Archive for the ‘Pema Chodron’ Category

“So how do we celebrate impermanence, suffering, and egolessness in our everyday lives? When impermanence presents itself in our lives, we can recognize it as impermanence. We don’t have to look for opportunities to do this. When your pen runs out of ink in the middle of writing an important letter, recognize it as impermanence, part of the whole cycle of life. When someone’s born, recognize it as impermanence. When someone dies, recognize it as impermanence. When your car gets stolen, recognize it as impermanence. When you fall in love, recognize it as impermanence, and let that intensify the preciousness. When a relationship ends, recognize it as impermanence. There are countless examples of impermanence in our lives every day, from the moment we wake up until we fall asleep and even while we’re dreaming, all the time. This is a twenty-four hour a-day practice. Recognize impermanence as impermanence.”



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Tonight we do a rigorous Hatha practice…designed to strengthen HARA. Our hour of Hatha practice is followed by an hour of Raja yoga…walking meditation, pranayama and sitting meditation.

I sit blissfully on my cushion, momentarily thought-less; empty; following the instruction to “be nobody and do nothing,” Suddenly, there are tears streaming down my cheeks.

Two images of my father float to the surface. Yesterday when I arrived, his curtains were drawn. The television was on; he was slumped over in his wheelchair. I put my hand on his hand and it felt cold and waxy. When he didn’t respond, I had the momentary thought that he was gone.

When I was leaving, we hugged several times. I reached the door and blew him a kiss and said, “I’ll see you soon.” He waved and said what he has been saying for a long time now, “I hope so.”

Tonight, on my cushion, I touch the raw edge of the inevitable.

“Each day, we’re given many opportunities to open up or shut down. The most precious opportunity presents itself when we come to the place where we think we can’t handle whatever is happening.”


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Compassion practice is daring. It involves learning to relax and allowing ourselves to move gently toward what scares us. The trick to doing this is to stay with emotional distress without tightening into aversion; to let fear soften us rather than harden into resistance.


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One afternoon in early March, I took 40 pictures of a single rose. I lost myself in the light and the angles and the possibilities–the shutter speed, the macro adjustment. Today something similar took place.

Because I do a lot my work on the telephone, I have the privilege of working at home. On beautiful days, I put on my headset and sunscreen and lounge on my deck. Now with wireless, I can sit in the shade with my iBook. I am a very lucky woman.

This afternoon, as daylight faded, the wind kicked up–the weather report predicted that a “cold” front would be moving through, followed by the possibility of rain and then cool dry air. Suddenly there was a shower of maple wings–the most perfectly aerodynamically designed seedpods helicoptering in platoons and landing gracefully all around me.
I admit, I got a little carried away…




PS…Regarding yesterday’s post–I can’t say that I completely understand Atisha’s Mind Training Slogans…they just bend my mind into a pretzel which I think is probably a good thing…However…these I think I understand…

[from] Point Seven
Guidelines of Mind Training

52. Don’t misinterpret.
53. Don’t vacillate.
54. Train wholeheartedly.
55. Liberate yourself by examining and analyzing.
56. Don’t wallow in self-pity.
57. Don’t be jealous.
58. Don’t be frivolous.
59. Don’t expect applause.

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I have to say that there are days when I am just at loose ends. I start out with the best of intentions around creativity, productivity and the like and then for one reason or another, things go south. Today, the landslide started with a phone call at noon time…the rest of the day was backlit by sadness and confusion.

Tonight, I stay for meditation after hatha practice. Sitting on my cushion, the tears come…nameless really…just a diffuse and profound sense of loss. Yesterday, I finished reading The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver. I was overcome with grief at the end…it is an enduring look at rightgeousness, religion, belief, relationships, nature, the earth, indigenous people and so much more…this, too, I’m sure contributed to my being at loose ends.

Coming home, I think about Pema Chodron, an American Buddhist nun and student of Chogyan Trungpa, the Tibetan meditation master. At times like this, I tend to gravitate to “the practice”…searching for some tried and true method of balance and centering. As you may remember, I love instructions and cryptic advice from great spiritual beings…

In her book, The Places That Scare You, Pema Chodron has an Appendix of Practices. It includes The Mind-Training Slogans of Atisha. Perfect. Here are a few of my favorites:

Point Six: Disciplines of Mind Training

23. Always abide by the three basic principles.
24. Change your attitude, but remain natural.
25. Don’t talk about injured limbs.
26. Don’t ponder others.
27. Work with the greatest defilements first.
28. Abandon any hope of fruition.
29. Abandon poisonous food.
30. Don’t be so predictable.
31. Don’t malign others.
32. Don’t wait in ambush.
33. Don’t bring things to painful point.
34. Don’t transfer the ox’s load to the cow.
35. Don’t try to be the fastest.
36. Don’t act with a twist.
37. Don’t make gods into demons.
38. Don’t seek others’ pain as the limbs of your own happiness.

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