suffering is natural

One of my teachers, Michele McDonald-Smith, once recounted that a 92 year old relative of hers, on being informed by her doctor of a terminal cancer diagnosis, became upset and implored: As a species we seem to have solidified a very real revulsion for the inevitable, as well as toward the smaller slights along the … Read more

just try your best

  Meditation is not easy, I get it. There are aches and pains in the body, the mind gets restless; the breath fades in and out of awareness.   Sometimes, mostly out. But, as Hawaii-born retired Sumo grand-master Akebono would say to reporters after winning yet another match, “I just try my best.” That’s all … Read more

savor the resistance

Do we feel we are missing out on some better, or more spiritual, experience by being stuck with a mountain of laundry, a sink overflowing with dishes, or a yard full of leaves to rake?   Karen Maezen Miller, in a piece in Lion’s Roar, describes the domestic practices of ancient Zen masters as intimate … Read more

faith in small things

  “Don’t think that love must be extraordinary to be genuine. What we need is to love without getting tired. Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies.” –Mother Teresa   There is a Tibetan saying popular in mindfulness circles these days: “If you take care of the minutes, … Read more

no self help

Mindfulness meditation leaves the self-help mindset in the dust by challenging the existence of the very thing we are setting out to improve, the self. In an article on the self-help movement in New York Magazine back in 2013, Kathryn Shultz observed she knows people who “wouldn’t so much as walk through the self-help section … Read more

an ordinary new year wish

While everyone is wishing their co-workers, friends and family a fantastic new year full of creativity, self-improvement, and relationship-hacking bravado, I would settle for an ordinary new year. — Nothing special. Wishing others an entire year of monumental experiences or events, is curious to me. I am not sure I can handle anything too out … Read more

coming home

Girl in the Kitchen by Anna Ancer

No matter how nice our home is, it is still “of the of world,” as my Buddhist teachers in Asia would say.   We are settling in to a new house. As I get older, moving feels more emotional, more gut-wrenching. Witnessing our old home slowly coming apart, with carefully chosen bits going into carefully chosen … Read more

respect

  We bring a gentle, loving awareness to this body. We treat it softly, and with respect. It knows; our body feels respected.   One little peek at my phone yesterday and bam, my screen screamed out: “Trump freaks out after the Midterms and ousts Sessions.” I think we are all freaking out just a … Read more

a moveable monastery

kathe kollwitz

The contemplative life benefits from periodic self-reflection   We meditate for many different reasons. Often, our original motivations morph as we move forward on this path. It’s juicy to reflect why we keep this up; and to be really honest with ourselves. Dorothy Figen offers us one answer —   Why meditate? There are many reasons. … Read more