Sitting through March

We’ve added more dates, continuous now through the end of March 2015, for the “Just Sit!” sessions on Tuesday evenings. (Please check back monthly for future dates.) These guided meditations are open to any and every one. All levels of experience and all faith or no faith backgrounds are welcome. Just Sit! is an opportunity to sit with others in contemplation and meditation, whether you are just learning how to meditate or have been at it for years.

For those of you who haven’t come to sit — or haven’t come in a while — we are currently dividing the hour into three meditations, or, one mediation with three sections. However you slice it:

Part 1 — 15 mins on the breath, developing concentration and allowing our mind to settle by counting our exhalations (to 3 sets of 21 exhalations) and then simply sitting without counting for a little longer, deeply experiencing the breath.

Part 2 — 20 mins on allowing, noticing and meeting our direct experience with an embracing mind of love, coming back again and again and again to the direct experience of each moment, allowing, allowing, allowing…

Part 3 — 20 mins on ‘feeling into’ our basic nature: the awake, alert awareness in which direct experience is arising — that which is always already present. We turn our focus from the experiences, the thoughts, feelings, sensations and pay attention instead in each moment to the space in which the experiences are arising.

 

IMG_8370

Email this to someoneShare on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on RedditPin on PinterestShare on StumbleUponShare on TumblrDigg this

Sky dancing

Thanks to my sweetie, Michael, and all the super-talented folks at Skydive Arizona, for making my first skydive a fantastic experience. What a thrill. So dream-like. I wish everyone could have the opportunity to fly like this.

Big, blue desert sky. Neat shot looking back up to the plane — I’m strapped to tandem master Josiah, and you can see Michael leaping out after us. Once we were under the parachute, enjoying the view, Josiah says: ‘Heather, welcome to my office!’ Lucky, lucky guy.

IMG_0044

Email this to someoneShare on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on RedditPin on PinterestShare on StumbleUponShare on TumblrDigg this

Fill ‘er up

Graphic by Sam Gerrard, Shore Creative, UK

So this is awesome: Buddha at the Gas Pump — a show that explores enlightenment through a series of interviews with spiritual practitioners and teachers, many of whom openly discuss their experiences with ‘the awakened state.’ By its own description:

Many people are skeptical of claims of higher states of consciousness. They find it hard to believe that apparently ordinary friends and neighbors might be experiencing something extraordinary. Maybe they expect Enlightenment to look as remarkable on the outside as it is reputed to be on the inside. This show will attempt to dispel skepticism and misconceptions by week after week, allowing otherwise ordinary people to relate their experience of spiritual awakening.

Head over and check out the long list of nearly 300 guests — you’ll find some very well-known names. The interviews are sorted alphabetically by guest, or quite handily can be browsed categorized under a broad-range of traditions/schools/predilictions. You can watch episodes on YouTube or download them as podcasts — great for trips by car!

To get you started, I’m linking to just one of many that I’ve so far enjoyed. It’s a discussion moderated by the show’s creator and host, Rick Archer, between Adyashanti and Francis Bennett. Adyashanti, a long-time Zen practitioner, and Bennett, a former Trappist monk, talk broadly on the theme of the former’s book, Resurrecting Jesus, in which Adyashanti “reveals the man known as Jesus as an exemplar of the realized state and a model of enlightened engagement with the world.”

Good stuff. I’m excited to discover more.

You can subscribe to receive email updates of future interviews as they’re released. You can also follow Buddha at the Gas Pump on Facebook and Twitter.

Email this to someoneShare on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on RedditPin on PinterestShare on StumbleUponShare on TumblrDigg this

Take a leap

I met someone yesterday who’s into BASE jumping and wingsuits. If you haven’t seen wingsuits, head over to youtube and search it up and be thrilled.

It put me in mind of meditations in which one imagines falling from a cliff in order to cause the inherently existing (and therefore non-existing) “I/ME/MINE” to arise. And, it put me in mind of fearlessness.

Then on my social media feed this morning, this…playful fearlessness! French bulldog puppy takes first leap off of couch. Whee!

 

Just look at ‘how easy it is the second time around!’

(via twistedsifter.com)

Email this to someoneShare on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on RedditPin on PinterestShare on StumbleUponShare on TumblrDigg this

Open to nature, open to gratitude

File this one under B for BLISS!

Nature’s Beauty Inspires Gratitude is a must-see 20 min TEDx talk featuring the stunning filmwork of Louie Schwartzberg. It starts as simply jaw-dropping time lapse nature photography and builds into a compelling vision for why and how to be grateful when we open our eyes each morning.

On the bio page of his website — aptly named “Moving Art” — beside the picture of his peaceful smile and super-clear eyes, it reads:

As the only cinematographer in the world who has been shooting time-lapse 24/7 continuously for well over three decades, Schwartzberg is a visual artist breaking barriers, connecting with audiences, and telling stories that celebrate life and reveal the mysteries and wisdom of nature, people and places.

If you pay attention right around the 5 min 50 sec mark, you might audibly gasp, as I did. But you must watch this one all the way through. Then be grateful you did.

And for fans of non-narrative documentaries, in 1982 he provided additional cinematography for the film Koyaanisqatsi.

Email this to someoneShare on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on RedditPin on PinterestShare on StumbleUponShare on TumblrDigg this

Visiting Chan (Zen) Monk to give teaching in Guelph

YouMinVenerable You Min, a monk of the Linji School of Chinese Chan (Zen) Buddhism will be visiting Guelph soon and has accepted our invitation to lead a meditation and give a teaching on mindfulness. The event will be Sunday, June 2 from 7-9pm at Sukha Yoga Centre, 42 Wyndham St (the same door as IF Footwear facing into St George’s Square). There are further details on the event’s poster, which can be viewed and/or downloaded below. Please feel free to cross-post and share and tell everyone you think may be interested.

Ven. You Min’s original connection to Guelph is through having lived here as an exchange student more than 10 years ago. In addition to his studies at the University of Guelph, he attended classes and a formal study program with a local Buddhist Sangha, which is where I first met him.

While organizing this opportunity for the meditation and teaching on June 2nd, I asked him to tell me a little about his path since his time in Guelph, as I thought some people might be interested to know more:

HAF: What is the name of your Buddhist tradition?

VYM: I am ordained under the Chinese Chan lineage (or called Zen in Japan or the West). There are 5 schools under this lineage, and the one I belong to is called the Linji School. Usually when we introduce our lineage to the general public, just mentioning ‘Chinese Chan Buddhism’ is sufficient.

Here is a good reading source on the lineage from  Wikipedia.

HAF: What does your ordained name mean? What exactly do you practice in your tradition?

VYM: I was ordained in 2007 as a novice monk under the name of You Min (有暋) in Chinese, which means ‘diligence’. Two years later (2009) I received the full ordination and became a bhikshu.

I spent the first 3 years in my monastery in Malaysia receiving training from my master, Venerable Zhen Fu. I started my formal studies in Buddhism in 2010, where I enrolled in the M.A. Program of Buddhist Studies at Dharma Drum Buddhist College in Taiwan. Currently I am doing a 9-month student exchange program at Institute of Buddhist Studies at Berkeley, CA.

The scope of Buddhist studies is quite comprehensive, which includes the history and sutra learning of the early Buddhism, as well as Chinese Buddhism. I am especially interested in Yogacara teachings (which is also sometimes called the Buddhist psychology), which is one of the three important philosophical schools developed in Mahayana tradition during 4th Century CE (the other two are the Madhyamika and the Tathagatabhadra).

Here is a link to more details:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yogacara

Regarding the practice, we do meditation and sutra chanting twice daily (we call that morning and evening service). We usually do that with other sangha members while in the monastery. While meditation is the main practice, I also do the Buddha’s name recitation practice.

The reason I choose to further my study in Buddhism is so that I can be properly trained in my tradition in order to have dialogue with other religious representatives, buddhist scholars, as well as the highly literate public. I believe that practice and knowledge should be balanced for our generation of practitioners.

 

Everyone is welcome. There is no cost to attend, although we will be making a collection for the teacher and you are encouraged to give what you can/will. Making offerings is a Buddhist custom known as Dāna, the practice of cultivating generosity, which leads to the perfection of giving and letting go. In particular, it is considered powerful karma to practice giving alms to monks or spiritual teachers.

If you have one, please bring your own meditation cushion or stool. If not, don’t worry, just bring your curiosity.

For more information, to RSVP and to ask questions, there is a Facebook event page or feel free to email me at heather(at)merenamedesign(dot)com or phone 519.400.7862.

 

Mindfulness Meditation June 2 2013

 

You can download a copy of the above poster in pdf form, by clicking the green link below. Please feel free to print and post and/or distribute electronically.

Mindfulness Meditation Poster June 2 2013

Email this to someoneShare on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on RedditPin on PinterestShare on StumbleUponShare on TumblrDigg this

Woman mauled by bear, drives herself to safety — a page-turning Reddit AMA

Last week Reddit hosted an AMA (Ask Me Anything) with Allena Hansen, who in 2008 was savagely attacked by a bear while walking alone with her dogs on her ranch in Kern County, California. With her face torn apart and believing she would not likely survive, she drove herself 4 miles to a mountain fire station and was airlifted to UCLA Medical Center. She retells the story with gripping detail and a refreshing offhand humour — answering questions from and holding her own with curious Redditors.

After it had gnawed my head awhile, I decided to open my eyes and look at what was killing me. It’s expression was so bland and businesslike it enraged me so I managed to jab my thumb into its piggy little eye and it let go of my face long enough for me to yell for my dogs. Once the dogs came running, it was diverted long enough for me to get up and try to escape down the creekbed.

Allena has recently written a book about her experience, Chomp, Chomp, Chomp; How I Survived a Bear Attack and Other Harrowing Tales. She also has a Facebook page. Hopefully, the sale of her book and general publicity around her story will bring in enough money for her to cover her outstanding medical bills.

Apparently, the cosmetic and dental portions weren’t covered by her insurance, and a great amount of the damage was done to her face and mouth (WARNING this next quote is not for the faint of heart):

Basically what happened is that the bear charged, grabbed me by the ears and bit into my face. In doing so, it destroyed the bridge of my nose, tore off my ears, chewed out fourteen teeth and much of my upper gums and palate. It also ripped off my lips and tore apart my face and scalp.

Of course, as you would expect from someone with this much courage and moxy, Allena had already lived quite a life before the attack. Raised in the 60s, according to the description given with her book, she had a “stint as Playboy’s token intellectual bimbo.”

Why my morbid interest? Haven’t you ever wondered what it’s going to be like when you’re staring your own death in the face?

SIDENOTE

I also very much enjoyed and laughed heartily when I clicked through on the link contributed by /u/PasswordLost, who pipes up not too far into the Reddit thread, and tells Allena:

You made it to the end of this chart!

http://hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.fi/2010/02/boyfriend-doesnt-have-ebola-probably.html

10: I am actively being mauled by a bear.

Email this to someoneShare on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on RedditPin on PinterestShare on StumbleUponShare on TumblrDigg this