Who will you be in 2017?

Street art on N. 7th street in Williamsburg.  Artist unknown.  

Street art on N. 7th street in Williamsburg.  Artist unknown.  

"Becoming" gets a bad rap in Buddhist Meditation circles- but I always remember Thanissaro Bhikkhu's reminder that we hold onto and cultivate the wholesome parts of this "self" while we are navigating the path.  We can't just wake up one day and decide we're done- it's a process- one that is gradual, gentle, and clear about what is moving us towards unconditional happiness and greater ease.  The first step in that is moving away from the obvious things that drag us down, that cause harm to our self and others.  

So when I say "Who will you be in 2017" it's an invitation to really ask the question.  We all have the seeds within us for the full spectrum of experience. From anger and greed to great  happiness and joy.  Sadness, despair, grief along with tenderness, elation and the emptiness of potential. Which seeds do you intend to water?  Which to you intend to weed out when they sprout?

Being a kind person, a generous person, a person who practices meditation regularly- all these things will lead to openness and ease in the body/mind system.  This ease can be encouraged to expand- to spread out into all areas of our lives if we put the effort in.  Is it easy?  No.  The human condition is one of grasping and avoiding.  When we come into contact with something unpleasant the natural tendency it to try to get away from it.  But if our intention is to meet life with kindness, to "be a kind person"- how might that change the response?  Even if by a few degrees.  

One of the benefits of doing what you love

I got a little love letter in my inbox today.  It's beyond satisfying to hear that you've helped someone connect deeply with their lived experience.

 

Excerpted from Nina Zilka's article : M N D F L 

Read teh full story here: The ANY Magazine


ENTER THE OASIS 

Even though MNDFL is directly off a busy NYC street, the minute you enter the space, you feel a sense of calm emanate. Impeccably designed by interior design firm HomePolish, light gently hits the wood floors and grey and white cushioned couches, where students and practitioners are encouraged to spend time drinking tea, reading any of the various meditation books on offer, and speaking with other meditators about their experiences. The most decorative parts of the space are the living walls: lush, sculptural pieces of natural art. It's noticeably quite, which Burrows later explained is due to the sound blocking white-washed exposed brick walls. 

As soon as I removed my coat and shoes, the class was ushered from the lounge area to the meditation room, when we all sat on our assigned cushion, with optional meditation back supports (my new favorite accessory), and/or blankets, as we so desired. Kathy Cherry, our MNDFL Breath guide, introduced herself, and explained that she would be guiding us through our session, checking in every three minutes or so throughout the practice. She warned us that as first timers, 45 minutes might feel a little long, which caused me some unwarranted trepidation. 

LEARNING TO TUNE IN 

As I began to focus on my breath, I realized that having Cherry there to guide me was incredibly helpful. Knowing that there was someone else there to keep track of time allowed the control freak in me to take a backseat and focus on my breath. Additionally, knowing that Cherry was checking in every three minutes helped my wandering mind to get back on track. Her words were very instructive. She explained, as we breathed, that it's normal for our minds to wander. It's natural, the same way our lungs inhale and exhale breath, and we can't expect the brain to do anything else. Therefore, meditation is a series of stops and restarts, where we get into a meditative state, and then may come back down to our thoughts. We simply need to begin focusing on our breath again. This allowed me to stop placing judgment on my process, which is never helpful.

As I breathed more deeply, I stopped feeling like a part of my own body. My hands felt like they were throbbing, and soon the tingling had reached the tip of my head, until I no longer felt a part of my body. I felt myself become lost pleasurably in space, and my brain felt outside of myself, part of a larger world.

After what felt like mere minutes, Cherry guided us back to ourselves. I felt a deep feeling of trepidation, like being shuddered back into my body. I didn't want to come back. But then, as I regained sense of myself in my body, I felt that deep sense of calm that I've always heard about enviously. I felt energized and ready for the day ahead. 

I checked in with David post class, and he felt parallel. We both had felt nervous when Cherry had made her "newbie" warning, and agreed that it had been unnecessary; it had felt like five minutes past. I hesitate to use the word blissful- there's something so inherently uncool about feeling that happy- but we truly felt blissed out.

 

 

The Door doesn't have it in for you.

This is a talk I gave back in 2012 at DharmaPunx NYC.  If you've ever been to a class at the Bowery location you know about the door.  To say that the front door at 302 Bowery sticks is an understatement. Not only does it stick but the buzzer that indicates that you should start trying to open the door is very faint and doesn't stand a chance agains the clamor and chaos of cars, trucks, taxi cabs and pedestrians. For years I dreaded the door.  I think I probably became the cushion set up person JUST to get a set of keys to that door.