This precious human birth

My friend Cecily recently lost her brother to illness. He had just turned 50 the week before he died. She is devastated. Cecily is one of my best friends from college. We’ve known each other for 32 years. It's that rare kind of friendship where even if months pass...

Regrets of the Dying

What an inspiring post. It's the five things that dying people say they wish they'd done or not done, as they look back on their lives. Although I've heard these before, somehow hearing it in this way brought it home much more powerfully. Regrets of the Dying by...

Birthing our butterflies

One of my clients – I’ll call her Kathryn – came to me because she was feeling overwhelmed. Her relationship of five years is fraying. Her career has stagnated. She has money concerns. She feels trapped in the small town she lives in. And she has a little two-year-old...

Japan watching

I have family in Tokyo. So I’ve been glued to the news for the last few days. The short version of the story is that my family is safe, thank goodness. I got an email from my brother first thing Friday morning (the night of their quake day). He was on a skiing...

“Love Dogs” by Rumi

I'm a huge fan of Rumi. This is a recitation of his poem "Love Dogs" recited by Coleman Barks, with music accompaniment. What a beautiful image of what heartfelt faith is. Here's the full text of the poem: Love Dogs by Rumi One night a man was crying Allah! Allah! His...

Have you given up your dreams?

Wow. This is such a powerful piece of writing. Paul Coelho asks, have you given up the Good Fight for your dreams? Character of the week: Petrus The first symptom of the process of our killing our dreams is the lack of time. The busiest people I have known in my life...

A couple good quotes

wavesThese two quotes came to me this morning about ways that we get stuck in bad habits. I found them both great reminders!

“Notice if you are complaining in either speech or thought, about a situation you find yourself in, what other people do or say, your surroundings, your life situation, even the weather. To complain is always nonacceptance of what is. It invariably carries an unconscious negative charge. When you complain, you make yourself a victim. Leave the situation or accept it. All else is madness.”

– Eckhart Tolle

10 Mindful Ways to Use Social Media

social mediaI really appreciated this article reminding us how to stay self-aware, considerate and authentic when we’re on using social media. Facebook and Twitter are great, but they are in the end tools just like anything else. Let’s be mindful about how we use them, both for our own benefit and for others’.

The Best Motivational Video Ever

wavesWhat do Lucille Ball, the Beatles, Ulysses S. Grant, Michael Jordan, Thomas Edison, Walt Disney, and Abraham Lincoln all have in common?

They all failed.

If you’re feeling down and discouraged, try watching this video. It takes only a little over a minute. It puts a whole new spin on failure.

HOME: a rallying cry for our planet earth

homeHere’s a film I highly recommend. One person called it “the most beautiful and terrifying portrait of earth I’ve seen”. I have to agree.

Here’s a description from the website:

“We are living in exceptional times. Scientists tell us that we have 10 years to change the way we live, avert the depletion of natural resources and the catastrophic evolution of the Earth’s climate.

The stakes are high for us and our children. Everyone should take part in the effort, and HOME has been conceived to take a message of mobilization out to every human being.”

Sacred Sound: a two CD guide to mantra meditation, now available

wavesI’m very happy to announce that my latest audiobook is now available on CD!

It’s a complete guide to mantra meditation, led by Wildmind’s Bodhipaksa and yours truly. It contains everything you need to get started with a mantra chanting practice including:

  • The “magical” background and history of mantras
  • How mantras can help us develop centeredness and inspiration
  • Preparatory exercises to open the body and free the breath
  • Seven mantras chanted for listening and learning
  • The meaning and symbolism of each of the seven mantras
  • A print-friendly companion guide with images, pronunciation key, and musical notations

Getting your meditation practice back on track

wavesYou committed to yourself that you’ll meditate. And you do, for a few days or weeks. But then something happens. You miss one day. Then another. And before you know it, you’ve stopped entirely. Hmmmm…. What happened?

As a meditation teacher, I’ve been involved in many conversations on this subject. So I thought I’d look at what leads us to choose not to meditate, and how we might work with that choice more skillfully.

Enlightenment in a myriad of beautiful ways

wildflowersI found a beautiful article by Jack Kornfield recently, which begins with the question, “Is enlightenment just a myth?” There are so many different descriptions of what enlightenment is like, we might begin to wonder whether it’s all made up.

I’m certainly not enlightened, and so I don’t know the answer. But here’s what I do know. Over the years, I’ve watched as my friends and I have changed. And I mean radically. Some of us bear little resemblance to the people we were ten or fifteen years ago. And this is the interesting part. Though I can see that we’ve all become kinder and more confident people, we’ve all changed in very different directions. I think I’ve softened and opened up a lot. Some of us have become natural leaders and community-builders, though with different stripes. Still others have blossomed in their quieter lifestyles — as artists, healers, and the like.

The Noble Ninefold Path? The Complex Ethics of Right Consumption

21st Century BuddhismThis is an excellent, thoughtful post by Dennis Hunter, on the ethical dilemmas we face as 21st century Buddhists living in an increasingly interdependent world. Today, even our simplest choices — like the food we eat and the clothes we wear — can often have harmful consequences that are difficult to avoid. How do we live in a way that creates the least suffering possible?

Impressions from a collective decision making process

thumbs-upWhen my sangha in Boston had a big decision to make, we tried something different. Rather than taking a majority vote, we went for the challenge of a finding a group consensus. In other words, we talked through a process where everyone contributed to envisioning a solution that all could support. And what a ride that was.

Acceptance is the first step toward change

clear seeingI recently had a couple people raise doubts to me about the Buddhist idea of “accepting what is.” Isn’t it too passive? What if we’re in a situation that’s really unacceptable?

I’ve come across a few things recently that speak to this. Each makes a slightly different point, but they all basically say the same thing. “Accepting what is” does not mean passive acquiescence. Far from it, it’s the first step in making real and lasting change.

San Diego-based therapist Leonard Noel wrote this in a recent blog post:

When practice goes backwards

u-turnI’ve not been feeling very well the last couple months. I feel tired and achy a lot of the time. When I meditate, I catch myself dozing off before too long. My concentration is off. I’m finding it especially difficult to write. I can’t put it into words, but something is just not right.
A couple weeks ago, my preceptor (the woman who ordained me) came to visit for several days. She had some helpful and encouraging words to say about this, and I thought I’d pass them on.

Joshua Tree Under the Milky Way

Here’s another one of those beautiful time-lapse videos. This one is of the Perseid meteor shower that took place in August 2010. It’s only about one minute long. So worth it.

(Best to watch it full screen — in the control bar across the bottom, click the icon between “HD” and “Vimeo”.)