March 31, 2013

Notes on Lovingkindness Practice

Dear Alameda Sangha,
Some of you asked for my notes on Lovingkindness Practice (Metta). Here are two documents:  one is a short one page outline of the practice, the other is adapted from a letter I wrote to a friend about my practice with metta.  You can find the on our web site's resource page here.

It was great practicing with you all tonight.
with warmth,
Deb Kerr

March 27, 2013

Yoga this Sunday 3/31

Yoga quiets the mind, it was developed with meditation in mind. Come join us for yoga this Sunday 3/31 and experience the effects for yourself.

Bring a yoga mat and props if you have them.

We will be starting at 6pm and end just before meditation at 6:45pm. All levels are welcome. This class is appropriate for beginners. Wear bare feet, an empty stomach and comfortable clothes you can move in (no jeans or belts).

Dina Hondrogen

March 26, 2013

Sunday 7-9 p.m., Acceptance and Love, with Deb Kerr

Dear Friends,

This coming Sunday March 31st, I'll be talking about "Acceptance as the Essence of Love."

Many of us struggle with self-judgment and lack of self acceptance. Not only is this a painful state in which to live, but it also prevents us from effectively connecting with others. In this talk we will explore the relationship between acceptance and love; learn how to lessen anxiety about imperfection; and get some tools for developing a genuinely friendly attitude toward ourselves and others, which is a direct path to happiness.

It was delightful to meet those of you who were there last Sunday. Thank you for the warm welcome on my first night teaching at the Alameda Sangha.

I hope to see you and your friends on Sunday.

with warmth,
Deb Kerr

March 24, 2013

Upcoming Daylong: Death and Dying Daylong on Saturday May 18 from 9-5 pm at Buena Vista United Methodist Church

Hello Everyone,

Hope you are all enjoying these sunny days.

I want you to know about the daylong workshop I am doing with Baruch on May 18. (I am letting you know now because I hope to be able to go on an 8 day silent retreat starting this Saturday and so won't be back in time to give you all time to do some prep work for this special daylong. I also won't be back teaching at the sangha until May 5th, Sunday. Remember we meet at Island Yoga May 5, our regular time 7-9 pm, because the church needs the space for its Spring Bazaar on this day.) They will not be able to be out of the sanctuary in time for us to meet at our regularly scheduled time of 7-9 pm.

If you are planning to come to the daylong which promises to be very deepening and insightful, difficult at times, but definitely worth the efforts in applying, please begin to reflect on the 5 Reflections daily, of the Buddha:

1) I am subject to aging. Aging is unavoidable.
2) I am subject to illness. Illness is unavoidable.
3) I am subject to death. Death is unavoidable.
4) I will grow different, separate from all that is dear and appealing to me.
5) I am the owner of my actions, heir to my actions, born of my actions, related through my actions and live dependent on my actions. Whatever I do, for good or for ill, to that will I fall heir.

Then, for the especially arduous and dedicated, extra reading preparation are:

1) Tricycle magazine Winter 2012: this is an issue with a dedicated section on Facing Death: What Buddhists Need to Know I acquired my copy through purchasing this back issue for $10. On their website, contact or call their customer service for instruction.

2) Search for Gil Fronsdal's PDF article, entitled, "Notes on a Theravada Approach to Spiritual Care to the Dying and the Dead"

It is imperative that our society begin to look at death square in the face and be able to converse amongst each other (even in "polite" company) about issues of dying and death planning. We need to move away from sweeping it under the rug, or having fast and "clean" funerals to quickly move our dead along, which really doesn't give those left behind a chance to fully grieve and participate in the transition time of death to whatever comes next in a peaceful, caring, complete and loving way. Death experienced with ourselves and/or loved ones is not something to be quickly gotten over, but rather an event to be lived, just as we live and celebrate births, weddings and graduations.

It has become more and more possible to choose the way in which we would like to die and to die at home and not in an institution hooked up to machines. The Tricyle magazine gives many resources to bypass the "system" and death industry that tries to artificially "prettify" the body when anyone who has ever experienced seeing someone dead, knows full well that this is just a body left behind and not the person.

Hoping that you all will have the courage and curiosity to join Baruch and I for this special day. You can register online here.

with love, gratitude and metta, Pauletta

March 21, 2013

Sunday 7-9, Cultivating Happiness, with Deb Kerr

Dear Friends,

This coming Sunday, Deb Kerr will talk about Cultivating Happiness.  As I said to those who were there last Sunday, Deb is a long-time, dear friend of mine.  We have taught together for about a decade, went through teacher training together, and worked together to help establish East Bay Meditation Center.  I'm delighted she will be teaching at Alameda Sangha this week & next, and several more times in the near future.  She's an insightful (and fun) teacher.  Here's what she says about this coming Sunday's topic:

"Is it possible to find happiness that does not depend on our life's circumstances?  The Buddha thought so, in fact his followers were known as The Happy Ones.  This talk will cover setting the intention for happiness; beginning to open the heart to receive joy; how present moment awareness leads to happiness; and some simple practices to invite more happiness into our lives."

I hope you all can attend and bring your friends,

March 13, 2013

Sunday, 7-8:30pm: Insight Meditation -- What, How & Why?

Dear Friends,

What is Insight Meditation? How do we do it, and why? This Sunday from 7-8:30, I'll pull together over 10 years of answering these questions into a 30-minute dharma talk. In my talk on Pitfalls on the Path, you may have heard me say, "It's not about the breath." Come this week and find out why the breath is still very important and how to practice with it… and a lot more about meditation and how it works. This should have a lot to offer both beginning meditators and people who've been sitting for decades.

Keep bringing your friends; they're very welcome.

See you then,

March 11, 2013

Practice for this Week: Mind Work

Hello Everyone,

Thanks for your prompt attendance despite the time change yesterday and for the good testimony to last week's Bare Awareness practice.

"Bhikkus, whatever a bhikku frequently thinks and ponders upon, that will become the inclination of his mind." Sutta 19 in the MN

This week continue to explore what mind states, wholesome and unwholesome we all are tending towards habitually feeding.
See if we can become the outside observer or witness to these mind states and see it happening in our minds and arising internally.

Notice what habits of mind is in our relationships to the daily life problems that arise for us.

Finally, in our sitting meditation, if there is obsessive thinking happening, practice noticing how our awareness feels at that moment. That there may be contraction and constriction of mind happening. Once we let go,, there may be an expansive and more receptive awareness. This is good to notice and feel deeply in the heart, body and mind as well.

with gratitude and metta for your practice,

March 6, 2013

Sorry for second email but please watch this amazing video about San Quentin

Hello Everyone,

This just came across my desk and is so inspiring. Please take some time to watch it.

I will be having a lumbar puncture this afternoon. Please send metta. Thanks so much, and see you all this Sunday, with gratitude, Pauletta

Mind Work at Alameda Sangha this Sunday, March 10 from 7-9 pm

Hello Everyone,

Hope you are all well this week.

 A few announcements: I was mistaken on the daylong on Death, Dying and Mindfulness. It is going to be on Saturday, May 18 and not May 12 from 9 to 5 pm, taught by Baruch Golden and I. Please bring a bag lunch.

We will also be doing a half day daylong on Saturday June 29 from 9 to 1 pm taught by the four of us: Rebecca Dixon, Deb Kerr, Baruch Golden and I. Theme is yet to be determined. These will be held at Buena Vista United Methodist Church.

On Sunday, May 5th, we will be having our weekly meeting at Island Yoga instead of at the church because they are holding their yearly Spring Bazaar and will not have cleaned up by 7 pm. Check our website for details on the alternative meeting place directions, etc.

This Sunday, let's explore together how and why we feed certain mind states and how this can become our default mode for the future and ongoing continual daily life interactions. Hopefully we will see how this segways with last Sunday's work on bare awareness in terms of practice. I would love to hear from anyone how this week's practice went and if it was fruitful when we meet this Sunday.

with love and metta,

March 4, 2013

Practice for the Week: Bare Awareness

Hello Everyone,

Thanks for the lively discussion last night. For this week, here are the steps to remember in practicing with Bare Awareness:

1) Just the facts, ma'am at the inception of perception.
2) Sifting process: here we watch our mind come up with all kinds of commentary, judgements, comparisons, strategizing, creating of stories, etc.
3) Acknowledge, note and dismiss.
4) at the same time, do not react in action or speech.
5) 2,3 and 4 allows us time for the mind to move towards open receptivity and spaciousness to allow us to respond in a skillful way.

Happy Practicing! Next Sunday we will explore Mind Work and how best to cultivate being the dispassionate observer without losing engagement with what is actually happening after the inception of perception.

Mark your calendars! Baruch and I will be teaching a daylong on Death, Dying and Mindfulness exploring the 5 Recollections which the Buddha has offered us. This will be on May 12th, Saturday from 9 to 5 right here at the church. Bring a bag lunch!

with gratitude for your metta and practice, Pauletta