July 27, 2012

Yoga this Sunday evening before Alameda Sangha, at 6pm

Hi everyone,
My apologies for the extra email, but I forgot to mention that yoga will happen this Sunday night before the group.

So, please join Dina for yoga at 6pm-6:45 this Sunday before sitting meditation.
Bring a sticky mat and props (blocks, blankets) if you have them.

Take care,
Anthony

This Sunday, July 29th, 7pm: Reviewing the Path

Hi everyone,
This week the topic will be "Reviewing the Path." What I mean by this is that in meditation practice it is good to learn methods and tools for reflecting on the practice. We may have tendencies to be severely judgmental or harsh when reflecting on our own life. To counteract this, we can also think about ways to honestly, compassionately, and realistically evaluate how we are doing and whether what we are doing is useful for us.

So, that's the idea. In preparation, if you want to think back about your life situation when you started practicing meditation (even if it was just 2 weeks ago!), and then reflect on your life now. Just noticing the changes that have occurred, or those that haven't. Feel free to bring in examples from your own life.

Alright, see you Sunday, and I hope you have a good weekend until then.

With peace,
Anthony

July 23, 2012

Moods & Attitudes Daily Life Exercise

Dear Friends,

Last Sunday's talk on Moods & Attitudes used a meditation session to look for and explore these "background" aspects of the mind.  Here is an exercise that's easy to try during daily life.

During a conversation with someone (probably not a crucial one at work) pay close attention as the other person speaks.  Focus on their words and meaning.  You will probably notice other thoughts zipping through your mind.  Look to see if these thoughts reflect an attitude or mood of yours.  Observe any such background mental processes neutrally, scientifically -- not personally.  Just accept that it's there and take note of how it affects your listening, comprehension and retention of what's being said.  Try not to judge or to suppress this process.  Just be mindful of it.  Change will come later, naturally.  For now, all we need to do is be aware.

You're invited to share your observations on our blog or write me in reply to this email.

Have fun,
Rebecca

July 19, 2012

Sunday 7-8:30pm Moods & Attitudes

Dear Friends,

Most of us believe we know what we're thinking and feeling, but sometimes it's difficult to tell the difference between an event that seems to have caused our emotions, the variety of thoughts we think about what happened, and the way we actually feel.  

If these familiar territories of the mind can be tricky, the areas of mood and attitude can be quite baffling.  We often don't even see them.  But they can have a powerful effect on us and the way we conduct our lives.  So this Sunday we'll try to get a handle on them.

Until then, see if you can identify what mood you're in.  Maybe you wake up in one and go to bed in another, or maybe you've been in the same mood for weeks and it shows no sign of packing.  How do moods affect your daily life?  Attitudes tend to be more permanent and even harder to spot.  Maybe we don't like to see how current decisions are influenced by old judgments that have been preserved as attitudes.  See if you can spot a few.  Bring your stories, and any friends who themselves have moods or attitudes. 

See you then,
Rebecca

July 16, 2012

Practice for the Week: Urgency to Practice

Hello Everyone,

May this find you well. Acknowledge and give yourselves some joyful credit for coming last night and being met with the opportunity to practice in yet a different way. For those of you that came, I am referring to the beautiful, loud and amazing music that was being played across from all of us in the sanctuary. We worked in guided meditation with loud sound and from the discussion afterward, I would conclude was very successful.

John a sangha member who has been wanting to get a group together to meditate outdoors, announced last night that this will happen tomorrow, Tuesday at 4:30 pm. He and others will be at the wooden deck landing at the bird sanctuary at Alameda Beach near South Shore. Please join him if you would like to participate.

For the practice this week, please spend some time reflecting on what brought you to this practice in the first place and why you stay. You might consider ways in which your life has been different before and after starting the path.

You can also continue with the equanimity practice during sitting, repeating a phrase and reflecting on the phrase for the situation and/or person you bring up during the sitting. During the course of your day, how you can find opportunities to move back to balance and neutrality in different heightening moments.

May you all have a fruitful week of practice,

with metta and gratitude, Pauletta

July 12, 2012

This Sunday 7-9pm: The Urgency to Practice

Hello Everyone,

May this find you well. In preparation for this Sunday, please read and bring a copy to the sangha, the sutta titled, The Simile of the Mountain. See link below. I will be reading parts of this sutta. Spend some reflection time with the poem at the end of it.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn03/sn03.025.than.html

The urgency to practice meditation and arrive at greater happiness with less suffering can be like fire lit underneath one. Of particular enthusiasm right now is to note the 6 Senses (I talked about this the last time I taught there 2 Sundays ago) as one or more come into contact with any momentary experience; is it hearing, seeing, tasting touching, smelling and/or thinking? Then mindfully bring attention to whether the feeling tone of the momentary experience is pleasant, unpleasant or neutral. Bringing awareness to how the feeling tone manifests in the body, heart(emotions) and mind(thoughts) consider one's intention for the next moments. (This really stopped an irritation arising in me from manifesting through unwise speech when this past weekend, we were trying to find the handicapped parking at the Alameda County Fair and my husband would not ask anyone for direction - men are from Mars type situation) Then ask oneself the question, How am I going to respond to this CONTACT and VEDANA (feeling tone) that accompanies it and why? When will any reactive tendencies I am experiencing abate and dissipate? How does this feel once it passes away?

Is it possible to acknowledge and accpet our tendencies which are a part of our deep conditioning? It's important to know it is not our fault but the good news is that the Buddhist teachings offer us a way out of the same old automatic and unwholesome way of reacting that we've done for most of our lives which has caused so much dukkha(dissatisfaction). Liberation is a true reality for those who put in the time to practice and the time is NOW. Not when one has retired from jobs or can have more time to devote to practice in some vague future time. The time is NOW in the midst of the chaos of our daily lives with the partner, kids, extended family, unfair bosses and grinding jobs.

This is true because in the midst of the chaos is the suffering that we have control over. We can choose to continue to create it or nip it in the bud through increased mindfulness. The choice is ours. Will we take on the challenge?

Looking forward to seeing all of you,

with metta, Pauletta

July 5, 2012

This Sunday, July 8th: Impact of Compassion

Hi everyone,

I hope you all are doing well. I (Anthony) will be leading the group this Sunday, and it seems like a long time since I was last there in May.

The topic I would like to bring up this week is the impact of compassion. There are many different angles from which I would like to approach this subject. Some of these include: how our compassion impacts others, how our compassion impacts our own lives, how the compassion of others affects ourselves, how an attitude of compassion can impact awareness of each arising moment, etc.

As a reflection prior to Sunday, I would invite you to think about the phrase 'Impact of Compassion.' How do you hear it? What does it mean for you? What questions do you have?

I hope to see many of you this Sunday evening, and I wish you a good end of the week,
Anthony

July 2, 2012

Equanimity Practice for the Week

Hello Everyone,

Thank you all for coming last night and exploring Equanimity practice with me. Here are your goodies to think about for the week:

"Equanimity is a perfect, unshakable balance of mind, rooted in insight. But in its perfection and unshakable nature, equanimity is not dull, heartless and frigid. Its perfection is not due to an emotional "emptiness," but to a "fullness" of understanding, to its being complete in itself. Its unshakable nature is not the immovability of a dead, cold stone, but the manifestation of the highest strength."  Nyanaponika Thera, "Vision of Dhamma" pp. 193-196

Traditional Sequence of Formal Equanimity Practice
Neutral person
Benefactor
Dear Friend
Difficult Person
Self
All Beings

Other Phrases for Equanimity Practice

You are the owner of your karma. Your happiness and unhappiness depend on your actions, not so much on my wishes for you. (I used this towards my daughter in Louisiana for the story I told last night)

May I accept things just as they are.
May I be undisturbed by the coming and going of events.
I will care for you but cannot keep you from suffering.(I used this towards my mom when I used to believe that I was responsible for her happiness in her life and needed to fix things for her accordingly)

All things arise and pass away.
No matter how I might wish things to be otherwise, things are as they are. (to counteract the craving, clinging of the far enemy of Equanimity)

Contemplate the question: "What's difficult for me to accept?"

Work with the 6 Sense Spheres to sharpen mindfulness which will lead to clarity and wisdom for how our reactive tendencies kick in so quickly, creating the spaciousness that is needed to rest and come back to the balance of Equanimity.
So first note, hearing, seeing, smelling tasting touching thinking which can be one, or more of these 6 senses coming into contact with whatever it is in our present moment. Then quickly note pleasant, unpleasant or neutral. Feel this in the body, see what emotions may be coming up in the heart and mind. Note whether you still quickly resort to a conditioned reactivity in this moment or not whether it's pleasant or unpleasant.

Don't hesitate to email with any questions, with metta,



Pauletta