We all encounter “demons” of fear, anger, hurt, craving and shame. This talk explores our key ways of resisting difficult emotions, and how “when the resistance is gone, the demons are gone.” We look at the power of mindfulness and compassion to undo resistance, and open us to the loving presence that can handle whatever energies arise. This special talk was given at the 2019 IMCW 5-Day New Year’s Silent Retreat.
This guided session includes an overview of the primary components in meditation practices, and then guidance in awakening the senses, collecting the attention, and opening mindfully to changing experience (from the 2019 IMCW New Year’s 5-Day Silent Retreat).
This meditation explores the meaning of forgiveness and its role in healing and transformation. We then are guided in a forgiveness practice that helps us release the armoring of blame, and inhabit an inclusive and open heart (given at the Fall 2019 IMCW 7-Day Silent Retreat).
When we are suffering, we are believing something untrue – usually a limiting story about who we are. This talk explores the roots of our self-doubts, and the teachings and practices that remind us of our basic goodness – the loving awareness that is our source (given at the Fall 2019 IMCW 7-Day Silent Retreat – 2019-11-06).
Carlos Castaneda – the Don Juan books – puts this way. He says, “You talk to yourself too much. You’re not unique in that every one of us does. We maintain our world with our inner dialogue. A man or woman of knowledge is aware that the world will change completely as soon as they stop talking to themselves.”
Sri Nisargadatta says, “Love tells me I’m everything. Wisdom tells me I’m nothing. Between the two my life flows.”
I really invite you to experiment and find the way of remembering love that warms your heart because it’ll help you trust your heart and we deep down really want to trust the goodness of our hearts.
Often, when we’re really struggling, the only way to find compassion for ourselves is by reaching out to a larger source of love. We might for instance take refuge by calling on the Buddha, Divine Mother, God, Jesus, Great Spirit, Shiva, or Allah – reaching towards a loving awareness that is great enough to offer comfort and safety to our wounded self.
When we feel held by a caring presence, by something larger than our small frightened self, we begin to find space in our heart for the difficult currents of our life, and for the lives of others. The suffering that might have seemed “too much” can now awaken us to the sweetness of compassion. [Note: recorded during an IMCW 7-day silent retreat]
The boundary to what we accept is the boundary to our freedom. This talk explores the often unconscious ways we create separation by judging ourselves and others, and the key pathways of meditation practice that release the habit of blame and free our hearts.
Really honoring this life. Cherishing this life. Sensing who you are if there’s nothing wrong – truly nothing wrong.
Closing by sensing your prayer for yourself right now. What do you most wish? Letting go of any ideas or thoughts. Taking these last few moments to sense the heart-space that’s here. You might allow yourself to sense the shared heart space, that collective… who we are together… waking up together.
(This talk was given on Sunday evening, November 3, at the 2019 IMCW Fall Retreat in Reisterstown, MD.)
Vipassana, also known as insight meditation, is training in bringing a clear mindful attention to our moment to moment experience. We begin by relaxing through the body and then resting attention with the breath – or some other sensory anchor – and allowing the mind to settle. Then we open to whatever is predominant or calling our attention – sensations, emotions, sounds – meeting each arising experience with a clear, kind attention. The gift of this process is discovering balance in the midst of the changing flow, and gaining deep insight into the nature of reality.
NOTE: this is an instruction and meditation given in the morning of Day 4 at the IMCW Spring 2019 7-day silent retreat.
… You might sense the whole earth body, our extended body and the energy and life flowing through the earth and through you. Filling your whole body with the awareness and aliveness that’s really here.
Letting everything happen, not stopping anything, this whole field of sensation. Letting life live through you, including the coming and going of sound. Resting in the awareness that’s listening to and feeling this whole moment. …
Prayer is a communing with our enlarged being. This talk examines less conscious forms of prayer, and how we can evolve the power of our prayers by opening into the depth of our longing, and reaching toward our true belonging (from the 2016 IMCW Spring Retreat).
How I yearn to belong to something, to be contained in an all-embracing mind that sees me as a single thing.
And I yearn to be held in the great hands of your heart.
Oh let them take me now.
Into your hands I place these fragments, my life, and you my God spend them however you want.
~ Rainer Maria Rilke
Refuse to fall down
If you cannot refuse to fall down,
refuse to stay down.
If you cannot refuse to stay down,
lift your heart toward heaven,
and like a hungry beggar,
ask that it be filled.
You may be pushed down.
You may be kept from rising.
But no one can keep you from lifting your heart
~ Clarissa Pinkola Estés
We can’t truly open to the waves of life unless we recognize our Oceanness, the formless awareness that is our source. This meditation begins with awakening the senses and then invites us to discover the spacious presence in the background of all experience.
NOTE: This meditation was given on the 4th morning of the 2018 IMCW New Year’s Retreat. It’s a bit longer and especially enjoyed when the mind is a bit quieter.
You might reflect on these words from the Tibetan tradition:
When we’ve turned on ourselves with blame and aversion, it’s very difficult to arouse self-compassion. This talk looks at the role of nurturing in freeing our hearts, and offers practice in three key steps that enable us to embrace ourselves with a healing presence.
“There’s some wisdom in us that knows that we need to love ourselves and each other into healing…”
This talk was given at the 2018 IMCW New Year’s Retreat.