Thursday, February 26, 2015

What do we do when anger shows up?

Anger shows up at a party and starts causing division and tension.  What do we do with anger?

Do we act as a passive bystander?  Maybe if we pretend this isn't happening it will go away.  At the very least this isn't my fault so I am not going to get involved.

Do we rally the troops, barge in and meet anger with anger?  Let's see who wins.  Probably no one.

Not passive, not aggressive.  What others options do we have?

We can practice fierce compassion, which looks like openness and doing the emotional labor of advocating for what is right.

Being open means being fierce, because it is definitely easier to sit in back and not get involved.  Being open also means being willing to listen without bias or judgement, of being able to drop your assumptions and perception in favor of seeing clearly.

Doing emotional labor means doing the hard work of being patient and respectful, acting with kindness and most of all, not shutting down when fear shows up. 

None of this is easy, but it is important.  This is why we have our practice, because we need to learn how to work with our own anger and aggression.  We need to learn how to actually be open and not shut down in the face of fear and uncertainty.

This starts with you, but it affects everyone. 


Wednesday, February 25, 2015

What are we fighting for?

The guy in front of you cuts you off, you flick him off and ride his tail.  What are you fighting for?

Your day hasn't gone to plan, your late for your appointment and that one guy was rude.  Who are you fighting?

You've lost control of the situation and have nothing left to do but be angry.  Why?

When people disrespect you, treat you like a fool, take advantage of you, is your anger justified?

In all of these situations, what is your role?  You are one of the main actors in each of these situations, so how are you to act?  Surely we would not be surprised if you retaliated, put up a good fight and vented your anger.

It might be worth looking, really deeply, what exactly it is that we are fighting for.  If you fight for this thing, whatever it is, how does that play out if you continue to put up a fight?  Where does the fight end?  What does our family look like if everyone fights for this thing?  What about our community and our schools?

What are you fighting for?


Tuesday, February 24, 2015

A natural process?

Inflammation occurs when the body suffers an insult or is damaged in some way.  The body unleashes a complex inflammatory cascade to fight off the invasive stimulus in an attempt to minimize damage and restore health.  Inflammation is a natural process and is designed to promote a self-sustaining organism, but it can also lead to chronic disease.

Chronic inflammation leads to conditions such as arthritis, Chrohn's disease, heart disease and recent research even includes depression as a result of inflammation of the brain

So when is inflammation good, and when is it bad?

The difference from a biological perspective is whether it promotes health and well being.  Inflammation that leads to conditions such as arthritis or heart disease is bad, in that they are indicators of decreased quality of life and higher mortality.  Inflammation that leads to the restoration of health and the neutralizing of infection or injury is determined to be good.

How about anger?

Anger often results when we suffer an insult or attack from another person or from a challenging situation.  Does anger arise as a defense mechanism?  If so, what are we defending?  Is it designed to restore health and balance?  Or does the inflammation of our anger engender unease and further conflict?

When is anger an appropriate response and what does it look like?  When is anger unjust and disruptive? 

It might be worth contemplating.  What do you think?


Monday, February 23, 2015

Violence, anger and inflammation.

I invite you to join me in a discussion.  

I think we need to talk about violence, anger and inflammation.  Not so much as it applies to politics and warfare, but as it applies to ourselves and our situation.  Where does it come from, and why is it so prevalent?

How do we respond when things get rough?
How do we approach disrespect in our relationships, workplace and community?
Is anger useful?  When and how?
What is the point of inflammation and does it actually achieve that purpose?
What is the root cause of anger?  Is it the same cause for violence?
How do we actually practice non-violence and commit to doing no harm in our own life?  How do we work with our own anger and reduce our inflammatory response to stressful situations?

I don't know where this meditation will lead us, but I hope you will join me in digging deeper.

Share your thoughts.  Share a story.  Share your insight.  Share it on your blog.  Share it via email.  Invite others. 


I look forward to hearing from you.

Friday, February 20, 2015

First flight.

Few of us have ever flown on our own, we have let others be the pilots of our life, carrying us to our destination.

When trying to take off for the first time, you may make some common mistakes.

You may try to put yourself in the right position, like the top of a cliff.
You may spend all your time trying to perfect your vehicle.
You may try to take off with the wind, hoping it sweeps you away.

The best way however, is to fly into the wind.

The path directly into the headwind, the source of most resistance, is the most likely for success.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Own it.

What are you?

In pain.

Good.  Own it.

Now you know where to start your practice.

Monday, February 16, 2015

The limit of time.

I don't have time.  I ran out of time.  I was too busy.  I got distracted.  This is taking a loooong time.  When is this going to be over.

Time doesn't exist.  It is not real. 

Our experience of time is relative.  It depends on change and motion and how we measure it.  We are the creators of our world.  When we decide that something needs to get done, suddenly we have all the time in the world to do it.  We create the time for it.

The Buddha taught that karma or actions create your future experience.  You are the creator of heaven and hell, or at least your experience of them.  But your actions also create your perception of time.  Your choices, your decisions, your priorities, your intentions and your actions all create your experience of space and time.  You are a universal monarch, an all-creating king.   

What kind of world are you creating?

Friday, February 13, 2015

Caring is not emotional.

Caring is not emotional, and when things are going badly caring doesn't mean losing your emotions. 

Caring is intentional.  You choose to care.

Caring means showing up, even when things are tough.  It means doing the work, even when you don't want to.  It means your still here- for me, for them, for us- because you want to be.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015


Sit for ten minutes.

What was your experience?
Where did you experience resistance?
How do you handle that resistance?
Can you know your experience without conceptually elaborating it as you experience it?
Is mental chatter necessary to know your experience?
What is mind?
What are its characteristics and qualities?
When your mind is stable and calm, look deeper, what is there?
When your mind is agitated and restless, why?  Why can't you fix that?  And if you can, how?
What is the nature of mind?
Is it permanent or changing?  Does it exist?  How so?

Start sitting regularly.  Start asking questions and looking for answers.  Then ask more questions.  Keep going deeper.

Where is the end?  Where does it stop?  When do you reach the ground?  Are you sure that is it?

Monday, February 9, 2015

Constant wonder.

The answer is not that important to the astronomer.  They have questions, lot of them actually, but the answers to those questions lead to more questions so there is a constant state of wonder.

The answer is not that important to the meditator either.  They also have lots of questions, but the answers to those questions lead to more questions resulting in a constant state of wonder.

Wonder and fascination fuel passion.  Amateurs are passionate.  Passionate amateurs become experts, masters in their trade.

The astronomer starts out by looking up at the clear night sky with amazement and wondering, "What is all of that?"
The meditator starts out by looking inside at a clear mind with amazement and wondering, "What is this?"

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Coursing through your veins.

We interact with a lot of people in our life.  We share moments, constantly.  Sometimes we may share a long length of time with a person and remain unchanged.  Other times, we can have a brief exchange, an intimate encounter, or a timely interaction and it stays with us forever.  


It is hard to say why, or how, or even what.  But you see it, you know it in your heart and feel it coursing through your veins.  You have been changed, blessed, impacted.  You can never repay their kindness and generosity, just as the earth can never repay the sun for its light and warmth.  You don't have to repay it; just share it, amplify it and give it to others.  

Friday, February 6, 2015



They are all so hard to find, we mustn't let them slip through our fingers.  They are worth the struggle.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Freedom AND Opportunity.

Secure these two first.

Freedom for negative circumstances.
Freedom from negative mental states.
Freedom from ignorance.
Freedom from endless distraction.
Freedom from heavy burdens and debts.
Freedom from conflict.


Freedom without resources and you are stuck.  Resources without freedom and they are wasted.  Cultivate both.  When making decisions, keep these two in mind.