As always, I am excited about the New Year. There is the promise of something fresh, with new potential to emerge. It is like moving into a new house. However, when we move we bring a lot of old boxes from the old house with us. And we also know that the new house is fraught with challenges as well, some being personal, societal or environmental. What attitude can we bring to this new endeavor, so we can take the opportunity for a new beginning?
A few days ago, I was meditating in my special spot up in the backyard under the fig tree. Several difficult things had happened lately, one after the other. The last straw being my wallet with everything in it pickpocketed. Besides my own personal distress, I was also aware of the suffering and poverty that makes people take from others, on the background of the polarization and discord in our world. I thought that a deep, long meditation practice would clear my head and heart. It was the 24th of December and I wanted to be present for my adult kids, who were visiting from far away.
Following the instructions of my teacher Dan Brown, I was trying to hold a glimpse of the freedom that comes with resting in awareness, while at the same time trying to stay with the felt sense of what is difficult for me in this world. Unexpectedly, an image of Jesus rushed in. I was surprised as I don’t feel particularly close to the Christian religion. Then, I had this sudden insight that Jesus had struggled with a similar predicament, yet much more intensely. While being treated extremely badly, abused, betrayed and finally killed, he had tried embodying an awareness of the sacred, the divine, or of ultimate reality. I realized how he must have struggled to not lose his love, get discouraged or lose his openheartedness for others.
Just after the meditation my beloved mentor, the Buddhist scholar and social activist Joanna Macy called to wish me a Merry Christmas. I told her about my experience, and she told me how often she feels angry and judgmental at people who do not care for our world and all our wellbeing. I told her that I was experiencing a similar dilemma. How can we be engaged and loving, while tolerant and non-judgmental at the same time? It is so hard not to get caught in this righteous seeming anger.
HH the Dalai Lama was asked once, “What keeps you from getting overwhelmed when you see what is happening in Tibet and to your fellow countrymen?” He replied: “I trust in the sincerity of my heart’s intentions”. And when asked, “During the course of your life, what has been your greatest lesson?” He answered, “Mostly Bodhicitta. Altruism. It has helped a lot…It gives you inner strength, courage, and it is easier to accept situations.”
This is what I want to carry forward into the New Year: to live my engagement without anger and judgment, but with an open heart, trusting in my heart’s intentions.
Have a Happy New Year,
Please Note: On January the 8th at 7 pm we will have our next Solidarity and Compassion event at 7 pm at the Unitarian Society on Santa Barbara St. Our theme will be: “Grieving into New Life.” Remembering the Montecito Debris Flow tragedy, we will come together to respect our grief and find ways to go forward into a meaningful future. Alexis Slutzky, Michael Kearney and I will host this evening with meditation, music, and processing together.
On Saturday, January 25th from 3-5 pm, we will have an event at the Sacred Space in Summerland. Your participation in this event will support Mindful Heart Programs, a nonprofit that sustains and creates programs, such as Kind Mind SB, teaching mindfulness and compassion practices in schools. We particularly hope to raise funds for Singing Bowls and other instruments kids love when learning mindfulness. The event will include meditation, talks introducing our programs, Children’s testimonies, self-compassion practices as well as Anahita’s beautiful harp music and cookies.
In this era of global crisis, more than ever, we need to get out of the isolation of our bounded egos and heal not just the depth but the width of human suffering-to develop models of healing that include the world.
– Miriam Greenspan
During the last year, I have noticed that increasingly more people share feelings of anxiety, sadness, and hopelessness. Suicide-rates are going up and I hear more and more often of those who chose to take their lives. These are tragic losses for the individual’s families and communities.
Let us consider that our despair could be more than a personal phenomenon. When I reflect on the possibility that our feelings could be at least partly an expression of our collective nature, then we could see our hearts as megaphones for the fear and grief in our world. With this understanding, our anxiety is still hard to bear, but when we know that it is an expression of our interdependence, then we know that love and compassion go with it.
When we see our dark emotions, as Greenspan calls them, in purely individual terms, then we merely look inside and track difficult feelings back to our childhood, assuming that working through our family pain will free us from it. That may be only partly true.
The insight that our dark emotions may be an expression of our collective nature may bring an experience of belonging to something greater than ourselves, which can shift our perception as well as our experience. This leads us not only to look inwards but also outwards. Then we find the motivation to engage lovingly with our world. To become active on behalf of our threatened environment, of the many animals that are in danger, and the countless humans that are not taken care of, gives me a sense of agency, hope, and belonging. Let’s work together to make this world more safe, egalitarian and loving, then others and also, we, ourselves, will begin to heal.
This month’s Solidarity and Compassion Project on April 10that 7 pm at the Unitarian Society, Parish Hall will take the format of a World-Café. Our theme will be “Active Hope: Caring for our World.” Within the format of a café with tables, chairs, tea, coffee, cookies, and music, we will reflect together on how to make our world a healthier, happier place. Joanna Macy’s open questions will help us explore our thoughts and feelings with each other. We gather our resources from spirituality, psychology, science, and community-building to support each other in finding new ways forward that free us to feel and act on behalf of a world where everyone’s needs are respected. Please join us on this new adventure!
On April 7th, Michael and I will offer a half-day retreat “The Path to Self-compassion.” Please go to our website Mindfulheartprograms.org to register!
Only a few places are open in our four-day retreat, July 11-14, at Mt. Calvary Retreat House in Santa Barbara with Souken Danjo and me.
On September 20-22nd Harrison Heyl and I will offer a “Metta Retreat” practicing LovingKindness, Compassion, Forgiveness, and Gratitude within the container of Mindfulness.
On November 15-17 2019 Peter McGoey and I will co-facilitate a weekend meditation retreat for people in recovery & friends. Peter McGoey, MFT has been the director of Cottage Hospital’s recovery and rehab program for nearly 30 years.
We also want to announce that we are planning to give a Mindfulness and Compassion Facilitator program in 2020. This will be our third program of such kind in Santa Barbara.
Heart of Mindful Meditation
& Soken Danjo
Mount Calvary Monastery, SB
“Awakening The Heart”
Path to Self-Compassion
& Michael Kearney
Metta Retreat with
& Harrison Heyl
Mount Calvary Monastery, SB
|Weekly Sitting Groups
Led by Facilitators in our Heartwork Training Program“Mindfulness in Recovery” Wednesdays at 7:00 PM at The Alano Club – drop-in meditation group for people in recovery. Lead by Arno Jaffe
“Sound Bath and Aromatherapy Meditation” Thursdays 8:15-9:15
at Yoga Soup – Lead by Anahita Holden
Everyone welcome – Always free
Radhule Weininger, Ph.D., clinical psychologist, and teacher of Buddhist meditation and Buddhist psychology, is the founder and guiding teacher of the One Dharma Sangha as well as the founding teacher of Mindful Heart Programs in Santa Barbara, California. She is mentored by Jack Kornfield in her teaching and by Joanna Macy in her interest in Engaged Buddhism. Radhule has a strong interest in the direct experience of the sacred and how this can inspire our service to others. Her book “Heartwork: The Path of Self-Compassion“, with a forward by Jack Kornfield is published by Shambala Publications. Radhuleweininger
Michael Kearney, MD, a Palliative Care Physician with over 30 years experience. He has been interested in combining medical treatment with approaches that enhance the innate healing of body and mind, such as Buddhist meditation and Native Spirituality. Michael’s latest book, “The Nest in the Stream: Lessons from Nature on Being with Pain” was published by Parallax Press in February 2018. MichaelkearneyMD
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