Posts Tagged ‘meditation’

Just sayin

July 9th, 2009    -    9 Comments


“I often see those who are trying to study Buddhism just use their worldly intelligence to sift among the verbal teachings of the buddhas and ancestral teachers, trying to pick out especially wondrous sayings to use as conversation pieces to display their ability and understanding. This is not the correct view of the matter. You must abandon your worldly mentality and sit quietly with mind silent. Forget entangling causes and investigate with your whole being. When you are thoroughly clear then whatever you bring forth from your own inexhaustible treasure of priceless jewels is sure to be genuine and real.”

Zen Letters: Teaching of Yuanwu (1063-1135)

A practice without a practice is not a practice.

To settle the matter, settle the matter.

Subscribe to my newsletter • Come to my retreat

The backward step

May 26th, 2009    -    3 Comments


Take the backward step and turn the light inward. – Dogen Zenji

re•treat
1: an act or process of withdrawing especially from what is difficult, dangerous, or disagreeable; the process of receding from a position or state attained
2: a place of privacy or safety: refuge
3: a period of group withdrawal for prayer, meditation, study, or instruction

Someone asked me to write about how to prepare to go on a meditation retreat. This is a good topic, since the matter of preparation is what often keeps us from going on retreat, whether it is for one day or 100 days.

How do you know if you are prepared to handle the silence, the physical rigors, the discipline, and the mental intensity of a prolonged meditation retreat?

Relax. You can’t know. You don’t need to know. There is no way to prepare. The very notion of preparation traps us in false expectation and self-evaluation. It shows us how often we are paralyzed by the feeling of inadequacy in our lives. We are never inadequate but we are immobilized just the same.

Continue reading and leave a comment to continue
the conversation on “The Laundry Line”
my new blog on Shambhala SunSpace

Take the forward step now. Register this week and you won’t miss the extraordinary company of 45 ordinary women all taking the backward step into an oasis of deep wisdom and empathy at the one day Mother’s Summer Plunge coming up on June 20.

Keep the change

April 27th, 2009    -    5 Comments


I just spent three days finding peace and presence. One afternoon while I was gone I called my husband to check in. He and Georgia were leaving Long Beach, where they had spent four hours touring the Aquarium and taken a long harbor cruise, a memorable first for both of them. Here’s Georgia’s on-the-spot report:

She: Mom, guess what?! I just found a dollar bill on the steps in front of me. And then I crossed the street and found a quarter!

Wherever you go, I hope you find $1.25 today, and keep the change. I hope I do too. Because it’s not ever where you’ve been. It’s where you are.

Getting back to one

April 5th, 2009    -    13 Comments


There is a beginning meditation practice – which is profoundly advanced – called “counting the breath.” Once you have positioned yourself to sit on a cushion, a bench or a chair, you settle the mind in the hara, which is the gut, and you start to count your inhalations and your exhalations. The way I do this is to count an inhalation “one” and an exhalation “two” then an inhalation “three” and an exhalation “four.” The instructions are to continue in this way until you reach ten. Sounds clear and simple enough. The truth is that when you try to do it, you find that you can’t get much beyond four or five before the mind darts across a meadow, over a fence, builds up speed and takes off into the beyond. When that happens, you start back at one, and keep going.

So in this beginning meditation, which becomes even more difficult with the frequency of your practice, you spend a considerable amount of time trying to get to ten. Get to ten, come on, you tell yourself, get to ten! Get somewhere, you dolt!

The thing is, should you ever get to ten, the instructions are to start back at one. The ten and the one have no merit or meaning, you see. But try believing that for yourself.

***
The other day I heard from my sister. She is fortunate enough to live along the beautiful coast near Newport Beach, California. She is doubly fortunate to rent there, because as well-off as she is, she could not afford to buy a home in those environs during the recent run-up in this world’s capital of fantasy-made millionaires.

Two months ago she had to vacate her rented condo when the owners suddenly showed up, out of work and with nowhere else to go but back where they started. She moved just across the road to another complex of lavish new patio homes, and she loves the place she’s leasing from a self-made titan now sleeping on his brother’s couch. Then she noticed that two of the six homes on her cul-de-sac were on the market, and last week another neighbor fled in the cover of night. It is and will yet be more of a ghost town, eerie for its glam appearance as a destination lifestyle with no visible lives. It recalled to me my own shock and shame when my first husband and I naively walked into and then out of a predatory mortgage 25 years ago during one of Houston’s colossal real estate boom-and-bust cycles. In the glow of your self-immolation you see that the castle you’ve built is only made of popsicle sticks.

We were trying to get somewhere. We thought that’s what a go-getting couple was supposed to do. Get somewhere. But the world is always getting back to one.

***
Then I was in a waiting room and I saw the new issue of People magazine, where someone or the other is always revealing the new version of themselves: made up, made over, reborn, relaunched, remarried, rehabbed, reformed and 50 pounds lighter!

And there was Kathy Ireland revealing the new her, just the latest go-getter to tell you her diet gets and her money gets and her happiness gets and success gets. She says she had grown overwhelmed, overstressed, overweight and over-everything before she found some new secret way to get a better body. But wait! Didn’t she already have a do-over? Wasn’t she the SI swimsuit model who remade herself into a billion-dollar design empress? Didn’t she already have a rebirth and a makeover? Hasn’t she been all the way to ten a time or two? And she’s still spinning on that disastrous wheel? Asking us to buy advice from her? I know where she’s headed; we all know where she’s headed.

Maybe she thinks she’s getting somewhere else this time, but the world is always getting back to one.

***
When we sit, we always come back to one. And the more we come back to it, the easier it is to see a way beyond it. There is something beyond one, and we call it one.

Subscribe to my newsletter • Come to my retreat.

When planets align

March 24th, 2009    -    3 Comments


Some of you are busy thinking about coming to the Mother’s Summer Plunge. I’m busy thinking about it too. I promise that I will soon stop all that needless air traffic. But for today, I’d like you to know that Southwest Airlines really is having a terrific sale on flights in and out of all the airports in Southern California. Click all the way through and see for yourself. Even on Friday flights, ahem.

Pluto has never been closer. Mickey too.

Care instructions for an ordinary life

February 6th, 2009    -    9 Comments
Lather.
Rinse.


Repeating my call for company at a one-day Beginner’s Meditation Retreat on Sunday, Feb. 15 at the Hazy Moon Zen Center in Los Angeles to fill your lonely heart with light. Complete instructions, very short periods of sitting meditation, compassionate talks, a delicious meal, and the basket empties itself.

Register here.

Found in translation

January 25th, 2009    -    1 Comment

No thought, no concern, nothing to hinder.
Going well at ease, coming well at ease, left to nature.
Staying at a stream in a deep valley.
Time flows with the Sun and the Moon.

Translation from a friend at Mountain Spirit Center. Better yet, translate it yourself, as I am, all this week.

Wanna get away?

January 11th, 2009    -    21 Comments


Open your eyes.

Open your eyes and see that you are no longer in the dreary landscape you habitually occupy in your head.

This is a head’s up and sincere invitation for you to take part in two eye-0pening events coming round the bend.

The first is a Beginner’s Mind One Day Meditation Retreat I’ll be leading on Sunday, Feb. 15 at Hazy Moon Zen Center in Los Angeles. It’s perfect for you, and it’s only $25.

The second is the half-day Palo Alto Mothers Symposium at Stanford University on Saturday, March 7. It won’t be complete without you, and it’s only $20.

Now, before you tell yourself what you always do, “I can’t possibly go,” stop and open your eyes. Read aloud the next words you see here:

Let’s just see how it goes.

Let’s just see how it goes. That’s what Maezumi Roshi always said to me. It’s not just a social courtesy. Not a simplistic cliché. It is a precise instruction on how to live an enlightened life.

Open your eyes.

That brings me around to mentioning something that might seem peculiar about zazen, or Zen meditation. We meditate with our eyes open. Slightly open, but still open. What you probably think of, and maybe even do, is meditate with your eyes closed. But that’s not practicing meditation, or awareness. That’s daydreaming, or sleeping. Daydreaming is nice, but no one needs to practice it. If you want to meditate with your eyes closed, I suggest you just opt for a deep tissue massage and get total body benefit out of it. That’s what I plan to do with the gift certificate I got for Christmas.

Wanna get away?

See how it goes. See that airfares, in some cases, are delightfully low. See that cross-country or even cross-town, is amazingly close. See me smile in total rapture to finally meet you face to face.

This time of year, we might find it easy to make long-range plans and commitments to improve our health, break old habits, lose weight, enhance our productivity and save or make more money. But can we commit even a few moments to transforming our lives and everyone in it? Sure we can.

Open your eyes and see.

Speaking my mind

January 6th, 2009    -    9 Comments


I usually only post when I have something to say. But having something to say can be a rather dangerous proposition.

This, on the other hand, always sums it up nicely.

Something new about the new

December 28th, 2008    -    8 Comments


For the last 15 years, there’s been only one way for me to observe the New Year.

By observing it.

Come, find me there, and let’s get this party started!

Forever again

December 2nd, 2008    -    9 Comments


Never again believe what you read.
Never again fly on the most overbooked air travel day of the year.
Never again go via this airline through this airport.
Never again be in a hurry to get home when fog socks in your destination.
Never again leave your dog at home with a dogsitter who misunderstands/misreads/forgets when you are returning.
Never again get the smell of fear, anxiety, panic and dog poop out of the rugs.
Never again use sudsing detergent in your new front-loader.

Now, never again say never again. Instead, sit a few hours of Rohatsu at the temple this week and make your mind open, your heart forgiving and the world right side up.

Forever again.

The way out is out of my way

November 12th, 2008    -    13 Comments


Since I’ve come home from sitting so much has appeared. Thousands of words flew out by themselves. I wrote a piece this week that amazed me so and reminded me that writing – and everything – is not a thought process, but its own process. We do not write words but the words write us, and then we can read them along with everyone else and learn something.

The piece I’m referring to won’t be visible for a few months, and when it is on paper it will be brand new to you and me both.

What I want to say is how inextricable stillness is from motion and motion is from stillness. Either one, when unlatched from the hindrance of our repetitive critical thinking, makes things happen! When I am stuck, I go for a walk and get unstuck. When I am going nowhere, I sit still in meditation, open my mind and get somewhere.

I hope that you try it for yourself. Getting out of your own way is the way out!

Soon I’ll be in motion again near and far. I’m always inspired by the chance to meet and speak with practicing parents and/or practicing Buddhists, and if you are anywhere in the neighborhood, please go out of your way and come along:

Thurs., Nov. 20, 7 p.m.
Palos Verdes Hills Nursery School

Sun., Nov. 30, 10:30 a.m.
Rime Buddhist Center
Kansas City

A spot of shine

November 10th, 2008    -    11 Comments


This week I have a new article appearing in the quarterly magazine Buddhadharma, entitled “Looking Under the Bed.” It brings to light my rather poorly hidden view of the urgent need for real practice. The magazine is on newsstands this week, and my commentary is partially excerpted here.

I am grateful to the editors of Buddhadharma and the sister publication the Shambhala Sun for their kind and steady solicitation of my work. I encourage you to read as much of the publications as you can online, and to consider buying the current issue or subscribing. It’s true that there is too much debate and discussion about Buddhism in Buddhism (that’s the -ism I can do without) but there is always a need to refresh and encourage yourself in the Way, particularly by reading things that might make you uncomfortable!

You might also have noticed a new entry in my blogroll: the Shambhala SunSpace, a new editors’ blog updated frequently with short bursts of shine. Take a look under it all for yourself.

Edited to add: Find your own Buddha night light here.

Pages: Prev 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Next

archives by month

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.