In order to answer those questions “what matters most to me, what is my deepest intention to practice, or am I following a path with heart?”, the first step is to quiet the body and mind, to come into presence, so we can become still and listen deeply to our heart. As we learn to bring our full attention to life through our practice, and the quality of presence grows is us, we start to feel our love for the whole of life, for our planet and beings, and this love begins to permeate more and more our actions and our life. This guided meditation incorporates a reflection on death. If this is triggering difficult emotions within you, simply come back to feeling your breath in your heart, and asking “what matters most to me?”. Please take care of yourself and practice in a way that is most supportive of your needs in this moment.
This teaching explores the concept of setting our intention for our practice and for our life. This is an important reflection that we can do at the start of each day and each each sitting, setting the compass of our heart in the direction that we would like to head, to what matters most to you in life. As Zen master Suzuki Roshi said: “The most important thing is to remember the most important thing”.
We can choose what we pay attention to. Gratitude is that expanded capacity to take in and appreciate the beauty and mystery of life around us. Cultivating gratitude has lasting and important benefits, including lifting your mood, increasing satisfaction with life, and building resilience. This practice is inspired by my friend Marc Minkin.
In this teaching, we will explore what gratitude actually is, why it is beneficial to develop feelings of gratitude, what gets in the way of us feeling grateful, and practices that help us deepen our gratitude. Inspired by Tara Brach, Jack Kornfield, James Baraz, and Rick Hanson
Loving what is starts with being with what is, that’s the core of mindfulness. It involves asking ourselves two simple questions: what’s happening right now, and can I be with this or can I let this be? We begin by befriending what’s here, whatever it is. And then we offer some space to what’s here. The gift of this mindful presence is that when we stop pushing away the moment, when we let the moment be just as it is, space unfolds and opens. There’s a real freedom in not trying to make the moment different, sensing that this moment is enough.
“This is a liberating discovery, that we can shift from our unhealthy stories to well-being. Today, in our world and driving, in talking and shopping, in moving our body and taking care, we can choose which sound track to play. Will it be a broken record from the past, bringing bitterness or sorrow? Or will we release those thoughts and allow life’s wonder and possibility? By transforming the landscape of our thoughts, we can revolutionize our entire world.” – Jack Kornfield
“Let yourself visualize the effects of unskilful thought patterns such as annoyance, anger, self-judgment and so forth. Inwardly see how such thoughts affect you: the tension, the raising of your pulse rate, the discomfort. Outwardly see how such thoughts affect others who hold them, making them upset, rigid, even ugly. Then make the compassionate determination “I will never allow such states to make me lose my peace of mind” – The Dalai Lama
Take a moment to pause, give yourself permission to stop all the doing, and reconnect with a sense of presence and well-being within yourself.
In this classic mindfulness practice, start by letting the movement of the breath calm and settle your body and mind. Then widen the field of your attention to include other experiences, sensations, emotions or thoughts, alternating awareness of the breath or the acknowledgment of the waves of experience as they arise, met with kind attention. Keep it simple, stay just here and now… (inspired by Jack Kornfield)
Mindfulness of thoughts is not about stopping our thoughts, since that would be impossible. The key is instead to recognize our thoughts, accept that we have thoughts without judging ourselves for it, and stop identifying with them or believing in them. The moment we are recognizing and waking up out of a thought is a pivotal moment in this training, it is full of potential.