Love that this gorgeous bouquet serendipitously became the yantra for our meditation and contemplation:
Turning toward the joy and magic of harvest — reaping and celebrating the abundance we’ve earned in the form of clarity, truth and authenticity, love with wisdom, trust and accountability.
Thank you for these gifts, my friends!
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 (the Four 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.
We own our actions (thoughts, words + deeds). We are responsible for seeing and perceiving ourselves and one another clearly and in our wholeness. Skillful Understanding supports Skillful Thinking and Skillful Action.
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.
On Sunday, Sangha came full circle by closing our 7+ months of wholy happy hour in the same way that we opened our practice last fall — exploring the lessons of beginning anew as we shift from one season to the next.
Whether we experience this transition as tumultuous, glorious, or equal parts of both, we recognized that our changing selves require some fresh contents in our “medicine bags” to support who we are becoming on this stretch of the path.
So I returned to the query I put forth during our spring series on justice, liberation + healing and encouraged us to discern “What is your prayer, practice or process?” of releasing what no longer serves us and for calling in sacred strategies that honor who we are growing into.
For me, it’s a continuous process of self-reflection in which I root into my practice of the 4 Foundations of Mindfulness to assess what is arising, enduring, changing, releasing in body, heart and mind. One poignant question that popped up in my meditation — what are my unmet needs physically, mentally, spiritually, creatively? — was a reminder of how crucial it is for me to take long walks three to four times a week to brighten and declutter my mind. Along with the benefits of movement, the silence, solitude, and moments of stillness I enjoy when I spread out a blanket to lay out in the sun or read (as in the photo below) help me catch up with myself to discern clear decision-making and sort out the tangle of creative ideas.
In the Satipatthana Sutta (and similarly in the eight limbs of yoga), honoring and tending to the body precedes emotions and mental formations. In these and other spiritual practices and healing modalities, the body is the gateway to illuminating, transforming and reconciling the other aspects of our being (feelings, thoughts, perceptions, beliefs, attitudes). Of course, it’s not a fixed sequence but an interdependent relationship so whatever is most compelling, what shows up first or makes itself known most powerfully, may be the access point for looking deeply at how it is impacting each domain.
So I come back to my body. Once established in the full awareness of sensations, I am able to renew the process of seeing clearly and responding skillfully to what needs tending. Grounded and aligned, I can embody the prayer that this transition and new season are calling in.
“Part of being more authentic means being willing to be seen as we pray and live in a spirit that seeks inspiration though is humanly imperfect…
Remember that prayer is a process that changes the pray-er.”
~ Jennie Isbell + J. Brent Bill, Finding God In The Verbs
We closed yesterday’s daylong practice of discernment and self-inquiry by reflecting on how we aspire to show up and carry what we have learned about cultivating radical bodhicitta — what I call the heart and mind of justice, liberation, and healing — into our ever-widening circles of compassionate social action.
After everyone departed, I returned to the room to collect my belongings and stood for a few breaths to rest and revel in the full energy we had collectively generated. In that sacred pause, I looked down at my stuff scattered around me — realizing that I was embodying the wisdom that framed the final segment of our discernment. Have your heart be where your feet are. I had spent the day exactly where my heart had called me to be.
When we value and intentionally cultivate the sacred pause, we can amplify our capacity to listen deeply to the call of our hearts and see clearly the direction our feet will go.
when(ever) + where(ever) we enter, may our hearts be where our feet are.
…we are in fact where are feet are. We are not . Or at least we are not here.
The “where” that our heart is not so much a place but
a different time: past, and simultaneously, the future.
We are everywhere but in the now.
read Safi’s full column: Have Your Heart Be Where Your Feet Are
“As women, we have been taught to either ignore our differences, or to view them as causes for separation and suspicion rather than as forces for change. Without community there is no liberation, only the most vulnerable and temporary armistice between and individual and her oppression. But community must not mean a shedding of our differences, nor the pathetic pretense that these differences do not exist. Those of us who stand outside the circle of this society’s definition of acceptable women; those of us who have been forged in the crucibles of difference — those of us who are poor, who are lesbians, who are Black, who are older — know that survival is not an academic skill. It is learning how to take our differences and make them strengths.
For the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house. They may allow us temporarily to beat him at his own game, but they will never enable us to bring about genuine change. And this fact is only threatening to those women who still define the master’s house as their only source of support.” ~ Audre Lorde
Read the entire essay:
The Master’s Tool Will Never Dismantle The Master’s House
Each year I launch this campaign to uplift wisdom, values, teachings and affirmations that nourish our capacity for compassion, skillful understanding, and authentic connection.
Aligned with Sangha’s monthly contemplation and culminating with my upcoming workshop, When + Where We Enter, we’ll shine the light on and look deeply into practices of Justice, Liberation + Healing.
March Practice Schedule
Revolution is not a one-time event.
It is becoming always vigilant for the smallest opportunity
to make a genuine change in established, outgrown responses;
for instance, it is learning to address each other’s difference with respect.
We share a common interest, survival, and it cannot be pursued in isolation
from others simply because their differences make us uncomfortable.
We know what it is to be lied to.
The 60s should [have taught] us how important it is not to lie to ourselves.
Not to believe that revolution is a one-time event,
or something that happens around us
rather than inside of us.
Not to believe that freedom can belong to any one group of us
without others also being free.
How important it is not to allow even our leaders to define us to ourselves,
or to define our sources of power to us…
Each one of us must look clearly and closely
at the genuine particulars (conditions) of his or her life
and decide where action and energy is needed
and where it can be effective.
~ Audre Lorde
Post-Women’s March Deep Refuge + Restoration Circle
yesterday, we marched.
today we rest, take deep refuge and restore ourselves in the full embrace of sangha
to rise up and take action again.
sangha study schedule
Join us in February, as we complete our three-month journey along the Noble Eightfold Path with a study the faculties of Skillful Effort, Skillful Mindfulness, and Skillful Concentration. The following month, we’ll deepen our contemplation of Justice, Liberation, and Healing — the focus of our annual call-to-action, March Mindfulness — and close out our winter series with a special full-day workshop on the topic on 3/19. View: Upcoming Practice Dates.
Reclaim. Resist. Rise Up! For Justice. For Equity. For A Future To Be Possible. #MarchOnWashington #MarchOnLansing #SisterMarch
For those who came before me — for their sacrifices, suffering, and will to survive.
It’s in my DNA to give a damn!
I embody privilege and risk as an educated cis-hetero black woman who is the daughter of an immigrant, a mother to a multi-ethnic child, a wife in an interfaith, inter-racial marriage to a survivor of gun violence who lives with a disability.
I cannot, do not, will not co-sign craziness.
For my beloveds and for all the beloveds in generations to come to inherit an Earth that has been restored to wholeness and where integrity, compassion, wisdom, creativity, and deep listening are society’s leading values .
To call out unmitigated and unexamined whiteness, which in its denial of privilege and refusal to take accountability for oppressions and inequities, creates a toxicity that corrodes what unites us.
Because corruption and complacency are killing us.
To build our capacity as a spiritually resilient community that cultivates and protects justice, freedom, and equity through compassionate, creative, innovative and skillful understanding and actions.
To be a beacon of light as a community of refuge and resistance against hate, violence, inequity and oppression.
For Justice, Liberation + Healing!
Today, we march. Tomorrow, we rest, take refuge and restore ourselves to rise up and to take action again.
We begin this historic week with the commemoration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the National Day of Racial Healing as we trudge toward the final day that our country’s first Black president, Barack Obama, will stand as head of state. Fueled and aflame, with our hearts and minds resting on justice, liberation and healing, we take refuge in the good works, legacy, and words of wisdom from emissaries of light.
In intimate circles, we draw closer, lean into, speak truths and listen deeply to one another — resisting the temptation to be pulled under by despair, fear, hate, and hopeless. En masse, we gather, convene, rally, and march — using our voices and bodies to resist the normalization of this new swell of injustice and violence that seeks to impoverish, divide, and oppress us. Wherever we are, we reclaim the integrity of King’s vision: to stand firmly in our commitment to serve, liberate, heal, love and cultivate, demand, and protect justice and equity in order to restore ourselves and our communities to wholeness.
“You may well ask: “Why direct action? Why sit ins, marches and so forth? Isn’t negotiation a better path?”
You are quite right in calling for negotiation. Indeed, this is the very purpose of direct action. Nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and foster such a tension that a community which has constantly refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue. It seeks so to dramatize the issue that it can no longer be ignored. My citing the creation of tension as part of the work of the nonviolent resister may sound rather shocking. But I must confess that I am not afraid of the word “tension.”
I have earnestly opposed violent tension, but there is a type of constructive, nonviolent tension which is necessary for growth. Just as Socrates felt that it was necessary to create a tension in the mind so that individuals could rise from the bondage of myths and half truths to the unfettered realm of creative analysis and objective appraisal, so must we see the need for nonviolent gadflies to create the kind of tension in society that will help men rise from the dark depths of prejudice and racism to the majestic heights of understanding and brotherhood.
The purpose of our direct action program is to create a situation so crisis packed that it will inevitably open the door to negotiation. “
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Letter from a Birmingham Jail
March on Lansing ~
What We Stand For
Mashable ~ 8 Quotes