Why smile?

We discussed the reason why the Dalai Lama considers his enemies to be his teachers:

The Dalai Lama on why he laughs:


Also: I will be traveling next week, so there will be no Sunday sitting group December 8.  See you for the Dec. 15 sitting!

More Back to Basics

I think it may be a good idea to think about what this practice means for you. Is meditation a feel good exercise, like stretching, to start your day? Are you  exploring possibilities which may potentially enrich your life? Or are you a dedicated practitioner, ready to witness suffering, delusion, and impermanence on a startling, personal level? Any of these are reasonable decisions, but please make them conscious decisions. Mindfulness begins here and now!

Here’s some interesting thoughts from Phillip Moffitt on committing to a meditation practice. I agree with a lot of what he says, some of the time. Or some of what he says, a lot of the time.



Try not to judge your meditation…

We talked today about the difficulties of not judging your meditation. Constant second guessing whether you’re doing the meditation “correctly” or whether you’re wasting your time  can make the meditation process not only challenging, but seriously uncomfortable. Here’s some interesting articles on the subject of judging our thoughts:

Meditation, Mental Habits, and Creative Imagination

And here’s a little article I can identify with:

Non-Judging, Non-Striving and the Pillars of Mindfulness Practice


And of course, let’s not forget the cutest news story about stress ever:



We had a lovely talk on beauty, impermanence and Autumn, and also the wonderful way that babies can teach us to see everything as new and changing. Yet, we often view impermanence with a sense of poignancy. Can we reconcile these two emotions? Do they contradict each other?

Autumn Light: Pico Iyer on Finding Beauty in Impermanence and Luminosity in Loss

Many thanks this week to Lillian (and curious George) for bringing her own sense of joy and wonder into my life:


Don’t Lose Heart!


It’s easy, and oh so human, to find yourself saddened and overwhelmed by the troubles effecting us on the national or world scale as well as  on a personal level. There’s nothing wrong with feeling sad or overwhelmed at times. The trick is not to be fooled into rewinding our stories of woe to play them over and over.

Pema Chodron writes:

The reason we often start to go downhill with losing heart is that we allow ourselves to get hooked by our emotions. When we get hooked—when we get really angry, resentful, fearful, or selfish—we start to go a little unconscious.

On Not Losing Heart

Also, we talked about the streaming series: The Mind, Examined, and the episode that focuses on mindfulness. I highly recommend you check it out. The episode featured Tibetan teacher Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche, who talked about his attitude toward his crippling dealings with panic attacks. He wrote: In Love with the World: A Monk’s Journey Through the Bardos of Living and Dying, which we also talked about and sounds like a fascinating read.




We had a good talk on the nuances of sadness and the pros and cons of smiling all the time (Americans tend to be kinda smiley, but maybe they just want to show off their dental work!)

Reflecting on impermanence is not meant to make us miserable.

The Secret Strength of Sadness


Doing Nothing…with Flair!

There’s a new book out called “How to Do Nothing,” so we talked about doing nothing and what it means to each of it. I highly recommend this review, and then try reading Odell’s original essay (the link is included in this article).


Plus, I read this poem:

by Mary Oliver

When I am among the trees,
especially the willows and the honey locust,
equally the beech, the oaks and the pines,
they give off such hints of gladness.
I would almost say that they save me, and daily.
I am so distant from the hope of myself,
in which I have goodness, and discernment,
and never hurry through the world
but walk slowly, and bow often.
Around me the trees stir in their leaves
and call out, “Stay awhile.”
The light flows from their branches.
And they call again, “It’s simple,” they say,
“and you too have come
into the world to do this, to go easy, to be filled
with light, and to shine.”