When I don’t meditate

Lately I have been thinking a lot about my meditation practice and its effect on my well-being. I have achieved a level of meditation which, at this point in my life, I feel good about: every morning I get up at 5:45am, take my shower, prepare breakfast and then sit on my cushion for 20, sometimes 30 minutes. This routine has been pretty consistent for about a year now. Before that it has been on and off for about 6 years. Even though this may seem to some like a long time, it is not, and those who are seasoned meditators know this. Perhaps I am not a complete beginner, but the more I meditate, the more I am amazed at how much I still have to and want to learn and how long the road is.

The other day I read a post by David Cain from Raptitude entitled “could I convince you to meditate in a single sentence”? In it he talks about the benefits of meditation and attempts to explain to his readers why he highly recommends meditation. The manner in which he explains it spoke to me and gave me relief as I have so often found myself trying to explain and share with others how meditation has allowed me to feel hopeful and encouraged to dredge on in my self-reflective quest. I don’t always succeed, and even if I do see a spark that says “oh yes, I know what you mean!”, it doesn’t mean they will try it, let alone become a regular cushion-sitter. Continue reading

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Understanding Shenpa

Working with Shenpa

I have read and listened to a few of Pema Chödrön’s audio books, some are “When things fall apart” or “the places that scare you”. There are many more and as with many of the Buddhist / meditation teachers I like to listen to or read, I regularly return to Pema Chödron when the moment is ripe.

Pema Chödron is an American Buddhist nun, teacher, writer who has, for many years, been the director of Gampo Abbey in Nova Scotia, Canada. When I first heard about her, I was immediately drawn to her style of writing, talking and bringing Buddhist ideas to a western audience with clarity, kindness and humor. Her storytelling encouraged me to consider her as one of my favorite teachers.

About two weeks ago I came across a youtube video of a retreat talk by Pema which I listened to in its entirety (see below). In this talk, Pema talks about Shenpa (go to minute 6 if you want to skip to that part), a word I had never heard of before. It is a Tibetan word that is usually translated as attachment. Pema, however, uses different words to describe it: “being hooked”, “getting stuck”. Here are a few things I jotted down while listening to her audiobook called “getting unstuck” as well as some of my thoughts: Continue reading

As one gets older…

It’s really a strange thing. I have never been the kind that freaks out about getting older. And I am still not that kind of person. BUT… When I turned 50 i did my simple calculations in order to figure out how much time I still had to get it right. Assuming i don’t get sick or hit by a bus or have to say bye bye early of one of 8 million ways to die, I theoretically could have 30 to 40 more years to go. That’s generous, of course. Of those 40 years, 10 to 15 could be quieter and more challenging (you get the picture, I don’t need to describe any of them, just look around you for plenty of examples). So let’s say 20 to 25 really “good” years? Wow, that sounds like a lot!

Right. We are already at the end March of 2017! January 01st feels like 3 days ago.

The more I think about it, the more confused I am. What exactly do I even mean when I say I want to “get it right”? Continue reading

Back from silence…

Of course I wish I didn’t always let months or even years pass before I write something again. It comes across as less believable or caring. Or at least it looks like I do / think / accomplish nothing during those silent times.

What is really happening is that I have mixed feelings about blogging. Lately I have become more  tired of observing all the narcissism on twitter, facebook, instagram. I know it just is that way, it is nothing new to me, but it gets worse with time and generations growing. Generations that don’t know what it was like without selfie-ness. Continue reading

after 20+ years marriage…

Last week I had dinner with C. She tells me about having been with her husband for 23 years and the desire to be alone. Why? Because she’s never been there, done that. I have, so my perspective is different than hers. I neither talk her out of it nor encourage her. I listen and watch. I understand her 100% and tell her so. It’s a familiar itch, a question she has as she is approaching the official middle age of her life. What would it be like to live alone, to do whatever she wants without having to think about him? To have total freedom.

And there it is again, that unbearable longing for freedom. Continue reading

Swimming with genius

It inspires me to read morning pages from 2006/2007. I was 40 then. In this phase of my life, I was touching on a creative streak. I longed to accept the desire I had to “be an artist”, to write, to see what magic awaited me if I was open enough. The words did flow at times, but I also too often struggled with fear and resistance. Reading this from the future, I am amazed (and pissed) at how much internal worrisome dialogue holds you back, how difficult it is to be free from harmful chatter. The truth though is that despite all that worry and negative chatter, the longing and conviction never abandoned me. I never really gave up. Elizabeth Gilbert, in her book “Big Magic” talks about being visited only once by genius. Since then, she keeps the faith and writes, even if it never reaches the level she had once been lucky enough to encounter: Continue reading