On “Loving-Kindness” ~ Pema Chodron

Our personal attempts to live humanely in this world are never wasted.
Choosing to cultivate love rather than anger just might be what it takes to save the planet from extinction.

What is it that allows our goodwill to expand and our prejudice and anger to decrease?
This is a significant question.

Traditionally it is said that the root of aggression and suffering is ignorance.
But what is it that we are ignoring?

Entrenched in the tunnel vision of our personal concerns, what we ignore is our kinship with others.

One reason we train as warrior-bodhisattvas is to recognize our interconnectedness—to grow in understanding that when we harm another,
we are harming ourselves.

So we train in recognizing our uptightness.
We train in seeing that others are not so different from ourselves.
We train in opening our hearts and minds in increasingly difficult situations.
~ Pema Chodron, “Loving-Kindness” from The Places That Scare You

 

 

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Our personal attempts to live humanely in this world are never wasted.
Choosing to cultivate love rather than anger just might be what it takes to save the planet from extinction.

What is it that allows our goodwill to expand and our prejudice and anger to decrease?
This is a significant question.

Traditionally it is said that the root of aggression and suffering is ignorance.
But what is it that we are ignoring?

Entrenched in the tunnel vision of our personal concerns, what we ignore is our kinship with others.

One reason we train as warrior-bodhisattvas is to recognize our interconnectedness—to grow in understanding that when we harm another, we are harming ourselves.

So we train in recognizing our uptightness.
We train in seeing that others are not so different from ourselves.
We train in opening our hearts and minds in increasingly difficult situations.

~ Pema Chodron, “Loving-Kindness” from The Places That Scare You

[emphasis + formatting,  mine]

a million hoodies, a million hearts: metta behind the movement for trayvon martin

Easily seen is the outrage, despair and fear, the ignorance and insensitivity, the failures of the police, lawmakers and politicians, the complex, provocative and polarizing rhetoric and debate, the uncertainty of justice and the swelling distrust in the systems that are meant to ensure our safety.

Hard indeed to see and to carry hope for the possibility of deep and lasting change.

Not only to the controversial and dangerous law that gave a misguided vigilante license to act upon his fear and racism with unnecessary and deadly force.

But also to individual and systemic institutional practices that reinforce our prejudices, feeding and fueling them to become rampant antis-, –isms and -phobias.

Easily seen are the differences between us: skin, hair, race, gender, age, sexuality, religion, education, politics, economics…

Hard indeed to see are the threads that tie us together:
blood, breathe, heart, soul, histories, joy, suffering…

But for my practice of the buddha-dharma,
I might sit heavy with visceral rage, terror, disgust and disappointment.

Stomach-churning, heart-racing, tear-choking, breath-stealing anguish

For Trayvon,
my son,
my mate,
my father,
my brothers,
my nephews,
my cousins,
my friends,
my neighbors,
and others known or unknown to me who could be snatched from their loved ones
so brutally, so easily.

And not just sons, not only males.

Our daughters, mothers, sisters, and aunts are always vulnerable too. 

This cruelty, this pain, this suffering does not discriminate.
It leaves no one untouched.

So with my practice I sit.
Breath-, Love- and Hope-filled.

In full trust of the ever-evolving nature of all things.
In full remembrance that there are causes of and an end of suffering.
In full awareness of the victory of each sweet breath.

I sit to cradle my simmering feelings—
giving them space to stretch out, unfold, take new shape in their own time.

They are natural, they are human, they are mine.

Yet they are not me.

Touching the dharma and continuously taking refuge in the Five Mindfulness Trainings,             I am determined that my feelings will not feed or fuel choices that are unskillful, harmful or deadly.

I grow steady with each breath.
My anger and fear cool, soften and slowly transform into
the compassionate vigilance of mindfulness.

I listen deeply, see more clearly what is the true, necessary and wise course of action for me in this moment.

I touch the Metta Suttasending compassion and lovingkindness
in all directions with every breath
so that any habitual inclination toward anger, numbness, despair or avoidance will be released.

I step back—filtering out the discord, limiting what I consume from the media.
Tuning in—to my breath, my intentions, my dharma, my heart.

From this space, I listen deeply for:
facts, resolution, and the aspirations I hear beneath the pleas for justice.

From this space, I see clearly the faces:
brown as my own,
also darker, lighter—matching the full spectrum of hues and tones of people I know and love—reflecting my sadness, my questions, my aspirations.

From this space, I see clearly the hearts beneath the hoodies.

I feel them beating, bleeding, bursting wide and tender with compassion
for Trayvon Martin, his heartbroken parents and loved ones,
and all others who are suffering from such tragic and profound losses.

Hearing, seeing, feeling completely, I touch those aspirations that connect us all.

I chant them silently, I chant them aloud to my son each night, I chant them for us all.

With each nourishing, energizing, life-sustaining breath:

May we and all beings be happy,

May we and all beings be safe,

May we and all beings be well,

May we and all beings have peace.

My path and practice are affirmed.  I know this is the only way for me.

 Trayvon‑Martin‑009_540x405.jpg

  • My son: My ray of light, my bell of mindfulness, my clear intention for practice.
  • My mate: A miraculous odds-smashing survivor of a random act of road rage, he was shot in the head at 19. He happens to be white. The shooter, who served the minimum sentence on a plea, is black. His parents–my loving “in-laws”—and family members who are models and practitioners of faith and forgiveness.
  • The Dhammapada (Verses 252 – 3) as quoted in Come See For Yourself  ~ Ayya Khema         We read and discussed the chapter “The Faults of Others” in my root sangha (lamc.info) several years ago, and it continues to resonate.
  • The Places That Scare You: A Guide To Fearlessness in Difficult Times ~ Pema Chodron    I’m currently re-reading this book (slowly digesting the practices), and my bookmark was resting in the middle of her chapter on Compassion.
  • Metta for Children ~ InvitingtheBell.com                                                                                         Matt wrote about introducing this “magical” practice to his daughter (exactly one month ago today) and, auspiciously, I read it shortly after putting my own child to bed with thoughts about how to incorporate age-appropriate bedtime blessings into our evening ritual. Every night since, I sing my simple metta chant to him.
  • ‘Million Hoodie’ March  ~ Newsone.com

poetry in motion: [in Just-] by e.e. cummings

These two gorgeous lines (tweeted by someone in my cipher) sprang to life in the shape of my puddle-hunting, snow-munching, nature-loving son!  In them I see a beautiful meditation celebrating the transition from winter to spring.

in Just–

spring when the world is mudlicious…

…when the world is puddle-wonderful…

And, on the brink of spring in Michigan…when the world is snowlightful!

Read here in its entirety: [in Just-] by e. e. cummings: The Poetry Foundation.

squeeze + smooch: the magic of hugging meditation

“When we hug, our hearts connect and we know that we are not separate beings.”

Thich Nhat Hanh

My clever kid was about 15 months old when he abandoned nearly all requests to be picked up.

To him, the briefest pause was an eternity.  Of course, toddlers have no tolerance for waiting, and any effort—no matter how gentle—to introduce the concept of delayed gratification or patience is futile.  They want what they want when they want it, so GET IT TOGETHER, FOLKS!

K had quickly come to realize that I could not resist his yumminess.  Throughout the day, I would snatch him up for sniff (ah, that baby-fresh scent), squeeze and smooch!

I’m sure you can see where this is going…

Yup, K understood that whenever I was deeply engaged in an activity (usually cooking dinner) all he needed to do was stand at my feet, stretch open his arms, flap his hands and beg  for a hug!

How could I not instantly drop whatever I was doing to oblige him?  Every. Single. Time.

Nothing is more important than assuring my child that I see him, hear him, and feel his need to be connected.  But, of course, there are moments when I feel stretched to complete a time-sensitive task and cannot immediately give him my full attention.

So I talk him through it—I hear you, lovey. I know you want Mommy…this is what I’m doing now, then we’ll do X, Y and Z.  And soon as it is possible, I hug and kiss him wholeheartedly  for a few breaths and go about the task at hand.

Often that is enough.  But when it isn’t, I keep him next to me and do what parenthood demands we master (or fail miserably trying): multitask!

Other times, however, I require space and uninterrupted solitude.  In those instances, the multitasking continues.  My attention is concentrated on the activity while my heart is reaching toward him.

I acknowledge the subtle twinge of guilt and release it.  Breathing into it, I trust that he’s been properly fortified by every loving touch we exchange and that his sense of our connectedness will sustain him through the healthy, naturally-unfolding experiences of separation between parent and growing child.

But the instant my work ends, I grab K and love him up—breathing deeply as I squeeze and smooch until he’s had enough.

Learn more about the  practice of  Hugging Meditation.

hugging meditation
Image via PlumVillage.org – Art Of Mindful Living

when lessons rebound: floss-o-philia

This is what happens when I forget to hide the floss:

open with teeth
floss-o-philia: chew
chew
floss-o-philia: stretch & saw
stretch & saw

to tv or not to tv: history + heritage on nick jr.

to tv: I appreciate that Nick Jr. teaches and celebrates diversity.  For Black History Month, I was thrilled to see them honor Dr. Alexa Canady!  She is not only one of my hometown’s (#lovelansing) most notable history makers, but also one of my childhood role models: Celebrating Dr. Alexa Canady.

not to tv:  It’s hard to support networks, particularly those with children’s programming, that don’t use their broad influence to go beyond simple entertainment and create fun teachable moments on culture, history, science, technology and the arts.  No moment spent teaching our kids something–anything–new is wasted!

i hear music…

Without fail, Sunday mornings have been absolutely magical.  In a golden moment of mindfulness as I put K down for a morning nap, I noticed the music all around me: My neighbors’ melodic wind chimes + my lovey-boy’s snoozing dream breaths + a gentle but crisp wintry #Michigan breeze!

So I was reminded of this classic cut, which I keep in rotation on several playlists for my yoga classes: Billie Remixed: I Hear Music

on the mindfulness in motherhood

Samatha.*

Embodied.

Senses.

Engaged.

The body, the mind, the activity.

Stopping.

The belly, the lungs, the nose.

Breathing.

The eyes, the heart. 

Looking.

The ears, the heart.  

Listening.

The opening.

Fully…of laps, of hands, of arms, of hearts.

The receiving.  The allowing.  The cradling.

The embrace.

{Posted with WordPress for BlackBerry.}

on the madness in motherhood

Cackling, with laughter to keep the tears at bay.

“From cool to chaos” — whirlwind-tornado-tsunami — in a split second.

MESSY

 …sticky, stinky, sloppy, smushy and sometimes…

STRANGELY GLORIOUS

 …to be freed from the insistent call to order

from shelves, drawers, closets and containers.

LIFE

…spilling

…out:

ALL VIBRANT.  LOUD.  REAL. 

Wailing

Pouting

Shrieking

Bellowing:

HERE, HERE, HERE!

NOW…NOW…NOW!

NONONONO!

And then, sighing:

OKAY? OKAY. OKAY!

YES…YES…YES.

And now:

Laughing.  Softly.  Deeply.  Easily.  Always.

{Posted with WordPress for BlackBerry.}

magic + madness: creepy-cool new skill

I must admit I found this finger-crossing action somewhat creepy the first time I noticed K doing it last week.  Mind you, he was locked in his high chair, wailing “Help!” and biting his arm!  I thought it was some kind of spasm (more likely he had an itch he couldn’t quite scratch), but he’s been randomly twisting up these two fingers ever since.

Verdict: New trick!

weird new skill

weird new skill

another view of the weird new skill

another view of the weird new skill

Posted with WordPress for BlackBerry.

out on a walk: tandem tumbling

tandem tumbling: view from the bottom of the hill

In between snows this past December, our tot-friendly neighborhood “sledding” hill provided the perfect soft slope for teaching K how to tuck into my arms and roll…

dude, where’s your dad?!

Without question, I’m my kid’s best friend right now.

“Here, Mommy!”…He insists, stuffing a car (or five) in my hand.
“Whatchu doing, Mommy?”…He inquires, looking into my eyes while sitting on my lap.
“Where are you, Mommy?”…He shouts, moments after I’ve told him I’m heading to the next room.
“Mommy-Mami-Ami-Ami-Ami-Ami!”…He chants when he needs me and no one else will do.

Even while writing this, K has wedged himself between me and the laptop—checking in now and again for cuddle time.

In these moments, I recall the word samatha  (Pali/Sanskrit for “calm-abiding“) and the practice I’ve adopted to touch that quality: stopping. breathing. looking. listening.

So I accept the cars.  I explain what I’m doing (talking to you, drinking coffee, reading a book).  I report my location.  I respond to his moment of distress as soon as it is possible and reassure him with hugs, kisses and my full attention that I am here for him.

Then from that place of calm, I can laugh and remind K that he does in fact have a father…who is often waiting nearby with arms wide open to receive him.

to tv or not to tv: ¡al rescate!, diego!

to tv: Imagination, ¡Actívate! This morning I overheard K giggling and telling Diego to kick the ball. When I peeked in the room, he was talking…to a tiny picture…on the back cover of a Wonder Pets book.

Bonus: He can distinguish a llama from a horse and a camel; we’re learning Spanish; and I dig kids’ programming with primary goals.

not to tv: Um, I got nothing at the moment but reserve the right to update this.

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