In 2008, I began a regular meditation practice after reading the book Calming The Fearful Mind: A Zen Response To Terrorism by Thich Nhat Hanh. It wasn’t that my mind was especially fearful, no more than any other person I suppose, but fear seemed and still seems to be very present in the world. And along with fear, all the other emotions that we either try to avoid, react from, or attach to. I wanted to learn to work with my mind and heart – with all of what is there, the fear, the anger, the sadness, the joy, the attachment. Although the willingness to be with what is – even if uncomfortable – is a courageous act, it also feels like a necessary act. something needed to help foster and maintain a sane balance in a beautiful world that can sometimes seem the opposite.At the beginning of 2016, with so much fear, anger, and negativity, I made a personal vow to work towards that which is healing. Part of this vow was to more fully invest in my meditation practice, devote my art and writing towards this aspiration, and to seek the path of being a teacher of meditation. An opportunity arose with a teacher I had long admired and followed, Susan Piver. Susan is from a lineage of Tibetan Buddhism, called Shambhala, which I deeply admire and respect. Though, to be clear, one does not have to be Buddhist to participate, practice, or teach meditation. The opportunity Susan was offering through her Open Heart Project, was unique and fit within where my life is presently. The practice of Shamatha (Sanskrit for “calm abiding”) has become my core daily practice and the practice I am now authorized to teach.
I cannot adequately express my gratitude or how amazing the past 9 weeks of training have been with Susan, and Jenna Hollenstein who co-taught. Their generosity of heart, the knowledge and wisdom imparted to us, and the gentleness of this practice transmitted to us has been a gift. I made friends from around the world that I will now be connected with and the practice I love and is a refuge has deepened. I am humbled, honored and grateful to share this with others. Bows of gratitude to both Susan and Jenna, along Michele Gare who was the magic behind the scenes at The Open Heart Project.