my take on Buddhism

I don’t call myself a Buddhist, however I do embrace the essence of Buddhist teachings—I want help waking up, becoming aware, being mindful, empathetic, compassionate, kind and so-on and so-on. Buddhism to me is more a study of the mind and a way of training the mind.

Reasoning, analysis, contemplation, meditation—just some tools to help wake us up, to see life outside of Plato’s dream cave world, outside the box, outside our usual sphere of influence: our culture, our race, family, friends, relationships, gender, job, roles, age,  geographical location, neighborhood, education, beliefs, DNA—all those things that inherently settle down inside of us and make us who we are and that can create a mountain of biases.

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Meditation is about seeing clearly the body that we have, the mind that we have, the domestic situation that we have, the job that we have, and the people who are in our lives. It’s about seeing how we react to all these things. It’s seeing our emotions and thoughts just as they are right now, in this very moment, in this very room, on this very seat. It’s about not trying to make them go away, not trying to become better than we are, but just seeing clearly with precision and gentleness… . [We] work with cultivating gentleness, innate precision, and the ability to let go of small-mindedness, learning how to be open to our thoughts and emotions, to all the people we meet in our world, how to open our minds and hearts.”

Pema Chödrön, The Wisdom of No Escape

religion is… .

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I’ve grown to abhor religion, or maybe it’s just the extremist “one way is the only way” mentality of religious diehards that I abhor—the mentality that justifies spoiling it for everyone else.

I read about the hostile situation in North Korea, about ISIS in Iraq and Syria, about the age-old hostility between Russia and the Ukraine, between Israel and Palestine, and it saddens me, and the part about children being bombed in their sleep, and the part about people beheading other people—it really puts me to unrest.

Where’s the love? Within extremism the definition of love becomes ill-defined—it has to be to keep the walls up, the doors and windows shut.

When I busted out of a “one way is the only way” mental cage of thinking, a whole new world of vitality and hope opened up to me. It’s weird to say it, but it was like being born again. Everything fresh and new, free of judgment.

authenticity/ Brené Brown

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I love listening to Brené Brown, researcher on vulnerability and shame. She’s shared her research at Ted Talks, she’s written books, and produced audibles. She’s a great speaker—funny, humble, down to earth, insightful and clear. I’ve listened to her audible The Power of Vulnerability at least three times. From her work I find clarity and healing.

Plato’s dream cave world/ Jon Kabat-Zinn

Another of my favorite teachers is Jon Kabat-Zinn, Professor of Medicine Emeritus and creator of the Stress Reduction Clinic and the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.

His teachings on mindfulness ring true with me. Mindfulness more than anything else scooped me out of a very foggy place and gently placed me on higher, clearer ground. I believe it’s a solution to a lot of our problems. The quote below is worth every second of the read—Jon Kabat-Zinn paints a clear visual using very few words, and I totally get it, because I once lived inside of Plato’s dream cave world.

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Jon Kabat-Zinn, Adventures in Mindfulness

in the face of uncertainty

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She just keeps going and going. Despite having a type of early onset alzheimer’s disease (she’s only 5o), my good friend and neighbor Teresa excels in maintaining a positive, grateful life. She’s another of life’s brave heroes. Here she is running in our neighborhood, revving up for her next marathon. Last year she placed first place for her age division.

Once a University teacher, writer, editor, and poet, she now has a hard time putting her thoughts into words. But despite her limitations, her frustrations, her huge personal loss, she always has a smile that lights up her face. I love people like this—people who master living life positively in the face of great challenges and uncertainty.

nobody is the ocean

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We can all be winners. We’re all unique, yet we’re all the same. We’re like rain drops in the ocean, and together we create the whole. If only we all learned to embrace our differences, learn from them rather than to criticize and hate them. Nobody is the only one with the truth. No way is the only way. When we’re stuck in a rut and we think that we’re it, that we’re better than everyone else, that our way is the only way—that’s when our ego is so big that we forget that we’re a mere drop. It’s like saying “I am the ocean.”

if you change the way you look at things

keynote templete.001 Wayne Dyer, The Secrets of the Power of Intention

trust your own intuition

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don’t be trapped by dogma

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doggie love

1234172_634529163247660_1565321023_nMy grand dog Sheba—a yellow lab—has the same soothing effect on me as this black lab has for her/his companion.  Never fully understood the connection between people and dogs until Sheba came into my son’s life. Today I walked over to see him and her, but they were both gone. Maybe tomorrow I’ll get my fix. Some dogs—I’m convinced—have the power to heal. Sometimes their masters do to. It’s not the person. It’s not the dog. It’s the love and empathy they share.