Monday, February 26, 2018

A second is a long time.

All the real work in our practice takes place within a second.

Within a moment, we have the opportunity to be patient. To not get caught up in our own feelings or anxiety. To maintain our composure.

We have the opportunity available to us to respond, rather than react. To make a choice, rather than be propelled. To listen and understand, rather than retort.

A second lasts a long time, and it is within those brief moments that we get to decide who we are and who we want to be in the world.

Of course we are going to fail. Fail a lot. That is why it is called a practice. We have to keep practicing. What other choice do we have?

Friday, February 23, 2018


We all have negative self talk. We all beat up on ourselves more than we should. We are our greatest critic, and we don't mince words with ourselves.

This is a really deep seated aversion and guilt about who we are and who we should be. The root of the problem lies in our conception of who we are, but it is not enough to simply see that ego is the problem. If anything, seeing that ego is the problem can further inflame our self hatred, because we should know better and even do know better.

But what can we do about it?

Recognize for a moment that there is a part of you that knows what you did, what you said, or how you screwed up isn't you. That moment in time isn't you. It was just a sentence, or conversation, or an action.

Let's call that moment of confusion, ignorance or stupidity your smaller self. Then, the knowing aspect that recognizes the actions of the smaller self, but also recognizes that is not who you are, let's call that your wisdom self. 

Your smaller self screwed up. You acted inappropriately, or lost your cool, or said something stupid. It happens.

Your wisdom self sees how you embody many different facets and roles in this life. Your wisdom self sees the bigger picture, knows that you care, that you try to do the right thing and strive to meaningfully contribute. Most importantly, your wisdom self knows that your past affects who you are today, but it doesn't define who you are. You get to decide that. Let your wisdom self decide that.

When your stuck in your head, beating yourself up about what you said or did, take a moment to notice that smaller self and then step back and notice the wisdom self. Smile and even laugh at the actions of the smaller self. Don't take yourself to seriously. With love and kindness, look at that smaller self and reflect on how far you have come, and how much further you have yet to go.

Then, taking a moment to acknowledge the pain and frustration of the smaller self, thank them for the lesson. Finally, set your intention with wisdom, and get back to work.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Compassion, redefined.

I have spent a lot of time leading meditation workshops and discussions about compassion. Most people tend to focus on the action of compassion. Compassion means helping the homeless, feeding the hungry, tending to the sick. Compassion means doing. If you take the action out, then somehow compassion seems to fall away.

This type of compassion is results focused. It needs to demonstrate an impact. No impact, no meaning.

The Buddha taught this type of compassion as 'normal' compassion. This is the type of compassion that we have for our friends and family, and even to strangers in times of crisis or shared humanity. We see this type of compassion in certain mammals, this natural instinct to take care and nurture our loved ones for our own welfare and survival.

When we are trying to cultivate compassion in meditation, we are trying to cultivate unconditional compassion. This is compassion that is objectless and unbiased. For this type of unconditional compassion, we need a new definition of compassion.

Unconditional compassion is open, available and responsive.

It is open- receptive, accommodating, vulnerable.
It is available- present, alert, attentive.
It is responsive- dynamic, engaged, attuned.

Unconditional compassion is focused on being, not doing. Being open, available and responsive, we can offer others our attention and understanding, we can acknowledge the pain and suffering they are going through, we can stay with them through struggle and strife. Embodying this unconditional compassion, we can offer others our warmth, kindness and generosity, or we can simply be present, listen, and witness.

"I see you" and "I hear you" can be more powerful than offering a solution. Compassion doesn't always need to have an answer, we don't always need to provide a fix. Sometimes offering others dignity and understanding are enough.

We can learn to rest in a state of openness, availability and responsiveness. We can learn to rest in unbiased equanimity, allowing ourselves to witness our own pain and the suffering of others. We can learn to be patient with adversity and ugliness, to witness rather than react, to embrace rather than reject.

And we can learn to carry this openness, availability and responsiveness off the cushion. We can carry it into our homes, our communities and into the world. We can walk with openness, be present and available in the world, and respond and engage with the way things are.

Friday, February 16, 2018

You will be judged.

There will be haters and critics. You will encounter dissenters and contempt. Others might even try to make you feel worthless.

It's going to happen.

Don't react.

Listen, acknowledge, but don't respond. It is not your job to change their minds. No matter how astute your arguments, you will lose. Let your silence and presence do the work.

Focus on what you can control, your own mind and your intentions. 

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Every Step Matters.

Every Step Matters. 
Transform your practice into the path.

1716 NW Market St
Seattle, WA  98199

February 18, 2018
Sunday 10am to Noon

Join us for a weekend workshop on carrying our practice into the world. This workshop will explore the practice of compassion and the Four Dharmas of Gampopa, a short aspiration prayer on how to carry your life as the path to awakening.

All classes by donation (recommended $20)


For more information contact Greg at

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Preparing to go and going.

Before going, it is important to plan. It is important to gather your things, assemble the tools and materials you will need. You'll want to know where you are going and how to get there. It might even be useful to know some key landmarks along the way.

Preparing is important and necessary. Spend the time that you need to prepare.

Then take the first step and resolve to never turn back.

You don't need to go fast and you won't have it all figured out. The path unfolds one step at a time.

Step by step.

Monday, February 5, 2018

Can you rest in open presence when all the conditions are right?

You aspire to be more generous, more patient and kind. You value kindness and compassion. You put effort into cultivating right view and understanding.

What holds you back from practicing those all the time?

Negative emotions. Stressful situations. Difficult relationships and interactions. Our own self judgement, hope and fear. Our thoughts and ideas about how things should be or could be.

There are lots of reasons why we start to close down. It is easy to slip into narrow and confined states of mind.

Our daily practice of meditation gives us an opportunity to rest in open presence, to familiarize ourselves with our values and inner qualities. If we can learn to rest in open presence, even for a moment, then we will have more opportunity to recognize those qualities in our daily life.

It's a simple question, with profound impact.