Opening Our Hearts Towards the Now

“The moments of our life are not expendable, And the [possible] circumstances of death are beyond imagination. If you do not achieve an undaunted confident security now, What point is there in your being alive, O living creature?”

Padmasambhava, The Tibetan Book of the Dead. First Complete Translation

My mom is visiting me right now and it’s a delight. She likes to go on little walks around our crazy neighborhood, and do yoga on the living room floor with me. She is a playful sprite of a being. And last night we sat together and looked at an extensive spreadsheet of her to-do items, which included “preparations for death”.

Amongst her projects, which include dog walking at a local shelter, sitting with her sangha in Colorado, skiing occasionally (at 80!), and camping almost constantly, is another important line item: “Make my kids’ lives easier when I go”.

To some, that kind of planning brings up a lot of resistance, and the superstitious might even consider it ill-fated. However, after a long time of being nested inside dharma traditions, one really can take in the guidance that life is precious, and if we don’t meditate on the fact that we will die, our other practices won’t yield their full blessing energy. Meditating on death is core to being awake right now. Especially ego-death, by the way. Death of the identities we cling to. But also, death of this body.

As I sat with her, looking over her printed spreadsheet, and all of her notes in the margins — including handwritten passcodes from her daytimer (because yes, my mom is a Luddite and still uses a daytimer) — I had a few little flashbacks to imagery I’d taken in earlier that day. Scenes of the devastation in Gaza were haunting me.

In this moment, it occurred to me that there are probably so many people out there, like me, who have a lot to be grateful for, and who are also intermittently wracked with distress around what’s happening to others far away. War has always been hell. There is no righteous cause that merits this. And no matter what grace our own lives are filled with, most of us are deeply caught in the mesh of this war’s most toxic arisings. Trying, as best we can, to keep filling the world with our creative essence. Our love. Our light.

Each December, I lead a session called Blessing Energy for the New Year where we begin to explore how we can ground ourselves as we approach holidays, time with family, the intensity of greeting the new year, etc. The planning for this event is really around how to meet the new year with grace and equanimity. How to sit with our loved ones in a place of ease. How to creatively conceive of where we’re headed in the new year that’s coming… But, now, here we are. Global crisis.

In some ways, there’s not that big of a gulf between the ways that we ground ourselves for family, frictions, and complexities within, and the way that we create strength and expansiveness as we watch the world roil with conflict. In all cases, we’re dealing with our own minds. Our own analysis. Our own capacity to listen, to take in, to drop our own projections. Everywhere, we get to watch where we shut down into old patterns. And to ease towards the places where change is possible.

Questions we discuss are…

What are the dharma practices that most ground us and generate resilience, but also expand us, and open up our hearts toward what is happening now?

What are the places in life where we get most triggered, where we need the most support?

What are the stories that get the most fixed in our minds?

And what are the obstacles within, that keep us from our spontaneous essence, the only place from which we can take liberated action?

We have conversations about how to become resilient and resourced enough in ourselves. We take ourselves into silent practice, so that we can awaken to our natural, spontaneous essence. And we write, and share, and allow for the release of tensions we are holding.

Visit here if want to join us in December.



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