January 28, 2011

Turn Coals to Gold Sun 7-8:30pm

Dear Friends:

"Watch out, this is it!" says a voice in your mind, when suddenly events turn hard to handle.  The body tenses, the thoughts scramble and there you are...

In that moment you can't change what's already happened and you may not be able to do much about events in the next few moments.  But the quality of your awareness right then, right there will determine if the situation is going to end up a smudgy lump of coal or a spiritual gold nugget.  It's a choice you have in that moment, but your chances of making the right choice improve remarkably if you've practiced ahead of time.

Come share with the rest of our sangha your own experience, practice and hopes about how to meet those kung fu moments of life.  

With metta,

January 21, 2011

This Sunday: Taming the Wild Mind

Last week we examined the nature of thoughts and which ones lead to suffering and which help free us from it.  We also looked at Buddha's 4 techniques for turning the mind away from 'distracting' thoughts.  Whether you were there or missed that, come this Sunday when we continue exploring ways to deal with destructive thinking.  Buddha's revolutionary discovery was that we don't have to be at the mercy of our own wild minds.

Once again, you're encouraged to bring friends.  Some of you have been doing that and it's great to have new faces in the group.  I look forward to seeing the regulars again, too.

Best wishes,

January 13, 2011

Good Thoughts / Bad Thoughts Sunday 7-8:30pm

Thoughts can be wonderful, or they can be a torment.  They can let us find improvements and
solutions,  or they can take over our minds like weeds.  We often think of thoughts as good or bad, but are they?  Are we responsible for them, so that if we think bad thoughts, then we are bad?  What can we do with a head full of horrors, or of blissful fantasy?

Through practice, we can use "right effort" to cultivate mind states free from suffering.  What does that mean?  Where do we begin coping with bad thoughts, and how do we pick and use the good ones?

We will look at these questions this Sunday, Jan. 16 from 7 – 8:30 pm at the Buena Vista Methodist Church.  Bring a friend (or a stranger) and any more questions you can think of about thoughts.  We'll look for answers together.

With metta,

January 10, 2011

Reflection for the Week - Five Precepts

Hello Everyone,
Happy Monday to y'all. So the reflection for the week is to focus on one of the five precepts, practicing and reflecting upon it to see how it aligns with your inner values.
The five precepts are:
1) Refraining from harming sentient living beings
2) Refraining from taking what isn't offered to you
3) Refraining from false speech
4) Refraining from sexual misconduct
5) Refraining from intoxicants to include drugs, alcohol and caffeine

Also, one of  our beloved sangha members Bob Doerr, the psychotherapist amongst us approached me last night and as another beautiful gesture of dana practice (thank you for sharing your beautiful stories of dana practice at check in last night - they were so inspiring and moving) would like to offer any one of you pro bono mediation services. (one time but not one session, I believe is how he worded it) So please do contact him directly if you are in need of this at some point in your daily lives. He specializes in mediation for divorces and has also worked with many gay and lesbian couples.
I will see you all sometime next month for the 3rd Paramis, nekkhama or Renunciation. Come and see how refreshing the practice of nekkhama is and how unlike what your expectation and/or preconceived notions may be of its inaccurate English translation - renunciation!!
Wishing you all a fruitful week of practice and mindfulness,

Much metta, Pauletta
Pauletta M. Chanco

January 6, 2011

2nd Paramis: Sila or Virtue Practice Guide

Hello Everyone,

Two cool things to report: First, I sent off checks to the Buddhist Global Relief from your generosity last Sunday totaling $145!!! Thank you all so much for your dana. I'm sure Bhikku Bodhi and his staff will greatly appreciate it. Second, thanks to our wonderful techie, Susan Haumeder, we now have a blog for the sangha that we can have conversations about our practice on with each other during the week. Check out the link below under the link to the website.

This Sunday, please join the sangha in what I hope will be lively discussion and deep reflection on how the 5 precepts in Buddhism align with our inner values. Last Sunday, when I spoke about the 1 st Paramis of Dana, I mentioned that the Buddha talked about advising the steps to take to anyone asking him how they could embark upon a path of spiritual practice.  They are: to understand the importance and benefits of the practice of dana, the practice of ethics or virtue (sila!! the second Paramis!), practices of calming the mind through concentration practice, vipassana practice, and once awakened, once again the practice of dana in the form of service to others.

I am looking forward to struggling with the "tough" questions that can arise when one considers one's inner values and how they affect oneself and our relationships with others. Hoping to see you all there,

Metta and Gratitude, Pauletta

January 3, 2011

1st Paramis: Dana or Generosity Practice Guide (and other goodies)

Hello Everyone,

I wish you all a relatively peaceful transition back into your daily lives. As promised, below are some quotes from the Buddha about dana practice as well as the reflection I left you with last night for the week. Attached are the practices to consider doing in as a kind of resolution for the New Year and our flyer for the February daylong at Island Yoga.

The Buddha emphasized the joy of giving. "Dana should not be done reluctantly or with a sense of obligation, but RATHER the giver should be delighted before, during an after giving."
Remember to practice small gestures of generosity, i.e. sharing food, donating clothes to a shelter, spending extra time with someone who is aged and/or lonely. Stop and feel in your body both the energy and sensations that arise with the giving of generosity. Try to do this when you decide to do an act of dana and then also after the act has been completed.

Lastly, reflect upon how we can envision ourselves responding with dana during a time of chaos, tragedy and crisis, like Katrina or the tsunami in Asia. How would we be able to respond as a community if crisis stricken individuals came en masse to the island of Alameda seeking shelter, food and other basic provisions. (This is a hypothetical situation but I think a very useful way in which to actually reflect about practicing dana on a larger scale before something actually happens).
Looking forward to hearing about your revelations and/or dana practice this week at check in on Sunday the 9th when I will be presenting the second Parami which is sila or virtue.

Have a fruitful week of practice.

Much metta, Pauletta