Art of Practice

Impact Reports

Namaste and Welcome.

This page will be updated within 24 hours of a new Impact Report being submitted.  

Week 3:  Exploring Your Unique Essence

 

  • I felt a lot of fear as Laura described the assignment during Thursday's session - what if I wouldn't be able to identify an essence at all?  In spite of my apprehension, I found a photo and met the cushion on Friday morning.  It helped to know others were doing the same.  As I looked at the photo that first morning, I very unexpectedly welled up in tears and sorrow.  I wanted to end the session as it was quite uncomfortable, but something told me to stick it out.  Since then, each day has revealed something a bit different.  Today, for example, I noticed how my three-year old self held on to her stuffed rabbit in a very nurturing way.  How can I hold myself and others with nurturing tenderness today?

  • I avoided meditating both Friday and Saturday because I was afraid of the grief I might feel. I recently learned that my parents never wanted children, and while it explained a lot, I continue to grieve the things my parents were not able to give me as a child. It seems like maybe they knew somewhere that they were not, let’s say, well-equipped.  When I finally meditated Sunday, I saw in this younger self an incisive and serious thinker. I have tried to nurtured this essence by learning, studying, exploring, researching, writing, and discovering. At present I am not very challenged intellectually, so I will give myself the gift of some meaty thinking and reading this week. I must be careful that I do not ascribe too much rigor to this essence. Also, sometimes this thinking-ness protects me from feelings, and I am here, in part, to feel. 

  • I just finished listening again to [Laura's] guidance on spending time focusing on and being with an image of myself.  It's not possible to fully articulate my experience--the feelings, primarily of the possibility of having the strength to be open to others and the potential to have much more joy in my life--are so unfamiliar that I don't feel that I can (or want to) put them in context.  The picture that I chose is one of me at about six months old.  My facial expression reflects a purity and unbridled joy that invite love, warmth and a desire to comfort.  My arms are wide open and my posture entirely relaxed.  The first word that came to mind as the meditation came to a close was "Possibilities"  and, then, "Comfort...Okay...Possibilities."  Similar to the experience described so well in one of the other reports, my parents were not "well equipped" to  express unconditional love to their kids although from looking at this picture, they were clearly doing something right.  As I continued to stay with this meditative experience, I wrote down something that feels profoundly important: "Parents didn't do it right, but that doesn't mean that I am not who I see in that picture--I feel it expanding within me and out from me and it nurtures itself."  I then wrote: "Sorrow comes up as I think of being responsible for nurturing that six month old me, and I feel the unfairness of having to do it, but the big experience of feeling that joy and openness well up inside me is undeniable and gives me strength to to sense that I'm already doing it and it won't go away ."

  • In the picture I have chosen, I am about 3 years old, wearing a pink floral-patterned dress, while standing in the middle of a sunny garden of gladiolas. One hand is holding onto a flower stock while with the other hand I am extending another flower to the photographer and I am absolutely beaming with delight. On the first day of meditation, the quality that arose was my delight in nature, in its beauty, and in giving, in the joy that comes from sharing with others. Another day the quality that arose was that of love, the recognition that I was a very loved little child, who seems to be grounded and stable in this moment and in which I, too, am expressing love for others. Another day the quality that arose was that of “hereness” – in that moment, that little child knows in her heart who she is - “I am [name], I am happy, in the here and now.” (but without surface mind saying any of those words). Another day the quality that arose was that of sweetness, femininity, hospitality, openness and welcoming others to share a beautiful space. Usually these sessions bring me to tears because while I know these qualities to be my true essence, I have rationalized that what the world needs is bread and justice. I have finally pulled out my drawing materials again after many years and ordered a keyboard. It suddenly dawned on me today that if I ever do open that bed and breakfast, perhaps that’s what it could be called - Bread and Justice – with a big garden full of gladiolas, of course. How interesting that we call them “glads”!!!

  • I’m listening first, learning and practicing.  Being very introspective.  It’s working.

  • The photo I picked is a small, framed photo of me about 2 or 3. I knew immediately that the photo would be the photo I would pick for this practice. I used to sit on my Dad’s dresser and became mine after both my parents passed. Until this meditation practice I had never really looked at it, but like my meditation space, it has always been special to me. But why? In this meditation practice I found myself drawn into this image of me. At first, I couldn’t place where it was taken, but by today I realized it’s at the beach. I’m in shorts and a top and running through the dunes with the ocean in the background and dune grasses in the foreground. The quality I first saw in my 3-year-old self was sheer joy, then a playfulness. My arms are spread like I want to give the day a big hug. I would love to know what my Dad saw in that photo and why he framed it and kept it all those years. I think I could learn a lot from this younger version of myself. Get outside more, go to the beach, play, don’t be so serious, laugh, less worry, and more time with special people. I need to unearth her, she is inside me, but pushed under all this life stuff.

  • I was reluctant on meditating on the Photo. In fact I did have a photo readily on hand having recently moved. I contacted my daughter to text a few. For many years I have shied away from a camera and hid from a Mirror. Shame and Guilt dismantled my Self Esteem. Self forgiveness not a possibility. Meditating on the photo I rediscovered qualities for the most part I have suppressed and limited. At moments I took delight, realizing and recognizing these qualities are ever present and accessible. Other moments brought forth Sadness that I had not let these Essences shine in periods of Darkness. So many Precious moments have passed without me being Present. Awareness of these Essences will enable me to Thrive and  not just Survive.

Week 4:  Meditation 101

  • "Resistance means you're onto something" - Laura --    This week I've been flooded with resistance. First, I continue to resist meditating when I first wake up. Some of this is because I almost always snooze too long, and then decide that I don't have time to meditate. Second, I resist meditating in my chosen meditation space, instead defaulting to meditating in bed at night. Third, I resist believing that meditation is the most important thing in my life, regularly choosing Tasks of Great Importance (organizing the recycling, repotting plants, and so on. ahem.) over the Path. Finally, I resist being nice to myself when I don't meditate. Tara Brach famously calls this the second arrow, i.e. I didn't do the thing I should have done (first arrow), and now I feel shame because I didn't do the thing I should have done (second arrow). I'm still finding ways to identify the resistance and move through it. Sometimes the resistance takes the form of denial or fantasy, i.e. "Yes, I can totally respond to four emails, start the dishwasher, walk the dog, and have energy left to meditate" or "Tomorrow I'll get up to meditate but first I need to stay up too late watching The Queen's Gambit." I'm trying to welcome this resistance. By the way, I had an open mind/blue sky moment a few days ago -- it had been a long time. 

  • Initially, I found this week's guidance to gently move away from giving attention to my breath to an more open experience of awareness to be very challenging.  I felt uncomfortable giving up the anchor of having something for my mind to focus on actively.  I've spent my life insisting, both internally and externally (with shockingly little success), that the world follow rules that I set up, so focusing on something seemingly concrete and orderly is a deeply ingrained habit. As I continued with the daily meditation. largely driven by the recent realization that the world is not going to "give in," I was increasingly able to give up a sense of needing to feel "purposeful" and just be, without any agenda.  Not so much because I consciously remembered to take up the exercise suggested by Laura, but more spontaneously, I was bringing this sense of detachment from analysis and emotional reaction to my daily activities.  Particularly, as I observed interactions with others in which I have typically found myself being subtly self-protective (and often, not so subtly), I was able to be consciously more open.  This, in turn, allowed me to appreciate the positives in others.  I've continued to meditate before I do anything else in the morning--this seems to be helpful in setting a foundation for the day and facilitating the shift toward greater openness.

  • When I started this class, I told myself I would follow the guidelines and not quit. I tend to make deals with myself and like to set challenges/rules for myself; like when I diet, when I exercise, and when I work. So, my meditation challenge is to meditate 100 days in a row, in hopes that it will become a habit. This morning was day 29 and I have to say it is getting easier. Before this week, I didn’t always practice first thing. But after this week’s assignment, I found doing it first thing in the morning, that it didn’t come to mind as something I had to do, but something I just do. My struggle/resistance is how to quiet my mind while pushing out all the noise. What if what I’m listening for is something that should be pushed out?

  • One of the things I have really appreciated about the pandemic is that I no longer set an alarm clock. It has been absolutely wonderful to wake up when my body is ready – whether that might be 7:30 one day, or 6:45 another day. I had a very nice routine that began with a walk of mindful awareness, then a session of meditation while breakfast was cooking, and then I would start my work day.  So I was reluctant to switch that routine, but I did, and now this week I had to set the alarm again to be able to meditate every day at the same time. Thus, I began my days this week already in a state of irritation and have generally been feeling irritated all week, even asking myself the point of meditating at all, if the point is not to seek any answers, why bother? Why did I have to change what had worked for me so well? Is this resistance? I don’t know, but I laugh and tell myself that the people who thought the Kool-aid smelled funny also resisted.

  • First impact statement:  The most striking thing for me this week is having more emotions come up. My wife and I are very different personalities, and in one disagreement I became  very angry - almost scary... I really felt the anger in my body, with heat in my chest and cheeks. That was the most dramatic. Other examples from my "stops" this week: Our dog was looking up, hoping to be noticed. I was about to walk by, but instead I knelt down, focusing on him, rubbing his ears, and such tenderness arose in me...other times, just looking through windows I felt a similar tenderness, as well as awe at the beauty all around.  On the cushion, I've had glimpses of what Laura has called "resting in awareness" in several of my meditation periods - it seems a bit easier to let go of a thought, sensation, or emotion, allowing it just to pass. Many other times, I feel like I'm doing meditation wrong...my belly breathing doesn't come easily, my jaw is tense (a chronic issue) and very resistant to opening.  Looking forward to seeing/hearing my sanghistas in this evening's session!   Second impact statement:  My wife and I, both retired, are co-parents of Woolrich, a lively Lab/border collie mix. He has a daily "first pee" walk every morning at 6 am and we alternate days, each of us equally. This is a longstanding agreement. Once I started this course, I returned to more frequent morning meditation, and if I have dog walk duty, I meditate as soon as I get home and shed our coats and boots. This has been working well for me...until the Session 4 assignment to meditate at the same time every single day. Somehow I felt that I had been cheating, or would be perceived as not sticking with the program. It took me until last night to realize that I *am* being consistent within the structure of my life!

Week 5:  Resistance

  • This week I sat for meditation every morning as usual. I watched for “resistance” and followed the usual practice of returning to my breath whenever a thought would arise, but usually these thoughts were what I would describe as “harmless” – just a distraction over a sound… “hmm, wonder what that was…??” and it occurred to me that the point wasn’t to go searching for resistance. Where I encountered resistance is outside of my practice – I “resist” doing my work or my floor exercises!! But after reading the poem, I realize that “resistance” can be in the form of a mean thought, etc. I watched as these thoughts also arise during the day and tried to apply the technique but can’t say that it felt particularly applicable. I felt as if I had a hammer for something that needed a screwdriver… couldn’t really figure out how to use the tool for the “problems” at hand – for example, that of indecision – such as, should I take the early separation package or not? Surface mind is like the long-suffering spouse, who looks over to intuitive mind and sighs heavily, saying, “Yup, same old, same old. All I get is the silent treatment. Nothing changes. Everything is left up to me. All the decisions, big or small, from deciding on dinner to choosing a career…”.  Or is my “resistance” in accepting the fact that whatever I decide ultimately makes no difference!! But if that is true, “I” am still left with having to make a decision.

Week 6:  What Would Kindness Do?

  • Kindness Log (Days 1 – 5)

 Day 1 - Friday, Nov 20th

1. E-mailed my cousin with additional information in response to a request he had made, even though he had not acknowledged the messages and information I had sent previously.

2. Sent a message of encouragement to a friend going on a date.

3. Joined the Friday night Zoom cocktail hour to support our little community of friends.

 

Day 2 – Saturday, Nov 21st

1. Donated a gift card to the building’s food drive for the community (also helped me to finally put that gift card to some good use!)

2. Made my regular weekly trip to farmer’s market to support local & donated 1 dozen eggs to community food drive.

3. Shared the produce with my neighbor who is immune-compromised.

 

Day 3 – Sunday, Nov 22nd

1. Spent time to write thoughtful responses to emails from 2 friends.

2. Listened with compassion in a FaceTime with an ill friend.

3. Brought my saved-up plastic bags to the recycling bin – it was reopened after being closed since pandemic began! Kindness for the earth!

 

Day 4 – Monday, Nov 23rd

1. Responded with courtesy to our secretary, RATHER THAN SCREAMING IN FRUSTRATION!!, and tried once again to appreciate the wonderful qualities in this person who does not have the capacity to grasp the most basic instructions, despite patient explanations, and to accept that this will not change.

2. Tried to be kind to myself over the frustration I felt in this situation.

3. Completed an online survey with care and attention.

 

Day 5 – Tuesday, Nov 24th

1. Sent a nice Thanksgiving e-mail to a friend.

2. Listened with compassion to a colleague about challenges with teaching online.

3. Invited a friend to meet for coffee the next time he is in the neighborhood.

  • https://music.youtube.com/watch?v=y53owTcFjpU&feature=share
    Impact Report:
    Resistance,
    Opposite Action,
    Reluctantly,
    Do it Anyway,
    Reclusive,
    Resilience,
    Looking Down,
    Hold your Head Up!
    Hold your Head High,
    Higher,
    Nows the Time,
    For Liberation,
    Act Now in Gratitude,
    Rooted in Love,
    For All inclusive,
    Don’t forget You!
    Blessings!
    🙏🏼🌍☮️✝️☸️

  • It's been helpful for the last week or so to listen to Laura's guided meditation on kindness followed right away by listening to the shorter guidance on non-resistance. From my experience with this, it seems that  the greatest kindness I can share with myself currently is to create a mental/spiritual state in which I can deeply (if briefly, at a conscious level) experience and grieve a long held sense of being unsupported.  This has played itself out as I've brought up the image of myself as an infant, expressing pure, open joy and, following the guidance, shining my natural caring reaction on my current self and a  changing set of memories/images from my past.  Each time (until today, when I seemed to be consolidating what I've been experiencing), I spontaneously started to sob quietly--an experience that feels remarkably cleansing.   In terms of my outer experience, as I've described a bit to the group, I've started to go on some dates and communicated with a number of women through Match. I'm finding that I'm being significantly less negative in my judgments of the women I'm encountering and more open to meeting them as they are, different, but not (as I used to feel) disappointing. It's very much a work in progress, and I'm pretty sure that it has as much (or perhaps everything) to do with showing myself kindness, and therefore not needing another person to fill some deep sense of need, rather than noticing things I hadn't seen before. 

  • While I've managed to meditate most days, I only stuck with the kindness lists for the first week or so. While I had plenty of instances of showing kindness to others, I struggled to find times I showed kindness toward myself. Does Pilates count as kindness? What about forgiving myself for eating cookies? It's almost like I don't understand how to be kind to myself. One of my friends says that self-care has to be enjoyable, and I find that confusing too. What DO I do that's enjoyable? Most of the time I'm not even sure how to have fun. A consistent practice continues to help me stay in the day, and I sometimes have glimpses into the Open Sky Mind which is like flying!

  • The Red Flag 🚩 is Up,

      Notice it and take Down!
      Nows the Time to fly the White Flag 🏳!
      I Surrender to Resistance and Welcome It All.
      I Surrender my Self Judgement,
      I Surrender my Judgement of Others,
      I Will root myself in Kindness and Love💜.
      Befriend my Inner Child,
      Befriend the the True Essence of all Beings.
      Kindness is an Action,
      May I abide in it’s Essence,
      May All abide in it’s Essence,
      Let Kindness Permeate the Earth 🌍!
      Let it Be,
      Bless it Be!
      Metta,
      In Loving Kindness,
      In Tenderness,
      In Gentleness,
      In Gratitude,
      To All On and Off the Path!
      🙏🏼🙏🏼🌍☮️✝️☸️

  • My day-to-day life is peaceful and that is how I’m kind to myself. My husband and I are well suited for each other. We find the time to play cards and/or a game every evening, which I look forward to. My work is satisfying and not too stressful. I have lifelong friendships. I take the time to do the things I enjoy, a walk, a phone call, shopping, or cooking. Meditating first thing is the morning, is something I also look forward to. I’ve always started my mornings with “quiet time”, even when my kids were small I needed time before they got up to enjoy the quiet. Some acts of kindness I brought attention to these past two weeks: more smiling with my eyes, let’s face it masks are a hinderance in this example, I thanked store employees for their service. I held the door for someone, I listened without suggesting, I shopped and cooked a nice dinner for Thanksgiving, even though it was just for the two of us, and I told my drug addicted, adult son “I will always love you”, when he was spiraling out of control.

  • Kindness Log (continued, Days 6 – 13) 

        Day 6 – Wednesday, Nov 25th 

        Day 7 – Thursday, Nov 26th 

  • 1. I went back to listen to Laura’s talk again, to consider what aspect of my life needs more kindness? I have been told many times that I am too hard on myself. Even though at this stage I have “rung up the white flag” on most of the hopes and dreams I had for my life. No partner? no kids? no dream job? Meh. Oh well.  But is it acceptance or resignation? Not sure. “Be thankful for what you have.” I used to become INCENSED when people said that to me as they wheeled off with a stroller of twins.  But finally, it seems the anger towards the universe that I had felt so intensely for many years has subsided. I have come to a place where I am grateful and it does feel genuine, I am not faking it to be accepted among polite company, those “others” with the enviable Norman Rockwell thanksgiving day portrait kind of life. (Now that was MEAN!! Stop it!) In the days of my youth it was ads with “the Pepsi generation” that inspired me to ponder how I could get that life? Now, it’s the retired couple on the beach, with arms outstretched to greet grandchildren running happily towards them. When the expression “get a life!” was popular, it would fill me with frustration because I could never figure out how!  ​Well, to be “kind to myself” involves accepting the fact that I tried, I really tried to “get a life.” I am reminded of the expression that “Expecting life to be fair (kind?), is like expecting the lion not to eat you because you didn’t eat him.”  My response is now “Keep calm, and carry on (being kind anyway.)”

 

  • 2. I have no trouble being kind to others but I don’t really understand what it means or how to be kind to myself. I grew up in a very Christian household. The message (between the lines) was that love is sacrifice (for others), love is service (to others); think of Christ who made the ultimate sacrifice. Love thy neighbor as thyself… so often we stop after “love thy neighbor.”  There was no role model for how to be kind to myself. In the Guided Meditation, I have no difficulty emoting kindness towards my younger self, but have no clue how to “translate that” into kindness towards myself as I am right now. Other than maintaining a healthy lifestyle, with proper food, rest and  exercise.

 

  • 3. Maybe I was “kind to myself” in the sense that I made a wonderful thanksgiving dinner – the whole thing – just for myself. Set the table beautifully, with candles and lovely music. (and also delivered turkey n fixings to my neighbor.)

 

  • Miscellaneous entries – thereafter my log entries were no longer systematic or daily…

 

  • Today I thought about our instructor and each of the participants in the course. I imagined each person, their name and face, in their sacred meditation space, I thanked them for their practice and I wished them loving kindness.  

 

  • I sent my best friend the 2 poems we received for this week, and quoted the last two lines for her “How can I be more loving? How can I be more kind?”

 

  • I sent my friend a picture of 3 beautiful leaves I collected on the walk today.

 

  • I stopped to admire some last roses of the season. Still so beautiful in the sun.    

 

  • I wrote in my gratitude journal – entries 100 and 101 – the final pages! I concluded by noting that one moment of gratitude turns into a lifetime of gratitude, of living in gratitude. This applies equally to kindness.  

 

  • I took part in the Zoom call and shared wonderful insights but it felt as though it was all coming from the head, when will I be able to make that transition??

 

  • I wrote to my aunt in France, in French.

 

  • I continue to serve on the non-profit board.

 

  • I volunteer my time to work on a training course.

 

  • My neighbor needed helping with the sound identification – helped out.

 

  • Day 13 - Wednesday, December 2nd.

      1. I had started out well, making regular entries, but I soon tired of it. “Ok, I get the

         point…”

      2. Perhaps the most “meaningful” progress was being kind to myself on Sunday

          and putting my own spiritual nourishment first, instead of forcing myself to

          finish a paper that was due yesterday. Submitted an incomplete draft

          yesterday. Meh.

  • Looking back at my meditation notes since using this fortnight’s guided meditation, I’ve found myself in a variety of states.  The first day of the kindness tape, I had such a beautiful day: in a sunny mood, feeling bathed in warmth and acceptance and love. I’m usually worrier (as in, I have a tendency to worry. What a difference in my mindset! I felt much more at ease with myself, less tense, sunny, capable, confident, light. So upbeat!

  • Day 2: Really low energy in practice. I may have stayed up late: felt sooooo fuzzy and sleepy. Almost like on some level I was trying to process all that positivity. The very suggestion to be kind to myself felt alien. What does that even mean??

  • Practice sessions that followed went very differently. By the time Laura’s voice prompted me to open to sensations, my lower lip would be quivering madly, on the verge of tears - and before I knew it I would be sobbing, sometimes deeply. It seemed that I was getting a little better at meeting whatever came up.  

  • Along the way I’ve discovered more kindnesses: remembering to hold my body in a more relaxed way; telling myself that I am fine just as I am; recalling pleasant experiences; showing affection; taking more pleasure in things my wife and I do together.

  • Today’s emotions in practice were the most intense yet. Emotions other than sadness came up: grief for the wordless distress of my infant self; anger, resentment, even rage; and grief. The latest piano piece accompanied them all.  

  • One thing I know for sure: The kindest thing I can do for myself right now is to keep learning, keep practicing.  And I feel more and more grateful that we are all held in this sangha. 

Week 7:  Honoring Authenticity

  • My impact report today is about extending my thoughts and prayers to Frank as he prepares to undergo surgery in a few minutes.  

        May you be happy and peaceful

        May you be safe from inner and outer harm

        May you be healthy and strong

        May you love and accept yourself exactly as you are

 

        May you be the light onto yourself

 

        With best wishes to Frank for a full and speedy recovery.  Looking forward to

         seeing him (and the cat) next Thursday.

 

         And with the same best wishes to all my friends in the class who shared

         courageously powerful stories last night.

 

         It’s all Grace.

      Blessings to You!
      💜💜💜💜🙏🏼🙏🏼🙏🏼🙏🏼✝️☸️✝️☸️✝️☸️

  • Thank you to everyone who shared their positive energy as I underwent my surgery yesterday.  I had a sense of inner calm and peace which I certainly didn’t expect.  A reflection of the kindness and best wishes sent to me, as well as the kindness I have shown myself during this process.  From selecting the doctor, timing & location of the surgery, and even need for the procedure, I was able to be more of a part of the ocean, rather than always swimming against the tide.  I even made chocolate chip cookies for the nurses and staff at the surgical center!  I am recovering peacefully with minimal discomfort, and with the kindness and help of my close friends.  I will see everyone next Thursday for our last class. And thanks to all who showed the courage to share their vulnerable parts last Thursday.  It helped with finding the courage to share a vulnerable part of myself with you all.

      Namaste,

      Frank

  • Hello wonderful souls.  When I heard about this week's focus on comparison, I thought, "oh no, not that" - I knew that this would hit me deep. No sooner did I finish my meditation than I opened an benign email from a meditation teacher that had a photo of a woman in a wooded area.  Instead of noticing the beauty of the woods, I focused on how slender the woman in the photo was.  In forty-plus years of dealing with an eating disorder, it is so easy to go there.  I'm grateful for the prompt from Laura that I had just heard and could practice.  Moving is messy.  Trying to take care of simple things like setting up a new phone number led to a rabbit hole of technology frustration.  I found myself saying that I **should** be handling these frustrations better. That I should be able to adapt instantaneously.  Thankfully, sometimes when those thoughts come up, I can pause and find kindness for myself and reflect that things are unfolding just as they're meant to.  I can slow down and show that small little girl in my photo who is inside this adult body some compassion for feeling a bit lost.  I've so enjoyed being on this journey with you all.  I was touched deeply by everyone's brave honesty last week and think of you often, sending you love and healing.  

  • So I find that the more inside myself I see the less words I have to speak with......it is an odd phenomena.    But one simple thing has stood out......don't ask me why it has taken this long......but the joy in choice.   I don't have to meditate ...I don't have to be with you .........I don't have to do spend time on the sometimes painful but often poignant insights but now it seems I clearly choose to do that.   It is a profoundly freeing feeling.  The choice was always there, but it felt like duty, not choice.   What else this course has taught me is the value of all of us collectively going through this.   I see in myself  a connection  with so much that has been said.  So again a profound thank you for being more articulate than I am on so many things.   I am going to read this tonight as a thank you and because it truly reflects how I feel.....I have said this above and I will say it again.....just thank you all for your courage and for sharing your wisdom.

  • The practice for this week was and is a huge challenge for me. Even the poem made me angry – “may you trust that you are exactly where you are meant to be” but at the same time “may you use those gifts that you have received.” How CAN I use my gifts that I am longing to use when life precludes me from those very opportunities!!? My greatest challenge is not comparison with others, it is comparison with what Oh, might have been. I don’t want YOUR dream – I want MINE!! And I am happy for you that yours came true. Is the rosebud shriveled on the vine REALLY where she was meant to be? Why not instead the dried rose, having fully blossomed, having fully given of her gifts? She had no envy of the lily but no one really knows the dried rosebud – no clue who she really is.  Perhaps this can only be fully grasped by those in later stages of life, because for so much of life, the possibility of fulfillment still beckons.  While I have struggled with this assignment, one window that has opened up is to find out how others have dealt with this loss of fulfillment, lost opportunity? How have others mourned their unfulfilled dreams? I will seek out such stories or write them myself.

  • I haven't found myself comparing myself to others too much this week, so I've not had the opportunity to practice reminding myself that I am where I need to be in that context.  Where I did get some practice was in reflecting on myself during this week's guided meditation.  Initially, I found it a bit jarring to move from the intense group focus we had last Thursday evening to focusing attention on my sense of myself individually.  I had similar experiences for the first few days, but as the week progressed, I began to feel the "rightness" of refocusing on my personal experience of the world and, finally, on that part of the meditation focusing attention on the way that the universe is expressing itself through me.  It feels very grounding to be able to feel both my individuality and the connection we share as part of the whole.  What a wonderful reminder of the beauty of sharing meditation, stories and energy with all of you.  It  has been an honor and a joy.  Namaste fellow travelers and thank you.

POST-COURSE:

  • About 18 months ago, I took an online course with an excellent teacher about working with fear. One day near the end of the course, my practice became a river of deep, deep sobbing. I was discovering the depth of my own unacknowledged pain. It was profound, and -- it scared the s@#% out of me. Though I got a lot out of that course, I didn't feel equipped to process what I had uncovered, and I put it on hold. "The Art of Practice" became a powerful sequel to working with the "fear" course. The daily practices - and the courage I witnessed in fellow sangha members, whether during the meetings or via impact reports - gave me the courage to move deeper. And least for today, I feel able to hold fear, resistance and pain in a healing way.   Many thanks to you and to each of my fellow students for the blessing of  walking this journey together. I will keep connecting on Wednesdays and in the group as much as possible.

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