Naps on naps on naps! In this season of soul-tending, I’ve been relishing a slower pace and a quieter schedule where I can rest in the mundane. A key part in spinning down from the fullness of activities in previous months has been to recognize and accept that everyday doesn’t have to be purposeful or productive!
Discovering the nap ministry during this period of reclaiming rest was a clear co-sign from Spirit to reset the tempo of my days.
Even if I don’t actually close my eyes, I’m enjoying the horizontal repose as often as possible.
Last month a highly-intuitive friend sent me this video for releasing ourselves from the karma and burdens of others, and it was a pure revelation!
First and foremost, this meditation arrived divinely-timed at the end of a season when I had discerned a need to reclaim pieces of my soul from those who were incapable of bearing witness to my growth and my wholeness. In that process of reclamation, I had also recognized the importance of leaving the blessing of grace and mercy to stand in for those old impressions/memories of me. And because healing is not one-time event, I was prepared for something more to eventually show up and support this new level of growth.
Second, with one simple metaphor — likening cutting cords to cutting weeds: they’ll grow back if you don’t pull them out — it shifted the paradigm of teachings I’d previously encountered on cutting energetic cords! In the past, I’d used cord-cutting visualizations to unfetter myself from people and situations whenever lingering unresolved issues were unlikely to be fully addressed and transformed, and reconciliation was not possible. I truly found it helpful. Still, as we get equipped with new tools and new understanding, we can go back and dive deeper in order to rectify, amend, clear out and transform the seeds of suffering.
Between the two full and new moon cycles since then, I have pulled it out of my medicine bag nearly a dozen times for myself and in prayer on behalf of others who asked for support with transforming conditions and circumstances that are a source of discord in their lives. And it has indeed been good medicine! So now, under the auspices of the new moon, I offer it to you. Make it your own (as you’ll see below the video that I have done).
May it open the gates to new possibilities for compassion, generosity, skillful understanding, and authentic connection.
May it release you from the exhaustion, worry, guilt and resentment of over-giving.
May it help you discern the difference between duty and obligation so that you are empowered to make skillful choices from a sense of honor instead of acting out of habit and expectation.
May you trust that by centering your wellness and unhooking yourself from those who lack the capacity to offer mutual care, opportunities for healing will deepen and expand.
May you trust that they will be guided to grow into skills, tap into resources, and call upon a larger circle of wise council for support.
May it restore you and fill you up with abundance.
Unhooking Meditation (with my expansions in italics):
I unhook myself from the ancestral burdens and adverse karma of all people, places and things that no longer serve me — sending them into the light with love, grace, and mercy to be healed and resolved as I am/ have been healed and resolved from them — and restore, reconcile, and redeem myself with the Divine Lightnourishing me with love, peace, strength, grace, mercy, good health, free will and the optimum balanced flow of Divine energy. This wound is healed.
Open ya eyes wide and see the truth of the skin I’m in. #TakeItAllIn
As a Dharma practitioner, I have cultivated Sangha on the sacred grounds of the Satipatthana Sutta (theFour Establishments of Mindfulness) and, in our gatherings, turn us again and again and again back to this foundational practice that teaches us to listen deeply,
and “remain established in the observation of the body in the body, diligent, with clear understanding, mindful, having abandoned every craving and every distaste for this life” [Majjhima Nikaya 10, as translated in Thich Nhat Hanh’s Transformation + Healing]. So too with the observation of feelings, thoughts/mental states and perceptions of whatever is in our field of awareness as we engage the world around us.
It is a spiritual discipline to help us acknowledge, take care of, and free ourselves from our attachments (what we cling to) and aversions (what we avoid). It is a spiritual practice that fosters discernment, accountability, transformation and healing.
Our skillful understanding of how connected we all are — the principle of interdependence — does not negate or override the commitment we make to:
Show Up, Notice, Pay Attention, Be Present, Hold Space, Cultivate Silence, Listen Deeply, Bear Witness.
To avoid seeing race/ethnicity is to cling to delusion. It is neither an act of compassion or generosity and not only hinders authentic connection but flat-out undermines our capacity for justice, liberation and transformative healing.
As a Zen practitioner in the tradition of Thich Nhat Hanh, my study of his teachings and personal history provided a surprising lesson about the work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. This gleaming insight into their relationship renewed my appreciation and broadened my understanding of King’s legacy as it elucidated the global impact of his compassionate mission. Several years ago, inspired by the “inter-being” between these two leaders as well as my own dharma as a Black American woman on this path of practice, I led my root sangha in the Touching the Earth prostrations to honor King and Thay as spiritual teachers.
Since then, my Monday evening Yin+Yang Yoga class has fallen on this national holiday. Each asana that brings our hearts closer to the earth (like these two favorites: Child’s Pose + Anahatasana) becomes a prostration, in which we fully embody the mindfulness practice of remembrance and reconciliation. We remember our origins and connections: to ancestors, by blood and spirit; to this Earth that sustains us and upon which our complex and interwoven histories have been built. We may began to penetrate the deep suffering emanating from our painful histories, which continue to manifest in new forms and to impact our experiences and abilities to relate to one another because of race, religion, ethnicity, gender, sexual identity, disability and a whole slew of “differences” that seem to separate us. Breath by compassion-filled breath, we may began to reconcile these histories as we acknowledge, cradle, and heal our own suffering. We give it back to this wondrous Earth to absorb and transform it, as from the mud blooms a lotus. In every class, I invite the practitioners to cultivate compassionate understanding of their bodies, minds and hearts through the alignment of breath and posture. Generating such mindfulness and loving awareness for ourselves teaches us how to skillfully extend compassion and loving-kindness to others.When we abide in mindfulness, our senses become clear and fully attuned to the spectrum of beauty and suffering in the world. We acknowledge our own contribution to that stream–how our actions increase beauty or increase suffering. We make amends when we cause suffering and begin anew, watering seeds of compassion. Each heart-driven act–embodied on the mat, the cushion, among our beloveds and within our communities–commemorates the King’s legacy. On this path, as teacher and practitioner, I know I am a continuation of Dr. King.
“In Buddhism, simply resting in a relaxed, open, spacious state of mind without purpose and without a goal is considered the highest form of spiritual practice…
This spacious awareness is considered both an advanced practice and a practice even the merest beginner can do.
This seems paradoxical, but when a beginner does it, it has the quality and substance of a beginner’s awareness, and when an advanced meditator does it, it has a deeper quality of advanced awareness.
That is why I like to call it a prayer of silence. Prayer is not really something you get “good” at, like other skills — although people who pray regularly have cultivated a prayerful attitude toward life.
A prayer is in essence a surrender and
a supplication to that which is beyond ourselves.
In this sense the Buddhist practice of spacious awareness has a universality that makes it kindred with other religions.”
On this Sunday without Sangha, a memory from last year (27 Nov 2015 — the day after Thanksgiving) popped up on my Facebook newsfeed.
A verse inspired by a beloved park trail where I’ve logged countless miles in a walking-running-praying meditation and, a hundred times over, awakened curiosity and understanding and mapped pathways toward reconciliation.
❤ today, another verse for remembering to remember…for tending to our wholeness and seeing a feast in all things:
i walk for clarity
to release those deep + wordless groanings that tense my muscles, pluck-stretch my nerves, + accelerate my pulse.
movement is prayer — pleading, seeking, remembering, communing, soothing heart + spirit
is it my favorite posture of meditation — fine-tuning my capacity to listen, discern, + take skillful, compassion-centered action
I close each meditation with a practice I’ve crafted over the years — with hands to the heart in gassho and a prayer of reflection:
“To honor and acknowledge ourselves and our commitment to self-understanding and well-being.
To honor and acknowledge the practice itself as it reminds us to listen deeply, see clearly and respond skillfully to what arises as it arises.
And, to honor and acknowledge one another for collectively generating the energy of mindfulness, compassion and understanding.”
Today, nowhere near the cushion, I call on this same affirmation to re-center me after a momentary family crisis. Even when others do not share my practice or draw upon similar skills in the face of madness, I honor how being a compassionate witness to their actions can help bring me back to mine.
Exploded and firefighters are two words you don’t want to hear from an unfamiliar caller, informing you that your mother needs you to come over to the house immediately.
Already in the car, heading in the opposite direction, with my husband thankfully behind the wheel. My first response was not to panic but to pause and assess. In reflection, I recognize: This is my brain on mindfulness.
And let me say right now that mindfulness is not a quick fix tool that I acquired after some 6-8 week stress reduction workshop. It is the result of 10-plus years as a dharma practitioner with feet grounded firmly on the Zen path and a lifetime of exploring contemplative spiritual and wellness practices that have helped recalibrate my fiery temperament “to be more able more often” to generate skillful responses.
I’ll be straight up: it doesn’t “work” all the time…