Doing the Milarepa Dance

I just finished reading Lordro Rinzler’s new book, The Buddha Walks into a Bar: A Guide to Life for a New Generation.

And it worked! Here’s how.

I sat down to meditate this morning. I lit the incense. I rang the rin gong. But I wasn’t settled. I had a restless sleep. My mind wouldn’t quiet. Issues were churning.

So. Sitting on my cushion at 7 this morning.

I found myself looking around the room at all the books I’ve collected over the years. In the search for? In the search for. Clarity.

Some of the books:

The Kindness HandbookStart Where You ArePracticing Peace in Times of WarClassics of PhilosophyRuling Your WorldSmile at FearHow to Practice: The Way to a Meaningful LifeThe Courage to Feel

Oh. My. Goodness.

It’s not just me! Look! Look at all these books. Everyone is searching.

Ping. Clarity hit me.

Everyone is trying to figure “it” out. And if “they” are not trying to figure “it” out, then they’ve made themselves so busy, or sedated to understand the need.

The need to understand that we are all basically good. The need to understand that what is messing with our inherent goodness is that many of us are so confused.

And so. This morning. Two things from my cushion.

One. Get over yourself Anne! Let it go!

And two.

The Buddha Walks into a Bar is an excellent book that teaches and expounds upon much of what I have been searching for. It offers tremendous tools and insights on how to find clarity and practice compassion.

Rinzler says in the introduction:

You don’t have to change you. You are great. This book is just about how to live your life to the fullest.

I’ll offer what I know, but the rest is up to you. It is you who has to go out and live your life with mindfulness and compassion. You already know this. After all, true wisdom comes from within you. What this book provides is a series of tools to access that wisdom. We’ll get into simple practices, advice, and teaching that can help you align yourself with your personal moral compass, the dignity of your own heart.

So if you want to be more in the “now,” read this book. If you want to change the world, read this book. If you want to be a meditator and still enjoy a good drink read this book.

I am more confident than ever, that we can change the world. This little book will help. If you read it.

Planting Seeds

Sparkle

This morning I’m sitting by my pond in the hot March sun (LOL!) listening to the waterfall and the birds. Watching the Koi gliding and swirling, together in a pack and then off on their separate errands. Sparkle the biggest (she’s a bit like a parade float compared to the others) leading the way.

I’m reading and writing. Thinking, this is nice. This is a perfect morning.

And then I started thinking, who am I? Who am I to be sitting here enjoying sitting here. Shouldn’t I be struggling and striving and worrying. Shouldn’t I be earning my space on this earth. Why do I deserve to be sitting here, on a Wednesday morning happy as a lark?

Further, who am I to be blogging? To be writing? Who am I?

Well.

Here’s the thing. Here’s my daily meditation.

May I be happy. May I be healthy. May I be safe. May I live with ease.

Wow! Ok. I’m sitting here this morning thinking. Shoot. If that meditation isn’t working after all.

And then I continue with the meditation to include my family. And then my friends And then my not friends.

Until finally.

May all beings be happy. May all beings be healthy. May all beings be safe. May all beings live with ease.

Saying this daily meditation. Writing this blog. Is like planting seeds. So many are skeptical, “I’m afraid that won’t work.” “I’m afraid they won’t come up.”

Sitting by my pond this morning, happy, healthy, safe, with ease. It’s working. Just as I knew it would.

Training the Heart Muscle

Have you ever thought about meditating but didn’t know where to start? Maybe you’ve given it a try? You’ve sat on a cushion breathing in and breathing out, trying to be all empty minded and what not.  And there it goes, there goes your mind wander, wander, wander. No fun – no apparent results.  Been there. Done that.

So. Since it’s just about Valentine’s Day, why don’t we learn a simple, powerful, heart meditation. The practice of  Tonglen is a traditional Buddhist meditation practice designed to help us connect with the openness and softness of our hearts.

We train for so many things in our lives, many of us belong to gyms and lift weights and run miles, and speak two languages and know how to use a spread sheet. But by golly, when it comes to knowing our heart? To using our heart to make good? We’re weak.

We need to train our heart muscle. And I believe (with all my heart) that if you can train, and open your heart, you can change the world.

And for everyone who has read this far and is still wondering, no this post is not about lacing up your running shoes and doing some cardio! Although, some of my best meditations do come on my runs 🙂

Here’s the caveat. I’m hoping to introduce the practice of Tonglen so that you might be curious enough to explore further. While I’ve been practicing for a bunch of years now, there are a lot of awesome resources to explore that can much better explain, and elucidate the nuances that make this method so profound.

And so. Here’s what it is. Tonglen.  You breath in the bad. Breath out the good. You breath in pain, and discomfort, and suffering, you breath out the good stuff, ease and pleasure and happiness. That’s as simple as I can put it. And I know. It sounds counterintuitive. Who wants to breath in pain? Don’t we want to avoid it? How can I possibly take in pain and not get hurt?

This is where it gets tricky to explain. But the best I can say, is have courage, and trust yourself and the compassion that will grow in your heart.

The way I understand it – is say you’re in a bad mood. Chances are you’re going to spread that nasty mood around. And nasty is infectious. You’ll probably manage to make some other people not feel so great. In your heart of hearts, you know that you really don’t want to do that. But how do you learn not to. How do you train yourself to not spread the nasty?

Breath it in. By breathing it in, you open your heart. You feel “it.” And I know that sounds bad, but it’s not. I’ve been doing it for a few years now. Leap of faith give it a try. Instead of making you feel worse, it allows you to feel your pain, sadness, anger, suffering, and to bring yourself compassion. And then you breath out that relief, that goodness. Instead of spreading pain, you are spreading relief, or pleasure, or ease.

I hope that makes a little sense.

So the way to begin. Is by sitting and settling for a bit. Feel yourself sitting. First you’re a snow globe that has been turned upside down. When the snow settles you can begin. Breath in the ick. Feel the dark hot, dirty smoke. Breath out the cool fresh air. Maybe your feeling the anguish of a terrible loss. Breath that in. Breath out the relief of compassion that you give yourself. And so on. And so on. Maybe fifteen minutes. Or just as much as you need. That is the practice of Tonglen, training to open and soften your heart.

And so. Thanks for reading to the end today. I’m going to admit. This took some courage for me to write. I am so moved by this practice that I would like to offer it to everyone I know. And yet – I understand, maybe it seems a little out there. And I also appreciate, that in the scheme of things I am only a beginner, and to dare to teach? But, in my heart of hearts, I know it can rock your world, so I offer it today, the best I can.