Thursday, September 29, 2016

Good Again

The prompt for my weekly contemplative writing classes a few weeks ago was on when you first knew you were good. The writings out of this prompt were powerful - as often pointing to realizing when we thought we were bad, or told we were bad, as times when we realized or heard we are good.

This writing in particular stuck out to me. Deb Lamers, one of my students, uses many lovely metaphors around goodness, and doesn't mince words about how an early sexual trauma, unfortunately quite familiar to many, changed her sense of inherent worth for a long time.
Read all the way to the end to see how she pairs Catholic School with Alice in Wonderland!

As always, student writings are unedited, presented as is, written in twenty minutes without planning.
Enjoy Deb's tenderness and kindness to herself.
Once upon a time, I thought I was good. No one ever told me I was, but the way my grandpa and grandma, aunts, and uncles, and even my mother and father treated me, I thought I was good. A good girl.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Sensitivity to Sensitivity

This week, the prompt for my weekly contemplative writing classes started "I first knew I was different when..." or "I first knew he was different when..."

The quote at the bottom of the prompt:
“But even though we may not have been fully conscious of the racism of our games, we did understand that racial stereotyping was titillating and a little bit taboo. And as a half, my understanding went deeper.” -Ruth Ozeki, The Face: A Time Code
I had considered making race the prompt - "I first became aware of race when..." and then, decided to broaden it, while still keeping it specific. Race definitely came up - currently, all of my students are caucasian, white people who can, if they choose to, ignore race. As I know working more and more with us white folks on race, though, just because someone is white doesn't mean they ignore race. So for those who wrote about race, it was powerful enough to make me want to do an entire day retreat on race. What a significant and important topic for especially white people to write spontaneously about and share - mainly with each other. If people of color choose to, they can witness it and share, too - but we can be mighty messy as we figure things out out loud.

However, because of the broadened but still specific prompt, two things came up in the majority of writings, things I hadn't expected but am not surprised by.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Six Years Later...

An amazing testimonial appeared today in my mailbox from a long-term student, with whom I am now working on - and almost done with - a book! Thank you, Jo Simons...

I was searching for something in my stack of papers and came across my first two writing assignments in your class.  It was SO amazing to read them now with the book done!  OMG Miriam!  You really launched me!!!!!

The prompt was “what’s the secret to good writing?”  Here’s what I wrote.

The secret to good writing is in the pen.  I am celebrating pens of late since we use them so rarely.  I miss handwriting!  You can tell so much about a person by how their handwriting looks.  But technology has robbed us of that — we type notes to each other that do not give a clue as to how we feel or who we really are.  To me, this is a tragic loss — part of the dehumanization of our species. 

Saturday, September 03, 2016

Spontaneous Discipline

Sometimes, especially when I am behind on blogging, like I have been recently, I like to cheat by posting a talk I gave. That's the case today. The link leads you to soundcloud, and a recording of a talk I have tonight, at the Madison Shambhala Center, on Spontaneous Discipline.

Like most of our Thursday evening weekly dharma gathering talks, this one is based on a chapter in a collection of Chogyam Trungpa's talks. In this case, a new collection (of old talks) called Mindfulness in Action.

To tempt you to listen, and give you some framework, in the talk I cover the following:

1. How to define both spontaneity and discipline in a way that supports your practice and life.
2. How to work with obstacles as path instead of trying to get rid of them so you can keep going.
3. How to find joy in contentment - the absence of the drama of our traditional definitions of both being spontaneous and being disciplined.

Please listen in, enjoy, spread around!