an invitation to reimagine

I’m receiving these reframings from Benjamin Henretig as a beautiful invitation to ground and support us in tending to our fears, anxiety and grief.

May we find some peace, release (cry, scream, move energy through our bodies), relief, rest and wellness through this madness. ūüôŹūüŹĺūüíú

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Image Description: A list with the heading “Five Creative Reframes in a Time of COVID-19” created and posted on Instagram by Benjamin Henretig. Two columns each listing 5 phrases with arrows pointing to the reframed phrases in the second column.

1) Shelter-in-Place becomes Artist-in-Residence.
2) Quarantine out of Fear for Self-Protection becomes
“Quaranteam” out of Concern for Collective Well-Being.

3) Social Distancing becomes Physical Distancing.
4) Isolation + Loneliness becomes Solidarity + Solitude.
5) Economic Collapse becomes Ecological Renewal.

bearing witness | new moon meditation

In Sangha last Sunday, I shared this beloved quote that I have carried close to my heart and have called up frequently during times of transition and transformation for over 20 years. It reverberates far, deep and wide in a season of bearing witness to our journey through challenge, change, growth, loss and renewal.

So powerful, in fact, that my dear friend called that very same evening to tell me she had recited those exact words (which she could specifically remember first hearing from me seven years ago) for a circle of her friends earlier in the day! With hundreds of miles between us, she wanted me to know how far they had traveled through space and time.

Our mutual conjuring of this affirmation was nothing short of magical!

Not only had we both synchronously chanted these hallowed words for those who felt moved by them. But also, in her giving them back to me, I saw clearly that the Universe was asking me to rest in and be transformed by them once more. For in that week alone, the energy of remembrance had engulfed me as I excavated hidden talents and paid tribute to my late grandfather and his grandfather for their military service. I continue to look back, beneath and beyond to see how very necessary these 11 words are for me in undoing ill-fitting and inaccurate perceptions, reclaiming the wholeness of my forgotten selves, and becoming even more of me.


Look Deeply

This quote appears as an affirmation under The Tower card in The Tarot Handbook. May be derived from the statement “what you think you are is a belief to be undone” from Lesson 91 in A Course in Miracles.

on cultivating doubt

“When there is great doubt” says a Zen aphorism that Kusan Sunim kept repeating,”then there is great awakening. This is the key. The depth of any understanding is intimately correlated with the depth of one’s confusion. Great awakening resonates at the same “pitch” as great doubt.¬† So rather than negate such doubt by replacing it with belief, which is the standard religious procedure, Zen encourages you to cultivate doubt until it “coagulates” into a vivid mass of perplexity…

Great doubt is not a purely mental or spiritual state: it reverberates throughout your body and your world. It throws everything¬†into question. In developing doubt, you are told to question “with the marrow of your bones and the pores of your skin.” You are exhorted to “be totally without knowledge and understanding, like a three-year-old child.”¬†To pose a question entails that you do not know something…To ask “What is this?” means you do not know what this is.

To cultivate doubt, therefore, is to value unknowing. To say ” I don’t know” is not an admission of weakness or ignorance, but an act of truthfulness: an honest acceptance of the limits of the human condition when faced with “the great matter of birth and death.”¬†This deep agnosticism is more than the refusal of conventional agnosticism to take a stand on whether God exists or whether the mind survives bodily death. It is the willingness to embrace the fundamental bewilderment of a finite, fallible creature as the basis for leading a life that no longer clings to the superficial consolations of certainty.

~Stephen Batchelor, “Confessions of a Buddhist Atheist

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restoring memory

On this Sunday without Sangha, a memory from last year (27 Nov 2015 ‚ÄĒ 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 ‚ÄĒ pleading, seeking, remembering, communing,
soothing heart + spirit

is it my favorite posture of meditation ‚ÄĒ¬†fine-tuning my capacity to listen, discern, + take skillful, compassion-centered action

clearing up space for love-wisdom to prevail

#TouchingTheEarth #EmbodiedPrayer #EmbodiedWisdom #TheHeartAtRest

‚̧¬†a prayer for remembering¬†‚̧

Related:

Native American Girls Describe the Real History Behind Thanksgiving via Teen Vogue

The History of Thanksgiving You Weren’t Taught In School¬†via attn:

#MarchMindfulness2016: (G)litter Police

This is a parenting joy and a testament to the power of modeling for our children acts of care, connection, and skillful understanding. Without any prompting from me and entirely of his own accord, my Earth Day-born child was compelled to do his part by tending to our home and garden.

Truly, no action nor person is too small to make an impact!

My soon-to-be-6 year old son woke up Wednesday on a mission to get things organized!

Must be the feverish nudgings of spring because he’s actually been on this cleaning kick for a couple of weeks now — packing up old books and toys to give away and meticulously tidying up any surface cluttered with junk¬†the ever-multiplying array of¬†collectibles (his or ours).

It¬†started with rearranging his windowsill full of treasures, the credenza in our dining room, his desk, and a basket of old magazines — which, after stopping him from pitching them all out, we sorted through and recycled.

Later in the day he decided to investigate a stray onion in our garden (his hypothesis: it rolled from the neighboring plot) where he also noticed odd bits of¬†trash that had been scattered around by the winter storms. He launched into action–dashing in for a trash bag then dashing back out to hunt for wind-blown refuse around our communal property.

When I came out to check on his progress, I was tickled to find him singing on the job: I’m the Glitter Police!

Can I say how much I love that he misheard litter as glitter?!¬†If only it were glitter…

conjuring grace in moments of distress

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I put together these sustainable acts of self-care for a loved one after a conversation we shared about the challenges of tending to ourselves when the “stuff” of life storms through and leaves everything in a state of upheaval. Reading it over, I quickly recognized how necessary it was for me to remember to dose myself with the same centering prescription. (The joyful surprise in holding space for others is that we¬†come to see that we are fully equipped to hold space for ourselves.) When we learn to conjure the attitude of GRACE and move from that grounded, relaxed, aware, centered and energized posture, we are able to discern how to respond skillfully to “madness” brewing within and around us.

Compassionate Actions for Spiritual Self-Care:

1) 5-minute doses of quietude and conscious breathing.

Pay attention to your exhale to awaken the parasympathetic nervous system’s function to “rest and digest.” With every release of breath, enjoy the sensations of relief. Visualize all toxins and tensions of body, mind, and heart flowing out on the wave of the exhale. Abide in the feeling of being calmed, cleansed, centered and clear.

2) Give space for insight and intuition to arise.

When troubled or ruminating on an issue, simply ask: WHAT IS THIS?

When overwhelmed by your feeling of others’ perceptions/expectations of you, simply ask:¬†IS IT TRUE?

Repeat these questions as mantras in rhythm with your breath. They will help you to interrupt the tornado of thoughts and help to sort and settle your mind.

No struggling or striving to think or rationalize an answer. ALLOW understanding to stretch out and unfold in its own time.

3) Find a touchstone to what is good, what is working, what is in this clear in this moment.

When feeling weary and defeated, simply ask: WHAT CAN I CELEBRATE?

Reflect and connect with what is solid, reliable, true, hope-inducing. Be it the miraculous act of drawing a new breath each moment or the simple joy of taking a walk with a friend, pausing to honor the goodness can help us from drowning in worry, fear, and chaos.

Similarly, I’ve been practicing what another friend recently shared had helped her to cut through negative self-talk, frustration, and anxiety. When feeling¬†compressed¬†by expectations (real or imagined), deadlines, paperwork, and commitments, replace the SHOULDs, MUSTs, and HAVE TOs with energizing and self-affirming language. Stating “I GET TO [insert task or activity]”¬†reminds us of our agency — that we can choose what we do and the spirit in which we do it — and transforms our perceptions about the activity. ¬†

May you find relief and ease from these simple practices.

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Note: I created the graphic for the g.r.a.c.e. acronym above but did not come up with the concept. I learned it from a fellow facilitator after a presentation I gave on skillful communication. He could not remember the source and my research revealed that it has been widely-used without any attribution given to the original author.

The Girl Who Got Up | TashmicaTorok.com

A truth about meditation: it can be uncomfortable or even excruciating, as my friend Tashmica so eloquently shares below.

First we meet the process of physically conditioning our bodies to find and sustain a steady posture (practice note: for me, “conditioning” means understanding how to take care of the tensions in the body not torturing ourselves to endure a rigid alignment that can create more distress). Holding the body through sitting meditation, in particular, takes time…just as training the body to walk a half marathon takes time, diligence and patience.

What we may be surprised to learn is that meditation is not “passive.” Rather, I’ve found it more accurate to frame meditation as I would yoga asana — in which we discover that the opposite of being active is not being passive; it is the more complex and dynamic energy of being receptive.

Sitting within the quiet space of receptivity, we open up to the possibility of encountering the hidden/neglected/protected parts of ourselves. With that, difficulties and discomforts may arise well before any insights or understanding that we may be longing for.

How, then, do we take care of ourselves through those moments when we discover that this practice, which is so often extolled for delivering peace, actually puts us face-to-face with the stunning reality that cultivating peace is a process…a training, not unlike a marathon. Tending to our hearts and minds requires our patience, diligence, and self-compassion.

I love that Tashmica is choosing not to give up but to keep getting up!

embodied practice: on the power of mindfulness

“…Meditation is not escapism; it is not meant to provide hiding-places for temporary oblivion. Realistic meditation has the purpose of training the mind to face, to understand and to conquer this very world in which we live. And this world inevitably includes numerous obstacles to the life of meditation.”

~Nyanaponika Thera
The Power of Mindfulness