Posts Tagged ‘love’

I really fell in love with the community at WordPress, well, the community that seemed to surround me as I started writing this blog.  And this week has been a great reminder of that kind of love.

There’s something special about connecting, sharing, expressing, questioning, and communing in a way that is heartfelt but free from some of the attachments and “stuff” that we find in relationships with family, friends, and those who are near and far.

The comments I have received this week have been deep, lovely, and so soulful.  I’m glad that people have been moved to share and have wanted to connect intimately.

Deep conversations, like the ones I used to have with friends in college (as we sat by the Hudson River), can be so healing and foster new levels of understanding and connection.

I am deeply honored that you have reached back and shared.

As Namaste would suggest, I honor the light, love, perfection, flaws, and all that is within you, that is within me, and that is all that there is.

Peace, Jennifer

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image from colorbox


I would love to share this article with every middle school girl out there… but that might be too late.

We live our whole lives looking for the elusive one, sometimes not able to stand the “one” that we are. . . because we aren’t smart enough, not thin enough, or whatever else we’ve come to believe about ourselves.

If we don’t learn to foster compassion for ourselves we get into a relationship that might be good for us and then we start to think. . . I don’t think I’m smart enough, thin enough, etc. . . of course the object of my love, who I hold in such high esteem, must think that to.

And then comes, who do they think they are?

Or OMG, if they got close enough, they would learn that thin and smart are just the surface… there is so much more than is wrong with me.

And that perfect mate, perfect relationship, is sabotaged, wrecked, and over before it begins.

I tell my friends time and time again that I am not sure if we need to teach kids how to read, write, and do math when we can’t teach them how to be compassionate and can’t show them compassion.

Does algebra really matter if we haven’t been able to connect with others, develop some sort of healthy self-worth?

I hope that the current trend to teach kids mindfulness continues to flourish.  We have kids who are detached, self-absorbed, unable to parent when they get older, and believe, like many of our CEOs and politicians, that the “other” is just someone to take advantage of, no matter who that “other” may be.

Attachment parenting has been in the headlines since the cover of Time a few weeks ago and I know little about it.  I don’t know if we need to breastfeed for much longer than we need to or sleep with our kids to foster safety.

I do know that I see parents, good people, treat their children like objects.  Referring to them like, “I picked up the kid from soccer practice. . .”

I see teachers and parents not give attention to or appreciate the voice that children and elderly have.

We are so busy that it seems like it benefits us to see “the other” as an object because then they can be manipulated — tailgating until we push them around, used to climb the corporate ladder, livelihoods taken, etc.

There has to be some middle ground between seeing corporations having personal rights and depersonalizing the people in our lives but I think it goes back to basic things . . .

Fostering presence and acknowledging the person we are with

Deep listening

Compassionate, thoughtful speak that seeks to find compromise, clarity, and communion

Cultivating a broader perspective and being able to step back to see our basic interconnectedness or as it is called in Thich Nhat Hanh‘s tradition, Interbeing.

Slowing down and taking time — put down all of the distractions and things that won’t matter some day when we are at the end of our lives.

Taking care of ourselves so we can be stewards of our selves, our resources, and our relationships.

All of these things come with contemplative practices.  And I don’t mean to say that everyone needs to become Buddhist. . . MBSR has shown us that a practice does not need to be religious or even spiritual.

I think that any contemplative practice in any tradition of any kind will help us to work on the things that will make us healthier, create stronger relationships, and bring about true peace.

What are we waiting for?

We all have breath to follow.

We all have access to fire to light a candle to focus on.

We have a treasure trove of literature and spiritual/therapeutic texts out there to teach us about the present moment and how to foster awareness.

I ask myself these questions of our greater world and I ask them of myself every day.

Is it time to embrace our enlightened-nature and foster deep connections with the essential self of others?

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Neurologist and writer Oliver Sacks at the 200...

Neurologist and writer Oliver Sacks at the 2009 Brooklyn Book Festival. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This is an amazing clip of Oliver Sacks from Elephant Journal… it is PHENOMENAL!!!!!!


Thank you elephant journal for this awesome post!

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Image via Wikipedia

On 12/13, I published the first part of this post.  If you did not get to read it then, here is part I:


What I want to write about tonight is, how does healing on the grief journey,(healing the layers of primary and secondary losses), relate to mindfulness meditation?

Mindfulness meditation is a wonderful way of learning to be with what is.  What does that mean?

It means that when we practice mindfulness meditation, we simply sit (or stand, walk, lay down, etc.) and allow our attention to be aware of what happens from moment to moment.  It’s an act of self -kindness and anytime we can allow ourselves to be more compassionate, we not only help ourselves but we help the whole universe with which we are connected.

By practicing mindfulness meditation, we learn to not go for a ride with our thoughts; we learn to just observe them.  We don’t let them carry us into dark places or ecstatic states.  Moment to moment, we label that we are thinking, feeling, having a sensation, etc.   We learn to not hold on to our judgments, criticisms, or attachment to these thoughts, feelings, and sensations.  We label them and allow them to pass by.

You might be thinking that mediation might be a good way to relax or “zone out” but you might not see how mindfulness meditation is an appropriate way of living with our loss.  But think about what happens when we start to review the deathbed scene with the person we love.

We may think to ourselves that we didn’t do enough for the person who died.  “Why didn’t I make him take his pills?  Why didn’t I insist she stop smoking?  How was it that I did not see him declining?  If only I had. . .”  We do so much damage to ourselves when we think these things, casting so many judgments and showing ourselves no forgiveness while our hearts our broken.

But imagine if you had a tool to help teach you to find that mercy for yourself and as you practiced, with time, you could extend that mercy out to the whole universe?  Guess what?  Such tools really exists, tonglen and metta (lovingkindness).  Tonglen which means sending and taking or exchanging self and other, but what does that mean?

When I was a counselor for hospice and facilitating groups all the time, I would often suggest tonglen as a way out of our self-hatred and condemnation, a way out of our isolation, and a way to feel empowered, having the ability to affect all beings.  I especially liked to use metta in my parents’ groups because of the different level of isolation that accompanied the loss of a child.

Tonglen allows you to slowly learn to have compassion for yourself.  By being mindful of the breath, we breathe in all of the fear, hatred, doubt, grief, anger that we have and breathe out compassion, care, empathy, kindness, companionship, or love for ourselves.  We start with the inner most layer of our universe – ourselves.

Then we focus our attention out to someone we love.  We breathe in the negative aspects that they may be going through and breathe out the same positive intentions for them.  And then, a further layer out. . . to someone who is an acquaintance or someone we have neutral feelings towards.

One year when I had a lot of dental work done and was practicing mindfulness in the chair and I came to this point, I focused on the collective group of our hospice census.  I could imagine any of them feeling things that I was feeling – fear, pain, anxiety, dread, dis-ease, etc.  And I breathed that in and breathed out for them a sense of being supported and loved, ease from pain and suffering, and something pleasant for them, such as the sound of their grandchild or favorite song.

By practicing metta and tonglen, we extend beyond our own confines, beyond our viewpoint, beyond those we love or those we have little feeling for, and connect with all beings everywhere that are going through what we are and having compassion for them and for ourselves.  We allow our hearts to expand through those layers.

So in going back to all the things we may face about the deathbed scene, we can even do a simple form of tonglen meditation and breathe in all of the doubt, second guessing, confusion, and pain of not doing enough for the person who died.  We may breathe out light and grace for those people in the world who are feeling those things at that exact moment.  Too often we believe that our pain is so big because we are the only ones who have ever gone through it or ever will.  Tonglen allows us to clean off that lens and see that we are not the only ones who have or are experiencing these things. . . we are one with all those who have travelled this path throughout time.

I believe that mindfulness can be practiced in a myriad of ways.  For instance, there is a link at the end of this post to a gentleman reading a metta meditation.  Listen to him and allow him to guide you until you are ready to try on your own.  If you have unsettled or unresolved issues with your loved one, try practicing metta with them, starting with yourself and your feelings, moving on to the aspects of the person that you most love, that you are indifferent to, and lastly those with which you still struggle.

As you practice metta with the recording, please stop back and share your experience with us.

May you be free of all suffering.

May you find comfort and sustenance.

May you feel deeply connected to all that is.

Namaste, Jennifer


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One of my favorite books on grief.  Sameet Kumar has written an awesome book on grief and learning to live grief mindfully.  His book and his work has carried on in the tradition of incredible teachers like Ram Dass, Roshi Joan Halifax, Stephen & Ondrea Levine, etc.

A must read for anyone — anyone dissatisfied with current grief theory, anyone who is grieving, or anyone who loves someone who is grieving.


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