How we relate to change and loss is directly connected to how fully we live and love. This talk looks at the classic ways we avoid opening to the realness of loss, and how our sorrows and grief can become a portal to awakening our heart and spirit.
Gradually, you will learn acquaintance With the invisible form of your departed; And, when the work of grief is done, The wound of loss will heal And you will have learned To wean your eyes From that gap in the air And be able to enter the hearth In your soul where your loved one Has awaited your return All the time.
This talk differentiates between egoic intentions (driven by wants and fears), and our true aspiration (deepest desires) to manifest our full potential for awake awareness and love. We explore ways to realize and open to our deepest desires when we are stuck in self-promotion, grasping and conflict, so that our aspiration becomes a compass of the heart that can guide us in living with wisdom and compassion.
This meditation guides us through a body scan and into a relaxed, open presence. When we realize we are lost in a thought cloud, our practice is to relax open, listening to and feeling the life of the present moment. We are training to become increasingly aware of the gap between thoughts, the space where the light of awareness shines through.
It’s in that gap between thoughts that the light shines through – this mystery, this living mystery of what’s right here… opening to and relaxing into the life that’s right here.
Unprocessed fear cuts us off from our full aliveness and spirit, and it separates us from others. This talk looks at how we bring healing to the trauma and deep fears that cause us to dissociate from our body. We focus on ways we increase safety, diminish shame and then, with a courageous, embodied and compassionate presence, learn to contact and integrate fear into our larger awareness.
Anger is natural, intelligent and necessary for surviving and flourishing. Yet when we are hooked by anger, it causes great personal and collective suffering. This talk explores how to transform patterns of reactivity by bringing a mindful and compassionate attention to the unmet needs that underlie angry reactivity. When we learn how to pause and connect honestly with our inner experience, we are then able to respond to others from our full intelligence and heart.
“Getting angry with another person is like throwing hot coals with bare hands: both people get burned.”
“… When we find ourselves in an aggressive relationship, we need to set clear boundaries. The kindest thing we can do for everyone concerned is to know when to say ‘enough.’ Many people use Buddhist ideals to justify self-debasement. In the name of not shutting our heart we let people walk all over us. It is said that in order not to break our vow of compassion we have to learn when to stop aggression and draw the line. There are times when the only way to bring down barriers is to set boundaries.”
Pema Chodron, The Places That Scare You
“When the gentleness between you hardens And you fall out of your belonging with each other, May the depths you have reached hold you still.”
Mark is a spiritual teacher, wonderful poet, and author of many books including best selling The Book of Awakening. In this wide-ranging and rich conversation, Tara and Mark explore shedding our defenses, faith, compassion for ourselves and others, spiritual practice, and facing illness, aging and death.
When we are stressed, our conditioning is to tighten our body. We tense against our moment-to-moment experience. This meditation is a powerful practice of de-conditioning this reactivity by learning to relax back into presence, and to respond to difficulty by saying “yes.” Through relaxing back and saying “yes,” we discover our heart’s capacity for unconditional love.
…Exploring what it means to unconditionally say “yes” to the life that’s here… In the moment when that “yes” becomes full, our hearts awaken in love.
When we’re having difficulty, we typically tense up our body and mind, and armor our heart. This practice offers a pathway of relaxing that tension and tasting the peace that comes from resting in presence.
When despair for the world grows in me and I wake in the night at the least sound in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be, I go and lie down where the wood drake rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds. I come into the peace of wild things who do not tax their lives with forethought of grief. I come into the presence of still water. And I feel above me the day-blind stars waiting with their light. For a time I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
Wendell Berry, New Collected Poems (Counterpoint, 2012)
The acronym RAIN – Recognize, Allow, Investigate, Nurture – guides us in bringing mindfulness and compassion to difficult emotions. With practice, we can find our way home to open-hearted presence in the midst of whatever arises.
“Don’t turn away.
Keep your gaze on the bandaged place.
That’s where the light enters you.”
In Buddhism and most faiths, humility – feeling that we all share common ground, feeling neither superior or inferior to others – is both a prerequisite to awakening and an expression of mature spirituality. This talk explores how our conditioning and culture reinforce a swing from ego-inflation (self-importance, feeling special, better than others) to ego-deflation (feeling unworthy). We then look at how a wise and kind attention opens us to who we are beyond these confining egoic states, and enables us to live with humility and grace.
Very little grows on jagged rock. Be ground. Be crumbled, so wildflowers will come up where you are. You have been stony for too many years. Try something different. Surrender.