manifestoes on love

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i’m celebrating my 40th year today — reflecting on the journey of the past decade and more recent season of discernment that have beckoned me to live into the deep and urgent call to be an instrument of love and reconciliation.

as many of you land on my site today, i invite you to amplify the good and spread love wherever you see/feel its lack in your circle of connections.

birthday wish: for those near and far — support my efforts to cultivate and abide in the energy of compassion, skillful understanding, and connection by following, sharing, and joining the 3 Jewels Yoga community.


#MarchMindfulness2016: Seeds of Mindfulness

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As we enjoy the final days of March and the warmth of spring, I am feeling stretched by all the lessons that arose during this month spent renewing my commitment to compassion, understanding, and connection.

S T R E T C H E D and TESTED!

But those experiences only AFFIRMED what I know to be true:

Even in the hardest moments — after I’ve fussed and cussed through my frustrations (to good spiritual friends who listen deeply, see me clearly, honor my wholeness without co-signing my craziness, and respond skillfully with wise and loving support) — compassion calls me back again and again.

It offers a calming, centering grace that inspires me to seek the depth and breadth of understanding that in turn keeps my heart open to authentic connection.

“Sometimes we think that to develop an open heart, to be truly loving and compassionate,
means that we need to be passive,
to allow others to abuse us,
to smile and let anyone do what they want with us.

Yet this is not what is meant by compassion.
Quite the contrary.

Compassion is not at all weak.
It is the strength that arises out of seeing
the true nature of suffering in the world.

Compassion allows us
to bear witness to that suffering,
whether it is in ourselves or others, without fear;

it allows us to name injustice without hesitation,
and to act strongly,
with all the skill at our disposal.

To develop this mind state of compassion…
is to learn to live, as the Buddha put it,
with sympathy for all living beings,
without exception.”

― Sharon Salzberg
Lovingkindness: The Revolutionary Art of Happiness

embodied practice: alice walker quote

 

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Celebrating the power of sangha and all who commit to the practice of:

Showing up for ourselves so that we may be present and available in heart and mind to show up for others.

Speaking our truth.

Listening with open hearts.

To be in the presence of such companions is fuel + balm for the soul!

May we seek and be blessed with the gift of wise companions!

May we learn to be a good spiritual friend to others!

 

 

 

my sunday kind of love!

my sundays are extra sweet because of the sacred time i spend in the full embrace of sangha.

the nourishment i receive from “listening to each other listen” sustains me at the cellular level. today, we contemplated the practice of Beginning Anew to honor the lunar new year as well as the seasonal mid-winter shift which heralds the return of the sun. we basked in that energizing and healing light and began to see ourselves clearly — our tender places and tight knots (samyojana) to which we offered loving and patient awareness and the spaciousness of breath so that those gnarly fetters may loosen, unfold, and be transformed. we watered flowers by celebrating our commitment to showing up, paying attention, telling the truth, learning to abide in the process rather than being attached to outcome, and trusting our capacity to begin anew again and again.

 

“self-love is the foundation for your capacity to love the other person.”

this day is all the more precious for my family because we celebrated my husband’s birthday with gifts from heart and hand: a card, my first attempt at scratch-made brownies (so yummy i had to get them out of the house and share them with the rest of our family), a trip to the local sledding hill (where, by the way, we both played as children), and an amazing dinner (i won’t taunt you, as i did my sisters, with that mouth-watering plate!) that i whipped up.

as thây’s quote above reminds us, tending to our well-being is crucial. when we practice cultivating love and kindness for ourselves, it fortifies us to be present and available for our beloveds…not just on “valentine’s day” or special occasions but each and every day.

good spiritual friends: walking the path together

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When a fellow member of my running group shared this image and quote with us all, I was “AUM-ing” and “AMEN-ing” at the simple truth of this message. The 8 miles I logged this morning in the company of friends made every step easier. Laughter, insights, wise counsel and encouragement filled every moment of our two-and-half hour excursion.

It did not matter that everyone could not go the full distance.

Showing up, being committed to ourselves, and supporting others in the commitments they make to themselves is the stuff that running buddies and good spiritual friends are made of!

It is a treasure to have partners who help keep us accountable, on the pavement and on our chosen life paths, as we make bold proclamations for our self-care and aspirations. In my twenties, I longed for this type of loving support and was grateful to find it when I needed it most. Just as crucial — I learned through those relationships (and continue to refine through my dharma practice) to be the same kind of friend I value.

Becoming a good spiritual friend (kalyanamitra or kalyanamitta in Sanskrit/Pali) takes time, experience, maturity, skillfullness, discernment, the willingness to be vulnerable and, in turn, to bear witness to vulnerability in others. It demands that we learn not to “co-sign crazy” (a mantra and rule that I lovingly and frequently remind friends, old and new, will be upheld)! Rather than join in on a rant-and-rage session or hold our tongue when a friend is out of order, we invite these dear ones to pause and look deeply when they are caught in harmful/unskillful patterns. We shine the light — helping them wade through the muck toward clear intentions and possible resolutions. We ask what they think they need or, when they’re uncertain, simply step back while offering to be there whenever they are ready to work through it. But other situations require that we share our direct observations because our friend’s perspective may be the source of the difficulty.

For those who lament the lack of sleep or time to relax, we support them in finding moments of peace. If they say they’d like to exercise more often, we invite them out on a walk. For the friend who has difficulty asking for help, we remember to reach out first. We learn better than to give the workaholic or the people-pleaser, who can’t say “No,” one more task to juggle.

The good spiritual friend learns to see clearly and to respond wisely to the need or challenge in the moment. No dictating, judging, or chiding. They deliver the appropriate support with compassion and understanding. They help us to go deep in our self-inquiry, to acknowledge our true desires and quiet fears, and to live authentically and wholeheartedly.

They sweeten the journey and cheer us on as we come back, again and again, to our true selves.

More on Spiritual Friendship

Kalyāṇa-mittatā  [definition]
Admirable Friendship
Mitta Sutta

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

embodied practice: on whole body awareness

Living, the whole body carries its meaning and tells its own story, standing, sitting, walking, awake or asleep.

It pulls all the life up into the face of the philosopher, and sends it all down into the legs of the dancer.

A casual world over-emphasizes the face. Memory likes to recall the whole body.

It is not our parents’ faces that come back to us, but their bodies, in the accustomed chairs, eating, sewing, smoking, doing all familiar things.

We remember each as a body in action…

Thus the stuff of the ages goes into man’s thinking,
is interpreted and comes out in movement and posture again.
Personality goes into structure—by denial or affirmation into person again.
It is an aspect of life in evolution.

~Mabel E. Todd
The Thinking Body