Where you live?
How did you come to meditation?
I have always been fascinated by the mind. I have struggled with varying levels of anxiety throughout my life, and became curious about how to alleviate my symptoms. In college, when my anxiety was at its peak, I took a class called ‘Intro to Meditation,’ but I couldn’t quite get into it, which felt discouraging. When I moved to Austin, I tried out multiple Sanghas (communities), following various traditions, but nothing ever really fit. It wasn’t until I met Kelly and began meditating with her that I really began to grasp the benefits of the practice. It was more human, accessible and allowing than any other experience I had previously and finally I feel committed.
What inspires you to meditate?
The busy quality of life, uncertainty, impermanence, and ultimately the undeniable suffering that accompanies being human. Meditation gives me more space to deal with the external world, as messy and chaotic as it can sometimes feel.
What does your meditation practice look like?
It is not daily, and often times it is not done in a formal seated position. However, when I do sit, I usually do so for 20 minutes. I usually focus on some facet of self-compassion. I find that I am meditating all the time. In traffic, when I am on the phone with my sister, when I’m practicing yoga with my eyes closed and when I am practicing presence in all things that I engage in.
Do you have any rituals or routines that support your practice?
Movement first, then meditation. I find that moving my body before coming into stillness is key to dropping in. I also clean the floor and my space before sitting so that I can eliminate distraction, and lastly, if I meditate with others, it holds me accountable to practice.
How is your life different because of meditation?
I am far less impulsive. I feel like I have more space to decide things as opposed to just reacting to my first instinct. Generally, my life feels more grounded and less chaotic than it did before this practice came into my life…and it has also facilitated other healthy changes to support my body. I eat better, sleep more and give myself permission to just be me far more easily than in the past.
What are the biggest challenges you have encountered in your practice?
Prioritizing sitting. I am naturally a doer and can get distracted easily. I am challenged to find a rhythm with my meditation practice that allows it to feel spacious enough to invite me in, as opposed to a rigid appointment time which I have a tendency to rebel against. So mostly, it is distraction and forgetting to prioritize.
What advice would you share with someone who is just starting a meditation practice?
Get a good cushion! Support your feet with a blanket. For the first several years of practice, my back hurt terribly simply because I was sitting in an incorrect, non-supported posture. Now that I know how to sit, it is far easier to maintain stillness.
What does your heart most long for?
Pure, present, focused acceptance. To step into a place of self-love that is non-judgmental, non-conditional and rooted in the now.
Brooke is the founder of Open Circle Healing, where she offers sessions that include guided meditation, restorative yoga, and therapeutic massage.
Love isn’t a perfect state of caring. It is an active noun like struggle. To love someone is to strive to accept that person exactly the way he or she is, right here and now.
You can search throughout the entire universe for someone who is more deserving of your love and affection than you are yourself, and that person is not to be found anywhere. You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe deserve your love and affection.
~ the Buddha
“Attention is the most basic form of love.
Through it we bless and we are blessed.”
-John Tarrant Roshi
Maitri is a Sanskrit word that means loving kindness. At its root, its essence, it is the wish for ourselves and others to be happy. This is a beautiful and much-needed practice that truly has the power to transform the world and can radically shift your own presence and your own capacity to be kind to others. The formal meditation practice that has been passed down through the Buddhist tradition essentially is offering wishes of loving kindness to five different classes of beings.
- Loving Kindness for yourself
It’s important that we start with ourselves. When beginning, for at least a week, just work with yourself. Because self-kindness, self-compassion, and self-care are the foundation of being truly kind and compassionate and caring for others.
- Loving Kindness for your loved ones
Bring to mind people you love, people you care about–anyone who is close to you.
- Loving Kindness for strangers
Then we move onto strangers–people that are neutral, that you just see walking down the street or with whom you have very little interaction.
- Loving Kindness for difficult people
Then we offer loving-kindness to people who are difficult. In the traditional teachings these are called our “enemies.” These are the people who push our buttons and challenge us. The people that perpetuate the suffering that we see in the world are people that we put in this category.
- Loving Kindness for all beings
The ultimate expression of maitri is this unconditional wish for all beings, without exception, to have happiness.
If you wish to begin a Loving Kindness practice, you may utilize the traditional phrases below. To learn about the four essential stages of Loving Kindness and practical ways to incorporate it into your life, join Kelly Lindsey at the end of March for a live, online six-week deep dive into the practice.
Traditional Loving Kindness Phrases
May I be happy.
May I be healthy.
May I be peaceful.
May I live with ease.
May you be happy.
May you be healthy.
May you be peaceful.
May you live with ease.
May all beings be happy.
May all beings be healthy.
May all beings be peaceful.
May all beings live with ease.
Where you live?
How did you come to meditation?
During high school and college, I was a member of Sodality, a group dedicated to Mary in the Catholic Church. Meditation was a regular part of our practice.
What inspires you to meditate?
I have always been drawn to that “still small voice within”.
In our daily lives, we are often surrounded by noise that distracts us from really feeling ourselves. Having tasted the profound healing of silence, I have come to believe that the constant noise that surrounds us creates unnecessary stress, anxiety, and illness. Yet, most of us are uncomfortable in silence and we perpetually fill the space with sound and unnecessary speech or busy-ness. We really do have to learn how to become comfortable being still and silent.
Practicing silence is a way of connecting with what is sacred. When you walk into a church or temple or sacred place, or find yourself in the presence of a holy being, you might discover that you spontaneously fall quiet and listen, deeply. Meditation practice is an invitation to do the same. By honoring deeply what is sacred within each of us, we can tune in to what is happening right now.
I found it interesting to discover that the words SILENT and LISTEN contain the same 6 letters. When we practice silence, we learn to listen. When we are still we can listen with more than our ears, we can begin to listen with our whole being. Stillness leads to silence.
In much the same way that stillness is not the absence of movement, Silence is not the absence of sound. Buddhist teacher Adyashanti says that “silence is the absence of ego.” Ego is the part of ourselves that wants things to be other than they are.
In the silence, we have an opportunity to really listen to the silent whispers of our own hearts. There are a few lines that keep coming to my mind from a children’s movie that came out a few years ago called “Happy Feet”: “You have to find your heart song all by yourself. It’s the voice you hear inside. It’s who you truly are.”
When you listen deeply, what do you hear?
Practicing with Silence
I suggest you try to commit to a little bit of formal meditation practice each day, connecting with the stillness and silence in your body and mind:
Choose to be quiet and to listen to the sounds and sensations arising within and around you.
Practice silence when taking a walk or eating a meal.
Consider taking a one day sabbatical from television, radio, internet, and the telephone.
Plan to spend a day, or even just a morning, in silence, not speaking or being spoken to (you have to get your family and friends on board if you choose to try this).
Retreating to Silence
Your daily meditation practice provides you with an opportunity to experience moments of silence every day. But sometimes you may long for a deeper commitment to silence. That’s when going on retreat can be a way to nourish and strengthen your practice.
Be Still, and the Silence will sing for you.
You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait, be quiet, still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.
~ Franz Kafka
May all beings be well.
May all beings be happy.
Peace. Peace. Peace.
Being present isn’t something that happens once and then you’ve achieved it. It is being awake to the ebb and flow and movement and creation of life. Being alive to the process of life itself.
— Pema Chodron
Join co-founder of Dakini Meditative, Adam Smith, for a 90-minute presentation on The Science of Meditation: Skills for Life and Work. Adam’s talk will be live and accessible through The Mind Oasis, a non-profit online community, on Sunday, January 21st, 2018 from 6:30pm-8:00pm.
“Remember that it’s not so much about reliving or recounting the past, and it’s not about planning for every unpredictable eventuality. It’s about finding a way to process what is happening now, what you’re feeling now. How we respond to what’s happening now is what shapes our future.”
– Adam B. Smith D.O., Physician, Coach and Patient Advocate; Partner, Dakini Meditative, LLC
Mindfulness, in practical terms, is the skill of paying attention. Meditation is the practice that helps us build this skill. In a world of distraction, disease and overwork, there is a growing body of scientific evidence that supports mindfulness and meditation as tools to help us reduce physiologic stress, cultivate greater kindness toward others and ourselves, and improve our overall sense of satisfaction in our relationships, in the workplace and in the world at large.
For many, mindfulness and meditation are terms shrouded in mystery with a voodoo component — akin to quackery in medicine. Working at the intersection of medicine and mindfulness, I aim to de-mystify these concepts and practices for the every-person. Don’t think meditation is for you? It can be. Are you ready for it? Maybe not yet. And while this week may not be the best week to stop sniffing glue or stop smoking, it’s a good tool to know about.
I look forward to shedding some light on this millennia-old wisdom practice and how it may be relevant to you and your life in my upcoming Mind Oasis talk, entitled The Science of Meditation: Skills for Life and Work on January 21st at 6:30pm CST.
I look forward to seeing you there,
Meditation is about seeing clearly the body that we have, the mind that we have, the domestic situation that we have, and the people who are in our lives. It’s about seeing how we react to all these things. It’s seeing our emotions and thoughts just as they are right now, in this very moment, in this very room, on this very seat. It’s not about trying to make them go away, not trying to become better than we are, but just seeing clearly with precision and gentleness.
~ Pema Chodron
Delight in meditation and solitude.
Compose yourself, be happy.
You are a seeker.
— The Buddha