. Stability of mind requires great patience. Patience is our ability to simply wait for the truth to arise. It is dependent on stabilization of mind. An uneasy mind is inherently unstable and will be impatient, looking for the easiest way out of discomfort. This uneasy mind lacks stability, has no patience and cannot see clearly. But, the surest way out of discomfort, is to simply relax there until things settle.  So, stability is developed through the gentle repetition of bringing the mind back to the breathing body again and again. Through this repetition, we gain a familiarity that allows confidence. It feels comfortable settling the mind.  Perhaps darkness itself becomes a balm of sorts. We have developed the patience to simply sit in the dark alone looking for nothing but what we will see. Then through that relaxation, the mind’s eyes open and become adjusted to the darkness.

 

The stability of mind  is dependent on the patience to NOT LOOK. We simply employ the meditation practice to relax into seeing. Boycotting the easy answers we return again and again to ourselves just here, just now, just so in the true present. The True Present is time beyond hours and calendars that is not affected by wanting, or needing or trying.  In the ‘True Present’ time is stable because the mind is stable. From this stability of time, free of looking away, the mind ‘s natural clarity will dawn.

 

Clarity is when we contact and understand what is actually there.  And while there are many extreme life circumstances that might cut through our discursive mind into direct contact with life – such as a car accident, an orgasm, hang gliding or childbirth –  a more sustainable and retrievable proposition would to develop clarity by stabilizing the mind. In this way, the clouds of confusion instead of being ripped apart, will just gently part.This sustainable clarity of mind is dependent on the context of stabilization. A stabilized mind is clear. A clear mind is strong enough to transform any difficulty into further understanding. Then whatever we feel we have the strength to stay openly present. In this way, fear can be used as a tool to keep us sharp and awake. We have developed the strength to allow the mind to open without being hijacked. We have the strength to remain open and see.

 

The Strength we develop from confidence in our clarity, becomes a tool to develop further strength of mind in life, love, work, darkness and light. Meditative repetition develops familiarity that breeds confidence, and that confidence gives us the strength to be able to withstand the pangs of fear in order to remain patient, stable and open.

 

The iChing states that when we perceive a light within, we will find the light to light our way from danger.  And it counsels us to “be like water” and continue flowing through all the deep places, filling up all the deadzones, seeing things from the point of view of the lowest element. Water. That nonetheless is always moving and will reach safety and clarity at some point.  So, as a practical concern, my advice is that all of this becomes easier if we have adopted a primary view of our life’s path. I urge my clients to find a self-statement that can set their journey on course whether or not they can see through the fog, storms or dark of night. What is your navigating principle? This is where rock hits bone. This is where we stop making up feel good tales and start to employ actual navigation of our path. So, my self statement – which is refined in time through daily meditation – is to gain clarity about myself in order to be help guide others to clarity. In this context, surviving darkness is not only assured, its essential. We must go through this because it’s ours to go through. So, rather than trying to help others by making them feel good about feeling bad, it becomes our purpose to give them the tools to better understand their darkness and find own their way out.

 

That light is born of darkness. And, it will guide you into great strength and understanding.

 

BE YOUR BEST NON-SELF

I wish you the best in this new year. Truly. Whether I know you or not. Whether I like you or not. Whoever you are, my best to you. The idea that happiness is a zero sum equation and that mine is dependent upon someone else’s lack, is a great fallacy. There is happiness enough for all.  And food, and clothing and money. Enough for everyone. Except that when we lack confidence, fear keeps us from enjoying our world. We feel we must take, segregate and manipulate to secure our position. We try and collect power, which is doubled when it comes at the expense of others. Then everyone is taking, scheming and, in plain fact, losing.  And this makes us very weak, indeed.

When we perceive our position to be weak, we become dangerous and the world becomes a dangerous place. There are many strategies to cope with our fear. Any that promise to remove the danger are selling us a bad bill of goods. Those easy ways out actually make us more vulnerable. We give ourselves away again and again, and this erodes our confidence over time.  There are many strategies for handing over the reigns of our self agency. Some of us seek a kind of provisional confidence in things that represent strength or safety. We become large with the largess of their vision. We lose ourselves jumping on bandwagons strewn with banners reading “make me great again”,”make me safe again”, “make me comfortable”, “help me find certainty in an uncertain world.”  But, how often do those wagons end up leading the blind to indentured servitude?   This might be a ‘yang’ approach to eroding our confidence. On the other hand, we might become very small. We might couch this as religious, holy even. We might adopt a false humility that is actually a defensive position.  While true confidence engenders humility and a willingness to be patient and kind with our world, there is danger in exaggerating humility into a self denigrating lack of ownership of our life. This abdication of our self-agency ultimately serves no one.  You might call this the ‘yin’ approach to lacking confidence.

 

In either the passive or assertive approach, we are giving ourselves away. Whether we are fighting, bowing or just getting high, all of a sudden we awaken to find we’re no longer in Kansas.  And Oz, it seems, is a place far from our imagining. In the movie, the wizard ended up changing all the characters lives by giving them nothing at all, but avatars of their own basic goodness.  “Where I come from we have folks that grow up strong in the fields, having been nurtured by their families and societies. We call them humans. And they have a basic goodness as their birthright.” As for Dorothy, she seemed to lack nothing but the ability to get back home. Her instruction? When you find yourself astray, simply feel your ruby slippers on the firm yellow brick earth and you’re home. In a practical sense, home is the present, free of projections. Home is our body. Home is our beautiful ruby shoes on the rich golden earth.

 

Now this doesn’t mean home is free of danger. It just happens to be the ONLY place you can work with danger. Life is simply safer if you’re there as an active participant. And a willingness to be there builds true confidence.

 

Yet, there are many ways in which we erode our confidence by denying ourselves in the garden. Many times we believed we needed something greater than ourselves to make it okay. This is addiction. Its is self-doubt. And in meditation circles it is based on theism. Theism is deeply ingrained in our society whether or not a god is involved. We can lose ourselves to our job, to our country, to our addictions, to anything that we determine is better than we are, or becomes more important than we are. Any time we decide something else is preferable to what our life is, or who we are, we are giving ourselves away. We will end up disappointed, and without hope. Once abandoned by our gods, when we find our idols have clay feet, we lash out and destroy them. And from their ashes will rise another idol for us to swoon over. This game continues on and on and gets no one anything but more servitude. And over time this erodes confidence. We can only shut ourselves out for so long before we will give up altogether.

 

The alternative to giving ourselves away is learning to develop true confidence. We do this when we build the fortitude to stay with discomfort and fear without checking out. We develop the strength to be alone with ourselves and our feelings for no reward except regaining OUR life. Sakyong Mipham talks about True Confidence. Unlike conventional confidence, which is dependent on external circumstances, True Confidence is a belief in yourself so deep and so naturally endowed no one can take it away. Only you can relinquish ownership of your heart. And, you will only do that when you are fooled into buying dross disguised as gold. Then, thinking there is an easy way out, we join the Pepsi generation and begin to follow someone else’s plan. The alternative is to stay the course by coming back to the breath over and over again, in order build the True Confidence to win our life back. This is the great power of meditation. It allows us to develop a strength that can never be weakened, as long as we believe in ourselves and our own goodness.  Believing in ourselves is the point. Whatever happens, it is our life. We can either participate, or capitulate. In truth, we will do both. We will rise to occasions as we can, and otherwise crawl under covers of one sort or another. However, the more we choose to stand in the fire of our own experience, the stronger and more independent we become.

 

So, with all this talk of confidence and self regard, what about this Buddhist business of egolessness?  Ugh! There’s that theism again. Our acculturated tendency toward extremes gives us a very impractical ‘all or nothing’ approach to our path.  Buddhism encourages the middle way free of extremes. It’s a very practical approach to traveling the meditation path. It’s not all or nothing. In fact, it’s everything. But, because it’s not limited to one thing, it’s often interpreted as nothing, or empty. However, the middle way speaks to all experience as having individual qualities of equal value. The practice is not to attach our identification to any of it. The less ownership we have in life, the more life we actually own. In this regard, the terms egolessness and nonself don’t imply self-denigration, abnegation or ignorance. They simply mean that we are much more than we think.

 

In our conventional (and less awake than could be) mind we hide ensconced in a discursive mental swarm that keeps us separated from the fresh possibilities of life. Our self confidence is based on what we can acquire and our self identity is largely based on what we perceive we lack. And all of it forged on reactions to other people’s input. We are reacting to our world in a way that will make that world feel safe for us. Ego structures work provisionally. They help grease the interface with the society it was created to serve. But, we are so much more than that.  The self is a small subset of the possibilities of who and what we are developed as a reference to navigate the storms of life.  Yet, to believe we are the self is to believe the sailor is the lifevest. Pema Chodron likes to say that some of us are only comfortable in a life vest over a wetsuit over thermal underwear. We are well protected from our life. Maybe a diving bell. But somewhere in there is a vulnerable flesh and blood entity that is subject to changing every moment. This is the being that needs to be brought out and given confidence.

 

Each time we flinch and contract ourselves into the panic and tension (that all too often feels comfortable to us), we squeeze ourselves into a small reactive entity. We hide in our wetsuit. But, we can’t stay there. That tension will kill us. Make no mistake. Squeezing ourselves into defensive postures will constrict us, and shut off our life force. We can only shut down so many times, before something in there gets the message. But, there is an alternative. Letting go. The practice of meditation is entirely forgiving. We can always come back. We can let go. We can simply feel our feet on the ground, and there we are.  Any system based in compassion and understanding would never deny the self. It might point beyond, but the only way beyond ego is to be confident enough to be able to let its gripping go. Ego structures gain power in our PHYSICAL GRIPPING. The antidote is simply to let go. Letting go does not mean getting rid of. It does not mean making an enemy of. Letting go means simply opening the grip and allowing the panic to subside and reveal the ground swell of fear beneath. Being frightened, and allowing yourself to be frightened without resorting to extraordinary external measures, is exactly what builds true confidence. We didn’t need a mommy, a boyfriend, a God or a president to pull us through. We were willing to sit there and feel our feelings without a bandaid. That is strength.

 

And if that sounds bleak, let me say that letting go of pleasure also opens to the true bliss beneath surface experience.  We learn to be alone with our feelings. This allows us to feel more fully. We have the confidence to open; open beyond our pain, and open beyond pleasure, open past the clinging to the surfaces of life to the raw human experience that is actually our life.  And, its okay if no one else knows, as long as we know. As long as we are willing to know more and more about what we are actually doing. Just us. And from that standpoint, we can naturally help others. Bleak? Well, maybe empty. Empty of all the stuff we encumber life with. But if we look into that emptiness, beyond our controlled presuppositions, life is full of possibility. Conversely, if we give in to our fear and reduce our mind to gripping and panic we become dangerous to ourselves and others. Yet, as all humans have basic goodness, if they have confidence in themselves, then if they can breathe, their actions will also be good. We will naturally help the world if we feel strong enough to do so. There is much energy devoted to making humanity feel unloved and unwanted, to keep us weak and at each other’s throats. But this is not the natural state of our being. And it is not the state we required to live in. The taxes are too high in that state. The natural state is a state of openness and grace for which the only tax is our own attention and confidence.

 

So, building confidence in yourself and your ability to deal with your pain, emotions and energy helps you to be your best non-self.  And then, you might discover all the yous out there waiting for you.

 

 

CHANGING INTO OURSELVES

Its that time of year, again. Once again, the beginning. Beginning lists of new beginnings. This year will be different, of course. We will change. All of us want to change. Change change change. But, have we ever looked at what we’re changing?

 

Seeing what we want to change would seem a necessary first step. Otherwise, any change, or program, or new beginning will be based on the same old self distrust. And, as my buddy Mike says, ‘when you get on the wrong train – every stop is the wrong stop.’ Once we head down that path every resolution we make will be met with the great resistance of someone untrusted and untrustworthy. What if this year we do things differently?  Maybe we can change the way we look at change. And the first thing we could change is our approach to our self-development. Rather than a fix-it plan, self development could be seen as a journey from self-consciousness to self awareness. The premise being we are worthy. We are worth discovering. Rather than getting on the wrong train running AWAY from ourselves, why not just stop, turn back to ourselves and begin to make a practical and functional relationship with the one who matters most.

 

Yes, Virginia. It really IS all about you.

 

But, maybe you’re tired of you. Maybe you’ve really given up. That is so sad. That’s letting go of the deepest part of you in favor of what everyone else thinks you SHOULD be. Perhaps you are embarrassed by that part of you that is frail, scared, dresses badly and just doesn’t get it. But what if the parts we’re hiding are the most precious parts of our being? What if that’s the very part of us longing to be discovered, heard, seen and developed.  Giving up what could be in favor of what should be is a poor trade. And what could be is only possible if we are willing to accept – and even learn to love – what is.  So, why not do it differently this time? Give yourself that chance this year. Trade self consciousness for self-awareness.

 

While there are many ways to become self aware, this post deals with mindful awareness meditation. Perhaps the foremost power of meditation is its ability to help us see who we are. Settling down and listening in are necessary precursors to knowing what we have to work with in the first place. When we meditate we’re just sitting there, aren’t we?  With ourselves?  We’re not doing anything else, so why not spend that time getting to know ourselves? Paying attention and learning to become familiar with the working basis. Familiarity develops strength in time.  The way to that kind of strength is to be willing to pay attention to ourselves as if we were important enough to warrant that, as though we cared enough about ourselves to actually pay attention and listen. And to develop the discipline to look beyond the stories we weave into the frail and beautiful truth beneath. Really knowing ourselves can only happen if we learn to pay attention without getting lost. When we’re lost in our narratives we become as fish swimming through water it never recognizes. Hence, fish that never understand their own basically good fishyness. They are IN themselves, but as they cannot SEE themselves, they never really come to KNOW themselves. The same can be said of most of us. Because we are IN ourselves, we never KNOW ourselves and so there is a sad patina of unease and distrust shading our every experience. Therefore, it becomes essential that we stop and listen into our experience. In order to do that imagine you are someone you love. How would you approach them? How would you make them feel at ease with themselves? You would listen without judgement and great patience. You would expect nothing and instead move gently toward a pure connection. But, if you want to guide that person, and find out what’s really beneath the talk, then we have to look deeper than the cognitive narratives in which we are lost.

 

So, once we are settled enough to be able to listen, ironically, the next step is to INTERRUPT ourselves. This is because we are likely listening to the discursive, superficial, habitual mind and we have so much deeper to go. So the meditative tool is an arbitrary gap we consciously insert into the thinking process. By interrupting the patterns that lul us into fish-lost-in-water-it-never-knows syndrome, meditation separates the repetitive patterning of mind from the space beyond.  That space masquerades as emptiness to an ordinary mind seeking to control situations. This is why that mind remains small – it reduces itself to a subset of a subset of possibilities it has seen before and can attempt to control. In contrast, the mind of meditation sees space as the field of possibility. This allows a greater context from which we can begin see the whole person. Through loving acceptance of ourselves we gain awareness of our patterns. By interrupting their flow and returning back to ourselves in the present, we eventually see beyond those patterns to the possibilities ahead. But armed with confidence born of awareness, we can venture toward the unknown firmly implanted in the earth of the present moment.  So, when meditating we endeavor to stay connected to ourselves via the breath. We stay grounded in ourselves relaxing progressively into truer and truer experience. We try and relax the mind so as to connect to its most natural experience. When we lose contact by forgetting where we are, and abandoning our somatic connection and present experience through the power of familiarity, we simply remember. And then, employing the discipline, we STOP.

 

And then returning to the breathing body we are back to our earth. It’s an amazing process.  We have gotten lost, found ourselves, remembered what meditation is and come back to our breath – all in a heartbeat. Amazing. This moment in meditation, almost too brief to mention, is when we are touching a part of the great synchronicity of enlightenment itself. Only then, it’s gone. But that’s okay. We can’t hold on to any experience longer than the experience lasts. If we do, we’ll end up with a dead thing in our grip, or a haunting association that bares no relevance to actual circumstances. Whatever our experience, the way to know ourselves is to see, feel, taste and touch what is actually happening, as it is happening. Then as soon as the mind begins to judge, manipulate, hold on, we manually let the muscles of the head relax, redirect our attention to what is actually happening in the body, and reconnect to the breath.  IN this way, we come back home to our complete experience, not just an imagined interpretation. Then resting with the breath, allow the mind to relax until we become distracted, and once lost will then become magically next jerked into awareness.

 

Each moment we connect to our breath, we are connecting to the present.  Paying attention to ourselves in this way, we are following – and developing – meditative discipline.  This allows greater and greater moments of what I call “wordless synchronicity”. This sense of being in the present without narration.  This is discovering who we are NOW. And familiarity with that brings the confidence to return here to the center of our life.And that, can only lead to loving ourselves. It inevitable. We love that which we understand and can have a working relationship. As we learn to see a bigger – and more interactive – picture of ourselves we become more comfortable with us. And, you can see that is is all about you after all. Until we see the “working basis” as Lord Gampopa described our body, spirit, mind, qualities and actions, we cannot know how or whom to change. And until we have learned to love that being, we have no hope of its transformation.

 

Please, please, please choose active interest and engagement in your life. If you do, the discipline of meditation will give you the strength to sit and face yourself at home and return to balance and presence in life. Then instead of changing some entity that we don’t even know in some direction we’re unsure of, we can simply relax and allow the changes to happen as they inevitably will. Yes, everything changes, correct? So, why would we need to make any change happen any more than we would make water be wet? We simply need to stop ignoring the process, and through familiarity with the subject, become strong enough to let it happen.

 

How do we do that?

 

Well, you might just sit down, relax and think about it. Then when you get bored, instead of getting up, get down further into yourself.  Connect to your breathing and its body. Find what feels like you and let yourself go. And if we get lost? Simply remember. Then we’re back. And eventually, without being specifically aware, come to know ourselves. And because of that, change beyond ourselves into the next perfect moment.

 

So, this new year why not turn resolutions into a revolution. Instead of turning away, turn toward yourself and find a partnership you can develop the rest of your life.

STAND YOUR GROUND

 

This cowboy title of this law was made famous in the Trevon Martin case in 2012. It has since become a symbol of what can be called defensive aggression.  Agressively defending MY gound, MY country, MY people. And the more we defend our ground and the more we cling to things that are MINE, the less space we have for others. The less room for altenatives. We begin to live in MY very lonely world.

 

But, where is MY country, exactly? And who are MY people?  A cursory survey of genetic development shows that compared with other strains of flora and fauna humans are unnaturally homogeneous. And, over time, the racial strains within that tight genetic structure are pretty well mixed. Its hard to say who is who, except that all of us are pretty much the same. This makes the theory of master races pretty thin. Its as though we have to invent system that dont exist to simply not believe them.

 

All cultures have developed  spiritual systems and the majority of which recognize a superior deity or deities. And if you assembled a room full of congregants of one church would any two of them be praying to the same god? The entire council might go to war or be put to death defending this church, but would any two of the combatants actually know the same god. In fact, do you? Is there a consistant picture in your mind about the source of spiritual understanding? Yet, how stridently we will define ourselves by these beliefs.

 

I’ll kick your butt over my right to not know what I believe.  Damn yo’.

 

I recently saw a homeless fellow collecting change on a New York City street. I was going to drop in a dollar when I saw a swastika tattoo quite prominently exposed on his calf. I stiffened, kept my cash and stepped around him, down the street. But, my head went into a tirade. Go back to your country, I thought. This is New York. MY city. You’re not welcome here. Go back to YOUR wretched world with its wretched people spouting its wretched doctrines. We are free here in MY city.

 

MY city, where no two of us like the same bagel. Not if you get down to the actual schmear.

 

And for a few minutes I fought myself not to circle around and tell him off.  I had a head of wuips, stories and arguments. But, one thing kept coming back to block me. The kid looked sick. He looked hurt. And, truth is, no matter how mean someone looks, we’re all broken. We share the same fesrs and fall back on the same strategies to avoid pain. No one flowers gracefully into hate. Toxic philosophies are hard wrought. They are forged in violence and cruelty passed down from parent to children. That swastika was not a badge of strength, as much as a scab covered bruise. It hurt to receive it, as much as it must have hurt to have worn it.

 

Eventually, I calmed down enough to ask myself what I was defending. Evidencce: I was riled. I was angry. Therefore, I had to have been defending something. Was I really lashing out against cruelty, or acting out against my own wounds?  Is my self-identified non-violent activism ultimately a misdirect of a deep rooted aggression?  Is the Bodhisattva vow reducable to  a shield protecting the ugly sores of upbringing? Am I dedicating my life to bringing meditation to the world simply as a way of condeming the the part of the world I see as against me?

 

Are sny if us using love as a weapon?  Or,  do we live because we truly believe humankind DESERVES to be loved?

 

The truth is, wounded animals are dangerous when threatened. This is true no matrer how sweet the animal is otheewise. The fact that it wants to give and receive love doesn’t make it any less dangerous. So, as we”re wounded, how to procede? Keep silent? Hide? Absolutely not. The wounded are the most dangerous and best placed to talk to afflicted others who are at tge vanguard of hate. So we can ignite the dangerous flame of hstred, or use the light of compassion to touch those who refuse to listen. The fact is, love is a more affective way to communicate.

 

The more we cling to a ground made up of conceptual identity, the less grounded – and more inherently insecure – we become. Rather than focusing on what we might become, or even who we are in the present time and space, we select instances from the path that help solodify a picture that is not real, but a distracted reaction to our fear. We so want to be, that we create a ME. And more often as otherwise, that ME finds its strength in what its not.

 

So, yeah, lets go to war to prove we’re not gay, or Jewish or German or Muslim. Only, we are all of these things. And the only battle we ultimately fight is against ourselves.

A TALE OF TWO WORLDS

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, … it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope…”  

 

In pethaps the greatest run on sentence in literary history, Dickens painted the picture of the modern epoch. This is a precariously magnificant time, a time of unfiltered hatred and burgeoning compassion. Humanity is waking up slowly, but the raging hangover of past indulgences is nonetheless clashing awkwardly with the beauty of a bright new day.

 

But, are we awake or asleep?

 

Buddhist texts refer to these times as the dark age; a time when good and bad rise to a head. It is not dark as in ‘dark obscuring the light’, but, dark illuminated by light. If we are able to leap into believing in the inherent goodness of humankind we can see this as a time when our resistsnce and neurosis become more apparent.  And, hence a time when healing and resolution are most accessible. Rather than leaving darkness sequestered in the night, we have an opportunity to bring this to the light and work with the defensive urges that have been motivating human behavior for so long.

 

Unlike Christian stories of Armageddon where good and evil square off in a movie directed by Michael Bay, the Buddhist version has more to do with a knitting of fabrics, a coming together of elements into a new compound. Maybe more like a film by Daron Aaronovsky. Which means a psychic blending of tendencies that never resolve into easy answers – or a simple movie.  On one hand, we have good and evil becoming more opposed until one – presumably good – wins out. Perhaps the modern definition of good is that which wins out. On the other hand, we have good and evil – light and dark – entwined in a dance fantastique that will spin until the pieces blend, the bubble pops, and a new agency is formed.

 

Tantric master Trungpa Rinpoche likened these times to a cosmic pimple popping – a heightening of neurosis and wisdom that leads to an opening from which new possibilities are formed. One doesn’t defeat the other so much as their clashing brings about greater awareness of pain and the suffering caused by an inapropriate relationship to pain.

 

It is my belief that we can navigate this confluence and take agency in the coming singularity. By training the mind in mindful awareness we gain control of impulses, by slowing down the point of impact and creating a buffer that allows us the time to RESPOND consciously rather than REACT reflexively. By learning to learning to guide ourselves from one trigger to the next without fistraction or reaction we can possibly learn to help  humanity through the turmoil into its next phase. Whether that phase is a greater sense of space and understanding leading to a flowering or its much predicted demise, may be in our hands. And the time to gain MANUAL control of the micro steps of our destiny may be right now.

 

In order to navigate this grand confluence we might have to slow down and begin to unpack the presumptive reasoning of being right. How do we see beyond our framed thinking into an acceptance of all that is coming toward us without losing ourselves? Well, maybe we can stand to loose some of ourselves. Or even a lot of ourselves. Maybe we can begin by recognizing all that keeps us from assimilation, and simply relax into the convergence, turn off our aggression and float into change WITH OUR EYES OPEN.

 

Working with synchronicity is a process of letting go and yet navigating the flow. Unlike other traditions that imply we can either resist or comply with a script, the Buddhist point of view  is that once we awaken – that is when we become conscious – we can navigate rather than aquiece or resist and in effect co-create the script of exustence with the universe. The universe, in this case, is the karmic web created by past actions moving in various vectors into future space. It is like an ocean of currents, each with thier own momentum. Navigating these currents means accepting thier existence and sitting up above the water line, being able to see where we are heading, and having the resolve to move away from the momentum of self interest into the undefined waters of discovery.

 

Navigating the white water confluence of past actions into future possibility takes letting go of our aggression, self-interest and resistance and allowing the natural change of things to take place. By keeping our eyes open during the change we can move into the open space of possibility, discovery and communication. Looking into the fear, darkness and aggression of our ancient pain, we can see our suffering in others. Understanding how misunderstanding our pain has caused us to act blindly, hurting ourselves and others, we can see how others have done the same to us. We are all fighting ancient demons snd blaming each other for our pain. We are all human and we are all suffering by our own hand. If we see this, pethaps the possibility of repairing that cycle of aggression is possible.

 

With our eyes open into the turmoil we can keep our balance and begin to pull each other from the roil. Or, with eyes and fists clenched against the current we will drown ourselves and each other. Maybe the duality isnt between good and evil, left and right or right and wrong. Its about seeing or ignoring. Either we wake up communicate and learn to stabilize the world of compassion, or shut down and solidify a world of hate, pain and aggression.

 

So, is this the best of worlds ir the worst?

 

Yes. It is both and because of that it is a magnificant time to be awake.

 

 


PAYING ATTENTION TO TENSION

Stress is considered a detriment to health. Lowering stress is a commonly stated  motivator bringing people to meditation. There we escape into interior landscapes of calm. We have apps that guide us into internal relaxation free of stress. This is all well and good until we get out in the street and someone buried in their smart phone slams into us, spilling our chill all over our shirt.

 

While these various  forms of escapist meditation bring relief from stress, they dont address the actual problem: tension caused by stress.  We can go to a yoga retreat in Kuai, a medicinal a salt bath in Utah or a deep chakra cleansing in Oregon. Still, three days later that tenacious stress is there. Maybe we should move, get a new job or softer shoes. But, all of that is so stressful. So there’s Xanax. Xanax works, but pills are cheating. And we know they’re cheating so they’re not really working. There’s Zen. And thats better than pills, but soon that all that Zen makes us so bored we start getting stressed thinking of how to bring more stress into our life.

 

So, maybe stress gets a bad rap.  Its clear that some stress is important for us to learn and grow. And each of us respond differently to different stress points. One person is paralyzed at the thought of public speaking, while another may thrive on the opportunity. Some may love physical thrills and extreme sports while others freeze on the way up a diving board. So, maybe stress gets a harsh rap. I mean, if you didn’t value stress, even a little bit, what are you doing in New York City? Or, Baltimore? Or, anyplace in the current United States, for that matter?

 

I believe its not stress that does the harm, as much as the tension we create in relation to it. Tension is a refexive / reactive physical gripping within the body. Its like putting on imaginary breaks while sitting in the passenger seat. Things are not going as we want them to, and mistaking this as a threat, we clamp down and avoid the opportunity to work WITH the situation. Its this gripping in the body that creates discomfort and injury.

 

On the other hand when we thrive on stress its because we have learned not to fear the opportunity and we meet stress with relaxation instead of tension. Serena Williams or Aaron Rodgers navigate stress for a living. They do it through relaxation born of mind and body training. Its about training. Training the mind to see how the body feels and training the body to open to the experience. In this way, we navigate past stress by turning tension into attention by actually leaning in to the stress points.

 

This is so counter to our conditioning, which has programmed us to avoid suffering by a process of aquisitional bandaidery. We apply one “healing” modality atop the other until we are fitter, happier and healthier, pigs in a cage on antidepressants. (Appologies Mr. Yorke.) Societally, We are driven to buy, buy, buy until we are spinning so quickly, we no longer see how our life is robbed. This is stressful. So we clamp down on ourselves, stomping in a frenzied river dance trying to stop that wheel so we can breath.

 

But breath happens as we relax. And relaxation happns as we become aware. Awareness happens as we alliw ourselves the space and time to relax and tension, and pay attention to the life unfolding before us. Our life. What kind of blessing is that? Not only is stress instructional, it is elemental in creating enough tension in the body for us to wake up, release the tension, and relax into attention.

 

So, not only is stress not the problem, but even tension is not a problem if we use it as a reminder to release ourselves from its psycho/somatic imprisonment and open back into our life. It may not be as selfie-potent as that chakra cleansing in Kauai, but mindfulness training is a sustainable way to teach the body to bring itself back to balance in pressured times.

 

CHOOSING SANITY

Its a difficult time in the world. And its an easy time to try and find surety in aggression. This is a kind of reaction blindness. And when we react against reaction, its like blind leading blind – on steroids. But, when the going gets tough, perhaps the strong might become sane.

We have that choice. The option to NOT react. The choice to respond to danger with sanity. This is not only a better option, its also is a good survival strategy. When we respond with clarity, we are in a position to see more accurately. And awareness is power.
Sanity is also a basic human right. We have the right to have the space to choose sanity. It is the right to find our own way. And it is the belief of the Shambhala teachings that when people are granted the right to be as they are, they are inclined to make the right choices. In truth, to limit another’s freedom simply to secure our own safety, makes slaves of us all.  Not very sane.
The definition of neurosis is applying ineffective strategies to meet perceived needs. Strangely, we are compelled to these strategies, despite that fact that they don’t work. Societal and political identity is feuled by a desire to find safety in certainty.  But, certainty rarely finds parrellels to reality.
Sanity, on the other hand, is the bravery to choose the fresh space of awareness. When we release clinging to articles of personal identity, we are able to open to an interactive relationship with our world. We begin to sense that what is best for all, is best for ourselves, as well. Conversely, pre-empively thinking “whats best for me” is, by nature, defensive. And defensive reactions are seldom wise decisions. I believe this is true even if we were directly threatened. For what better defense than knowing your enemy? What better defense than seeing through the surface aggression to the frustration, ignorance and fear that is driving it. There is no better defense than awareness.
In fact, unless we are aware, we are completely vulnerable. And, when we react out of blindness, hating this, attacking that, we are not only defenseless, we are easily led. The fearful are so often angry chattle, led from battle to battle, working, dying, killing and birthing in the fields of materislism.
But, its is not our battle, and it is not our war. Our battle is to overcome the small minded defensiveness that has kept us enslaved. Our battle is to awaken into our birthright as leaders and protectors of our world. This is sanity. It is compassion in action: being useful to the world, and valuing awareness above all else. Because when we are aware, we are in charge of ourselves and responsible for our world.
I am not a fan of the current US administration, nor the protectivist tendencies currently sneaking into fashion in the capital west. It all seems to be forcing a hand that has been forced again and again throughout history. The gap between those who have and those to get it for them widens. When it begins to become clear that governments are owned and increasingly controlled by material interests there necessarily comes a tipping point.
Perhaps the tipping point can flip in the direction of global sanity. But, whether it toggles toward sanity or destruction, the only path to awake is to trust our goodness and remain aware. When we remain awake, we are not so easily led. When we remain vigilant in awareness, we develop the bravery to hold our seat amidst the chaos. When we choose sanity, we become a natural resistance to prejudice and greed.

Waking in Depression: The Way In

Our beautiful minds are vast and embued with great power. As such, they are a reservoir of great potential. However, we generally ignore this potential in lieu of problems we feel need to be fixed.  The problem is these problems tend to birth more problems until our identity is fixed with fixing things. Our attention becomes focused in tighter and tighter loops and our life reduces into simple iterations of routine.

 

We are caught between the great human potential inherent in all of us and an existential sleepwalk that holds us in lock step. Imagine the power of the universe locked in our laundry closet. At some point something either breaks out or breaks down. But who has time to break down these days? So we soldier on, ignoring the gnawing until we collapse.

Depression is a common and even reasonable reaction to living a life on  everyone elses terms. The root of depression may not actually be fear, but the anger we feel from shortchanging our lives because of that fear. Trying to get away from pain, we actually cause more pain. By trying so hard to be good, we end up living a false life. We have been duped by a cosmic shell game bartering reality for an anxiety dream. We cling to external things to help us fix the mess and in so doing forget the one person who can actually help us. The only person who can help.  The one who has been there all along.  We forget ourselves. When we shunt part of us away out of embarrassment, we become cut off from our inherent power. We begin to believe there is something wrong with us, and that we should be disappointed with ourselves and embarrassed about our depression.

In this way, our depression becomes solid. Our confidence erodes as we feel we are losing a battle.  We fall inward and becoming so small the day itself  feels too big. From this point of view, the potential of the mind must appear dark and forboding. In reaction to this fear, we shrink our awareness in an ostrich like effort to avoid pain. But, as we are occluding awareness, our fearfulness actually begets more fear. This denial of life not only robs us of joy, it also leaves us very vulnerable to manipulation.

 

Ancient humans fought for survival, hunted and gathered food. They died easily and lived short lives. Yet those lives may have had more contentment, community and connection than ours. Perhaps being disconnected from pain we are disconnected from an essential part of ourselves. We relagate pain into the darkness and take refuge in the light. We take solace in being right, even as a part of us suspects the opposite.

 

Our lives move more and more quickly these days. However, the nature we come from, is very slow.  The earth moves at its own pace, in its own way. The same with the heart. The faster we move the less we are able to feel the earth beneath us. And this has to threaten a more ancient part of ourselves, a deeper and intuitive part of ourselves. Whether we are aware or not, this spiritual dissonance causes an internal friction. On one hand, we feel we should be doing so much more. On the other, we’re already working too hard. Caught in this zero-sum vice, our heart, art, compassion and the life part of living have become lost. Placing our hearts on hold, we barter creativity for security causing ourseves and others great pain.

 

This reduction of our life dampens something inside. We can choose to be mute only so long before we forget how to sing. We can stay hobbled only so long before we forget how to dance. We can shut down life only so often, before we lose our will to live. We have told ourselves no so often, we simply shut down in response. So we retreat in fear, collapse inward and, wrapped in the fabric of time and space, hide ourselves from ourselves by becoming consumed in ourselves.

 

Man, it’s actually quite brilliant.

 

Crushed beneath the weight of “me” our mind begins to compile a ledger of all the things left wanting, undone and unfulfilled in our life. Our life force turns inward and the mind turns vicious. The power and potential of our mind is turned against the only foe it feels it can defeat: itself.

 

But, there is a way out. And the way out begins with the way in. By sitting IN our pain, we can become comfortable enough with suffering to find the space within. There is always space. But, in our fear we cling to the familiar and play the same song with such volume we drown all alternatives. However, by training the mind to stay, simply stay, and hold space for our experience, we find we can sit with greater and greater challenges. Eventually, we find a profound stillness. It is within that stillness that we begin to see in the dark. In fact, we become so familiar with the terrain of turmoil, that we learn to walk in the dark. At some point, we may even learn to dance in the darkness finding grace in our simple tenacity.

 

You see, it will eventually occur to our wounded mind, that we are sill here. One we’ve abandoned hope and surrendered to the great despair, we see that being with ourselves is all we have. Ground zero. Right here, right now, just so.

 

Meditation practice will not cure depression. Nor should it. But, a consistent daily practice will strengthen the mind, giving us the bravery to enter the dark, the resilience to remain with ourselves and the wisdom to find the love we need.

 

The love we need.

 

The love we have been looking for all along. The love that no one else can give. The love we learn to give ourselves by simply being here. There is something supremely powerful about beginning to feel lovingkindness for our incomplete life, bruised heart and tattered mind.  We can do this without turning the lights on, forcing a smile or turning the volume down. We can do this simply by being here, and not changing a thing. We can forgo trying to be good and simply be human. And humans suffer. When we connect to our suffering, we are connected to all of life, for all of life experiences suffering.

 

When we find love in the depths of despair, we find an Unconditional Love that compares nothing and accepts everything. Then we have a gift forged in the flames that no one can take from us. Our gift of unconditional love.

 

In the Shambhala teachings we say that practicing lovingkindness is to “place the mind of fearfullness in the cradle of loving kindness.” Learning to open the heart to the sadness of our spirit and finding the strength to hold space for our pain is a profound statement. And that profound statement is an acknowledgement of life itself.

 

Learning to hold ourselves with open arms, reduce the harm and find a connection to all beings is the way of the Bodhisattva.  In the Mahayana Buddhist tradition a Bodhisattva is one who has vowed to forstall their own salvation until all beings are free of suffering. They have vowed to venture into hell to liberate all beings.  We can find strength in this. There have been such people. And there are such people. Those willing to face the darkness and stay there until they get it. And then, be willing to look outward and bring that strength to the world. That is the way out. Benefit for the world. And, if not the whole world, then our world, 0r community. Someone else. Benefit to others is the best way to value yourself.

 

And, it is the way out that comes from finding the way in.

 

AWAKEN THE REPUBLIC

Following the election. Our world feels different. Maybe broken. It’s a good time to find healing and strength in love and sanity. It was hard to fathom. The People have spoken. Only not the majority. Rather, some people have spoken, rather pointedly.

 

Now, all will quiet. It will calm. We will likely not build a wall, or deport, indict or persecute anyone. Everyone will dial back to the center where this country finds ballast continuing nonetheless on a course the election has set. We’ll go back to our lives.  And as we sleep again, 2 conservative justices, a conservative senate and an administration built of lobbyists and special interests will turn back time for women, minorities, policing, jails and healthcare. Sadly, no one will turn back time on our changing climate, which will likely continue on pace, with our country a world leader in its own destruction.

 

You may be frightened. You may be happy that all is turning back from the swing to the left the country has taken. You may feel vindicated. You may be angry. You may be hurting. But, please remember its okay to love, along with hurt. It’s okay to find stillness and feel strength. As we rage in our souls and pour our hearts into every moment, whether we accept, resist, or support the changes, we might also be kind to ourselves. It may not be an easy time to feel light, but remember, we are light. I think we can shine, regardless.

 

This is bravery in the face of the unknown. I believe that we can respond, and act without malice, and without aggression. The power we have lies in awareness. And awareness comes when we don’t follow blindly, but stay engaged and grounded in the present. I believe we can employ non-violent activism and remain in place, awake, if we begin by sitting in the silence of loving kindness.

 

Turning anger into love that is awake and active and engaged. Love is not compliance. It is clear seeing with the heart and the mind. But it is dependent on our stability of mind. Our warrior posture of awake. It is time for this. It is time to move from the ignorance of blind compliance, or the blindness of rage to holding our seat as warriors in our body, spirit and mind.

 

Let’s awaken our republic. Awake New York! Awake DC! Awake LA and Awake America. Gently, but resolutely AWAKE. What other choice is there.  The Buddhist teachings say look at your world without disdain or bias. Meditation master, Chogyam Trungpa said “Look. Look at your world. It is your world. How can you not look.” His son, Sakyong Mipham has said again and again that the world needs us now. And to be brave, we must be “kind to ourselves and merciful to others.” From our seat of warriorship we can enact sanity in ourselves and very natural radiate that much needed sanity to others. So, we are shattered, and we are broken. But, rising up in hate and anger is the coward’s way. It is the way humanity has chosen again and again and regretted the results of the experiment each time. Instead, we can sit in strength and dignity of awake and choose sanity.

 

If survival is where humanity is meant to be going, then choosing sanity for ourselves is an important step. If, on the other hand, we are headed for destruction, well… then sanity seems even more important.