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.


May all be at ease and free from suffering.


maintain your sanity…

let go enso orange


It doesn’t really work to let go of things in the abstract. Letting go takes place in the chaos of life, knee-deep in the mud, when we feel like we are drowning, with that all too familiar, desperate feeling to cling, to find some security.

So we practice letting go in meditation. Grounded, balanced in our breathing. Thought after thought, feeling after feeling, we let go. They arise, we recognize them and let go. They fall away. We do this thousands of times.
It never stops. No real extraordinary effort. We just show up, we stop, we allow space, and we let go.

It’s an act of bravery, it’s an act of generosity, it’s an act of peace.

We still have goals, we still work to benefit, to reduce harm, to end suffering. But we do so, with an openness and non-attachment to the results. It is an act of trust, trusting that the seeds planted – seeds of love, seeds of empathy, seeds of compassion, seeds of justice, seeds of equality, seeds of peace – will come to fruition in their time, when the appropriate conditions arise to support and nurture them.

This will be how we maintain sanity, in this time. Show up, act with love, let go, and get to work again, and again.


sharing the practice…

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.