Friends, here is the article in pdf form on Tonglen meditation (compassion meditation) I contributed for the July 2014 issue of Shambhala Sun Magazine. Enjoy!
I had a fun time teaching Sara Haines of ABC News a little bit about mindfulness meditation this week. She was a good student, a fan of books by Pema Chodron and Matthieu Ricard. I made a comment about thoughts being like space invaders and they superimposed space invaders over us. The magic of television. Click the picture for the video and audio. The segment also features the very cool Dan Harris, ABC anchor, author of 10% Happier, and student of the amazing Sharon Salzberg.
Check it out.
— Gerald Lee (@GEvolving) April 13, 2014
Despite all of the teachings to the contrary, it still seems like most of us, even those of us with committed Dharma practices, still fall into the trap of trying to avoid, dissolve or destroy difficult emotions. It’s not so much that we want to go to war with our own thoughts and emotions, it’s more like we want to hire a ninja assassin to take our difficult thoughts in the middle of the night, to quietly slit the throat of our feelings when no one is watching.
Keeping the impossibility of destroying any thoughts or emotions well in mind, I’m really looking forward to discussing Buddhist approaches to working with major emotions: Fear and Anxiety, Desire, Anger, Grief and Sadness, Pride and Arrogance over the next six weeks in the Dealing with Emotions course.
Either way, my thought for this week is that if you sit down to meditate, Try to notice the stealth ways that you attempt to destroy your thoughts and emotions or make them go away. When you notice it, I encourage you to fire your ninja assassin, or at least give him the morning off.
Sally wrote an article about her meditation practice and our conversations about Buddhism in the modern world for Vogue.com. She compared me to both Paul Auster and Paul Rudd. I’ll take it.
While the visual that shows for the online article is a little, well…hmmm…, Sally was a very serious student and journalist and it was a total pleasure to work with her. Check out the article and let me know what you think.
The so-called “mindful revolution” continues…
A new podcast of a talk Ethan gave entitled “Meditators Make Better Lovers” is available both on the iTunes podcast and the Shambhala NYC website. The talk is a few years old but we especially like this one about love relationships and heartbreak. Enjoy!
Recently, Missouri star lineman Michael Sam announced that he is gay, headed into the NFL draft later this year. This makes him the first openly gay player in the NFL. Apparently, his father had a really hard time with him coming out, which can’t be easy for a young man to deal with. These kinds of stories make me sad, because if the Dharma has taught me anything, it’s that we need to create a world where people feel comfortable being who we really are. This is the key to being awake and available in the present moment. Being safe in your own skin is prerequisite for truly benefiting others.
And then someone sent me this clip from Dallas sports caster Dale Hansen. It’s hands-down the most amazing civil rights speech I’ve seen in a while. Bravo, Mr. Hansen. I also love the critique of hypocrisy of those who want small government but want to patrol people’s sex lives. Especially in Texas.
Some men love Football, but Real Men make Speeches like these. Please Watch.
The idea of a meditation retreat freaks people out in the best possible way.
An in-depth meditation retreat, something longer than just a weekend, is almost always a worthwhile and transformative experience, both for our relationship to meditation practice and for our life in general. We build confidence in our own mind, and clarify our intention for moving forward along our path in life.In less than a month, I will be co-leading my only in-depth meditation retreat of 2014. I can’t wait. I notice, that as I talk to students and friends about their practice, people often meet the prospect of a longer retreat, say a week of mostly silent practice, with both inspiration and trepidation. Sometimes their resistance is palpable. But slowing down and getting away like this, and also building trust that we can actually handle our mind during long periods of practice, is an invaluable experience. I personally think everyone should have it at least once, possibly every year.
So I thought the best thing to do would be to hold a discussion forum about retreats below. Would you do me a favor, pretty please? If you have attended a meditation retreat, let’s say of five days or longer at a residential location, could you leave a comment and share your experience below?
And if you have any questions about doing a meditation retreat, such as how to work with your resistance, or when to know if your practice is ready for this kind of immersive experience, could you also post those below? I will be checking in from time to time and will be happy to share my thoughts and feedback on your questions and comments.
A lot of us were so surprisingly saddened by the death of Philip Seymour Hoffman. He was undoubtedly one of the greatest actors of this generation. I had heard various cool stories about him from an old friend who knew him. I love this story here of a critic who met him on the subway. Given that he was only 46 when he overdosed from heroin, there is a huge pile of sadness from the sudden reality of his death.
I just finished reading this lengthy piece in the current aedition of GQ, “Inside the Iron Closet” about the culture and strange legality of homophobia in Russia right now. From Pussy Riot to random people on the street, there seems to be a massive crackdown on all kinds of self-expression in that country, especially the freedom to be queer or gay in public (or private) life.