October 27, 2012

Rebecca's Dharma Talks Available

Dear Friends,

Five of my recent dharma talks are now available for streaming or downloading  on our website or blog.

I hope to continue posting talks as they're given for those of you who miss them or want to review the material.

Hope that's helpful,

October 25, 2012

This Sunday, October 28th: Yoga at 6pm & Meditation at 7pm -- **Daylong on November 10th

Hi everyone,
Please remember that this Sunday's meditation group is preceded by yoga at 6pm at the church. Please bring your own yoga mat and any yoga props that you need to be comfortable. Dina will be offering a 45-minute yoga session on a donation basis as she usually does the last weekend of the month.

Also, the meditation daylong with Pauletta, Rebecca, and myself is getting nearer every day. It is on November 10th, from 9am to 5pm, and is a rare chance for our sangha to spend a significant amount of time practicing together. Please make a note of the date and invite anyone who you feel may be interested. You can find more details on our website--link at the bottom of this email. You can register on the website as well.

As for this Sunday, we will be meeting for meditation and discussion at 7pm as usual. The topic will be dharma practice.... :) Come and see for yourself!

With wishes for your strength and well-being,

October 22, 2012

Aversion and Metta Practices for the Week

Hello Everyone,

Hope all is well for you this evening. For this week, first work with the aversion as I described last night in sitting reflection meditation time and in real time when faced with the object of one's aversion.

Sitting meditation: choosing a time to reflect on the object of aversion

1) After settling into the body and bringing awareness to the sensations of breathing. Set the intention and decide to bring up the object of aversion. If some negative interaction took place recently, bring that up to. Feel the body and how it reacts to this aversion being brought to mind. Do not get caught up in the story.Just observe and acknowledge without judgement towards oneself about being aversive. This is extra and unneccessary suffering. Notice the emotions that come up in relation to this aversion and how the emotion may feed the aversion.

2) Try to list any good qualities or good perspectives to this incident and object of aversion. There are always two sides to a story and two sides to a coin as the saying goes. (this aligns with the moving towards metta as an antidote to this aversion)

3) Employ the acronym RAIN. Recognize the aversion is present as was done in 1), and now A accept, that the aversion is here with all its unpleasant manifestations. Do not get caught up and buy into what the mind is telling us that will move us away from this work. Then I, investigate. Which is also part of 1) above, feeling the aversion in the body, emotions arising and mind and what it likes to tell us to keep us caught in emotion.

4) N for Non-Identification. We are not the aversion. Remind ourselves that like any other empty phenomena (from my Six Sense Spheres Talks Parts 1 and 2) aversion is an energy that moves through us by arising and passing. It is impermanent.

Working with Aversion in Real Time:

1) When we know that we are going to be meeting with our object of aversion, we can set the intention to be kind and respectful and exercise Patience under Insult if necessary. For the full explanation on how this work, check out and listen to my talk on Khanti or Patience as one of the 10 Paramis.

2) Take a few deep breaths and take 1-2 minutes alone if able to do so and pay some attention to the breath to ground ourselves.

3) In the RAIN, during Real Time, it's best to only start out working with R, recognition following the same sequence of steps for this as in the Sitting Reflection above. And A Accept. The Investigation piece can happen after the interaction when we reflect back on how it went and felt in the body and what emotions came up and N can be practiced either in Real Time or later in Sitting Reflection.

Moving towards the metta piece, please listen to my talk once it gets posted online which should be soon. The metta practice needs to happen after we have experienced some successes with working and practicing with the aversion first.

Thanks for your attention and happy practice,

with metta, Pauletta

October 18, 2012

This week at Alameda Sangha: Balancing the Fetter of Aversion (Hatred) with Lovingkindness 7-9 pm Sunday October 21, 2012 at BVUMC

Hello Everyone,

Hope that you are all enjoying the last gasps of Indian Summer weather!

This Sunday I hope you can join me in exploring together how we can work in situations with persons who trigger the arising of hatred or aversion within us, knowing that this energy arises and passes away and is therefore impermanent, and how to balance it with metta or lovingkindness. I know it sounds like a stretch, but small steps taken can go a long way in decreasing our suffering (dukkha) in this regard in our daily lives.

See you all soon,
with metta,

October 15, 2012

Practice for the Week - Cultivating Generosity

Hello Everyone,

In setting the intention to execute various and small acts of generosity this week, remember that the Buddha said that one must feel joyous in the giving in the beginning, middle and end. There should be no feeling of obligation and remember to stop and pause to feel the joy and wholesome mental states as one gives. Last, we can also practice receiving any gifts of generosity with grace. Hoping to hear you all report back next week when we meet again for Balancing the Fetter of Hatred (of Aversion) with Lovingkindness.

with metta,

October 10, 2012

This Sunday at Alameda Sangha October 14 at BVUMC - Balancing the Fetter of Sensual Desire (Raga) with Generosity (Dana)

Hello Everyone,

It's been a while but I'm looking forward to seeing most of you this Sunday evening.

I will begin the evening with a Mind Training guided meditation on watching your thoughts come and go (seeing them as empty phenomena) and letting go of them. I think it will be a great exercise, not necessarily as pleasant as watching the breath can be, but equally iimportant to cultivate nevertheless. It will allow us to see that thoughts are not reality because we tend to layer them with our judgements, stories created, assumptions and expectations. The truth of the reality is in how we experience and intend one moment to the next.

Then, there will be a brief discussion after the stretch break on how the guided meditation on thoughts went for you. The dharma talk will start with a brief revisit of my last two talks on the Six Sense Spheres part 1 and 2 both recorded and online on the website if any of you would like to review it. The revisit will focus on what we talked about and worked on in the fetter of sensual desire. The crux of the talk will be on the wonderful quality of dana or generosity and how it is so accessible and easy to practice in daily life. For you old timers to the sangha, you may remember that Dana or generosity is the first of the ten Paramis or Perfections of the Heart and Mind that we practice in order to liberate ourselves and enable us to be compassionate in our spiritual practice towards ourselves and others. I will offer concrete activities to practice expressing dana in our daily lives and also speak some about the importance of being able to receive another's generosity mindfully and with appreciation. In the Buddhist teaching on Dana, it is important to be able to give without expecting anything in return. So this is an important piece in our cultivation of this wonderful Parami.

Hoping to see you there on Sunday,

with metta, Pauletta

October 9, 2012

Notes from Sue & Sunday's Talk

Dear Friends,

Below are my (Rebecca's) notes from Sunday's talk on "Living (the) Dharma."  But first, here's a note Sue Baizerman wanted to send you:
Dear Teachers and "Sangha Mates"
As my husband John and I make final preparations for our move to Santa Rosa, I want to say "thank you" to all for the last two years of life changing experiences. The Alameda Sangha is such a fine group of individuals.  Our meetings provided me with a lot to think about and a much needed anchor in my week.  I will miss all of that and think of you often. (I will make every effort to attend the Day Long class in November.)
Sue Baizerman
P.S. My job helping to set up the meetings is vacant!  I hope one or two of you will find it in your generous heart to join Mark in setting up.  All that's necessary is to arrive 10 minutes early to the meeting (and stay a few minutes afterwards).  (This job has given me a better chance to get to know many of you as well as our three dedicated teachers.)
Living Dharma, "Daily Life Practice"

In both meditation and daily life, it's about getting back to mindfulness, then: watch body & thoughts, ID suffering, note causes and conditions of suffering's arising & passing

Daily meditation: 1) get anchored, 2) note what's been stirred by past day, 3) hone skills
  • Better a brief session than none at all
  • On awakening -- 3 breaths in a row
  • Regular time or tied to daily event (metta when driving, Vipassana on public trans)
  • Make it a Habit – part of your way of living – "fit life into prax" (Sharda Rogell)
  • Use triggers for mindfulness: breath, standing up, chime on electronics, post-its, left foot
  • Physical feelings of stress
  • Intense emotions – analyze them ASAP afterwards
  • Ethics: speech, conduct, work: non-harming – watch yourself miss ideals
  • Intention: at 1st seeing it at all, then watching causes and conditions
  • How it feels to stray from ideals
Major Life Issues 
  • Addiction (intoxicants, food, activities) – takes us away from mindfulness
  • Crisis – bereavement, material challenges (job, fire, health, incarceration)
  • Psych. Issues – OCD, bipolar, other diagnoses
More Places to Investigate
  • "Off" periods – look for energy issues (restless or dopey), craving/aversion, and doubt
  • Keep investigating workings of the mind:
  • Non-conscious motives for action
  • Memories/associations/attitudes influencing decisions
  • When you are/not mindful & why; also tranquil, equanamous, focused, joyous
  • When you are aware of being aware of dharma!
BTW: This reprises the Satipatthana Sutta's 4th Foundation of Mindfulness, covering:

Noble Truths, Factors of Awakening, Sense-spheres, Aggregates & Hindrances

… just not organized that way. Most daily work with "dharma": just look directly at our actual, immediate experience from the perspective which is developed over time by our exposure to the teachings

October 4, 2012

Living Dharma Sun 7-8:30

Dear Friends,

Andy Olendzki, a prominent dharma scholar, once took a dry and boring sutta and turned it into a powerful guided meditation that awed my class of community dharma leaders. His brilliantly demonstrated point was that Buddha's teachings are basically instructions on how to practice – and live.

How do we live the dharma without leaving "our lives" and taking up robes and bowls? This Sunday I'll offer suggestions and together we can discuss the ultimate role of the dharma in our lives.