September 23, 2011

This Sunday: Mindfulness works even when not...

Dear Friends,

When I'm meditating, trying to be aware of the sensations of breathing, I will realize that instead I've been planning what to wear the next day.  Then I'm tempted to think mindfulness just wasn't working for me.  Later, during the day, I will lose my temper and tell someone just what I think of them.  Another failure of mindfulness?

Not really.  Mindfulness works in valuable ways even when we think it's 'not working.'  Having established a practice and become familiar with what mindfulness is, we're able to mine riches from those moments we ordinarily consider lapses of mindfulness.

We'll look at how to do this on Sunday, 7-8:30 when we explore, "How Mindfulness Works When It's Not Working."  Bring a friend and join us.

Looking forward to seeing you again,

September 19, 2011

Practicing with Confusion this week - the 3rd Kilesa/Defilement/Poison/root of suffering

Hello Everyone,
May this find you well on this hot, sunny and beautiful Monday.

Attached, please find the official flyer on the grief workshops that we will be having for 5 Thursdays starting October 13th at Trinity Lutheran Church from 7-9 pm. If you are able to print a few and distribute them around town, Martha Kay and I would really appreciate it.

So for this week, reflect on the question, "How does confusion tend to create suffering in my life?" And remember that if after you are able to notice its presence by seeing it in the bodily sensations, just breathe, pause, and wait for more clarity to emerge before speaking or acting in haste out of the unskillful place of reactivity. You will be amazed that just by not reacting in quick, knee jerk fashion, how the problem may disappear altogether, someone may reveal something that was not known before that could help out the situation, or some other fortuitous occurrence could arise to shift things in a more positive direction.

The pot luck was great! We should plan another one in the future! A lot of you loved my banana curry dish, so here is the recipe: (It is from the Nyingma Institute in Berkeley when I used to frequent it while I was still searching for the Buddhist tradition that resonated the most with me. )

Serves 2-4 people (for the potluck I tripled the recipe)

2 lb bananas, preferably green ones
2T vegetable oil
1t turmeric
1/2 t cumin seeds
1t NaCl
1/8 t cayenne pepper
1 c yogurt
1 t curry powder
1T lemon juice (I was able to use Virginia's yummy Meyer lemons off her tree)

Peel the bananas and cut them into 1" slices. Heat the oil in a heavy pot or skillet, add the turmeric and cumin seeds, and fry for 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the bananas, NaCl, and cayenne, stir (carefully, so the bananas do not disintegrate), and let simmer for 10 minutes on a low flame. Stir once or twice to prevent scorching.

Add the yogurt, curry powder, and lemon juice. Stir once and simmer for 5-7 more minutes. Be sure not to overcook, or the bananas will fall apart. Taste to correct seasoning.

The longest part of this recipe is slicing the bananas! Enjoy!

Pauletta_book_0630114.jpgMuch metta and gratitude for your practice, Pauleta

Alameda Sangha
Every Sunday, 7pm
@ Buena Vista United Methodist Church
2311 Buena Vista Ave., Alameda
Visit our Website:
Visit our blog:

September 15, 2011

This Sunday: Greed, Hatred and Delusion Part 3

Hello Everyone,

May this find you all well and more or less adjusted to the Fall season.

Don't forget to register for the Mind Training Workshop - see postcards attached. I will be distributing a lot of handouts at the first session, so it would be helpful to get a head count sooner rather than later, as I will be gone on retreat the week before the workshop begins and back the day before it starts. Yikes!!! I'm sure it will be fine. Steve will be attempting to answer emails regarding registration the week of Sept 23 to 30th while I'm on retreat. There's still plenty of room in the workshop.

A second exciting development is that Martha Kay Nelson who came to the sangha to speak about the grief workshops upcoming, and I have secured a venue and dates for the workshop. Starting October 13th Thursday, from 7-9 pm, they will be on 5 consecutive Thursdays. October 27th will be the film, "Gifts of Grief" with the filmmaker herself to present it to us and there will be a panel discussion afterwards. She is donating the film to us at the sangha and we will circulate it just like we have the Dhamma Brothers. The venue will be at Trinity Lutheran Church on Central Avenue, closer to Sherman. It's not necessary to register - just show up and it's also not necessary to attend all 5 sessions, but they will probably be in a kind of serial format, with one session leading up to the next, etc. It will be dana based as usual, with all dana going to the church. You can read more about the film in this issue of Inquiring Mind, called Passages.

We will also be having our first Alameda Sangha potluck at McKinley Park, around 5 pm. It is about 2-3 blocks away from Park Street on Buena Vista on the same side as the church where we meet at 7. Bring food and drink to share.

After the potluck, we will meet as usual at 7 pm at the church and the topic for the talk will be Delusion or my preferred translation from the Pali, Confusion. It is the third kilesa or root of suffering and is really one of the three major unwholesome mind states that we try to turn away from and practice to reset our default system in our brain and incline our mind instead to more wholesome states like the Paramis which we explored together (Equanimity, which is the last Paramis will be presented on Christmas, December 25), the Four Brahmaviharas: metta (lovingkindness), mudita (boundless joy), karuna (compassion) and upekkha (equanimity), amongst the 7 Factors of Awakening, the list goes on.

Remembering that when we do happen to get caught in unwholesome mental states, that it isn't our "fault" but really due to our conditioning, thankfully, the teachings offer ways in which to first notice that these are arising with the tool of mindfulness and increased awareness, and ways to work once they have taken hold, how to incline our minds away from them, feel into and appreciate the wholesome when these arise or replace the unwholesome (this is how we change our default settings in the brain), and finally how to maintain the wholesome through daily life practice and reinforcing what we learn to more and more give us moments of peace and harmony in our lives. Sounds good, doesn't it? Whom amongst you does not want to be happy?

See you all soon,
with gratitude and appreciation for your practice, Pauletta

September 9, 2011

This Sunday: Mindfulness of the Body Part II

Hi all,
So, this week we'll return to the subject of mindfulness of the body that we discussed last week.  After discussing its importance and usefulness in formal meditation practice, this week we'll look at the benefits and difficulties in taking mindfulness of the body off the cushion.  How do we do it?  When is it useful?  When does it seem impossible?

I hope many of you can join us this week, and just a reminder that the potluck gathering will be next Sunday, Sept. 18th at McKinley Park in Alameda.  All are welcome.

Enjoy your weekend,

Alameda Sangha
Every Sunday, 7pm
@ Buena Vista United Methodist Church
2311 Buena Vista Ave., Alameda
Visit our Website:
Visit our blog:

September 2, 2011

This Sunday: Mindfulness of the Body

Hi everyone,

First, a couple announcements:  There will be a potluck on Sept. 18th, beginning at 5pm at McKinley Park on the corner of Buena Vista and Walnut (about 2 blocks west of the church we meet in).  There is no need to let us know your coming, but please bring food or drink to share.  Sangha will meet at 7pm that night as usual.

Second announcement:  We have been circulating the DVD of 'The Dharma Brothers', but it's been a while since we've seen it.  So, if whoever has it could bring it back so that someone else can have the opportunity to watch it.  Thanks.

As for this Sunday, I'll be leading the group and this week will be the first of two weeks focusing on 'Mindfulness of the Body'.  My plan is to talk about this in regards to formal meditation practice first; and then next week, we'll look at it as a practice that can be incorporated into more (if not all) of our day-to-day activities.  If you have any questions about posture, discomfort, or anything else related to the body, please bring them as this would be a chance for a discussion.

One thought as a preview for this Sunday:  We can continually get trapped in a pattern of prioritizing the experiences of the mind as compared to the experiences of the body; even when through our meditation practice the body begins to appear more stable than our thoughts, which change so rapidly.  What's the deal with that, and what does that mean for the significance of being able to turn our awareness toward the experience of the body?  

I hope to see many of you this week, and if not, enjoy the Labor Day weekend, and I hope you have safe travels.