Archive for February 2011

WALKING THE STRAIGHT LINE AND STOPPING

Our format for the Thursday and Friday group meditations is choosing a theme for the evening.  This Thursday Barry will lead us in looking more deeply at things that annoy us and in a new way of walking meditation.  Doug will lead on Friday, examining the practice of shamatha (stopping).  After the third meditation, Barry and Doug will share how these teachings infuence their practice.  Then the other members of the group will be invited to share whatever arises in their heart consciousness.

And we form a sharing the merit circle at the end of our time together.  It is a time to recognize our compassionate presence to each other, our family and friends, especially those in need, and to the earth.

This week Barry will read from the book Wild Chickens & Petty Tyrants, by Arnie Kozak.  The selection is #76, and is  entitled “Petty Tyrants.”  We will hear a dialogue proposing that those “things” that annoy us – people or events – are really doing us a favor by showing us the ego-bruising truth: we, as individuals, are not the most important things in the Universe!

Also, a slight variation in the walking meditation will be explored.  Our usual circular walk will be exchanged this week for a more individualized, personal experience: straight-line walking.  Walking in straight lines has a long tradition, and is described below. Feel free to try it at home.

Walking Meditation:

Walking meditation is a simple practice. You choose a straight path-indoors or outdoors-roughly fifteen or twenty steps long. You walk from one end of the path to the other, turn around, and walk back. You continue in this fashion, walking back and forth, focusing your attention on your feet. Your posture is upright, alert, and relaxed. You can hold your hands at your sides, or clasped in front or behind. Keep your eyes open, cast down, and slightly ahead. You can experiment with your pace, perhaps walking quite slowly or at a more regular speed, in an effort to find the pace at which you’re most present. As you walk, direct your attention to the sensations in the feet, to the bare experience of walking. Try to feel one step at time. Be fully, wholeheartedly aware of the physical sensations involved in taking each step. Feel your foot as it lifts, moves through the air, places down against the ground. In particular, pay attention to the touching down of the foot, the sensations of contact, and pressure. Remember that you’re feeling each step, you’re not thinking about the foot, or visualizing it.

– Peter Doobinin, “Five Practices to Change Your Mind”

THE VOW TO BENEFIT ALL SENTIENT BEINGS

Our format for the Thursday and Friday group meditations is choosing a theme for the evening.  This Thursday Leslie will lead us in exploring the mindfulness practice of vowing to benefit with our thoughts, words and actions all sentient beings.  Wasu will lead on Friday.  After the third meditation, Leslie will share how this teaching infuences her practice.  Then the other members of the group will be invited to share whatever arises in their heart consciousness.

And we form a sharing the merit circle at the end of our time together.  It is a time to recognize our compassionate presence to each other, our family and friends, especially those in need, and to the earth.

FOR VALENTINE’S DAY – LOVING KINDNESS PRACTICE

FOR VALENTINE’S DAY  –  LOVING KINDNESS PRACTICE

Our format for the Thursday and Friday group meditations is choosing a theme for the evening.  This Thursday and Friday, in keeping with our Valentine’s Day tradition, we will share the practice of loving kindness (metta).  I will lead on Thursday and Sara will lead on Friday.  After the third meditation, we will share how this teaching infuences our practice.  Then the other members of the group will be invited to share whatever arises in their heart consciousness.

Metta has been a powerful and beneficial practice for our group.

And we form a sharing the merit circle at the end of our time together.  It is a time to recognize our compassionate presence to each other, our family and friends, especially those in need, and to the earth.

Sara writes:

Loving-Kindness

On my refrigerator door is a Valentine’s Day card I received from a friend several years ago.  With a lollipop attached, the card reads simply “Valentine’s Days Sucks.”  Indeed, February 14 is a day when many, overwhelmed by the cultural expectations of romantic coupling, allow themselves to descend into states of self-pity and apathy.   The idea of love that we encounter this time of year is extremely limited, I might even argue that it barely resembles love at all.  The practice of Metta or Loving-Kindness mediation, fortunately, is not limited by these constraints and awakens us to the possibilities that showing Metta to ourselves is a gift to everyone we encounter.

As the Venerable Sujiva writes:
“The good symbol for Metta (loving kindness) is the mother cradling her baby to sleep. The baby cradled to sleep will be the result. I can still remember that it was a good feeling when I was cradled to sleep by my mother. There is also a lot of joy when one is unselfishly caring for a friend. Such is loving kindness and its results.”

Regardless of whether we choose to cultivate loving kindness toward ourselves, our loved ones, or our enemies, out intentions are expressed by four aspirations which sink into our awareness during our practice:  1) May I/you be free from enmity  2) May I/you be free from mental suffering  3) May I/you be free from physical suffering  4) May I/you take care of myself happily.

The possibilities of loving kindness emerge as we allow ourselves to recognize the fine boundary between the I and the You.  When we are able to radiate loving kindness we sink deep into the recognition of ourselves in another and find there is little that distinguishes you and I from one another.