A pervasive but often invisible source of suffering in our culture is self-aversion. We are a busy culture, and we move through our life feeling anxious and dissatisfied, but not fully conscious of how we neglect or judge our inner experience. We suffer from a lack of belonging: to our own bodies, to each other and to the earth. When we practice Buddhist meditation, we learn how to listen deeply and hold our life tenderly.
The open space of compassion allows us to realize that our thoughts and emotions are not who we are; they are waves in our ocean. This gives us the freedom to live more wisely and love more fully.
For over thirty years, I've been exploring the awakening of awareness with yoga, meditation, a clinical psychology practice and relationships in spiritual community (sangha). Since the untying of emotional knots is an essential part of "waking up," it is natural for me to weave these elements into my Buddhist practice and teaching. With formal practice, and a genuine engagement in sangha, we can cultivate the qualities of heart and awareness that allow for deep emotional healing and spiritual freedom.
Buddhism guides us in slowing down, quieting and paying attention in an honest and caring way. Through our mindfulness and compassion practices, we establish a sense of intimacy and belonging to our life. We discover that there is no Buddha "out there." Rather, we realize that our true refuge is the wakefulness, openness and love of our own natural awareness.
The Buddha taught that when our understanding of impermanence is direct and non-conceptual, it is liberating. By directly opening to the radical impermanence of all experience, including the truth of our own mortality, we discover the natural capacity to let go. With this "mind that clings to no thing" awakens wisdom, authentic spontaneity and a natural cherishing of life.
The Buddha described three basic and interrelated insights into nature of reality that are revealed through a clear and deep attention. Called "the three characteristics," these insights include dukkha (unsatisfactoriness), annicha (impermanence) and annata (selflessness or emptiness). In the first of this three week series of talks, we explore the meaning of dukkha, how we directly recognize the varied expressions of dukkha and it's gift when met with full presence.
This talk, given on the eve of a presidential debate, explores how we can awaken from the conditioning that turns us against ourselves and others. The guided meditation offers an opportunity to choose a place of conflict and reactivity with others, and discover what is possible when we turn towards our deepest wisdom and compassion.
One of the great archetypal themes in the Buddha's life is facing Mara, the shadow side of greed, hatred and delusion. Rather than being seduced, fighting or running away, the Buddha simply recognized Mara's presence and invited him to tea. This talk and guided meditation explores the theme of a radical and engaged presence, and how it directly translates into a sacred path of healing and freedom.
When we become stressed and reactive, we lose contact with our natural spontaneity, wisdom and openheartedness. This talk investigates the ways we become caught in the stress-trance and the key elements in awakening: pausing and remindfulness. Using the gateway of the senses, we explore both the pathway of presence and the gifts of reconnecting with soul, spirit, essence.
Our conditioning is to feel separate, creating an "other" out there, and often being at war with ourselves. By cultivating a committed presence we awaken beyond this conditioning. This talk includes stories and reflections that identify limiting beliefs and reveal our intrinsic oneness and love.
There is a saying: The road to hell is paved with bad intentions. From the Buddha we learn the path to freedom arises from wise intentions. Yet because we habitually grasp after what will immediately relieve or comfort or please us, we often do not listen to our deepest intentions. We forget that in this brief life, what matters most is loving presence. This evening of talk and guided meditations invites participants to examine intentions in their relationships, and to reflect on living from a more awake connection with our heart.
Listening in a full and open way allows us to come home to our natural state--awake, vast awareness. In an immediate way, a listening attention dissolves the tangles of fear and craving that obscure our wholeness. This class includes both a talk and guided meditations on deep listening to our inner experience and with others.
We each develop and become identified with masks that express a false or narrowed sense of self. Whether it's the helper mask or addict mask, the controller mask or loser mask, the beliefs and emotions creating the mask prevent us from realizing our natural wholeness and beauty. This talk explores how, in the face of inevitable change and loss, we can remember the presence and love that is peering through the mask.
The ways we try to control our life imprisons us in a contracted, fearful sense of self. Yet when we contemplate letting go of control, there is a sense that we will be endangered, that we will fail, that something will go wrong. This talk explores how, if we have the courage to "let everything happen" we discover a presence that is healing and freeing. As we learn to live from this allowing presence, our actions become naturally wholesome and wise.