Darkness of the Womb

In challenging times, there are four key ways of paying attention that can allow for suffering to be transformative.

De-Conditioning the Hungry Ghosts

To the degree that our basic needs are unmet, desire contracts and we become fixated on substitutes. But, no matter how we are caught, mindfulness and compassion can free us...

Trusting Our Hearts

When we bring mindfulness and compassion to our own doubt and fear and notice the goodness in ourselves and others, we begin to trust the intrinsic love that is our deepest nature.

Relaxing the Over-Controller

How do we shift from the identity of a controlling, wanting, fearing self into a compassionate witness that can see what is going on and knows how to rest and just be?

The Wisdom of "It's Not My Fault"

When we are not caught in self-blame, we are free to love this life. Opening to the possibility of "It’s not my fault" creates space for deep inner freedom.

Soul Recovery

When the path is illuminated by loving awareness, even the most broken heart will find its way home.

Radical Self-Honesty

We can see in our society how dishonesty poisons our world with cynicism and mistrust. This suffering calls for a deepening commitment to being real with ourselves and each other.

Looking Through the Eyes of Another

What would it be like, in this moment, to look through another’s eyes? To widen the circles of compassion and be part of the healing of our world?

Discovering the Gold

When we lock into a sense of falling short and the fear of failure, mindfulness and compassion practices help us to wake from this trance and remember who we really are.

Real but Not True

Uninvestigated, our limiting beliefs are a veil between us and reality. But when we deepen our attention and start seeing past them, the light of the stars starts shining through.

Where Does It Hurt?

The wounds in our life are so often related to severed belonging. Healing is possible, and begins with the question: Where does it hurt?

To Play a Greater Part

What really helps us to evolve, in our personal life and culturally, when we are caught in the “limbic hijack”—a wave of aggression, fear, or greed taking over our bodies.

The Freedom of Yes

In the trance of unworthiness we're locked into a sense of falling short and the fear of failing. How can we wake from this trance and come home to the truth of who we are?

Inviting Mara to Tea

One of my favorite stories of the Buddha shows the power of a wakeful and friendly heart.

My Religion Is Kindness

If we dedicated our lives to kindness, to the qualities of friendliness and care, we would be directly serving peace on earth.

The Lion’s Roar

We typically think of our happiness as dependent on certain good things happening. In Buddhism, “sukha” describes the deepest type of happiness - independent of what is happening.

Taking Your Hands Off the Controls

Some of us control by withdrawing. For instance, we might find ourselves thinking, “Okay, if you’re going to treat me this way, then I’m going to pull back.”

A Heart That Is Ready for Anything

There’s a bright light of awareness that shines through each of us and guides us home, and we’re never separated from this luminous awareness, any more than waves are separated from ocean.

The Backward Step

How we pay attention determines our experience. When we’re in doing or controlling mode, our attention narrows and we perceive objects in the foreground the background of experience, the ocean of awareness. The good news is that through practice, we can intentionally incline our minds toward not controlling and toward an open attention.

The Opportunity of “The Magic Quarter Second”

The Buddha taught that to be free—not identified with or possessed by thoughts or feelings—we need to investigate each and every part of our experience with an intimate and mindful attention. The first step is pausing, making use of the magic quarter second, and the second, choosing to be present with our moment-to-moment experience.

You Are Not Your Space Suit Self

We are born with a beautiful open spirit, alive with innocence and resilience. But we bring this goodness into a difficult world.

The Sacred Pause

Like awakening from a dream, in the moment of pausing our trance recedes and Radical Acceptance becomes possible.

Enlarging Our Tribe

Even if we don’t like someone, seeing their vulnerability allows us to open our heart to them. We might vote against them in an election; we might never invite them to our home; we might even feel they should be imprisoned to protect others.

Attention

“The only way to live is by accepting each minute as an unrepeatable miracle.” ― Tara Brach

From Self-Judgment to Compassion

No longer imprisoned by constantly feeling like something was wrong with him, Daniel was beginning to notice the world in new ways—other students seemed more friendly; the acres of forest were an inviting, magical sanctuary; the dharma talks stirred up a childlike fascination and wonder. He felt energized and somewhat bewildered by the fresh sense of possibility...

Trance of “Unreal Other”

The truth is: without a genuine willingness to let in the suffering of others, our spiritual practice remains empty.

Reaching Out For Compassion

Whenever we feel held by a caring presence, by something larger than our small frightened self, we too can begin to find room in our own heart for the fragments of our life, and for the lives of others. The suffering that might have seemed “too much” can now awaken us to the sweetness of compassion.

Decide on Love

Taking refuge in presence—choosing presence—requires training. When “point A” is unpleasant, the last thing we want to do is to stay and feel our experience. Rather than entrusting ourselves to the waves of experience, we want to get away, lash out, numb ourselves, do anything but touch what’s real.

“I Realized I Don’t Have to Believe My Thoughts”

Our mindfulness practice is not about vanquishing our thoughts. It’s about becoming aware of the process of thinking so that we are not in a trance—lost inside our thoughts. That’s the big difference.

It's Not What's Happening… It's How You Respond

One of the great teachings in spiritual life is this: It doesn't matter what is happening. What matters is how we respond. How we respond is what determines our happiness and peace of mind.

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