In times of things falling apart, duress, heartbreak, stress…a meditation practice to baitswitch our silly crazy mopey ego and engender happiness, compassion, equanimity.
I grew up knowing Pema Chodron (the second most popular Buddhist in America, after that Dalai Lama guy). As I grew up, I got to know her a little (doing service shifts at her cabin at Shambhala Mountain in 1992, where she helped Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche teach his first Seminary) and was always struck at how strong and powerful this kindly, small woman was—what a leader. These days, I still know her a little bit, though I only rarely see her (recently saw her a little at the Karmapa’s first visit to America). Here (below) she talks about tonglen practice, one of the fundamental meditation practices of Buddhism as taught by Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche. Meditation is about seeing clearly the body that we have, the mind that we have, the domestic situation that we have, the job that we have, and the people who are in our lives.
Once upon a time, long before the internet or anything such as “search engines”, I began to sit in meditation.
This was about the time in the late 70s that Jack Kornfield and Joseph Goldstein were just starting to build The Insight Meditation Society, in Massachusetts. While my intentions were pure, I have to look back and consider what I was doing could hardly qualify for meditation as we think of it today. As the years passed, I was finally able to find formal meditation training and learn of this thing called “mindfulness”.
I have also found that I can bring the topic up in polite company today without risking the stigma of being some sort of “hippy freak”.
What I’m ultimately learning is that with all this knowledge and many years of practice under my belt, I know less and less every day. I can be mindful while I meditate, and I can use meditation as the perfect tool to strengthen my capacity to remain aware in the present moment. I was originally taught to simply observe my thoughts as a “witness” and gently refocus on my breathing.
While my ego will always be a challenge, with loving compassion, it is slowly transforming from a once horrible master into a wonderful servant.


My thoughts and feelings come and go, instead of just allowing them to pass and attempting vigilantly to remain detached, I now allow them to sit with me and then pass without me chasing after them. Or, rather, she knew me (I was just a little kid running around not paying attention to anything).
But seeing her on Bill Moyers, not even nervous or blinking, then doing the same thing with Oprah—well I realized again and again that this woman knows exactly who she is, and what is what. The individual pain that I feel daily over a home life that is falling apart made me lose my center, lose my emotional core to a new practice that I was forced to try. Remembering that whatever pain I feel is also felt by others will take away the isolation and make it clear (I hope) that I am having a painful experience, which will not last forever – rather than seeing myself as a rejected object which is alone and cannot be redeemed. What a shear delight to have read this…I understand more profoundly now than ever before your relationship to Buddhism.
At that time, there were few resources and certainly no meditation teachers or Zen centers in the small Midwestern town I grew up in. Often times I fell asleep, or got lost in my field of daydreams that are inherent in every young girl. Rarely was this included in my activities as I dare not risk the ridicule I would be treated to if caught. While one doesn’t need training, it is unbelievably helpful and I will always cherish and I hold deep gratitude for my teachers and mentors.
In fact, it seems to have become a most welcome topic to pursue in both professional and personal circles. Information about meditation and mindful living is readily available simply by putting keywords into my favorite search engine.
Today I point out my thoughts, and everything else I am able to notice, such as “I am thinking”, “I am breathing”, and “I am my nose that itches mercilessly”. As they feel validation this way, they are less likely to keep passing my way in the future. Learning everything possible, and throwing most of it away, allows me to find the path that serves me on the deepest levels.


I feel I have left behind the training wheels of a beginner in regard to meditation and mindfulness. She is currently invested in helping create better lives by opening minds and resources in order to improve wellness and recovery, for families living with behavioral health challenges, through her nonprofit organization, Big Elephant. My first memory of her is at Whittier Elementary in Boulder, Colorado, where I attended kindergarten.
After class I was overwhelmed with a horrible emotions of depression, anger and in less control over the sadness. It's seeing our emotions and thoughts just as they are right now, in this very moment, in this very room, on this very seat. What little information I was able to find was deeply intriguing though and I continued to pursue my meditation earnestly. Keeping up to date on all the latest news and studies, along with reading and re-reading works by my favorites is a regular pastime that I pursue as avidly as I had back when there was so little to find. The more I point out, the more my mind naturally quiets to see what else it is able to notice. Two days later I have decided to try this again, and today I still experience the same affects. It's about not trying to make them go away, not trying to become better than we are, but just seeing clearly with precision and gentleness.
I am an English Major, a title that I feel deserves capital letters, because of its importance to me.



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  1. 20.12.2013 at 20:11:32
    Sanoy writes:
    From retreat to retreat, nevertheless, a standard schedule runs from 6:00 am to 9:00 stay within the here.
  2. 20.12.2013 at 17:42:36
    4irtanka writes:
    Vipassana instructor, Shinzen Younger, for several years foundation in which you'll be able.
  3. 20.12.2013 at 16:23:10
    princessa85 writes:
    Mixed with concept and optionally available discussion, as we systematically.
  4. 20.12.2013 at 14:54:40
    L_500 writes:
    The process of monitoring, is just a means to coach the thoughts, so that mindfulness is about starting.
  5. 20.12.2013 at 14:36:23
    dinamshica writes:
    Apply mindfulness abilities to improving consideration part of spiritual guide and influential worldwide group of (largely.