Archive for February 27th, 2012

I Promise…

It’s been there but been neglected. . . I hope that my own trials and errors can help you or someone you know live with pain. Let nothing in our life not build character, make us who we are, and lead us to compassionate service of others. . .

Mindful Lifestyle - Devoted to Healing & Being

I’m going to spend more time here, really. . . I’ve been spending my time getting a blog up and going about my first love… Buddhist meditation and end-of-life care.

But that it’s my whole world.

For about 6 years, I suffered from daily, debilitating migraines.  It was only a half joke when I begged my friend to run me over with her Mommy-van.  I didn’t want my life to end, just the pain and the accompanying suffering.

I learned a lot about healing along the way.  Some from friends.  Some from specialists.  Some at school.  A lot from trial and error.

Spending much less time in pain gives me the ability to do things that bring great joy into my life.

I’d like to pass on some of the things I learned.

Now some of the things I will share are about migraines. . . that was a big…

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Portrait of Atisha

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I find myself at an interesting point in life… This week, is my birthday and I am farther and farther from my 30s (and the age that my brother was when he died). . . and dreams I have had in the past are gone. . .

I’m finishing my PhD and several years of hard work will be coming to an end… I find that overall, life is okay right now, being on the other side of many years of pain issues…

I also find myself getting really in touch with a few things. . . my health struggles over the past year (and hopefully being on the other side of them), my parents’ age and health,   where I am in my life and where I want to go… and I find myself facing impermanence and the desire to be more here and now.

Part of what I wanted to do with my research for school was to understand how using some meditation from the Buddhist tradition would help one in their grief process.  There are several contemplative practices that one can do.

I thought I was going to find people who do them and interview them.  As I have sought out participants, I have been told over and over again that very few people do these meditations.  But. . . wait. . .  the little voice in me says. . .  here is a wonderful practice and we aren’t using it?

I want to learn to be more present.  I want to be a more compassionate companion to those who are grieving and dying. . . the meditations seem to make sense as a path, a practice. . .

In addition, I’m going to spend 5 days in April at a retreat on Buddhism and Dying.

I decided today that every week, I will focus some of my meditation practice to contemplating death.

For the next nine weeks, (which will take me to a week after the retreat), I will be meditating on and blogging about the Nine Contemplations of Atisha.

To read more about the Nine Contemplations of Atisha, click here.  If you want to delve deeper for yourself, you can check out Larry Rosenberg’s work or Joan Halifax’s work.

I’m excited to have some direction.  I practice metta meditation, tonglen, basic mindfulness, and some visualizations.  And at the end of April, I will do the 8 weeks of Mindfulness with Mark Williams’ program.  But for right now, I am going to spend time with Atisha’s contemplative insights about the natural of reality.  I have no idea what to expect but, I’m ready for it.

If you have experience working with the Nine Contemplations or if you do any of the other dying practices, please share over the weeks to come.

I wish you well.  I wish you happiness.  I wish you safety.  I wish you peace on your journey.


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Thought I would pass this post on. I really appreciate it. I am not a morning person at all so anything that will help me get going, be productive, and face the new day with a smile is important!

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pond in winter

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“Just sitting means just that. That ‘just’ endlessly goes against the grain of our need to fix, transform, and improve ourselves. The paradox of our practice is that the most effective way of transformation is to leave ourselves alone. The more we let everything be just what it is, the more we relax into an open, attentive awareness of one moment after another.”

~~ Barry Magid, Leave Yourself Alone

I remember listening to an audiobook… I can’t remember if it was Pema Chodron or not as it was years ago, but I remember it was a female dharma teacher.  Anyway, I remember her saying that all this self-help that we do, the exercise programs, the 10 ways to be a better…, etc it all has at its root the seeds of aggression.

What???  you might ask.  What are you talking about?  Isn’t it self-love or lovingkindness that I want to better my life?  Don’t I get credit for wanting to fix things?

That inherent aggression comes from us wanting to take apart what is, in us, in our lives. . . our plans at self-help keep us from seeing that what is here, now, and softening to it with our presence.

And I believe it is when we soften to who we are in the moment, what our life circumstances are here and now, that we really do the best thing we can for ourselves.

I think this is one reason why so much grief theory frustrates me.  Go through these stages (Elisabeth Kubler-Ross).  Perform these tasks (Bill Worden, Teresa Rando).  Reconcile these needs (Alan Wolfelt).  Buy my recovery workbook. . . this one I can’t even remember because I really dislike the idea that anyone would even frame grief as something we have to recover from.

And this is also why the work of people like Stephen and Ondrea Levine, Ram Dass, and Joan Halifax has been so appealing.  They start with the basic premise that we will have pain in our lives and that isn’t wrong or bad.  We aren’t incomplete or needing fixing when our hearts are broken open with grief and mourning.

If you know someone who is grieving, the kindness thing you can do for them is to be present to them. . . listen. . . be with them. . . allow them to be exactly how they are. . .

And that might be angry, uptight, frightened, relieved, numb, sad. . . we do them the greatest gift when we can just allow what is going on and baring witness to their experience.

Maybe you can’t be the one to do that.  That’s okay.  It’s good to know that about yourself.  So help them find someone who can.

Maybe you can help run some errands for them so they can find a support group or a meditation group.

Maybe you could find a podcast on mindfulness for them and tape it.

Or you could share a resource with them like Grieving Mindfully by Sameet Kumar or The Grief Process by Stephen and Ondrea Levine.

Let them know that you don’t want to change them and that you do want to support them.

Remember that grief is an outward expression of love for the person who has died.

Why on earth would we want to take that from them?

Why on earth would we want them to recover from that?  Model love for them by accepting them just where they are, here and now.

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