Sunday, October 28, 2012

Mindfulness in a Middle Eastern Baklava Shop

Kunafah is crazy delicious!
I was just in the Middle East on my honeymoon. I could tell you a million things about how great Jordan is, how safe it is, all the wonderful things about Islamic practices, etc. But what I really want to talk about is what I learned about dignity, how to stand up straight and appreciate our place in the world.

A highlight for me every time I go to the Middle East, is the food. In particular, I love baklava, especially when its made with gooey honey, sun cracked pistachios and golden brown phillo dough.

One day my wife and I walked into one of the ubiquitous sweets shops in Amman to find a man with a well groomed mustache ruling over his abundant world of perfumed, sugary, crispy, bite-sized culinary delights. He smiled at us when we walked in. I mangled a few words of Arabic, in an effort to learn more about what I was looking at. I asked him what you call the cheesy, golden pastry swimming in rose syrup.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

100 Choices Every Second

In Western culture we have an incredible neurosis. We rarely feel worthy. We are never quite satisfied with who we are and where we are in life. This menace appears in our careers, where we never feel competent enough. It shows up at the gym, where we never feel fit enough. It shows up in school, where we never feel cool enough, popular enough, or smart enough. The shopping mall thrives on the fact that we are never satisfied, we can't just be happy.

There is probably someone in the world right now who is more satisfied than me, with less. I'm going to contemplate what makes that person tick.

I sometimes lose sight of what is in front of me at this moment and fantasize about where life might be taking me. I strategize about the future. Then I get frustrated because things aren't working out according to my 5 point program to become the super me.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Guest Post: Six Weeks Ago

This week I am excited to present a guest post from a dear DC Shambhala Sangha member, who also happens to be my meditation instructor. Jonathan Kirkendall offers a personal, moving and honest picture of impermanence, as he experienced when his partner suffered a stroke...

When you go to a graduate school founded by a TibetanBuddhist master, where the writing department was developed by the Beat Poets,it is not  surprising that the graffiti in the men’s room is poetic dharma. Written acrossthe metal stall all in caps in black magic marker, it reads:


I ran into this little piece of wisdom before classesstarted my first year there, and when I graduated three years later, I had it memorized.  Of course, at graduate school all IS change.  My long red hair morphed into a shaved headwhich became a red and gray buzz cut. Friends changed, classes changed, professors changed, mindschanged.  And soon, Boulder, Colorado changed to New York City, which two years later changed to Washington DC.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Guest Post: When the Floor Drops

Last week we had a guest post on having the rug pulled out from under you. This week I'm excited to present another guest post on impermanence from a friend and Sangha member. Wingy describes the painful experience of groundlessness after losing his job, his desire to escape, and then the inspiration gained from letting the situation be. Good thing Wingy started meditating or he'd just be another angry guy on the street!

I got fired. Well, I was asked to resign. Being “separated from the organization” is the clinical term.  As with any time that the floor drops out from beneath you, it comes unexpectedly and leaves you spinning.

This was 4 months ago. I had been meditating for about 1.5 years. You hear people talk about “groundlessness” and it all sounds pretty good in theory. You let go, allow yourself to be present in the moment with whatever arises, not clinging to habitual patterns or reference points. But nothing teaches you groundlessness like the actual experience of not having any clue what just happened or how you’re going to respond.