Friday, May 20, 2016

High Stakes Practice - Between Mother's Day and My Birthday

Here's my talk from last night's weekly Dharma Gathering at the Madison Shambhala Center. In it I discuss the idea that everyone may have been your mother (and what that might mean for your practice if you and your mom don't get along, or, for instance, if your mom is dead, like mine). As well, we weave in the slogan "Self Hatred Never Helps," plus seeing the enemy that is us as the friend that is us, and more.

40 minutes.
Listen here.

Saturday, May 07, 2016

Feminist Buddhism and Interdependent Liberation

"How was your weekend with Pema Chodron?" many people asked me coming home from Awaken Chicago last weekend. It is true, I was very excited to be in the same room (mind you, large chapel) as Pema Chodron for the first, and likely only, time in my life. I have long loved her books, her talks, her retreats. Like many people (women, especially) she has saved my life and heart many times. And because she is the name most people know, I told people about seeing her ahead of time.

But the fact is I also knew that Angel Kyodo Williams would be there, and I was excited to see her. I had no idea how much she was going to be involved - it turned out, a lot, giving the very first keynote talk - and how powerful she was going to be. She was uber in her element - completely riveting and engaging, encouraging us to disrupt via our meditation practice and life, as much as finding peace and spreading equality in more calm and traditionally meditative manners. 

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Money and Shame

For most of us, money and shame are a lot closer to each other than we'd like to admit.

I am really feeling this one recently. It's not like I haven't known I had shame about money, but it's coming up in an irrefutable way. My desire to not discuss it. The tears or anger when I do. All of my family's history in talking about it in odd ways or not talking about it.

When I struggle with it, I try to remember how universal it is, and how immediately sweeping away powerful it is for so many people. So easy to get on that ride of money shame and ride it all day long and all night long. I am interested in renunciation - not renunciating spending or material goods, which, while budgeting is important, totally reducing spending to nothing won't help. I am ready to renunciate samsara - the ultimate repulsive shame cycle carnival ride. But I know from experience that has to happen over time, bit-by-bit, again and again. These habits are deep and well-worn.

Friday, April 08, 2016

Simple and Profound

Sometimes I have an idea for a post that seems too simple. Part of me thinks it needs to have multiple paragraphs, a story, etc. but the fact is, so much of what I practice, study and teach is the kind of simple profundity that merits a single paragraph of reading - and a lifetime of constant contemplation. I don't always trust I can communicate the simple profundity, even though I know full well I've experienced it many times in something as small as a haiku. Or simply lying in bed, or meditating.

What is my post today? Lying in bed this morning, I heard the Wisconsin April birds chirping: Robins, Cardinals, Finches, Sparrows, Black-Capped Chickadees. Because we live less than a block from a major street and a busy intersection, in less than a breath the bird sounds were covered by trucks and traffic. And it hit me: some part of me believes the birds stops singing when the trucks go by. But they don't. I just stop hearing them.

This may sound obvious, but that's how simple profundity works. More and more I think it is about the gap between our conscious knowing, which says: of course I know I just don't hear the birds at that point, just like I know the sun hasn't gone away when the clouds cover it from my view; and our child mind, our unconscious and naive perception, which isn't so sure. 

We like to think our conscious mind and beliefs are what drive us: rational, logical, adult. But the fact is, they don't. So many of our decisions and opinions are shaped not by what we know in a conscious sense, but by our unconscious beliefs. 

That's what I have to say. Almost scoffable in its simplicity. Scoff if you want. But I am going to keep paying attention. These moments pop open my perception and give me a glimpse of the complexity and richness of my mind and the world around me, if I let them. This morning, right now, I am letting them. I invite you to, too.

Thursday, March 31, 2016


It's been awhile since I posted on either blog. Life got quick and compacted - travel, sickness and even lots of inspiration all vying for my attention. I got off rhythm with posting, which happens, like so many aspects of our lives.

But the big thing has been resolving, finally, or so it seems, my twenty plus year struggle with Irritable Bowel Syndrome. I was diagnosed in my twenties, but have had symptoms since I was thirteen. At the time, a doctor simply told me not to eat what bothered my digestive system. Basically the diagnosis was a default - since I didn't have cancer or Crohn's, or other possible severe diagnoses, IBS was what they called it. I cut out gluten and dairy, known culprits. What threw me off, however, for years after, ever since, is that sometimes when stressed or at other untraceable times, I get sick anyway: constipation, painful trapped gas, stabbing pains.