A Return to Maitri

I've been a big fan of Maitri (loving kindness) Practice, since my dear teacher Lisa Steele introduced me to it years ago.  It's been a consistent part of my daily practice, at least it was until about two weeks after my son was born and my world turned completely upside down.  I let it go.  And then the hours of lost sleep started to add up.  And my support systems fell apart.  And we had the rainiest winter in Seattle in a century.  And I found out I have to move my family, again.  The world started looking pretty ugly.

Then my best friend brought Pema Chodren back into my life.  While I holed up with a new baby, she discovered secular buddhism and maitri and all the practices I love.  She did the kindest thing for me that I've experienced since she left a daffodil on my doorstep on a dark day 7 years ago.  She reminded me about mindfulness, gently, over and over throughout the long winter.  She sent me passages from Pema's When Things Fall Apart.  She reminded me to breathe.  I'm deeply grateful.

It's a transformative experience to sjmply pause instead of immediately filling up the space.  By waiting, we begin to connect with fundamental restlessness as well as fundamental spaciousness. -Pema Chodren

hello darkness

phototoday is the winter solstice, and in honor of the darkest day of our year i taught my lovely 4:30pm class yesterday by candlelight.  since the summer solstice 6 months ago, i've been inspired by this blog: http://yogaseasonal.weebly.com/the-yoga-wheel-of-the-year.html AND the maitri meditation.  yesterday we used this loving-kindness meditation to explore hope and pain in our lives and relationships and release it all into the fire, practicing non-attachment.

may we have happiness, may we be free from suffering, may we know love, may we live with ease

we can so easily cling to hope and then be disappointed when life is not what we want, and at the same time we can convince ourselves that the pain we feel will never end.  the reality is that life changes, it cycles.  by letting go, we symbolically let the fire burn the stuff of our lives to ash, then blow out the candles to let it all rest in darkness, much as a seed in the soil lies dormant for the winter months.  as the light returns, we wait for something new to grow out of what is.  "healing then becomes a process of re-creation...in other words, the simple act of becoming truly aware of reality can cause miracles.  maybe we do need to take more time out and allow the shit to compost into rich soil from which new life can emerge" (from Soil and Soul, A. McIntosh).

Happy Solstice.