February 19 Four Immesurables


This Monday, Mick will facilitate.  He shares:


The Four Immeasurables


May all beings enjoy happiness and the roots of happiness

May all beings be free from suffering and the roots of suffering

May they never be separated from the great joy, devoid of suffering

May they dwell in equanimity free from passion, aggression and prejudice


This past week we had Valentine's Day, The Olympics, Chinese New Year/New Moon and another tragic school shooting.  In other words, as a whole we have experienced the wide range of emotions around love, renewal and inward looking and great sadness, suffering and more.  Our mettle in being present with all of this, without getting pulled from our center, has been greatly tested. 


How do we continue on amidst the 10,000 joys and sorrows of life.  This past week I received an article from a friend on Thich Nhat Hanh's teaching on The Four Qualities of Love.  These qualities are also know as the Four Brahma Viharas, or Four Divine Abodes.  The qualities are Loving Kindness, Compassion, Sympathetic Joy and Equanimity.  They are know in Buddhism as the Four Immeasurables.


These four are called the Four Immeasurables because they are directed to an immeasurable number of sentient beings, and because the wholesome karma produced through practicing them is immeasurable. The four are also called the sublime states of mind because they are like the extraordinary states of mind of the gods.  More on the practice here


Now more than ever we need to breathe through these challenging times present in us and around us.  We breathe to settle the mind and body. We breathe to reconnect with ourselves.  We breathe to connect with the wider web of suffering and joy through practicing compassion, love, sympathetic joy and equanimity.  


When we connect through the Four Immeasurables we are reminded that we are not separate entities, but connected parts of the vast web of life.  Our experience of compassion, the wish for another to be free of suffering, reminds us of our interconnectedness or interbeing. We feel the pain of the families in Florida, we feel love towards our family, we feel joy for accomplishments of those close to us, or for an Olympian whose story of resilience and success touches our heart. 


Amidst all of the words and teaches let me boil it down to this.  We struggle, we thrive, we experience joy, love sadness and suffering, often in one day.  It comes back to the ever present question, how do we be with it all?

We are part of a wider web, remember?  One way to be with it all is to remember, and connect with the fact that just as I suffer, so do millions of others in the same way.  We all experience the wide range of joys and sorrows in the midst of our unique lives.  So, then what?  We cultivate our connectedness by returning to and connecting first with our body and our breath, then with our smaller circles of support.  In these places and spaces we receive support and are reminded of our interbeing.  We are not alone.  We have our mindfulness practice to come home to, and we have this sangha and the the other sanghas in our life of family and friends. 


All of this is very nice food for thought, food for the mind.  Because real felt experience is greater than intellectual knowing, this week after our walking meditation we will engage in a meditation in which we will explore and experience Compassion, Loving Kindness, Sympathetic Joy and Equanimity.


I look forward to our time together.



February 12 To Loves Means to Be There

This week, Annie will facilitate. 


After our meditation period, we will watch a segment of a video dharma talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh (Thay) at Google Headquarters in 2011. In this segment, Thay speaks about the gift of attention, the foundation of mindfulness practice. He says:


"To love means to be there for your beloved one. And to be there, for me, is not a good intention, a desire --  it is a practice. In order to be there, you need to breathe in mindfully and bring your mind home to your body. Or you might like or practice walking meditation."


I have lately been reading the writings of French activist and mystic, Simone Weil. About attention, she says:


“Attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity."


One of my beloved poets, Mary Oliver, says in her book Our World:


"Attention without feeling, I began to learn, is only a report. An openness — an empathy — was necessary if the attention was to matter." 


After we take in the video of Thay, we will have time to share our reflections on how, why, and when we pay attention. What blocks or distracts our attention? What brings us back to the moment?


I look forward to seeing you then.


with love,


February 5 Meditation is about Resting Completely


This Monday, Marie will facilitate.  She shares:


When you meditate, to what extent are you resting?  It can be all too easy for me to have "meditation" as an item on my to-do list and then bring an element of effort on to the cushion.  I am meditating, but am I resting?


In his book No Self, No Problem, Anam Thubten writes that: 


"Meditation is about resting completely.  Not just physically resting, but resting completely. Compete rest includes letting go of all forms of mental effort.  Mind is always busy doing something.  Mind has a very huge job to do.  It has to sustain the universe.  It has to sustain existence, because if our mind collapses, then there is no universe....  There is nothing there when the mind stopes maintaining this virtual reality. There is no universe. It's like riding a bicycle.  When you ride a bicycle, you have to constantly keep pedaling.  If you pause, the bicycle doesn't run on its own; it just falls over.  In the same way, as long as we don't create this imaginary world, it just collapses.  Whatever you call it, samsara, reality or illusion, it collapses.  It collapses because there is no one there working constantly to perpetuate it.   


Because of this, the mind feels like it has a big responsibility: to constantly construct and perpetuate this world of illusions.  So, to rest means to pause, to pause from working very hard, to pause from continuously constructing this world of illusions, the dualistic world, the world that is based on the separation between self and other you and me, good and bad.


When you completely take away the ego mind, the creator of this illusory world, then realization is already there and truth is automatically realized. Therefore, the heart of Buddhist meditation practice is to relax and to rest.


We think we know how to rest.  However, when we meditate, we discover that the mind has a tendency to work constantly, to exert effort and to attempt to gain control over reality.  Mind is not peaceful or relaxed.  We find different layers of mind's effort.  This is quite amazing to notice when we sit.  At first we think: "Oh - my mind is completely serene and peaceful".  But if we keep paying attention to our consciousness, we see that there is a very subtle effort.  This is the mind exerting effort, trying to have control over reality.  Maybe mind is seeking enlightenment.  Maybe mind is trying to transcend ego.  Or, we might think: "I don't like what I am experiencing right now.  There is pain in my joints".  Maybe mind is trying to....whatever... finish the meditation session.


Mind is always making up stories.  Therefore, the idea of resting completely involves letting go of all of this.  Let go of all the thought.  Let go of all the mind's effort and completely be in that natural state of your mind, the truth, the "what is" and then realization is already there."


I find it refreshing, in fact liberating, when I remember and practice these words.  On Monday, we will have an opportunity to practice in this way together and to share our experience.  After our first sitting and walking meditation, we will have a guided meditation.  I hope you can join us.




January 29 The 5 Mindfulness Trainings



This Monday, Camille will facilitate.  She shares:


Welcome to Monday evening with the Opening Heart Mindfulness Community.  This evening we will read the Five Mindfulness Trainings together.  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, that can lead to healing, transformation, and happiness for ourselves and the world.  These trainings are not commandments or dogma, but are guidelines or suggestions to help support our mindfulness practice as a compass to orient our lives.  All spiritual traditions have their equivalent to the Five Mindfulness Trainings.


To read all Five Mindfulness Trainings, please visit our sangha's website.


This evening I would like to focus on the fourth training, Loving Speech and Deep Listening.  A few months ago I facilitated with you and focused on "Truthfulness and Loving Speech".  So this evening I would like to share some thoughts and words about Deep Listening.  Thich Nhat Hanh talks about deep listening and loving speech as a way to "restore communication and reconcile".  When I shared last time about the practice of loving speech and truthfulness - I didn't share that I hadn't truly come to terms with deep listening which is the first step to true communication.   I'm pretty sure I can speak lovingly and kindly - and express myself for others to understand me - but I know from personal experience that deep listening has to come first.  I am often hearing others but not always listening with compassion and non-judgement.


My lack of ability to listen deeply sometimes seems to come from fear.  I am afraid if I listen to a loved one or a friend too deeply that I will have to solve a problem, or give advice, or agree when I don't really want to agree.  I guess in some way I have not "transformed my inner suffering, hatred or fear" as Thay offers.  It really does prevent me from understanding others, and making peace with them and therefore it becomes difficult to sustain more meaningful relationships.


This paragraph from Thay's book "Happiness" struck a chord with me:


"You have to practice breathing mindfully in and out so that compassion always stays with you.  You listen without giving advice or passing judgment.  You can say to the other person, "I am listening to him because I want to relieve his suffering."  This is called compassionate listening.  You have to listen in such a way that compassion remains with you the whole time you are listening.  That is the art.  If halfway through listening, irritation or anger comes up, then you cannot continue to listen. You have to practice in such a way that every time the energy of irritation and anger comes up, you can breathe in and out mindfully and continue to hold compassion in you.  It is with compassion that you can listen to another."  No matter what the other person says, even if there is a lot of  strong information and injustice in his ways of seeing things, even if he condemns or blames you, continue to sit very quietly breathing in and out."  I guess this is the secret of making peace with others and the world - offering them an opportunity to be heard.


It would be wonderful to hear from you on Monday evening - and also a wonderful opportunity to practice our ability to offer deep listening to one another.


Please enjoy this poem "Deep Listening"  by Mary-Elizabeth Cotton:


Let us listen....


            Just for awhile

            let us silence our minds

            and open our hearts


            Just for awhile

            let us listen from within




            not to gain knowledge

            not to formulate questions



Look forward to seeing you soon,  with love, Camille

January 22 - Practice Saying Yes


This Monday, Mick will facilitate- January 8 he was planning to share this topic but we canceled due to weather. 

 He shares:


Last month I had the good fortune of participating in a 5 day retreat. One of the main themes and teachings of the retreat was to say YES. Say yes to whatever arose along the continuum of joy and ease to frustration and resistance.


This whole idea of saying yes makes for a worthy retreat theme. In essence we were being asked to say YES to sleeping in a different bed, and eating food we might not like. Of course this practice went deeper into bringing mindful awareness to the fluctuations of mind and body as we sat, and walked, and ate in silence.


Before we can say yes or no to anything there must be observation and awareness. This is the practice and the path. Dharma/Meditation teacher Larry Yang writes about this in his book Awakening Together:


The path of spiritual practice is often called purification of the heart.  We don't have a choice about what we purify--rather, what needs purifying shows up in our lives. The question is whether we can be mindful enough to be present to it. 


In essence, saying yes is about meeting our experiences and our mind with awareness and with an intention to be with, rather than to fix or change. 


Larry Yang adds:


If we see our suffering clearly it will change and transform. When we do not see suffering clearly, it continues to feed itself.


In the retreat setting one has the time and space to wrestle, dance, and see clearly into suffering.  With a daily practice we have that chance as well.  We have the chance to recognize and meet suffering with gentleness and kindness.


This meeting is really the act of letting go, the act of saying yes when we can, as best we can. 


  Reflecting on saying yes, suffering and letting go--

  What do you want to say yes to?

  How do you relate to suffering on and off the cushion?

  What is your experience of letting go and grasping?


I look forward to our time together.



January 15 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day: Are We Using the Skillful Means He Taught Us?


This Monday, on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Annie will facilitate.


We will begin with this quote from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.


"So, if you're seeking to develop a just society, they say, the important thing is to get there, and the means are really unimportant; any means will do so long as they get you there? they may be violent, they may be untruthful means; they may even be unjust means to a just end. There have been those who have argued this throughout history. But we will never have peace in the world until men everywhere recognize that ends are not cut off from means, because the means represent the ideal in the making, and the end in process, and ultimately you can't reach good ends through evil means, because the means represent the seed and the end represents the tree." -- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., from 1967 A Christmas Sermon on Peace


Many of us may feel we want to join with Dr. King and his spiritual ancestors to take a stand against the injustices we are seeing the in the world today. If you're like me, you may wonder, Am I using the kind of means that he spoke about?


There is a surprising Buddhist text on Skillful Means - the Upaya Kausalya Sutra - in which the Buddha, in one of his past lives, this one as a sea captain, was transporting 500 merchants. He discovers (in a dream) that one of the passengers is actually a robber, intent on killing all the rest and stealing their goods. The Buddha sea captain knows that if he does nothing many people die and the robber will suffer terrible karmic consequences. But, if if he tells the other merchants, they will kill the robber and they will suffer the karmic consequences. So "with great compassion and skill in means" he kills the robber. He himself takes the karmic consequences of the murder, but in the sutra it suggests that, although the killing brought about negative consequences for the Buddha, it was less so because the captain's actions were done with sincere compassionate intentions. (Description of this sutra can be found in Peter Harvey's book, An Introduction to Buddhist Ethics.)


Apart from the unlikely idea that one robber could kill 500 merchants, or that we should kill someone as a result of our dream images (this would not be a good practice for me), this sutra challenges our thinking about means and ends and how to determine whether our actions are beneficial. Will our actions lead to more awareness and more loving kindness, in the long run?


Clearly the means we use matter, but how can we learn whether we are practicing the kind of skillful means that Dr. King spoke about, and how can we gain confidence in making wise choices about how to act?  What helps me most of all is listening to some of our greatest spiritual teachers. But doing so, I can begin to understand and approximate skillful means for myself. 


Here is some wisdom on skillful means:


"With mindful walking, our steps are no longer a means to arrive at an end. When we walk to the kitchen to serve our meal, we don't need to think, 'I have to walk to the kitchen to get the food.' With mindfulness, we can say, 'I am enjoying walking to the kitchen,' and each step is an end in itself. There is no distinction between means and ends. There is no way to happiness, happiness is the way. There is no way to enlightenment, enlightenment is the way."  Thich Nhat Hanh from Reconciliation: Healing the Inner Child


"To me, all the work I do is built on a foundation of loving-kindness. Love illuminates matters. And when I write provocative social and cultural criticism that causes readers to stretch their minds, to think beyond set paradigms, I think of that work as love in action. While it may challenge, disturb and at times even frighten or enrage readers, love is always the place where I begin and end." -- bell hooks, interview with Thich Nhat Hanh


"So someone who carries a gun, such as a police officer or prison guard, can also be a bodhisattva. He or she may be very firm, but deep within there is the heart of a bodhisattva. Our task is to help prison guards and police officers, as well as prisoners and gang members, recognize and cultivate their bodhisattva nature." -- Thich Nhat Hanh, Peaceful Action, Open Heart: Lessons From the Lotus Sutra


"I think that this sense of meaning and purpose is really important in our lives, but I think at the same time there's a Zen perspective that's a little different. which is: you're wholeheartedly in this moment, mindfully practicing not necessarily moving at snails place, there's a kind of egolessness there. You don't need as well to have meaning and purpose in one way, but in the other way meaning and purpose is important because you come from a place where what you're doing is not selfishly oriented, but it's really about benefitting others." -- Roshi Joan Halifax, on Synchronicity 


“If I want to deprive you of your watch, I shall certainly have to fight for it; if I want to buy your watch, I shall have to pay for it; and if I want a gift, I shall have to plead for it; and, according to the means I employ, the watch is stolen property, my own property, or a donation. Thus we see three different results from three different means. Will you still say that the means do not matter?”  ― Mahatma Gandhi, Non-Violent Resistance


"Anger has within it wisdom, and that wisdom is clear seeing."  -- Roshi Joan Halifax, on Synchronicity 


How does skillful means manifest in your everyday life? Do you ever act out of the oft-heard quote, "the ends justify the means"? How are you skillful or unskillful in your own movement toward personal enlightenment? What about in your actions toward collective liberation? How do you know when you're acting skillfully?


When have you sacrificed your presence, loving-kindness, or self-care in pursuit of righteous goals? Do you feel that was the best choice?  What might you be willing to do in order for your candidate to win an election? Do your actions feel like skillful means?


On Monday, after our meditation period, we will read these quotes and ask ourselves some of these questions together. Your voice in our discussion is so valuable, I hope to see you there.


with love,


January 1 The Practice of Right Intention


This Monday, Anne will facilitate.  She shares:


"I have always been enchanted with New Year's resolutions. I like the potentiality of new beginnings, and adore setting intentions for myself (that unfortunately I usually don't follow through on).


This year I find myself thinking of the Noble Eightfold Path while thinking about what I want for 2018, specifically the practice of Right Intention (also known as Right Resolve, Right Thought, or Right Aspiration). In his commentary on the Noble Eightfold Path, Bhikku Bodhi outlines the purpose of Right Intention:


"The Buddha explains right intention as threefold: the intention of renunciation, the intention of good will, and the intention of harmlessness....[These] counteract the three wrong intentions of desire, ill will, and harmfulness....[O]ne who denies the moral efficacy of action and measures achievement in terms of gain and status will aspire to nothing but gain and status, using whatever means he can to acquire them. When such pursuits become widespread, the result is suffering, the tremendous suffering of individuals, social groups, and nations out to gain wealth, position, and power without regard for consequences. The cause for the endless competition, conflict, injustice, and oppression does not lie outside the mind. These are all just manifestations of intentions, outcroppings of thoughts driven by greed, by hatred, by delusion." 


As we set our intentions for the year, we must examine how they fit into this path.  Are our goals selfish or self-centered?  To what extent are we resolving to help others instead of ourselves?  How are we pledging to decrease suffering in the world this year rather than increasing our own pleasure at the expense of other?


Please note that this is a newcomers week.  If you are new to our community one of our facilitators will be there to answer any questions.

December 11 Selective Seed Watering


On Monday, Marie will facilitate, and she shares:


Last week, Mick chose a topic that resonated with many of us: the practice of coming home.  We had a lively discussion about what helps us to come home to our true nature, to be our "Buddha selves", and, conversely, what draws us away?  Several people shared their "habit energies" that draw them away from being their Buddha selves and described how, at this time of year, it can be even harder to practice.


This week, we will build on this discussion and ask ourselves the questions: 


How do we practice when practicing is hard and, specifically, what do we do?


Returning to one of the passages that Mick shared is helpful.  In The Pocket Thich Nhat Hanh, Thay describes the five "Skandhas", the elements that we are made of: 


Each one of us is sovereign over the territory of our own being and the five elements we are made of. These elements are form (body), feelings, mental formations, perceptions, and consciousness. Our practice is to look deeply into these five elements and to discover the true nature of our being...  


Each of these elements represents an opportunity to come home as well as an invitation to run away.  Depending on what is going on in one's life, we might perceive some elements as a touchstone and others, as a trigger.  Increasing our awareness of the elements and how we relate to them can be useful and can pave the way for what Thich Nhat Hanh refers to as "selective seed watering" (excerpt taken from Touching Peace).


According to Buddhist psychology, our consciousness is divided into two parts, like a house with two floors. On the ground floor there is a living room, and we call this "mind consciousness." Below the ground level, there is a basement, and we call this "store consciousness."  In the store consciousness, everything we have ever done, experienced, or perceived is stored in the form of a seed; our store consciousness holds all of our seeds - seeds of suffering, happiness, joy, sorrow, fear, anger, and hope.  When a seed manifests in our mind consciousness, it always returns to the storehouse stronger...


The quality of our life depends on the quality of the seeds in our store consciousness.  We may be in the habit of manifesting seeds of anger, sorrow, and fear in our mind consciousness; seeds of joy, happiness, and peace may not sprout up much.  To practice mindfulness means to recognize each seed as it comes up from the storehouse and to practice watering the most wholesome seeds whenever possible, to help them grow stronger.  During each moment that we are aware of something peaceful and beautiful, we water seeds of peace and beauty in us, and beautiful flowers bloom in our consciousness.  The length of time we water a seed determines the strength of that seed.  For example, if we stand in front of a tree, breathe consciously, and enjoy it for five minutes, seeds of happiness will be watered in us for five minutes, and those seeds will grow stronger.  During the same five minutes, other seeds, like fear and pain, will not be watered...  If we water our wholesome seeds carefully, we can trust that our store consciousness will do the work of healing.


The practice of selective seed watering has helped me enormously.  Yet, I can still find it difficult to do.  Why?  Because I have other priorities.  The challenge of creating space for that which nourishes us is an age old challenge and was a theme in our discussion last week.  For those looking for inspiration and ammunition, I invite you to read this article. 


I hope you will join us on Monday night.

December 4 Coming Home Practice


This Monday night Mick will facilitate.  He shares:


The practices taught by Thich Nhat Hanh are often referred to as "coming home" practices. The purpose of these practices is to guide us back to our true home that is always available in our body, breath and the present moment. During the holiday season, now more than ever, it can be quite a challenge to come back to our true home. We inter-are with the environment around us that floods the airwaves and the e-mail waves with the latest and greatest opportunities to consume. At this time of year we also inter-are with the prospects and pressures of the holidays which often hold everything from feelings of togetherness to loneliness, to joy and sorrow. The coming home practices are so deeply needed in December.


In returning many times each day to our body, breath, and the present moment, we clear a pathway to our true home, the home in which we can abide regardless of circumstance. Thay talks about doing just this in writing about the Five Skandhas in The Pocket Thich Nhat Hanh

(elements that we are made of):


Each one of us is sovereign over the territory of our own being and the five elements we are made of. These elements are form (body), feelings, mental formations, perceptions, and consciousness. Our practice is to look deeply into these five elements and to discover the true nature of our being. But when we've abandoned our territory, we're not responsible rulers. We haven't practiced and instead of taking care of our territory we've run away from it and allowed conflicts and disorder to arise. We need to cultivate the energy of mindfulness. This is what will give us the strength to come back to ourselves. 


The challenge for us all, and what Thay is talking about, is becoming a full time Buddha (Awakened One), that is, to fully live our practice. Looking deeply we know the way that we feel and relate to ourselves, others, and the world has a different quality depending on how often we are able to come home to the present moment to take care of our territory. This time of year the forces around us can be quite strong. They can trigger our habit energies.

In the section on Habit Energy from The Pocket Thich Nhat Hanh, Thay writes:

Our habit energies are often stronger than our volition. We need the energy of mindfulness to be present with our habit energies in order to stop the course of destruction. With mindfulness we have the capacity to recognize the habit energy every time it manifests. "Hello my little habit energy, I know you are there."


When we can cultivate the home in ourselves where we take care of our habit energies, the impact of our presence can be far reaching. We practice not only for ourselves but for countless others. In the section on Trust and Faith from his book Peaceful Action, Open Heart: Lessons from the Lotus Sutra, Thay reminds us that -


Our studies and practice are not only for our individual benefit but also benefit our family community, nation and the entire Earth. Our mistakes cause others to suffer, and our success in practice can benefit many others. This is why it is so important to practice the art of mindfulness, so that our emanation bodies offer only love and compassion and bring benefit, not harm to others. 


This Monday night we will have the opportunity to sit together, to breathe together and to share about what it is like to hold all that this time of year has to offer. As usual we will reflect on what helps and supports us to be a "full time Buddha", and also about what pulls us away from our true home.


I look forward to our time together.



November 27 Loving, Truthful Speech


This Monday night Camilla will facilitate.  She shares:


In my current Circle Yoga teacher training we have been studying yoga philosophy.  One of our readings has been Patanjali's yoga sutras - ancient Indian texts that are considered threads of wisdom that offer guidelines for living a meaningful and purposeful life.  One of the yoga sutras that really resonates with me is Satya, or truthfulness, not lying.  The practice of Satya (which is one of the yamas or restraints of yoga) - is to carefully choose our words so they do the least harm and most good.  I find this very much like "right speech" in Buddhism, where if we consider our words and actions without judgement, we can lead a more honest and truthful life.  This sounds simple enough - but I find it a challenge and struggle with this almost every day.


For me the biggest challenge with this practice is when I hear others use harmful or untruthful speech, it becomes very difficult for me to understand and forgive them, or to have compassion for them.  And then I, in turn, can easily criticize them and practice "wrong" speech and cause more suffering.  This is not my intention.  This is not practicing mindfulness.  But what do I do when someone tells me I don't know anything, or makes an intimidating comment, or is just having a bad day and takes it out on me?  Or if I hear something in the media that is untruthful - do I just blame the media and others with criticism and reproach?  This does not feel good and is surely causing more pain and suffering for me and others.  I have found guidance in Thich Nhat Hanh's book, "The Art of Communicating" which reminds me that "right speech" also referred to as "loving speech" can bring more joy and compassion to all.  Below are some excerpts from his book:


"We call loving speech "Right Speech" because we know that suffering is brought about by wrong speech.  Our speech can cause a lot of suffering with unkind, untruthful, or violent words.  Wrong speech is the kind of speech that lacks openness and does not have understanding, compassion, and reconciliation at its base."


"When we write a note or a letter, when we speak on the telephone, what we write or say should be Right Speech that conveys our insight, our understanding, and our compassion.  When we practice Right Speech, we feel wonderful in our bodies and our minds.  And the one who listens to us also feels wonderful.  It's possible for us to use Right Speech, the speech of compassion, tolerance, and forgiveness, several times a day.  It doesn't cost anything and it's very healing."


"Loving, truthful speech can bring a lot of joy and peace to people.  But producing loving speech takes practice because we aren't used to it.  When we hear so much speech that causes craving, insecurity, and anger, we get accustomed to speaking that way.  Truthful, loving speech is something we need to train ourselves in."


There are four elements of Right Speech and six mantras of Loving Speech that Thay talks about in his book that we might recite together on Monday evening.


I look forward to seeing you Monday night and sharing your thoughts on this or other topics that might be dear to your hearts.


With love, Camille


(please enjoy the poem below)


Words can travel thousands of miles.

May my words create mutual understanding and love,

May they be as beautiful as gems,

as lovely as flowers.


From "The Path of Emancipation" by Thich Nhat Hanh

November 20 Compassionate and Mindful Leadership


This Monday night Bea will facilitate.  She shares:


This week I would like to focus our discussion and sharing on the topic of compassionate and mindful leadership. We are surrounded by people who lead us. In our nation's capital, in our work places, in our communities, and perhaps even in our families. But how do they lead us and if we ourselves are leaders, do we lead mindfully and with compassion? And what does this even mean? If it not about the "bottom line" or putting "America First" then what is it about?


In an article published in 2014 in the British Guardian, Thay says: 

"If you know how to practice mindfulness you can generate peace and joy right here, right now. And you'll appreciate that and it will change you. In the beginning, you believe that if you cannot become number one, you cannot be happy, but if you practice mindfulness you will readily release that kind of idea. We need not fear that mindfulness might become only a means and not an end because in mindfulness the means and the end are the same thing. There is no way to happiness; happiness is the way."


He adds that, "If you consider mindfulness as a means of having a lot of money, then you have not touched its true purpose," he says. "It may look like the practice of mindfulness but inside there's no peace, no joy, no happiness produced. It's just an imitation. If you don't feel the energy of brotherhood, of sisterhood, radiating from your work, that is not mindfulness."


What triggered my choice in this week's topic is a half-day event that I attended on Friday at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce entitled, The Business of Kindness. It was co-organized by the Chamber of Commerce, together with the Born This Way Foundation (Lady Gaga) and the consulting firm Deloitte.


There is a lot of hype these days about businesses doing good, corporate social responsibility, and socially responsible businesses. There are also many wellness programs that integrate mindfulness and meditation in the workplaces. There is increasing evidence that companies that offer these kinds of programs have higher workers' retention rates and productivity. I remember when Thay came to speak at the World Bank, a few years ago. I thought it was brilliant that he addressed senior managers at the Bank, the very people who are in the business of eradicating poverty.  I can only hope it made a difference.


You can read the full Guardian article on Thay's approach to business and leadership here


And this is another good read that sheds light on Thay's thinking about compassionate leadership in the private sector and in the world.




November 13 I have arrived, I am home, and taking refuge


This Monday night Mick will facilitate.  He shares:

There is a Plum Village song that begins, 

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


The song continues about the beautiful trees and fresh air within the island. We all know that going to the island of self does not always entail meeting with scenic environs. The flip side of this song would include lyrics that say there are storms and rain clouds within the island. Whether or not our island is a place of beautiful trees, or rain clouds, the key thing to remember is that this island is always only an in breath, or a mindful step away. Thay's teachings are in great part about coming home to the island of self in the context of taking refuge in the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha. Again and again, Thay speaks of this revolutionary act of coming home in the midst of our loneliness and disconnect.  In a talk from December 13, 2012 Thay spoke on home and loneliness, Thay shared:


Loneliness is the ill being of our time. We feel very lonely, even if we are surrounded by many people. We are lonely together. There is a vacuum inside of us where we don't feel comfortable, so we try to fill it up so the loneliness will disappear. Technology provides us with a lot of ways to stay connected. We stay connected but we continue to feel lonely. We are busy the whole day trying to connect, but that does not help with loneliness. There is an illusion of connection. How can you connect with another person when you cannot connect with yourself? We walk but we don't know that we are walking. We are alive, but we don't know that we are alive. And that is happening almost all day long. So the act of sitting down is and act of revolution. When you sit down you collect yourself... You just sit down mindfully and breathe in. So the teaching of the Buddha of going home to the island of oneself is the way to heal our society and heal ourselves. The way out is in.


Coming home to the island of self is a revolutionary step and often a difficult journey. There are two parts to coming home to the island. The first step is coming back to the present moment to be with your body, your breathing, your walking, your drinking tea. Here we have arrived. "I have arrived, I am home". The next step (just in time for the holidays) is visiting this home, this island of self. As I mentioned before, our home on any given day could be a place of freshness or stormy weather. Coming home is the key and the fruit of our practice. In the scope of mindfulness practice it is imperative that we come back to the island of self, but not be an island unto ourselves.  In order to visit our home and be with all that lies within we need support. That support comes from taking refuge in The Buddha(Awakened One), Dharma (Teachings of love and understanding), and Sangha (Community that lives in harmony and awareness).


Mindfulness is not a tool that rids our mind of thoughts, worry, and sadness. It is a path. A path that entails coming home to be with all that life has to offer. 

This home, this island of self is a refuge, a refuge within the refuge of Buddha, Dharma, Sangha that Thich Nhat Hanh offers us as a road map for finding our way back home again (below is an excerpt from the Refuge Chant followed by an fuller explanation from the Plum Village website). 


This Monday, after our usual sitting and walking meditations, we will explore what refuge means in our own lives:


What does taking refuge in Buddha, Dharma, Sangha, mean to you?

What are your refuges?  

How do you find your way there?  

What supports you in this action? 


I hope you will join us in sharing your experiences, questions, and insights.

November 6 Learning to be Happy, Learning to Be Free


This week our friend Mitchell Ratner, the senior teacher at Stillwater Mindfulness Practice Center will facilitate. He says:

Dear Friends,

I have been captivated for two weeks by a Dharma talk on True Happiness that Thich Nhat Hanh (Thay) gave in 2005. He began by clarifying what he means by happiness:

Happiness is a practice. We should distinguish between happiness and excitement, and even joy. Many people in the West, especially in North America, think of excitement as happiness. They are thinking of something, or expecting something that they consider to be happiness, and, for them, that is already happiness. But when you are excited you are not really peaceful. True happiness should be based on peace, and in true happiness there is no longer any excitement.

Then he explained how we must train ourselves to be happy:

You have to cultivate happiness; you cannot buy it in the supermarket. It is like playing tennis: you cannot buy the joy of playing tennis in the supermarket. You can buy the ball and the racket, but you cannot buy the joy of playing. In order to experience the joy of tennis you have to learn, to train yourself to play. In the same way, you have to cultivate happiness.

Walking meditation is a wonderful way to train yourself to be happy. You are here, and you look in the distance and see a pine tree. You make the determination that while walking to the pine tree, you will enjoy every step, that every step will provide you with peace and happiness. Peace and happiness that have the power to nourish, to heal, to satisfy.

There are those of us who are capable of going from here to the pine tree in that way, enjoying every step we make. We are not disturbed by anything: not by the past, not by the future; not by projects, not by excitement. Not even by joy, because in joy there is still excitement and not enough peace. And if you are well-trained in walking meditation, with each step you can experience peace, happiness, and fulfillment. You are capable of truly touching the earth with each step. You see that being alive, being established fully in the present moment and taking one step and touching the wonders of life in that step can be a wonder, and you live that wonder every moment of walking. If you have the capacity to walk like that, you are walking in the Kingdom of God or in the Pure Land of the Buddha.

So you may challenge yourself: I will do walking meditation from here to the pine tree. I vow that I will succeed. If you are not free, your steps will not bring you happiness and peace. So cultivating happiness is also cultivating freedom. Freedom from what? Freedom from the things that upset you, that keep you from being peaceful, that prevent you from being fully present in the here and the now.

Later in the talk Thay linked this simple practice of in-the-moment happiness to the essential teaching of the Buddha:

If you ask the question, “What is the most special thing in Buddhism?” the answer is that it is the art of subduing your mind, of purifying your mind. Because Buddhism gives us the concrete teaching so that we can purify, subdue, and transform our mind. And once our mind is purified, subdued, and transformed, then happiness becomes possible. With a mind that still has a lot of confusion, anger, craving, and misunderstanding, there can be no love and no happiness for oneself and for the world. So the most important thing you should learn is the art of subduing and purifying your mind. If you have not got that, you have not got anything from Buddhism.

I look forward to being with the Opening Heart Mindfulness Community on Monday evening November 6th. We will begin with some guided sitting and walking meditation focused on experiencing true happiness. Then we will read the above paragraphs from Thay and share our experiences with the challenges and joys of happiness as a practice.

You are invited to join us.

Mitchell Ratner 

October 30 Nourishment and Healing

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his week Bea will facilitate. 


This week we are going to review together the Five Mindfulness Trainings, which are:

1.     Reverence for Life

2.     True Happiness

3.     True Love

4.     Loving Speech and Deep Listening

5.     Nourishment and Healing


I would like to focus our discussion on the 5th training 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 consume the Four Kinds of Nutriments, namely edible foods, sense impressions, volition, and consciousness. I am determined not to gamble, or to use alcohol, drugs, 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 contemplate interbeing and 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 the Earth. * * *


Like all the trainings, I think this one is so rich in meaning and insight. I gravitated toward this one today because over the past 6 to 7 months my desire for self-care has increased exponentially. I have always been conscious of what I eat and what I consume and ingest but since the beginning of this year, or maybe since November 8 of last year, I have had a strong urge to self-preserve and to stand up fiercely for my core values. It started with me, but the circle soon widened to encompass my immediate family, my friends and neighbors, my community, the city I live in, the country where I cast my vote and the planet I inhabit. I have no doubt that nourishing and healing starts with ourselves first and foremost, but right now I feel we live in a world where there is a lot of pain and suffering. Healing is needed everywhere and at all levels. 


I love how this training focuses on four types of nutrients: edible foods, sense impressions, volition, and consciousness. Nourishment is not just about "edible foods" and eating nutrient-rich foods. It is about the other types of nourishments we have for our hearts, minds and souls. It is what we expose ourselves to, the choices we make every day, who we spend time with, what we do for a living, the thoughts we entertain, and our own self-awareness. 


I remember taking a 9-month long online nutrition course several years ago with the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. One of the first things I learned in that course is that what nourishes us comes from many different sources besides food. One of the professors said, "Have you ever met a person who eats very healthy but is often ill? What about a person who eats very unhealthy but does not get sick that often?" That is when it kicked in for me. From a holistic perspective, the professor was trying to tell us something along the lines of this training. Food is very important, but so is what we ingest in terms of sense impressions, what we choose to focus our attention on, and our ability to stay awake, present and aware - of ourselves and of our surroundings. 


One of the things I have noticed about myself lately, since I have embarked on this self-care practice more intentionally, is that I do not like to spend time in loud places or be in the company of people who are edgy or "on" all the time. This is particularly hard at work where we must interact with all kinds of people and where disconnecting is not an option. This is where "volition" comes into play for me: what I choose to focus on, whether I take things personally or not, and how I choose to respond to situations and to people I would not necessarily spend time with outside of work. 


Every time I reread this training I uncover new insights and new ways of thinking about it. It is an all-encompassing teaching, applicable to many different settings and life situations. One of the sentences that stands out for me is this: I am determined not to try to cover up loneliness, anxiety, or other suffering by losing myself in consumption. I think this is so spot on. Why? Because it is tempting to escape our own suffering by staying busy or going shopping - they call it "retail therapy" in the U.S. - or binging on a TV series or, even worse, binging on the news! They are so negative and polarizing these days... This is probably why lately I have been super intent on self-care and on finding ways to stay grounded. I do not want to run away from my own suffering. I want to be kind to myself, be gentle with myself. And the strange thing is that when I commit to self-care, I am more able to be kind to others, to listen deeply, to be patient and to be present. 


What about you? How does this training apply to your life? How do you choose to interpret it?


See you on the cushion Monday evening.



October 23 Anger? What anger?

by Mayoumi Oda https://mayumioda.net/

by Mayoumi Oda https://mayumioda.net/

This week Annie will facilitate. 


I have been thinking a lot about the topic of anger and how to work with it without suppression.


This week, we will consider how we experience and work with our anger, starting with some words from an interview with the zen teacher Rev. Zenju Earthlyn Manuel (full text is part of the training "U Mad" at www.bpf.org)


Well, you know unfortunately Buddhism -- the dharma as Buddhism is new to our culture still, even though a lot of us have been practicing for many years it’s still not understood. So a lot of times the explanation for how to deal with anger comes a lot from the psychological realm or therapeutic processes and so it’s all tangled up in there now with the dharma. So often you might hear well just breathe through it, or don’t express it or take a walk and go to another room, and not to say these things are not good: they are hard to sustain. 


In a burst of deep emotion (and most of our anger and rage is very old and passed to us from many generation) when you think about it that way the breath is not gonna quite work. These are definitely good techniques/methods -- a lot of people don’t want to hear about anger or feel it because they feel it might make everyone uncomfortable or “disturb the peace” in the room. Again, not understanding what peace is and what anger is -- because we really can’t disturb peace. Just like oneness, peace is itself, too. And it exists and can be accessed and met in our lives through meditation and stillness as practices.


So, to blame a person for disturbing the peace or creating divisiveness because they are angry leads people to suppressing their anger and then going out and later on down the line imploding or exploding -- a lot of times people of color implode, I think, and that’s what we’re sick and ill and it’s hard to heal. There are so many incidents of rage throughout the day and we’ve gotten to the point where we can’t even count them, how many times we encounter them. So since it’s happening and is part of the oneness and part of the harmony and peace as well, that means we need to understand it. We must not understand it if we don’t think it’s a part of all of these things.


And so to take it out of the understanding or the psychology realm and to bring it back to the indigenous realm and the earth-practice -- which Buddhism is -- the teachings were discovered in the woods. And so to bring it back to the original essence is to see anger as fire, that’s the first element. Without the first element we wouldn't be here. We need the fire to mix with the water to make the earth. When we see anger as fire, and begin to understand what fire is and what we create with fire will create less of a, oh, don’t do that, and instead an understanding that anger is a part of everything. 


We burn things in it, we sacrifice a lot of things into it, we burn things in the fire, we cook with it, we do a lot of things with it. So, fire is light like the sun, so that if our anger has light that light in it makes the anger very illuminating -- if we understand fire. But if we don’t understand it and it’s just like a burning away. We’re always burning, our minds, the things we encounter in the world creates a lot of fire, especially now of course.


And we are in a very huge sacred time. I don’t really have to read anything to know that, and I don’t have to call on any other indigenous paths -- it’s obvious that right now things are really up in our faces and that’s how fire feels. A lot of time we want to cool off fast or run the other way, but I think we’re in a powerful time to really make the changes -- and we are, regardless of the other stuff that seems destructive -- because there’s also a destructive fire going while we’re having this rejuvenating fire… so both of them are going at the same time. Which ones do we put our effort in? Maybe we have some things to put in our fire. Not the fuel to destroy -- because that’s a fueling fire going on in the White House -- he’s throwing logs. What our fire has to be is a rejuvenating one -- that fire will last. 


The fire with the fuel will be gone as soon as the person who’s been fueling it is gone. As soon as that fire’s gone we want the fire we’ve been building to rejuvenate, to sustain life in the way that we want -- then we will know how to do that, we will tend and attend to it, to our anger, tend to it as our fire. I always say to people it’s our sacred fire, our sun, our illuminating thing to use to help us be fueled toward what is sustaining, not what is destroying. Some things do get destroyed, and then something new happens and it takes a long time. We may not get to experience it, but if there is a future for this planet the next generation will experience it. There are some things burning that we don’t want to burn away, but maybe something else is coming and we don’t know. It hurts to lose, to have lost.


Anyway, what I have been doing has been healing and maybe has been eye-opening and maybe hopefully beneficial to myself and others. But now its burning away some of those authenticities or where the passion is overpowering what else needs to come into my life. To see all that you have to be still. I’ve been afraid to tell people, “now is the time to be still.” It’s just like, “oh no!” but it’s not to be still and do nothing. It’s a time of stillness and I’ve actually put it in a post on Facebook and said right now is the time to be still and allow the stillness that is our nature. When you’re still you really feel yourself. Everything else -- we create that. The calmness will come if you sit still long enough, and who knows how long enough that is for you -- could be years, decades, 10 days. But if you allow the stillness and silence to meet you it will take you like you can ride on that into an action that is more profound than you ever could have imagined. 


That’s what I feel as we’re navigating this horrendous environment of hatred, I just got still. It’s not still doing nothing -- not doing everything. Not to negate things are being done, not to say that nothing is going to happen. But also to say that it’s the action coming from the stillness that’s already in you. You don’t have to be a Buddhist, really even meditate necessarily because it’s our nature, allowing it to rise up and then moving from there. Even in my life as I’ve been still, I’m noticing that I’ve been teaching here [makes a gesture of holding space between two hands] and actually there’s here [moves hands much further apart] and actually I’ve been freaked out by it because I feel like “oh, I don’t want to go way out there!” Maybe I’ve been out there all along but I haven’t really awakened to it…


And so in the stillness beginning to push our boundaries, to push Buddhism, whatever that is, push it out, do it differently. In Zen we face the wall when we sit. I thought the other day, “oh snap, it’s time for us to sit up away from the wall and look at each other and have that meditation.” What would it be like to go sit and you’re just looking into the eyes of the person across from you for 30 minutes? It’s time for us -- you see, that just came up out of the stillness. Now I could say, well that’s not Zen and go fall back. But no, that’s what came up out of the stillness: it’s time for us to look at each other and to give each other life force and to cry together, whatever, just feel the interrelationship as an experience, not as a concept or something in our hands because it’ snot in our hands. We were born, we came with it. To see what we came with by just looking at each other in a safe place, not out in the world but with your sangha, community. I think that’s what we’re really needing.


As part of our meditation period, we will do a short practice in pairs, then read together the above text by Rev. Zenju. After that, we will have time to share about our experiences with anger -- both what has come up that evening, but also what we are experiencing in our everyday lives. 


I hope to see you then.


much love,


October 16 Deep Listening


This Monday night Mick will facilitate.

Last week a number of sangha members went to a weekend retreat taught by Anam Thubten. Among his many teachings,

one in particular stood out. Of the thousands of practices encountered on the spiritual path, he highlighted one particular practice of self inquiry. This practice involves coming back to the present moment and checking in with yourself many times a day to ask "what is the state of my mind?". This is an inquiry that can only be examined through the practice of

deep listening.With deep listening we can take this self inquiry a step further and deeper to observe and attend to the mind, thoughts and emotions. Throughout the course of each day, from the moment we awaken, until the moment that we fall asleep, we are inundated with inner and outer chatter. The consumption of what we hear and what we listen too has a profound effect on the state of our minds. There are days when our minds are like a ship at sea being tossed about by the waves. Mindfulness practice, and specifically the practice of deep listening can help us to find stillness amidst the waves.

Thay (Thich Nhat Hanh) talks about engaging in deep or compassionate listening with the ones we love. In an interview with Oprah Winfrey he said:



Deep listening is the kind of listening that can help relieve the suffering of another person. You can call it compassionate listening. You listen with only one purpose: to help him or her to empty her heart. You don’t argue. If you do, she loses her chance. You just listen with compassion and help her to suffer less. One hour like that can bring transformation and healing.


The practice of deep listening is at the heart and the core of mindfulness practice. Thay teaches that your sitting practice is composed of, and generates mindfulness, concentration and insight. These three energies come about through learning to listen deeply to ourselves. Before we can be there to listen deeply to a loved one, we need to come home to ourselves and listen deeply. We can take the instructions for listening deeply to a loved one as instructions for ourselves. In a talk from 1991, Thay spoke again about deep listening and relieving suffering. 


We all know that if we love someone, if we truly want to make someone happy, the first thing we must cultivate is the art of listening, because listening is very healing. If we spend time listening to the pain of the person we love, he or she will be relieved. And listening without judging releases pain.

Practice listening with all our attention and open heartedness. We will sit and listen without any prejudice. We will sit and listen without judging or reacting. We will sit and listen in order to understand. We will sit and listen so attentively that we will be able to hear what the other person is saying and also what the other person is leaving unsaid. We know that, just by listening deeply, we alleviate a great deal of pain and suffering in the other person.’


Usually we are able to listen practice open hearted listening towards others more easily than towards ourselves. As we look into deep listening we can ask ourselves a few questions.

When and how do I listen to myself. Do I listen often? Without judging?  What do I do when I recognize the state of my mind?

When and how do I listen to the people in my life?  Do I listen often? Without judging? How do I respond or react when I listen to the people in my life.


I look forward to our sharing on deep listening this Monday night.


Below is a link with a 3 minute excerpt of Thay talking with Oprah about deep listening



October 9 The Sacredness of Everything


On Monday, Marie will facilitate.  She shares:


With tragedies unfolding across the world and across this country, I have been exploring practices that bring me peace, strength, and yes, dare I say it, joy.   In fact, experiencing peace and joy helps me to generate more strength and resilience.  But, how can we do this, in a world that is so full of suffering?   


In his book, Embracing Each Moment, Anam Thubten writes about "the sacredness of everything."  


"Sacredness is not as a belief system, it is a timeless truth.  It is always there, just like the clouds in the sky.  Just like the trees growing in the mountains, sacredness is always there.  It is part of existence.  The consequence of losing our connection with this truth can sometimes by quite dangerous.  And when we lose this understanding, we develop a mechanical relationship with the world, within as well as without.  We develop a mechanical relationship with ourselves and also with the outer world, the world of nature, and with humanity as a whole."


How can we feel this sacredness?  We can pause and step free of our machine-like mind.  "The moment you allow yourself to become completely aware of what you are doing, there is a pause in your consciousness.  In that pause, your conditioned mind is no longer operating there is a restudies, and if you allow yourself to be in that restedness, then you may feel this sacredness everywhere; the awareness of this sacredness becomes the true medicine."


As I've experimented with this teaching, I've discovered something I'll call an "invitation" to connecting with sacredness.  The invitations vary, depending the stimulus around me.  I might notice the colors of a dahlia in bloom as I walk to the car and then stop to drink in the beauty of that vision (instead of hurrying to the car).  Or, it could be listening to a child and realizing that, despite their words, what they really want is a cuddle (instead of a reaction to their words).  The more aware I am, the more invitations I see.  The more invitations I see (and accept), the more aware I am of the sacredness of everything.  And then, what really helps me is to seek out the invitations.  I might have read the newspaper, feel devastated and react with the mechanical mindset that Thubten describes.  However, if I seek out an invitation, I can reconnect with that sacredness and strengthen my connection with the world, inside and out. 


What "invitations" move you to connect with the sacredness that is always there?  I hope you will share these with us on Monday night.  Please feel free to bring something, if the "invitation" is tangible. 

October 2 Mindfulness and Nature


This Monday Miles will facilitate.  


He shares this text written by Thay, and published in his book Love Letters to the Earth (2013). It is part of the practice of "Touching the Earth". 


"Touching the Earth" is the name Thay has given to the practice of combining a contemplative text with a deep, mindful, full-body prostration on the ground.


Touching the Earth is part of the daily mindfulness practice in Plum Village and in practice centers around the world, and is usually done after a session of sitting meditation. One person is a bell master, another person reads the text out loud, and the whole community touches the earth (makes a full body prostration) at the same time after having heard the text being read. We allow the words to fall gently like rain, and slowly penetrate our consciousness, where they can bring about insight, deep healing and transformation. 


Thay wrote: 

"Dear Mother Earth, EACH MORNING WHEN I WAKE UP you offer me twenty-four brand new hours to cherish and enjoy your beauty. Every miraculous life-form-the clear lake, the green pine, the pink cloud, the snow-capped mountaintop, the fragrant forest, the white crane, the golden deer, and the extraordinary caterpillar-each one has been born from you. So too has every brilliant mathematician, every skilled artisan, and gifted architect. And looking deeply I can see that it is you who are the greatest mathematician, you the most accomplished artisan, and you the most talented architect of all. A simple branch of cherry blossoms, the shell of a snail, or the wing of a bat-each bear witness to this amazing truth. It is my deep wish, dear Mother, to live in such a way that I am awake to each of your wonders, and nourished by your beauty. I cherish your precious creativity, and I smile to this gift of life."

Our Washington, DC, metro area has recently been enjoying beautiful fall weather. Later this month, many of the trees' leaves will burst forth in a hectic explosion of color. Walking outdoors in a park or some other natural setting is a wonderful way to awaken and bear witness to the beauty and brilliance of nature. (If we are not mindful of our natural surroundings, such as being glued to our "smart" phone, the positive effect is diminished.) Tuning in to nature's rhythms is to tune in to our own rhythms since we too are natural phenomena, and nature's rhythms often differ from those of our modern civilization. Thus returning to nature is to return to ourselves and will encourage our protecting it.  

On Monday we will explore how is being present in nature a meditation? How can we awaken to each of nature's wonders and nourish ourselves and others by her beauty?  What inspiring--not necessarily dramatic--experiences have we had in nature?

If you enjoy this practice, you may like to download the full PDF set of 10 Texts of Touching the Earth to Mother Earth.


This Monday, Oct 2nd is a Newcomers week.