Gratitude

  The word comes from the Latin word “gratus” which means “thankfulness and pleasing”. This is the time of Thanksgiving, the practice and celebration of gratitude for food, gifts, connecting with people and engaging in conversations. Everyday is a time for celebrating gratitude in small measures because it leads us in an experience of being alive, preventing us from exhaustion or killing the mind of compassion. Gratitude enables us to realize that we are part of a larger context in which our personal stories are unfolding. It softens our heart, directs our view towards what is meaningful and builds greater capacity for forgiveness and appreciation for the interdependent nature of our existence. We often tend to focus on the negative aspects of our experiences which can lead to a distorted view of what is actually happening, undermining in the process any attempt of empowerment and literally deadening the realm of possibilities. Gratitude is a powerful antidote for our emotional chaos, occasional despair, depression, self defeating feelings and behaviors. It also gives us strength to be with people who habitually tend to only notice things that go wrong or the abundant deficiencies that occur, maybe for a short time only… Meditating on gratitude helps us drop the feeling of loss, envy, scarcity, even jealousy and releases us from the fear of always wanting more than we have. Reminding ourselves of what we are grateful for doesn’t deny life’s daily difficulties and challenges on our planet, troubled times, uncertainties about the future as well as disappointments and betrayals. However the practice will lift the veil of gloom and doom and shift...

Settling the Mind in its Natural State

This practice has been emphasized in the Mahayana tradition before spreading to Nepal and Tibet. It means that we steadily observe virtuous and non virtuous thoughts arising in the mind without desire or aversion, letting thoughts subside of their own accord and awareness arise without any object other than itself. Chokyi Gyaltsen explained it this way: “Whatever sort of thoughts arise, without suppressing them, recognize what they emerge from and what they dissolve into; stay focused while you observe their nature. By doing so , eventually the motion of thoughts ceases and there is stillness…each time you observe the nature of any thoughts that arise they will vanish by themselves, following which, a vacuity appears. Likewise, if you examine the mind when it remains without movement, you will see an unobscured, clear and vivid vacuity. That is called the union of stillness and motion”. Dudjom Lingpa said; “Eventually all coarse and subtle thoughts will be calmed in the empty expanse of the essential nature of your mind and consciousness comes to rest in its own natural, unmodified state. That experience is soothing, gentle, clear , limpid consciousness that is neither benefited nor harmed by thoughts, and you experience a remarkable sense of stillness without needing to modify, reject or embrace anything.” Settling the mind in its natural state is an effective way of knowing the mind and healing the mind. We can remove mental habits by realizing : That thinking the thoughts and images we experience don’t exist outside of our own mind, That compulsively responding to mental events with craving and aversion are not intrinsically pleasant or unpleasant...

What is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness teaches us how to be in the present moment. The good news is that this is an innate ability. We have simply learned to override it. Mindfulness practices teach us to slow down inside, shift out of auto-pilot, and step into a more open, relaxed and focused state of attention. With mindfulness we can better see things as they are without judgment, self-criticism and overwhelming emotions. Mindfulness is a discipline that allows us to access greater clarity, insight and compassion. This program teaches participants a structured way to carve out time each day for the cultivation of mindfulness. For many, the biggest challenge is actually making the time to practice, but we have found that the group format of our program really helps with motivation and support. Mindfulness helps unleash the body’s innate capacity to rest and heal, and just a few weeks into the program our students begin to notice significant...