In The Wisdom of No Escape, there's a chapter where Pema Chodron talks about three useful qualities for life and for meditation: precision, gentleness, and letting go. I've been consciously living with the nine principles of Breema lately, and I've noticed how precision, gentleness, and letting go are a useful way to greet any practice, old or new. For example, one of the Breema principles is "No Judgment." When you begin to study and practice "No Judgment", the first thing you notice is how much judgment is in your mind already. "No Judgment" brings your attention first to the judgment that's there. Which means, you begin to identify judgment as judgment. That's precision. You may notice as a new student of something, you like to be very precise. So every time you see your mind judging, you say to yourself, "Damn it, I'm judging again! Why am I so judgmental? I need to stop judging so much." And you feel the assault on yourself beginning to happen. This is the moment when gentleness can enter in. You have an opportunity to practice gentleness, or to continue the assault. Gentleness gives you the opportunity to take a different attitude toward yourself, even as you see, with precision, what is going on. Gentleness encourages you to just see, without extra attacks or criticism or labeling. In other words, no need to judge your judgment. Be gentle with yourself as you begin to see clearly. Just see what is, with no extra. Letting go is the final practice, and it is the result of practicing both precision and gentleness. Letting go is not something to achieve or do, but is a natural unfolding of both precision and gentleness practiced together. When you play with these qualities of precision and gentleness, dance with them back and forth, and then gradually see that they are both happening all at once, there is a feeling of letting go. Neither precision nor gentleness has to "win". There is no final state to achieve. There is no superior way to be. Letting go is a sensation of relief. That it's not all such a big deal. That we definitely need to practice, but part of the practice is also to let it all go. Letting go is not a "Forget about trying, I'll just give up" kind of feeling, but rather a smiling recognition that no one needs to win or lose, not even the more or less enlightened parts of your own mind. It's a kind of relaxation into the present, a return to what is, and a feeling that our attached thoughts are not who we are. A knowing that our true essence is something much lighter, and also more timeless than any thought or practice.
"One day you finally knew what you had to do, and began" - Mary Oliver, "The Journey"Today is that day for me. Maybe it was the flyer announcing my talk at Stanford Medical School in a few weeks (finally making it feel real...and making me feel proud of the creative thinking I've been doing on this subject). Maybe it was seeing the pile of STUFF in my house, moved out of the Cradle of Manifestation, prompting me to revisit what's really taking up the space in my drawers and closets. Maybe it was the invitation to have dinner this Friday with a couple of doctors who have transitioned out of medicine themselves (making me feel one step closer to finding My People). Maybe it was finally telling the truth out loud to myself and to a compassionate witness about what I feel in my heart (and experiencing the expansion that came with it). Maybe it was all of the above. Whatever it was, I finally know what I need to do, even though I have no idea how it's going to play out or if anyone will even care. But I know enough to trust this particular feeling of knowing. It's not a rational linear mind kind of knowing. It's a whole body energy clearing kind of knowing. And I can't wait to share the news with you!
So what IS new? Continue reading
It's been just over a year now since I stepped with clarity into the next phase of my life by leaving a business I came to California to create, back in 2004. I've told the story so many times that it may seem like "old news" to some of you, but for me, that one decision was a *huge* step. It cleared the way for so much magic that has emerged - through effort and spontaneous creativity, guided by intention and enabled by practice - over the past year. Last week I went through the embodied steps of letting go - moving all the physical items out of the Cradle of Manifestation after acknowledging that a 1,800-square-foot facility no longer matched the life I am creating. In the process, I've come face-to-face with so many of my deeply held beliefs and default patterns. I believed that being a "responsible" person - a piece of my identity I held tightly as a symbol of my worthiness to occupy space on this planet - meant putting other people's needs ahead of my own, no matter what the cost. In my work, this was expressed as taking full responsibility for all outcomes associated with the people I was involved with - which translated into poor delegation, inability to trust other people's skills and ways of doing things, and the result of preferring to do everything on my own, so it would be perfect. Ultimately, I experienced exhaustion and burnout as the destination on this path. After I crossed the hurdle of actually setting a boundary, saying "no more" to my own business (which, at the time, was the only path I felt drawn to), and risking the disappointment of other people (which, at the time, was my greatest and most paralyzing fear), the same belief expressed itself as a firm resolve in my mind to continue paying rent on my office space simply because I had signed a lease, and that was that. An agreement was an agreement, with no room for discussion. I was a person who kept my word. But living by those old rules under the new circumstance of starting a business from scratch in a new industry translated to prioritizing my landlords' needs over my own, which I did for an entire year. I dutifully and silently wrote each check and made sure it arrived before the first of every month. For an entire year. I was silently proving to myself my own worth as a "responsible" person (daughter, girl), but in fact I was not honoring myself or my fledgling business fully. Continue reading
You can be both organized and cluttered at the same time. Have you ever thought about that? A friend sent me a link to an article discussing the difference between organization and uncluttering. It arrived in my life at a time when I was open to receiving an "aha" moment. Even though I have found a place to store and/or organize many items in my home, I have noticed that so many of these items are ones I don't need or love anymore. At one time, they held an important place in my life. At one time, they were useful to me. At one time, they were needed on a regular basis. But how about now? I have undergone three major career changes in my life, and have lived in five different cities over the past twelve years. I have had an underlying assumption that my life "should" be constantly expanding in size. An unexamined belief that progress and growth means accumulation of things. I have full closets that I haven't touched in several years. And while my mind and body and spirit are trying to move in a new direction, the weight of these untouched contents is becoming palpable. Continue reading
What's your theme for the new year?I've never been a New Year's Resolution person, but every year on December 31, I take time to reflect on the previous year and write down what I remember. I focus on things like what I learned, how I grew, and the events that were most meaningful for me. This past year was a particularly abundant year of growth and change for me. Last December 31, I finally felt clear and took the step of writing a letter to the thirty families in my violin school, announcing to them that within two weeks, the school would come to an end. While I had no idea what would unfold as a result of that action, I was absolutely clear about my intention of letting go in order to move into the next phase of my life and accept whatever it would bring me. It was an act of trust. My self-proclaimed commitment, or theme, for 2010, was to live from my Core of Peace. To experience life, perhaps for the first time, from a new, unfamiliar place called Peace. Continue reading
For most of the years of my adult life, the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas has felt like a race. "A race to where?" you might ask. Great question! Instead of racing through your list of "to do"s, try something new this holiday. Try adding some restorative practices to your days, and checking in with yourself to ensure that you are sharing and giving your best self to the people you care most about. Don't know what restores you? Well, here's a great place to start: STOP. Yes, that's right. STOP doing for even one whole minute each day. For those of us who thrive on the thrill of accomplishment, fitting in, doing more, working harder, and making things look good, this might be as big of a challenge as anything you've put on your "to do" list. That's why you need to do it now. STOP. Just sit still with yourself for ONE ENTIRE MINUTE each day, and watch what happens. Feel everything that comes up. Feel your resistance. Feel your annoyance. Feel your jitters. Feel your desire to be anywhere but right here, right now. Give yourself this gift every day during the month of December, and you'll be on your way to being able to give to others what they truly desire - your full presence and peace with yourself. Want more inspiration and instructions on how to create restorative practices and restore sanity to your holiday season? Enroll in my online course starting December 13th. Register here>>
Do you find yourself waiting?Waiting to act, waiting for the right time, waiting for the perfect conditions, waiting for a reason, waiting for more money, waiting for someone else to finish, before you begin? The difference between creativity and productivity is the energy behind our actions. Our society has conditioned us to be driven by measures of productivity. This means we have been conditioned to run our lives based on what to do next. We wrack our brains making "to do" lists, we pack our schedules full of "things to do", we commute, we rush, we move constantly in our effort to achieve more productivity. What we have not been taught - and what is not valued as publicly - is how to act from the energy of creativity. I have learned from my own deep practice that the energy of creativity is openness, space, and peace. The act of creativity is allowing. All of that may sound way too passive to you, if you, like me, are a product of this culture we live in. Continue reading
- gain a basic understanding of the use of sound in meditation,
- experience how making sound can clear and quiet the mind,
- explore the application of healing sounds in creating balance and harmony in your daily life.
Class format:The first 30 minutes of each class will be spent discussing the seed syllable and the philosophy as described by Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche. We will then move into a 15-20 minute sounding practice, and conclude with a 15 minute guided reflection/journaling time where you can consider the application of this practice in your daily life. There will be emphasis on the practice of sound healing in removing blocks and barriers in the mind, deepening your access to the positive qualities already within you, and uncovering your innate creativity and wisdom.
Background:This series is based on the teachings of Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche, author of "Tibetan Sound Healing" (available on Amazon, includes CD). It is highly recommended, but not required, that you read Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche's book before and/or during this series. The workshop will be led by Dr. Lisa Chu. Read more about Dr. Lisa Chu here.
Details:When: Tuesdays at 7:00pm -8:15pm November 2, 9, & 16, 2010 Where: The Cradle of Manifestation, 2483 Old Middlefield Way, Suite 150, Mountain View, CA 94043 Fees: $75 for 3-class series, $30 for single class For more information: (650) 325-2194 or contact me by email
The creative space is one of NO mind.This morning, as I was driving to the grocery store, there were these thoughts running through my head: "What if I could just relax into ACCEPTANCE of myself, exactly as I am right now?" "What if I could treat myself as if right now, exactly as everything is, it IS all exactly as it should be?" I was trying to examine my recent thought patterns which were centered around "concern" for a variety of things in my life: was I spending enough time doing the right things, was I doing enough yoga, was I eating enough fruit and vegetables, was I working hard enough on the right things for my business, was I spending too much time on "non-productive" activities.... The list went on and on, and nothing seemed to be "clicking" or "flowing" during the past few weeks until the rare moments when I just let go and did the ONE thing right in front of me. This morning, I was thinking about the feeling and energy around doing JUST THIS, RIGHT NOW. What is it about that thought which creates flow? It's certainly not a state of heightened anxiety and pushing and grasping. It's not an energy of worrying. It's exactly the opposite. It's LETTING GO of all the worrying and relaxing the mind completely. Continue reading
How many times have you witnessed the sun setting? Now that I live near the California coast, that number has gone from "zero" to "so many times I've lost count". I never get tired of it, even though it's usually so cold at the ocean that I'm not completely relaxed as I'm watching. I'm usually huddled under blankets, or in a car, woefully underdressed for the plummeting temperatures. Last night, though, we were blessed with "Indian summer" weather and a warm enough evening at the coast that we didn't even need to wear our jackets. I had nowhere to be, nothing to do, except to behold the sun folding in, the waves ever-present in their rolling motion against the smooth sandy beach, and the earth turning away from the sun's reach, notch by notch. I managed to catch the very last 52 seconds of the sunset on video. Watching the playback, I saw a perfect soundtrack and image to accompany this affirmation (which I am practicing to replace one of my habitual thoughts, "There will never be enough."):
"I am complete, as I am, in this very moment."Saying this out loud, or even reading it silently to yourself for the duration of the video, can be a powerful practice in shifting energy and attention. Notice the rhythm of the waves, and the silent power of the sun as it gradually disappears below the horizon. Enjoy...