April 24 Five Mindfulness Trainings

This week Mary will facilitate.  

We will read the Five Mindful Trainings.  These trainings originated from the Five Buddhist Precepts and were updated by Thich Nhat Hanh.  
The Five Mindfulness Trainings are one of the most concrete ways to practice mindfulness. They are nonsectarian, and their nature is universal. They are true practices of compassion and understanding. All spiritual traditions have their equivalent to the Five Mindfulness Trainings.  Please go here for the source of our text.


The Five Mindfulness Trainings are not commandments or Buddhist dogma, they are offered as suggestions to support mindfulness practice by providing us with a compass with which to orient our lives. They represent a vision of all our spiritual ancestors for a global spirituality and ethic, and are a concrete expression of a path of wisdom and true love, leading to healing, transformation, and happiness for ourselves and for the world. To practice the Five Mindfulness Trainings is to cultivate a way of life which can remove all discrimination, intolerance, anger, fear, and despair. Following this way of life, we are not lost in confusion about our life in the present or in fears about the future.


Reverence For Life

Aware of the suffering caused by the destruction of life, I am committed to cultivating compassion and learning ways to protect the lives of people, animals, plants, and minerals.


I am determined not to kill, not to let others kill, and not to support any act of killing in the world, in my thinking, or in my way of life. Seeing that harmful actions arise from anger, fear, greed, and intolerance, which in turn come from dualistic and discriminative thinking, I will cultivate openness, non-discrimination, and non-attachment to views in order to transform violence, fanaticism, and dogmatism in myself and in the world.



True Happiness

Aware of the suffering caused by exploitation, social injustice, stealing, and oppression, I am committed to practicing generosity in my thinking, speaking, and acting.


I am determined not to steal and not to possess anything that should belong to others; and I will share my time, energy, and material resources with those who are in need. I will practice looking deeply to see that the happiness and suffering of others are not separate from my own happiness and suffering; that true happiness is not possible without understanding and compassion; and that running after wealth, fame, power and sensual pleasures can bring much suffering and despair. I am aware that happiness depends on my mental attitude and not on external conditions, and that I can live happily in the present moment simply by remembering that I already have more than enough conditions to be happy. I am committed to working in a way that I can help reduce the suffering of living beings on Earth and reverse the process of global warming.



True Love

Aware of the suffering caused by sexual misconduct, I am committed to cultivating responsibility and learning ways to protect the safety and integrity of individuals, couples, families, and society.


Knowing that sexual desire is not love, and that sexual activity motivated by craving always harms myself as well as others, I am determined not to engage in sexual relations without true love and a deep, long-term commitment made known to my family and friends. I will do everything in my power to protect children from sexual abuse and to prevent couples and families from being broken by sexual misconduct. Seeing that body and mind are one, I am committed to learning appropriate ways to take care of my sexual energy. I will cultivate loving kindness, compassion, joy and inclusiveness which are the four basic elements of true love for my greater happiness and the greater happiness of others. Practicing true love, we know that we will continue beautifully into the future



Loving Speech and Deep Listening

Aware of the suffering caused by unmindful speech and the inability to listen to others, I am committed to cultivating loving speech and compassionate listening in order to relieve suffering and to promote reconciliation and peace in myself and among other people, ethnic and religious groups, and nations.

Knowing that words can create happiness or suffering, I am committed to speaking truthfully using words that inspire confidence, joy, and hope. When anger is manifesting in me, I am determined not to speak. I will practice mindful breathing and walking in order to recognize and to look deeply into its roots, especially in my wrong perceptions and lack of understanding of the suffering in myself and in the other person. I will speak and listen in a way that can help myself and the other person to release the suffering and see the way out of difficult situations. I am determined not to spread news that I do not know to be certain and not to utter words that can cause division or discord. I will make daily efforts, in my speaking and listening, to nourish my capacity for understanding, love, joy, and inclusiveness, and gradually transform anger, violence, and fear that lie deep in my consciousness.


Nourishment and Healing

Aware of the suffering caused by unmindful consumption, I am committed to cultivating good health, both physical and mental, for myself, my family, and my society by practicing mindful eating, drinking, and consuming.


I will practice looking deeply into how I take in edible foods, sense impressions, volition, and consciousness. I am determined not to use alcohol, drugs, gambling, or any other products which contain toxins, such as certain websites, electronic games, TV programs, films, magazines, books, and conversations. I will practice coming back to the present moment to be in touch with the refreshing, healing and nourishing elements in me and around me, not letting regrets and sorrow drag me back into the past nor letting anxieties, fear, or craving pull me out of the present moment. I am determined not to try to cover up loneliness, anxiety, or other suffering by losing myself in consumption. I will make every effort to consume in a way that preserves peace, joy, and well-being in my body and consciousness, and in the collective body and consciousness of my family, my society and our Earth.

(Bell) (Bell)

Please take note that this Monday is Newcomers week! 

Also, next Saturday April 29th, join mindfulness practitioners from in the Washington DC and Baltimore areas in support of the People's Climate's March in Washington.  More information below in the announcement section of this newsletter.   

April 17 Deeper Understanding of the Four Noble Truths

This Monday Mary will facilitate.


Tonight we will discuss our experience and insights into the Four Noble Truths from an interesting vantage point. I highlight several questions to ponder before we meet.


Ever think about your connection to the four elements of air, fire, water, and earth?  Can you find these elements in your body?  Did you ever think of yourself as being changeable like the weather?


Pema Chodron in her book Awakening Loving-Kindness comments:

It's said that when we die, the four elements -- earth, air, fire, water -- dissolve one by one, each into the other, and finally just dissolve into space. But while we're living, we share the energy that makes everything, from a blade of grass to an elephant, grow and live and then inevitably wear out and die. This energy, this life force, creates the whole world. It's very curious that because we as human beings have consciousness, we are also subject to a little twist where we resist life's energies.


Ever wonder why our default setting seems to be to resist the flow of life's energies?


In the Buddha's first teaching - called the 4 noble truths - he talked about suffering.  The First noble truth says that it's part of being human to feel discomfort.  Nothing in its essence is one way or another.  All around us, the wind, the fire, the earth, the water are always taking on different qualities; they are like magicians.  We also change like the weather.  We ebb and flow like the tides, we wax and wane like the moon.  We fail to see that like the weather, we are fluid, not solid.  And so we suffer.


The Second noble truth says that resistance is the fundamental operating mechanism of what we call ego, that resisting life causes suffering. Traditionally it's said that the cause of suffering is clinging to our narrow view, which is to say, we are addicted to "me".  We resist that we change and flow like weather, that we have the same energy as all living things. When we resist, we dig in our heels.  We make ourselves really solid.   resisting is what's called ego.


Ever wonder what might happen if you stopped resisting? What if you were able to flow from one situation to the next, acting more like the weather?


The Third noble truth says that suffering ceases when we let go of trying to maintain the huge "me" at any cost.  This is what we practice in meditation. When we let go of the story line, we're left just sitting with the quality and energy of whatever particular "weather" we've been trying to resist.


Can you identify some repeating stories you tell yourself, drop the story line and try to identify the energy of whatever 'weather' you have been trying to resist?


The essence of the Fourth noble truth is that we can use everything we do to help us realize that we're part of the energy that creates everything.  If we learn to sit still like a mountain in a hurricane, unprotected from the truth and vividness and the immediacy of simply being part of life, then we are not this separate being who has to have things turn out our way. When we stop resisting and let the weather simply flow through us, we can live our lives completely.  It's up to us.


Can you stop resisting and insisting that the story work out the way you want it to and allow the weather to flow through you?


I encourage you to read the longer version of this excerpt below, stuffed full of beautiful teachings and insights. It may help to better understand from where all this resistance comes.


I look forward to sharing our 'weather' reports!





Awakening Loving-Kindness by Pema Chodron

Excerpt - Chapter 9

Weather and the Four Noble Truths

When the Buddha first taught, he could have taught anything. He had just waked up completely. His mind was clear and he experienced no obstacles -- just the vastness and goodness of himself and his life. The story goes, however, that it was difficult for him to express his experience; initially he decided not to teach because he thought no one would be able to understand what he was talking about. He finally decided that he would go out and he would teach because there were some people who would hear him. The interesting thing is that at first he didn't talk about the unconditional; he didn't talk about basic goodness, clarity, space, bliss, wonder, or openness. In the first teaching of the Buddha -- the teachings on the four noble truth -- she talked about suffering.

I've always experienced these teachings as a tremendous affirmation that there is no need to resist being fully alive in this world, that we are in fact part of the web. All of life is interconnected. If something lives, it has life force, the quality of which is energy, a sense of spiritedness. Without that, we can't lift our arms or open our mouths or open and shut our eyes. If you have ever been with someone who is dying, you know that at one moment, even though it might be quite weak, there's life force there, and then the next moment there is none. It's said that when we die, the four elements -- earth, air, fire, water -- dissolve one by one, each into the other, and finally just dissolve into space. But while we're living, we share the energy that makes everything, from a blade of grass to an elephant, grow and live and then inevitably wear out and die. This energy, this life force, creates the whole world. It's very curious that because we as human beings have consciousness, we are also subject to a little twist where we resist life's energies.

I was talking to a man the other day who has severe depression. When he gets depressed, he sits in a chair; he can't move. All he does is worry. He said that all winter long he sat in the chair, thinking that he ought to go bring the lawn mower out of the snow, but he just couldn't do it. Now that's not what I mean by sitting still. Sitting still, or holding one's seat, means not being pulled away from being fully right there, fully acknowledging and experiencing your life energy. So what happens? I can tell you my experience of it. I was sitting, doing the technique, when this bad feeling came along. Next thing I knew, I was thinking all kinds of things, worrying about something that's going to happen in September, worrying about who is going to take care of the minutest little details of something that's going to happen in October. Then I remembered: sitting still in the middle of a fire or a tornado or an earthquake or a tidal wave, sitting still. This provides the opportunity to experience once again the living quality of our life's energy -- earth, air, fire, and water.

Why do we resist our energy? Why do we resist the life force that flows through us? The first noble truth says that if you are alive, if you have a heart, if you can love, if you can be compassionate, if you can realize the life energy that makes everything change and move and grow and die, then you won't have any resentment or resistance. The first noble truth says simply that it's part of being human to feel discomfort. We don't even have to call it suffering anymore, we don't even have to call it discomfort. It's simply coming to know the fieriness of fire, the wildness of wind, the turbulence of water, the upheaval of earth, as well as the warmth of fire, the coolness and smoothness of water, the gentleness of the breezes, and the goodness, solidness, and dependability of the earth. Nothing in its essence is one way or the other. The four elements take on different qualities; they're like magicians. Sometimes they manifest in one form and sometimes in another. If we feel that that's a problem, we resist it. The first noble truth recognizes that we also change like the weather, we ebb and flow like the tides, we wax and wane like the moon. We do that, and there's no reason to resist it. If we resist it, the reality and vitality of life become misery, a hell.

The second noble truth says that this resistance is the fundamental operating mechanism of what we call ego, that resisting life causes suffering. Traditionally it's said that the cause of suffering is clinging to our narrow view. Another way to say the same thing is that resisting our complete unity with all of life, resisting the fact that we change and flow like the weather, that we have the same energy as all living things, resisting that is what's called ego.

Yesterday I began to be very curious about the experience of resistance. I noticed that I was sitting there with uncomfortable feelings in my heart and my stomach -- dread, you could call it. I began to recognize the opportunity of experiencing the realness of the four elements, feeling what it's like to be weather. Of course that didn't make the discomfort go away, but it removed the resistance, and somehow the world was there again. When I didn't resist, I could see the world. Then I noticed that I had never liked the quality of this particular "weather" for some reason and so I resisted it. In doing that, I realized, I re-created myself. It's as if, when you resist, you dig in your heels. It's as if you're a block of marble and you carve yourself out of it, you make yourself really solid. In my case, worrying about things that are going to happen is very unpleasant; it's an addiction. It's also unpleasant to get drunk again if you're an alcoholic, or to have to keep shooting up if you're a drug addict, or to keep eating if you have overeating addiction, or whatever it is. All these things are very strange. We all know what addiction is; we are primarily addicted to me.

Interestingly enough, when the weather changes and the energy simply flows through us, just as it flows through the grass and the trees and the ravens and the bears and the moose and the ocean and the rocks, we discover that we are not solid at all. If we sit still, like the mountain Gampo Lhatse in a hurricane, if we don't protect ourselves from the trueness and the vividness and the immediacy and the lack of confirmation of simply being part of life, then we are not this separate being who has to have things turn out our way.

The third noble truth says that the cessation of suffering is letting go of holding on to ourselves. By "cessation" we mean the cessation of hell as opposed to just weather, the cessation of this resistance, this resentment, this feeling of being completely trapped and caught, trying to maintain huge me at any cost. The teachings about recognizing egolessness sound quite abstract, but the path quality of that, the magic instruction that we have all received, the golden key is that part of the meditation technique where you recognize what's happening with you and you say to yourself, "Thinking." Then you let go of all the talking and the fabrication and the discussion, and you're left just sitting with the weather -- the quality and the energy of the weather itself. 

Maybe you still have that quaky feeling or that churning feeling or that exploding feeling or that calm feeling or that dull feeling, as if you'd just been buried in the earth. You're left with that. That's the key: come to know that. The only way you can know that is by realizing that you've been talking about it, turning it into worry about next week and next October and the rest of your life. It's as if, curiously enough, instead of sitting still in the middle of the fire, we have developed this self-created device for fanning it, keeping it going. Fan that fire, fan that fire. "Well, what about if I don't do this, then that will happen, and if that happens then this will happen, maybe I better get rid of such-and-such and get this and do that. I better tell so-and-so about this, and if I don't tell them that, surely the whole thing is going to fall apart, and then what will happen? Oh, I think I want to die and I want to get out of here. This is horrible and" Suddenly you want to jump out of your seat and go screaming out of the room. You've been fanning the fire. But at some point you think, "Wait a minute. Thinking." Then you let go and come back to that original fluttering feeling that might be very edgy but is basically the wind, the fire, the earth, the water. I'm not talking about turning a hurricane into a calm day. I'm talking about realizing hurricane-ness, or, if it's a calm day, calmness. I'm not talking about turning a forest fire into a cozy fire in the fireplace or something that's under your cooking pot that heats your stew. I'm saying that when there's a forest fire, don't resist that kind of power -- that's you. When it's warm and cozy, don't resist that or nest in it. I'm not saying turn an earthquake into a garden of flowers. When there's an earthquake, let the ground tremble and rip apart, and when it's a rich garden with flowers, let that be also. I'm talking about not resisting, not grasping, not getting caught in hope and in fear, in good and in bad, but actually living completely.

The essence of the fourth noble truth is the eightfold path. Everything we do -- our discipline, effort, meditation, livelihood, and every single thing that we do from the moment we're born until the moment we die -- we can use to help us to realize our unity and our completeness with all things. We can use our lives, in other words, to wake up to the fact that we're not separate: the energy that causes us to live and be whole and awake and alive is just the energy that creates everything, and we're part of that. We can use our lives to connect with that, or we can use them to become resentful, alienated, resistant, angry, bitter. As always, it's up to us.

April 10 Letting Go of Attachment to Our Views

This week, Annie will facilitate.  

In the Fourteen Mindfulness Trainings of the Order of Interbeing, Thich Nhat Hanh writes:

Aware of the suffering created by attachment to views and wrong perceptions, we are determined to avoid being narrow-minded and bound to present views. We are committed to learning and practicing non-attachment from views and being open to other's insights and experiences in order to benefit from the collective wisdom. 

Insight is revealed through the practice of compassionate listening, deep looking, and letting go of notions rather than through the accumulation of intellectual knowledge. We are aware that the knowledge we presently possess is not changeless, absolute truth. Truth is found in life, and we will observe life within and around us in every moment, ready to learn throughout our lives.

Studying this teaching over the years has begun to wear down my strong opinions and the tendency to think I know the "right" answer, or the "right" way to do something. But this habit of thinking I know the everlasting truth is strong, so it shows up again in various disguises -- politics, health, lifestyle. When it does, I often find suffering in its wake.

What really can we know for sure and what strongly held beliefs might be creating more suffering in our lives right now?  How can loosen our grip on, or even let go of some of them and what's it like to be without attachment to views?

After our meditation period, we can discuss all this and more!

Looking forward to being with you all,



Poem by  Sheri Hostetler
Give up the world; give up self; finally, give up God.
Find god in rhododendrons and rocks,
passers-by, your cat.
Pare your beliefs, your absolutes.
Make it simple; make it clean.
No carry-on luggage allowed.
Examine all you have
with a loving and critical eye, then
throw away some more.
Repeat. Repeat.
Keep this and only this:
what your heart beats loudly for
what feels heavy and full in your gut.
There will only be one or two
things you will keep,
and they will fit lightly
in your pocket.

April 3 Examining the Sensational Experience of our Emotions

This Monday Ben will facilitate.

He shares:

The Language of LIDDS.

I have found the Language of LIDDS very helpful for examining the sensational experience of my emotions. 

LIDDS stands for:

  • Location
  • Intensity
  • Direction
  • Depth
  • Size

Notice the difference between these two representations of anxiety.

When I write I feel anxiety.

Versus when I write:

When I write I feel sensation in my mid chest(location). It's not very intense but it's there.(intensity). It's not very deep in my body but it seems to move upward.(depth, direction) Its size is skinny and long, from my chest to my throat.(size)

The first is an expression of what I'm feeling with a word and the second is LIDDS.

The question I would like to address on Monday night is why being able to examine an emotional experience in term of its location, intensity, direction, depth, and size is valuable to the mindfulness practitioner.  If you would like to participate, I encourage you to bring an emotion with you in the form of a story you can share in with the group. And while you share your story, I encourage you to share your experience using the Language of LIDDS.  

Looking forward to sitting with you,


March 27 Loving Our Earth

This Monday Camille will facilitate.

Dear Sangha,

As Earth Day approaches on April 21, and the end of the Environmental film festival winds down, I become worried (as usual) about the changes in the environment brought about by our uses and misuses of this beautiful Planet.   I have given a lot of thought as to what I am doing to make this Earth a better place - and I find that I can easily judge myself and others about what we aren't doing, what we need to do and perhaps what we are doing wrong.  Hence I get frustrated and end up wallowing in my suffering about this.

I remembered reading Thich Nhat Hanh's book "Love Letter to the Earth" a while ago and decided it was a good time to reread it and perhaps find a way to help me work through my worry and frustration and once again appreciate that connection to Mother Earth.

In one of his letters Thay writes..."Dear Mother Earth:  I bow my head before you as I look deeply and recognize that you are present in me and that I'm a part of you.  I was born from you and you are always present, offering me everything I need for my nourishment and growth.  My mother, my father, and all my ancestors are also your children.  We breathe your fresh air.  We drink your clear water.  We eat your nourishing food.  Your herbs heal us when we're sick.  You are the mother of all beings."

"I promise to keep the awareness alive that you are always in me, and I am in you.  I promise to be aware that your health and well-being are my own health and well-being.  I know I need to keep this awareness alive in me for us both to be peaceful, happy, healthy, and strong."

These words of Thay's are some of his many words of wisdom that I would like to share with you on Monday night.  I am already feeling nourished just writing them down in this note to you as I look forward to seeing you all on Monday night.

Namaste, Camille

March 20 Letting Go of Fear

This Monday Alison will facilitate.

She shares:

This week's Monday night Opening Heart Mindfulness Community Sangha reading comes from Deborah Eden Tull, the founder of Mindful Living Revolution, who recently spoke on the topic of "Letting Go of Fear - Finding Courage in the Face of Uncertainty" at a Worldwide Insight dharma discussion on March 5, 2017.

"Even though we know fear does not serve us, we often allow it to stop or limit us. We might not even be aware of the ways it drives us and makes us smaller than we are. Though we might think we can control life, there is little we can actually control. If we are honest, we can say that the human experience involves some form of uncertainty and disappointment every single day. Death is the only thing we actually know with certainty will happen to us in this life.

We suffer when we resist our innate vulnerability and view it as a weakness, rather than embrace it with acceptance.  We try to build scaffolding and protection in the form of future planning, goal-setting, and gated communities to cope with the innate uncertainty with which we live. We have myriad ways to guard against, defend, escape, protect ourselves, and turn away from the vulnerability that is actually the key to our authentic power and our shared compassion for one another.

Each time we turn away from vulnerability, we give away our power to a story that we are not adequate to meet our life experience.  The surrounding environment we create for ourselves-with its walls, barricades, and defenses-reflects our fears and therefore reinforces states of fear. We live in a vulnerable state, yet by avoiding this reality we are never put in touch with the resilience of our deeper being.

Meditation teaches us how to relate to fear in an entirely different way.  It gives us the choice to see fear (False Evidence Appearing Real) clearly and to cultivate the equanimity and courage that is our birthright.

When we first come to meditation, even the groundlessness of awareness can seem frightening.  We are frightened by the possibility of letting go and expanding our experience of self.  Meditation can at first seem like sitting outside in the dark at night, but gradually we become curious about the darkness around us.  We learn to pay subtle attention as we sit in the dark, and to care for ourselves.  By continuing to sit with groundlessness, something within us changes, and the world around us changes too.  We begin to feel connected to the darkness, and rather than being fearful, we turn to greet fear with open curiosity.

I have been struck by the degree to which fear's volume has been turned up in my community and in our world. Whether it is personal fear of "How can I make it in a challenging economy?" or "What will become of what appears to be the rise of fascism in both the US and Europe?", it is my hope that we will see the invitation being offered, the invitation to transform our relationship with fear. Questions that I find helpful to ask are:

  • What if we did not take fear - or the sensations and thoughts associated with fear - personally? 

  • What does fear actually serve? 

  • How can we remember to pause and turn within in the face of fear, in order to access stillness and clarity?  

  • How can we cultivate authentic courage? And how can we both welcome and embrace fear while choosing courageous action?

I offer this teaching in Lovingkindness, 

Deborah Eden Tull"


You can find Ms. Tull's entire talk on this topic on March 5, 2017 at the Worldwide Insight website

I look forward to seeing everyone on Monday night!  Stay warm!


March 13 The Five Touchings of the Earth

On Monday Marie will facilitate.  

She shares:

Last Monday, we talked about our emotions and explored ways of taking care of them.  Several people talked about how their emotions have been influenced by previous generations, and tomorrow, we will build on this theme.  

On Monday night, we will practice the Five Touchings of the Earth, a guided meditation that gives us an opportunity to contemplate what has been transmitted to us by our blood, spiritual and land ancestors.  We can use this practice to selectively water the seeds in our consciousness, celebrating the wholesome seeds and transforming those that need to be transformed.   

If you are joining us on Monday, I invite you to reflect on your ancestors - be they family members, spiritual teachers, or people from your country/place of origin.  To what extent do you share their traits, emotions and/or ways of behaving?  Of these, which cause you suffering and which cause you joy?   Familiarizing yourself with these "well watered seeds" - or patterns - may help you to experience the guided meditation in more powerful ways.


If you would like to learn more about the Touchings of the Earth, please visit this Plum Village here


I look forward to being with you on Monday night.



March 6 How do we Take Care of our Fear, Anger and Sadness?

Dear Friends,


This week Annie will facilitate. 


All of us have felt fear, sadness, or anger, from time to time, and right now it seems that many of us are feeling these things even more. These kinds of strong feelings arise without warning and sometimes we don't know what to do with them.


Strong emotions have a lot to teach us about what's most important to us and what our past conditioning has been. The downside of fear, anger and sadness are that if we don't know how to take care of them, they can hijack us. This hijacking can leave us stuck in the painful emotions or cause us to act out in ways that don't serve us or those around us, which then pulls us right back into our painful emotions.


Thich Nhat Hanh (Thay) often talks about how to take care of and transform our strong emotions that arise and often hijack us. In an interview with Oprah he described it this way:


"So you recognize that fear. You embrace it tenderly and look deeply into it. And as you embrace your pain, you get relief and you find out how to handle that emotion. 


And if you know how to handle the fear, then you have enough insight in order to solve the problem. The problem is to not allow that anxiety to take over. When these feelings arise, you have to practice in order to use the energy of mindfulness to recognize them, embrace them, look deeply into them. 


It's like a mother when the baby is crying. Your anxiety is your baby. You have to take care of it. You have to go back to yourself, recognize the suffering in you, embrace the suffering, and you get relief. And if you continue with your practice of mindfulness, you understand the roots, the nature of the suffering, and you know the way to transform it."


When I first heard him talk about embracing our emotions like a crying baby, I thought it made sense, but I wasn't sure exactly how to do it. What helped me, and what I practice now, is a combination of Thay's teaching and the practice called Inner Relationship Focusing. Like sitting meditation, it's a practice we can turn to again and again whenever we feel triggered and caught in our reactivity. 


Monday we will go through some simple steps that I use to notice, care for, validate and transform fear, anger and sadness.  The practice below often, but not always, helps me move out of stuckness and reactivity, and act in clear and concrete ways that reflect my deepest intentions to benefit to all beings and not add more suffering to the mix.


Here are the basic steps:


(1) Pay attention to the crying baby of suffering -- the fear, anger or sadness triggered by whatever is happening. Turn toward the suffering especially as it manifests in your body.


(2) Embrace the emotion with compassion toward the part of you that is feeling scared, angry or sad. Identify with the larger You who can hold the smaller part of you that is in pain -- just as when a baby cries, the first think you do is pick it up and cradle it. Right away you will feel a little better.


(3) Find out what it needs. As you hold the reactive emotion, you can see what it is really wanting or not wanting for you. There's a reason it's crying. It may be as simple as it wanting you to know how it feels. Or it may be worried that if you don't act you will be hurt, or perhaps it doesn't feel cared for. A baby can't tell us directly what is wrong, and in the same way parts will need us to pay gentle and close attention if we are to understand why this part feels so reactive.


(4) Empathize. Once you have embraced the part and understood why it is so upset, you can empathize with it. Given the limited information and understanding that this reactive part has, it's no wonder that it is scared, angry or sad. Just as you would do with a small child, you can let your part know that you understand why it feels the way it does. At the same time, you stay present in mindfulness which allows you to see that more is possible.


(5) Act from presence. If you are settled in your mindful presence -- the parent holding the baby -- and you have taken the time to understand why this part is scared, angry or sad, your decisions will be made with confidence and clarity, instead of being controlled by the fear, anger or sadness. This practice doesn't take away the feelings, it just means you don't identify with the feelings as who you are. Instead, you are the one who can hold the scared, angry or sad parts and still live your life from your deepest intentions.


After walking meditation, Annie will offer a guided meditation to help us recognize and embrace our strong emotions, especially our fear, anger and sadness. After that, we will have time to share about the strong emotions we are dealing with right now, and how we can work with them to guide us into skillful action rather than hijack us into unskillful action or despair. 


I look forward to seeing you all there. It's the first Monday of the month, so we will have a 30 minute newcomer's session from 6:15-6:45 pm. If it's your first time in the group or you want a refresher, please join us!


With love,


February 27 Can We Save Compassion?

This week Annie will facilitate. 


This morning on twitter, The Death of Compassion is trending. It's based on an article by Charles M. Blow of The New York Times, in which Mr. Blow shares his opinion about the ways in which the current conservative coalition is showing even less compassion than during the Reagan era. He also suggests that because "the Trump phenomenon is devoid of compassion" we [I'm assuming he is referring to we liberals and progressives] need not try to find any compromise points with those who "promote and defend bigotry, misogyny and xenophobia." 


As mindfulness practitioners and students of the Buddha, our practice is based on compassion. What do you think about what Mr. Blow writes? If both sides give up on compassion, what happens next?


On Monday, after our sitting period, we will listen to an excerpt from a talk by the esteemed Dr. Jan Willis, who in addition to being an author and a professor of Religion at Wesleyan University, is also a teacher and scholar, practitioner (for more than 40 years) and teacher of Tibetan Buddhism.  


In her talk, Dr. Willis talks about the 8th century Buddhist monk and philospher Shantideva and his teachings on The Way of the Bodhisattva. A Bodhisattva is someone who travels on the path of liberation not only for their own benefit, but for the purpose of liberating all beings. She or he, generates bodhicitta through mindfulness practice and lives guided by compassion or the wish to alleviate the suffering of all living beings. For an excerpt from The Way of the Bodhisattva please go to the bottom of the newsletter.

Shantideva says:


"May the supreme and precious bodhichitta

Take birth where it has not yet done so;

Where it has been born may it not decrease;

Where it has not decreased may it abundantly grow."


Dr. Willis differentiates between metta, or loving kindness -- the wish for all beings to be happy -- and bodhicitta, the mind of enlightenment which wishes for all beings to be free of suffering. She says that bodhicitta arises naturally from our insight into the nature of interdependence, or as Thich Nhat Hanh says, our inter-being.


Here's is one way in which I practice contemplating the arising of bodhicitta (as they say, Buddhists love lists):


(1) I am not responsible for this whole universe because I am just one light in a sky full of stars, I am not better than or more important than anyone else.

(2) I am also not not responsible for the universe because I am just as capable as the next person. I am no less than anyone else.

(3) And, I am not equally responsible for the universe because I am not separate from anyone else.

(4) My freedom is only possible when others are free as well. If one being anywhere is suffering, then I will suffer either now or at some future point. It's in my best interest to help others awaken. And yet, #1, 2, and 3 are also true.


Dr. Willis goes on in her talk to discuss how it feels when we have that bodhicitta. She describes a moment in which she was a young girl and choking on food. Her mother rushed in, reached down her throat, got the food out, stood up and promptly passed out. This is a moment in which her mother had bodhicitta. She was fully aware that her life was bound up in the life of her child. Shantidva says this about how we feel when we are in that state:


"All the joy the world contains

Has come through wishing happiness for others.

All the misery the world contains

Has come through wanting pleasure for oneself."


Could it be that we are actually at our happiest when we are aware of and acting out of inter-being?  Not putting ourselves first, last or equal, but seeing how we are integral to the whole with everyone and everything else.


After we listen to some of what Dr. Willis has to say, we can discuss bodhicitta and the "Death of Compassion." How might you revive compassion and generate bodhicitta in your life? Do you want to? How have you done so in the past? Do you feel resistance to any of the four parts of bodhicitta I suggested above? What else are you thinking about these days with regard to compassion, your life, and the universe?


I look forward to connecting with you on Monday.


Much love,


February 20 Strong As a Mountain: Staying Rooted in the Midst of Chaos

This Monday, Ben is facilitating.  He shares:


Dear OHMC community, allow me to reintroduce myself.  It has been over a year since I have facilitated a sitting.  My littlest has just turned one and bedtimes are no longer such a fight, so here I am.  My post is themed after this Spring's Opening Heart Mindfulness retreat titled:


Strong As a Mountain: Staying Rooted in the Midst of Chaos


Below is a story of chaos and how I rooted myself in the practice of mindfulness to manage the situation.  I encourage you to read the story but if you don't have the time, know that it ends with gratitude.  


For discussion on Monday please consider how mindfulness has made you strong as a mountain and are you able to find gratitude in the midst of chaos?


Speaking of chaos, both of my daughters are developing ways to fight against their parents and each other to get what they want.  Allegra has become a negotiator.  Even at the age of three she can come up with clever deals that enable her to get what she wants.  Before it was body language now she has become more sophisticated.  Lilliana doesn't have language yet so when she wants something, it's all body language and sound.  


For the most part, their fight doesn't bring out the fight in me.  There are times however when it does.  The other day I was drained, totally whipped out.  Allegra wouldn't brush her teeth, Lilliana was not going to sleep, and I had had enough.


I knew I had had enough because my body said so.  My experience in that moment was a surge that collapsed and expanded inside and up and down the front of my spine.  The outward surge came forth has a harsh "Allegra, that's enough", the inward collapse was the feeling of despondence, a downward, heavy, dirty, yucky, tired, brown, murky, feeling.  Not unfamiliar, this feeling came with memories of other times I've felt this way, and in a flash this moment was every moment I've ever felt this way to include times when I have been truly depressed and full of self loathing.  I had had enough and enough being enough meant that it was time to force the issue in my favor.  Daddy is stronger and more powerful and you will do as I say!!!


At that point Allegra began crying, that woke up Lilliana who my wife had almost gotten to sleep, and she began crying.  The collapsing feeling got company.  Shame.  


So here's the picture.  On the outside I've got two kids crying.  One kid has to brush her teeth and put on PJs, the other is now awake and crying.  On the inside there is a kinda turmoil.  My thoughts recognize my problem.  In a flash an internal environment erupted.  My management of my internals failed and I projected them on my children.  This failed to remedy the situation and made it worse.  My mind is flashing memories of other times I've fallen into similar situations, and now I'm getting hit with shame: I teach people mindfulness for Pete's sake.  I am on the losing end of this situation and all this has happened in under a minute.


Knowing I was getting my butt kicked by my life in the moment, I did the first thing I could think of, I grabbed the blue whale shaped water bucket and began making a really big waterfall in the tub.  The weight of the water in my hand, the sound of the water splashing down into the tub shifted the moment.  Allegra stopped crying, curious of the sight and sound of falling water.  I focused on the feeling of the changing weight of the bucket as the heaviness disappeared as the water emptied.  I made my spine a little straighter, I took a deep breath.  As Allegra stopped crying so did Lilliana.  My focus on the present disrupted my internals, and I began taking steps back to neutral.  


After the girls went down I began the process of reassessing the situation.  I should have done this, and I should have done that.  But then I remembered.  I felt the blanket with my toes.  I felt the pillow with the back of my head.  I felt my breath.  I felt the movement of air up and down in my throat.  I recognized the draw of my energy to think, to analyze, but I choose to be grateful.  I started small, the blanket, the mattress, the pillow, then I got bigger more sophisticated I started languaging in my mind the way this chaos brought out the practice, and how the practice led me to gratitude.  Before I fell asleep I felt gratitude for the chaos.

February 13 Dealing with the Knots of Anger

This Monday Bea will facilitate.  

She shares:


This week I would like to share with you some thoughts about anger. Lately I have been experiencing a lot of anger and this is starting to wear me down. I have been angry at someone I consider a close friend because she does engage politically the way I want her to engage. She does not read the news, does not call her members of Congress, does not write letters to denounce what is happening, and does not seem bothered by what I am perceive to be a direct attack on our individual and collective rights. I have also been angry at some of my co-workers because they do not understand the challenging position I am in and make it worse by micromanaging me. I have felt anger towards my daughter because her grades are not where I think they should be, and at my new dentist because I have been having a toothache ever since she replaced a filling. I am also angry at Metro because my daily commute is a nightmare, prices keep going up and service gets worse. The list could go on and on. So you see? This is quite exhausting. I am tired of being angry and of justifying my anger by passing judgment on others. All I want to do is sleep and make the anger and the suffering that comes from it go away...


Thich Nhat Hanh talks about loosening the knots of anger through mindful practice. As I was perusing the Lion's Roar website, I came across an article on this very subject. Thay talks about transforming the pain within ourselves as a necessary step to find happiness. According to the Buddha's teachings, he writes, the most basic condition for happiness is freedom. Freedom from the mental formations of anger, despair, jealousy and delusion. These mental formations are described by the Buddha as poisons. As long as these poisons are in our heart, happiness cannot be possible.


Thay gives us concrete instructions on how to transform the craving, anger and confusion within us. He talks about Knots of Anger and says that,


"In our consciousness there are blocks of pain, anger and frustration called internal formations. They are also called knots because they tie us up and obstruct our freedom. When someone insults us or does something unkind to us, an internal formation is created in our consciousness. If you don't know how to undo the internal knot and transform it, the knot will stay there for a long time. And the next time someone says something or does something to you of the same nature, that internal formation will grow stronger. As knots or blocks of pain in us, our internal formations have the power to push us, to dictate our behavior.


After a while, it becomes very difficult for us to transform, to undo the knots, and we cannot ease the constriction of this crystallized formation. The Sanskrit word for internal formation is samyojana. It means "to crystallize." Every one of us has internal formations that we need to take care of. With the practice of meditation, we can undo these knots and experience transformation and healing. Not all internal formations are unpleasant. There are also pleasant internal formations, but they can still make us suffer. When you taste, hear or see something pleasant, then that pleasure can become a strong internal knot. When the object of your pleasure disappears, you miss it and you begin searching for it.

Pleasant or unpleasant, both kinds of knots take away our liberty. That is why we should guard our body and our mind very carefully, to prevent these knots from taking root in us."


Thay says that we need to treat anger with tenderness...


"Mindfulness does not fight anger or despair. Mindfulness is there in order to recognize. To be mindful of something is to recognize that something is there in the present moment. Mindfulness is the capacity of being aware of what is going on in the present moment. "Breathing in, I know that anger has manifested in me; breathing out, I smile towards my anger." This is not an act of suppression or of fighting. It is an act of recognizing. Once we recognize our anger, we embrace it with a lot of awareness, a lot of tenderness.


When it is cold in your room, you turn on the heater, and the heater begins to send out waves of hot air. The cold air doesn't have to leave the room for the room to become warm. The cold air is embraced by the hot air and becomes warm-there's no fighting at all between them.


We practice taking care of our anger in the same way. Mindfulness recognizes anger, is aware of its presence, accepts and allows it to be there. Mindfulness is like a big brother who does not suppress his younger brother's suffering. He simply says, "Dear brother, I'm here for you." You take your younger brother in your arms and you comfort him. This is exactly our practice.


To grow the tree of enlightenment, we must make good use of our afflictions, our suffering. Practitioners of meditation do not discriminate against or reject their internal formations. We do not transform ourselves into a battle field, good fighting evil. We treat our afflictions, our anger, our jealousy with a lot of tenderness. When anger comes up in us, we should begin to practice mindful breathing right away: "Breathing in, I know that anger is in me. Breathing out, I am taking good care of my anger." We behave exactly like a mother: "Breathing in, I know that my child is crying. Breathing out, I will take good care of my child." This is the practice of compassion.


If you don't know how to treat yourself with compassion, how can you treat another person with compassion? When anger arises, continue to practice mindful breathing and mindful walking to generate the energy of mindfulness. Continue to embrace tenderly the energy of anger within you. Anger may continue to be there for sometime, but you are safe, because the Buddha is in you, helping you to take good care of your anger. The energy of mindfulness is the energy of the Buddha. When you practice mindful breathing, and embrace your anger, you are under the protection of the Buddha. There is no doubt about it: The Buddha is embracing you and your anger with a lot of compassion.


When you are angry, when you feel despair, you practice mindful breathing, mindful walking, to generate the energy of mindfulness. This energy allows you to recognize and embrace your painful feelings. And if your mindfulness is not strong enough, you ask a brother or a sister in the practice to sit close to you, to breathe with you, to walk with you in order to support you with his or her mindfulness energy. Practicing mindfulness does not mean that you have to do everything on your own. You can practice with the support of your friends. They can generate enough mindfulness energy to help you take care of your strong emotions."


See you Monday evening.

February 6 Deep Listening to Ourselves and Others: The Practice of Apologizing

This week Marie will facilitate.  She shares:


Recently I've been noticing my apologies: when do I apologize (and to whom), how do I apologize and what is the impact (on me and on the other person).   I've realized that I offer different types of apologies, depending on what I've done - and - more importantly - on how I'm feeling.  I found a whole continuum of apologies - from the defensive (which is not really an apology), to the superficial to the heartfelt.  Sometimes, my apology brought relief, whereas in others, it seemed to exacerbate the suffering.  What caused the difference?


Deep listening plays a critical role.  "Non defensive listening to the hurt party is at the heart of offering a sincere apology" writes Dr Harriet Lerner, in her book Why Won't You Apologize".  She urges the listener not to interrupt, argue, refute or correct facts or bring up your own criticisms and complaints.   Even when the offended party is largely at fault, she suggests apologizing for one's own part in the incident, however small it may be.


"I'm sorry" are the two most healing words in the English language.  Apologies are central to health, both physical and emotional.  The courage to apologize wisely and well is not just a gift to the injured person, who can then feel soothed and released from obsessive recriminations, bitterness and corrosive anger.  It's also a gift to one's own health, bestowing self respect, integrity and maturity - an ability to take a clear-eyed look at how our behavior affects others and to assume responsibility for acting at another person's expense."  


I hope you can join us on Monday night, when we will discuss our practice with apologies.  Whether or not you are able to join us, I invite you to reflect on your practice with apologies: when, how and to whom do you apologize?   Do you apologize to yourself as well as to others?  What kinds of apologies do you make and how do you feel afterwards?  What is it that enables you to apologize in healing ways?  


With a warm bow,


January 30 Listening to our Elders

Camille facilitates:

In practicing mindfulness, one of the most helpful practices for me is deep listening - to myself and to others without judgement and with understanding. But one of the most helpful practices can also be one of the most difficult.


This week I would like to share how this can be particularly challenging for me with our elderly.  I often wonder whether I am deeply listening with understanding and compassion to a parent or older friend.  Or do I think if they disagree with me - it's only because they are old and aren't as knowledgeable about what is happening today.  Aren't I just judging them and not really valuing them for their contributions?  


In "The Art of Communicating" by Thich Nhat Hanh, he reminds us of the importance of communication and that we all want to be heard and understood.  He says:


"We communicate to be understood and to understand others.  If we're talking and no one is listening we're not communicating effectively.  There are two keys to effective and true communication.  The first is deep listening.  The second is loving speech.  Deep listening and loving speech are the best instruments I know for establishing and restoring communication with others and relieving suffering.


We all want to be understood.  When we interact with another person, particularly if we haven't practiced mindfulness of our own suffering and listened well to our own selves, we're anxious for others to understand us right away.  We want to begin by expressing ourselves.  But talking first like that doesn't usually work.  Deep listening needs to come first.  Practicing mindfulness of suffering - recognizing and embracing the suffering in oneself and in the other person - will give rise to the understanding necessary for good communication.


When we listen to someone with the intention of helping that person suffer less, this is deep listening.  When we listen with compassion, we don't get caught in judgment.  A judgment may form but we don't hold on to it.  Deep listening has the power to help us create a moment of joy, a moment of happiness, and to help us handle a painful emotion."


I look forward to sharing your ideas on being with elderly parents, grandparents, friends, and neighbors (or even being the elder in your community) and being with them more compassionately.  See you Monday.

January 23 Excerpts from Thich Nhat Hanh's Books

This Monday Bea will facilitate.

She shares:


As I sat down to write this, it occurred to me that Monday evening would officially be the first meditation sangha that we have under this new Administration. By the time we sit down and meditate together, the Women's March on Washington will also be in the past. Over the last six weeks, I have pondered over the question of how to practice spirituality in these turbulent times. Although my struggle for a meaningful answer is not over, I found some comfort and purpose in a few of Thich Nhat Hanh's book. Here are some excerpts that I want to share with you:


Excerpt - 1

Work - How to Find Joy and Meaning in Each Hour of the Day

"A Collective Awakening" pg. 104


"Regardless of what work we do, part of our work is to help bring about a collective healing transformation and awakening for our own well-being and for the sake of our planet. The insight of interbeing can help in this, but we need a collective awakening. Every one of us has to work to produce this collective awakening. If you are a journalist, you can do this as a journalist. If you are a teacher, you can do this as a teacher. Without the awakening, nothing will change. Awakening and awareness are the foundation of all change. Each of us has to sit down and look deeply to see what we can be, what we can do today to relieve the suffering around us, to help reduce stress, and to bring about more joy and happiness. We can do this by ourselves, or with a group of people, with our colleagues or with our family. There is so much suffering in the world but, at the same time, there is also the potential for so much joy. By living your life with awareness, protecting your own work of art, you can contribute to the work of collective awakening."


Excerpt - 2  

Silence: The Power of Quiet in a World Full of Noise

"Individual Consciousness" pg. 36 - 38.


"When we direct our attention to certain elements of our consciousness, we're "consuming" them. As with our meals, what we consume from our consciousness may be wholesome and healthy, or it may be toxic. For example, when we are having a cruel and angry thought, and we replay it over and over again in our mind, we are consuming toxic consciousness."


"Every one of us has the capacity to love, to forgive, to understand and to be compassionate. If you know how to cultivate these elements within your consciousness, your consciousness can nourish you with this healthy kind of food that makes you feel wonderful and benefits everyone around you. At the same time, in everyone's consciousness, there is also the capacity for obsession, worry, despair, loneliness and self-pity. If you consume sensory food in a way that nourishes these negative elements in your consciousness-if you read tabloids, play violent electronic games, spend time online envying what others have done, or engage in a mean-spirited conversation-the anger, despair or jealousy becomes a stronger energy in your consciousness. You are cultivating the kind of food in your mind that isn't healthy for you...you can choose to cultivate things in your consciousness that will nourish you rather than the toxic things that will poison you and make you suffer... We can do a lot of damage to ourselves and to our relationships when we don't pay attention to what we are taking into ourselves and cultivating in our minds."


The 3rd and final excerpt is also from the book,

Silence: The Power of Quiet in a World Full of Noise

"Collective Consciousness" pg. 39-41.


"In addition to our individual consciousness, we also take in the collective consciousness. Just as the Internet is made up of many individual sites, collective consciousness is made up of individual consciousness. And each individual consciousness contains elements of the collective consciousness... Like individual consciousness, collective consciousness can also be healing-for example, when you are with loving friends or family, or with strangers in a situation of mutual appreciation such as listening to music, seeing art, or being in nature. When we surround ourselves with people who are committed to understanding and loving, we're nourished by their presence and our own seeds of understanding and love are watered."


"It's much easier to achieve and appreciate quiet when you have a supportive environment. If you can't bring yourself into a quieter, more peaceful physical environment, surround yourself as much as you can with people who help foster a collective energy of calm and compassion. Consciously choosing what and who you surround yourself with is among the keys to finding more space for joy."


See you Monday evening.



January 15 Taking Refuge

refuge photo.jpg

This Monday Alison will facilitate.

She shares:

On Monday night, we will focus on the following excerpt called "Taking Refuge" from Thich Nhat Hanh's book Happiness:


"When we find ourselves in dangerous or difficult situations, or when we feel like we are losing ourselves, we can practice taking refuge.  Instead of panicking or giving ourselves up to despair, we can put our trust in the power of self-healing, self-understanding, and loving within us.  We call this the island within ourselves in which we can take refuge.  It is an island of peace, confidence, solidity, love, and freedom.  Be an island within yourself.  You don't have to look for it elsewhere.


We want to feel safe and protected.  We want to feel calm.  So when a situation seems to be turbulent, overwhelming, full of suffering, we have to practice taking refuge in the Buddha, the Buddha in ourselves.  Each of us has the seed of Buddhahood, the capacity for being calm, understanding, compassionate, and for taking refuge in the island of safety within us so we can maintain our humanness, our peace, our hope.  Practicing like this, we become an island of peace and compassion, and we may inspire others to do the same.


Use this gatha to return to yourself, wherever you are:


Breathing in, I go back to the island within myself.

There are beautiful trees within the island.

There are cool streams of water,

there are birds, sunshine, and fresh air.

Breathing out, I feel safe.


We are like a boat crossing the ocean.  If the boat encounters a storm and everyone panics, the boat will turn over.  If there is one person in the boat who can remain calm, that person can inspire other people to be calm.  Then there will be hope for the whole boatload.  Who is that person who can stay calm in the situation of distress?  Each of us is that person.  We count on each other."


Look forward to seeing everyone on Monday night.



January 9: Interrupting Injustice, Healing Harm

Dear Friends,


This week Kaira Jewel will facilitate.  We are delighted that she will be our teacher at our April 2017 retreat.  We hope you join us.  To register for our retreat please go here.


Kaira shares:


This Monday we will share stories of compassion that "interrupt injustice" and help "heal harm".

We will listen to true stories of how compassion, born from the deep understanding of interconnectedness, can transform hatred and violence at its root, so that it doesn't arise again.  Gathering stories from war time, from the Civil Rights movement, from ordinary people armed just with compassion in the face of white supremacy.  We will explore ways that we can see the good in every person, no matter how horribly they are acting.  We will also look at what helps people filled with hatred and discrimination to connect to their humanity and love again.

In our sharing time, we will reflect on our own experiences of forgiveness, transformation, reconciliation, and healing.

Quote from Shambhala Prophecy:


With that wisdom you know that it is not a battle between "good guys" and "bad guys," because the line between good and evil runs through the landscape of every human heart. 




From The Complete Works of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow


"If we could read the secret history of our enemies, we should find in each man's life sorrow and suffering enough to disarm all hostility."

January 2

Dear friends


This week Annie will facilitate.  We will talk about how mindfulness can help is set intentions for the new year. 


As we know, our thoughts and feelings usually lead to actions, so being mindful and having clarity about what our deepest intentions are will help us act and speak in the ways we most deeply want to. 


I heard Thich Nhật Hanh say that we meditate in order to heal and transform. How can our thinking inspire more healing and transformation in 2017?


We can start to think about our intentions in the following categories using the technique that social psychologist and author Kelly McGonigal of The Willpower Instinct suggests.


McGoinigal says that to get to our deepest intentions, we ask ourselves: How would I like to feel about:

  • My body- health, vitality
  • My environment (possessions, home, etc)- what Thich Nhật Hanh calls our "cows"
  • My relationships- partners, family, friends, sangha
  • My relationship with myself - how well do I understand myself? 

Once we have a sense of our deepest intentions, we can find ways to support staying awake to what we really want. Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project says that we have a tendency to respond to expectations (or New Years resolutions) in one of four ways:

  1. Upholders -- these are the people who have no trouble keeping resolutions and always do what they are "supposed" to so. They may be exhausted but they are relentless. 
  2. Questioners -- they will do something only if it makes rational sense, they've done their research on the resolution and it's benefits 
  3. Rebels -- these people resist all expectations and resolutions because they don't like to be told what to do. 
  4. Obligers-- they respond to outside pressure and will do something because others want them to, ignoring their own feelings about it 

In which category do you normally find yourself?  Knowing how we usually operate will help us know what supports to put in place to make it more likely for us to make progress on our intentions. 


Upholders can learn to question their deeper motives more, questioners can practice acceptance, rebels can try to act out of love, and obligers can build in external accountability to support their transformation. 


Kelly McGonigal says that willpower is "the ability to do what you want to do when part of you really doesn't want to do it." Another way I've heard this said is, "Discipline is remembering what you want." To me this is also the definition of mindfulness, and the antithesis of addiction, where we do things we know will cause us (and others ) to suffer because some part of us is craving a transient moment of sensual pleasure. What McGonigal calls willpower is really what I would call staying in presence, in that state which knows what we really want for ourselves and for the world.


So what do you really want to feel? For me, I want to feel a sense of belonging and ease. And knowing I have questioning and rebel tendencies I try to remind myself of the benefits the world will experience if I keep practicing, and also keep tapping into the love that I have for myself and others, underneath all that rebellious energy. 


This Monday, we will enjoy a guided meditation on finding our deepest intentions, and after the meditation period,  we will have a chance to discuss and share how we would like to heal and transform in 2017 and what practices will best support us. I hope to see you there!