Sunday, October 30, 2011

Prejudice Meets Bravery

A friend recently told me about the stories she tells herself about other people, like the lady with the $3,000 handbag and the perfect hair and nails, the lady that smokes in front of her baby, the right-wing-wackos that drive her nuts, fat people, skinny people, poorly dressed people, smokers, health nuts, scary looking men on dark streets, etc. I know she doesn't mean any of this maliciously. She was being brave and honest by admitting that these thoughts exist, like they do in most of us. Prejudices can be a disturbing facet of our selves and its hard to know what to do with them if we struggle to do more good than harm while hanging out on planet earth.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Never Let Me Go

This weekend I saw Never Let Me Go, which broke my heart.  The movie is about a group of (rather attractive) young people who are raised to live solely for the benefit of others. They are faced with the inevitability that they will die during the summer of their youth. The movie is beautiful to look at, the acting is amazing and the plot is rich with real human suffering. After the movie ended I didn’t want to move. I sat there quietly contemplating one particular line as universal to the experience of being human as anything I can think of: “Maybe none of us understand what we’ve lived through… or feel we’ve had enough time.”

Sunday, October 16, 2011

"Nobody really gets me"

I was sitting around with a friend eating a sandwich and conversation led to the shunyata. It went a little something like this:

"I had this realization that nobody knows the real me. One guy thinks I'm this uptight corporate guy, another person thinks I'm too cool for school, another person thinks I'm a nerd. My mom thinks I like certain things, my dad thinks I'm whatever...

Thoughts from a first time meditator

I really enjoyed reading this post from a fellow Washingtonian who walked into the DC Shambhala Center for the first time the other day. Check it out and drop her a comment!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Guest Post: that lumpy feeling

I know something is moving inside me when I get this funny lump in my throat. It feels similar to what you'd feel if something strikes you with a bit of sadness, but not in a depressing way, and not enough to make you cry. The unusual thing signaling that a shift is taking place is that it lasts: sometimes for hours; sometimes for days. At Shambhala I've heard people refer to it as being able to "taste your heart". It's a raw feeling.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Greater awareness, greater happiness

While I could cite all kinds of scientific studies (like this one!) that claim meditating has psychological benefits that enhance a person's intelligence, ability to relax or produce chemicals that counter depression, I'm interested in taking this in a different direction, which is to look at the effect that awareness has on my happiness and my mood.

I've been spending most of my energy learning two types of meditation through the DC Shambhala Center. Shamatha, or "calm abiding," aims to pacify an agitated mind and develop mindfulness. Vipashyana or "insight" meditation, was taught to me slightly after Shamatha, and the aim of this technique is to develop greater awareness of the world around you.