maintain sanity…

I began meditating nearly a decade ago.  Similar to now, my meditation practice was mindfulness of breath as taught by the Vietnamese Zen Buddhist Master Thich Nhat Hanh.  Soon after I had started my meditation practice, I had a very valuable friendship fall apart.  At the time, it was quite devastating.  Looking back, it was a pivotal growth moment in my practice.  I didn’t know a lot about meditation or Buddhism at the time, but I did know that the only way I was going to get through that period of time, those moments, was to find a way to BE with what was happening in a balanced way – to not run away from it, but to also not live out the storyline of what was happening over and over again, replaying it in my mind. To hold that person and friendship in love with no ill feelings, but also to completely let them go.

Just sitting with my breathing at times was too painful and overwhelming, so taking the lead from Thich Nhat Hanh who uses “gathas” or verses, I wrote one for myself to use with my breathing.
The verse was:

(breathing in – saying silently in my mind)
May I have the capacity of heart to hold the entire world and all of life
(breathing out – saying silently in my mind)
And the wisdom of mind to let go

I would sit with this verse and for quite some time it was my only practice.  I would sit for 10 mins, 20 mins or a half hour, breathing in and out, repeating this verse.  I would picture the friend, as I thought the first part while breathing in, and then picture them fading off into the horizon as I thought the second half while breathing out.  I wasn’t immediately relieved, but within time, I grew more and more at ease, the burden was lifted and I felt some peace.

Though the anchor of my practice is still simply sitting and breathing, at times when life feels overwhelming, I will come back to this verse and use it.  I have in recent years changed the “I” to “we” understanding that we are all in this together, sharing in suffering, sharing in joy, interdependent as a community.

We seem to be living in a time that is quite chaotic and can feel overwhelming.  I would like to offer this verse to you for practice.  If it’s too wordy, a simple version could be:

(breathing in – saying silently in your mind)
May I hold all of life in love
(breathing out – saying silently in your mind)
And in love, let it go

My gut says we are in for a long haul, my friends.  We need sane people doing good work to counter that which is harmful.  We need bearers of light and healers in love.  We need bodhisattvas. Even as the world spins around you, hold to center, maintain your balance, maintain your sanity.

Breathe.

May all be at ease and free from suffering.

~j
11.30.17

practice gratitude…

Compassion Meme
aware that the history behind “Thanksgiving” is really not something to be thankful for, especially for the indigenous American community, I instead like to call this day “Gratitude Day”…which is worthy of celebration, and available everyday.

there is so much to be grateful for.
I am grateful for family and friends both near and far.

I am grateful for my practice, the stillness within the chaos.

I am grateful for nature, so humble and present just by Being, pointing us to the inherent beauty of all things.

I am grateful for empathy and compassion, which break down walls and borders, both from the outside and from within our own making.

I am even grateful for the darkness, which provokes and challenges our light from within to come forth.

may it come forth.

may the gift of gratitude, the practice of gratitude, expand our ever opening hearts to a world in need. may we journey forward in that love, together.

grateful for you all. may you be happy, may you have peace, may you be free from suffering.

~j
11.23.17

 

9/11 16th Anniversary…


this is a #repost from last year. these thoughts seem even more pressing a year later and with our current political situation. the only thought i’d revise is in regards to calling out untruth. i’d say emphatically that we MUST call it out AND then not just stay there, but be the vehicles of change and healing we need.~j

09.11.17
“15 years ago the soul of this country received a shocking wound. the sky faded dark under ash, confusion and fear. the rug pulled out from under us. and in such a horrific moment we rose. the best of people rose to the surface wading through tears and differences.

it was a shift and an opportunity to stay with the rawness, the tenderness we felt, the feelings that inspired and motivated a sense of connection and community.
but we have forgotten, as we often do, save for special anniversaries set aside to remember. each of those, a chance to start fresh yet again…only to forget again. “never forget, never again” is fine and well, but let’s really mean it and make it so through our own hearts, words and actions. that’s where the work is that needs to be done, that’s where the real change will begin.
there seems to be more fear and anxiety today and it is stoked by those who would seek gain from this suffering. this has only led to further division.

as we have seen, just naming it or calling it untruth and getting into a battle of words simply leads to more suffering and seems to evoke little or no change. 

it is time for a shift. we, each of us, needs to answer the call to heal. using our words, our actions, our very lives to bring benefit to a world thirsty for an end to such suffering. we need to be healers, to be bodhisattvas, shining a light on the alternatives to fear and anxiety, to anger and hate, to division, cynicism, conspiracy and demagoguery, aggression and violence.
this is a journey of heart and mind, so these are what we need to work with.
let’s get to work. ~j

09.11.16″
#Sept11th #September11th #16thAnniversary #shift #healers #bodhisattvas #community #sangha #interdependence #light #life #MedicineBuddha #meditation #JMWart

act…


we sit, we practice. we practice with our breath, with our thoughts, with all that is in our hearts. allowing all of it to rise and fall, to arrive and pass away. in doing so, we open our hearts, we develop compassion for our own self and our own situation.but what good would it do, to end the journey there? compassion, once developed, naturally extends if we remain open. 

the cushion is a great place to start, but not to stay. 

go out into the world and offer your compassion through your words and actions.
~j