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The Greatest Teacher

It’s been a month of hard lessons. We all long to tell the truth, to share what we know. But how? Sometimes really telling the truth requires a turn of phrase, similes, metaphors—a story. My story begins like this: its been a month of hard lessons. The hard part? A clot of blood in the lungs was hard, and painful and scary. Painful and scary is a blood clot story with a happy ending. How is my wife doing? She is doing quite well, thank you. She feels pretty much “back to normal.” Yesterday ... continue reading
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Volunteers

This spring, will a flower emerge in the same unlikely spot? Blooming alone in a bed of stones next to the front door, last year the colorful Pansy surprised us. Pansies are biennials. In their first season, they grow green; in their second they flower, seed and perish. “Volunteers,” David calls them, referring to the flower’s ability to extend itself to another bloom. David is helping Jeanine and me with some spring-cleaning around the yard. He moves slowly, but with the confidence of someone who knows what the earth is up ... continue reading
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When Suitcases Fly

As if by magic, the suitcase was flying through the air. Well, in my defense, it wasn’t a suitcase really, more of a carry-on bag. But it was definitely airborne. It flew through the open door, crossing the threshold of our house well off the ground and landing with a thud that startled our granddaughter who had just entered the mudroom. Later, I would defend myself, saying that at least I didn’t throw the thing at anyone. It landed safely. No one was hurt. Suffice to say, none of these explanations ... continue reading

Starting Over

It’s been too long since we took the time No-one’s to blame, I know time flies so quickly But when I see you darling It’s like we both are falling in love again It’ll be just like starting over, starting over —John Lennon (Starting Over) The initial love affair with our sitting meditation practice is over. We can’t remember anymore why we do it. We began our practice with high hopes and enthusiasm. We imagined what life would be like with the “new” mind that our meditative discipline would bring us. But nothing has panned out ... continue reading

What Goes Around…

Congratulations everyone. According to the lunar calendar, it is the beginning of a New Year. The fact that the earth turns and winds up where it left off is somehow reassuring. The fact that we have lived to see it is cause for celebration and reflection. The year was a journey. Where did it take us? Older now, our time and how we spend it can only be more important. In Shambhala, to mark the start of the annual lunar cycle, we distribute a little soft cover calendar called a Practice ... continue reading

Dinner on Me

“Maybe it’s because you were such a sore loser!” My father’s tone was buoyant. He wasn’t whispering. After a sip of wine he can be buoyant, and as he ages he is more buoyant around his kids. My wife Jeanine and I were there, but this holiday dinner was special. His daughter, my (much) younger sister Maron, was visiting from California with her boyfriend Justin. There were six of us at the table, including my step-mom. Dinner, at a local Thai restaurant in St. Johnsbury Vermont, had just been served. Both Justin ... continue reading

A Cool Encounter

“Look at you two with the signs on your jackets. You look funny.” My wife, Jeanine, was referring to the logos on our fleece jackets, the ones worn by our oldest granddaughter, Camille and me. Camille is 14 and a freshman in high school. “Baba,” (what the grandkids call their grandmother, they call me Michael) “the North Face logo is cool.” Something about the casual way Camille tosses off this last remark moves me to challenge her. “Are you saying that wearing this logo makes the two of us cool?” “Yes. Well it helps. ... continue reading

Retreat Journal: Unemployed

According to the philosopher John Locke, we think we know what we need to know and we all think we’re right (credits to my 14-year-old granddaughter and her Humanities teachers). As a young person I knew that I was special and superior to others. According to the way I was raised, superiority was then to motivate altruistic behavior. Noblesse Oblige as it were. Good works expressed  ambition. Being good (or better), meant working to “do good” better. To do right was to be right. A group meditation and study retreat is ... continue reading

Salt Minding

A Study The other day, I had a chat with my friend Amos, a doctor. He told me about a study looking at salt in the diet. Excess sodium in our food has been linked to high blood pressure and heart disease among other debilitations. Habitually reaching for the saltshaker, or for potato chips instead of carrots, we make a potentially life changing, if not life-threatening decision. In the practice of mindfulness meditation we settle our mind by bringing our awareness to the cycle of breathing. Being with ourselves, we arrive face to ... continue reading

zafu rescue

I was visiting my mother recently in the house where I was raised and where the family has lived since 1958.  While I was browsing the web on the laptop she keeps in the kitchen, she saw the Samadhi Cushions website and asked me what it was.   Then she told me there was an old meditation cushion in an upstairs closet.  Turned out to be a zafu that she gave me for Christmas back in 1982 or so. My name is written on a label that was added to ... continue reading