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The Center of Our Being

May we all grow in grace and peace, and not neglect the silence that is printed in the center of our being. It will not fail us.

~ Thomas Merton

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Community Spotlight: Lauren Hubele

 

Where do you live?

San Marcos, Texas

How did you come to meditation?

I came to meditation when it was prescribed to me by my primary care doctor. I had a recurrence of melanoma cancer which is the disease that took my mother’s life when she was only 25. Facing it a second time was a huge shock after I thought I had taken important preventative steps and made significant life changes. Apparently, there was still room for me to grow and change. While it took several years for me to cultivate a committed practice that first suggestion by a very evolved practitioner changed my life.

What inspires you to meditate?

The answer to that question changes over time. Right now what motivates me is what seems to be occurring off the cushion. The self-awareness I have gained is both remarkable and humbling. I now can catch myself repeating a behavior I thought I moved beyond- but the fact that I catch myself and can stop it is amazing. I also find that I am much more able to show up, connect, and reap the benefits of experiences I never could take in before. This is not only a gift to myself but to my children and my husband.

What does your meditation practice look like?

Two years ago I committed to practicing first thing each morning and I’ve kept to that schedule wherever I am. At home in San Marcos, we have a screened in porch off the kitchen and I love to sit just before dawn as the birds begin their day. I set up my mat and Dakini Meditative meditation cushion each night before bed so there is nothing to break the flow. I have a dream of a walking meditation path in my back garden- perhaps I can create one this fall.

Do you have any rituals or routines that support your practice?

Same time, same place, unless I am traveling. I am a creature of habit.

What are the biggest challenges you have encountered in your practice?

This year I had some close encounters with my shadow self. I found it extremely uncomfortable to sit with the parts of myself that I wasn’t particularly proud of. On days it was just too much to bear I would read. Thich Nhat Hahn’s book on Fear brought me great comfort.

What advice would you share with someone who is just starting a meditation practice?

Having a community, a Sangha, to practice with weekly, is always helpful but even more so when you are just beginning. If you can not locate a community near you I would suggest joining one online like Karuna’s Mind Oasis or Susan Piver’s Open Heart Project. Both offer rich and rewarding classes as well as opportunities to sit together.

What does your heart most long for?

Building a community here in San Marcos, my new hometown. While I love the versatility of meeting online I do spend most of my day on the computer and would love to connect with individuals where I live.

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Simplicity, Patience, Compassion

Simplicity, patience, compassion.
These three are your greatest treasures.
Simple in actions and thoughts, you return to the source of being.
Patient with both friends and enemies,
you accord with the way things are.
Compassionate toward yourself,
you reconcile all beings in the world.

― Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching

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Community Spotlight: Henry Morris

Henry Morris

 

Where do you live?

Austin, TX

How did you come to meditation?

That’s quite the story! The short version is in my early twenties I became severely ill which turned into a chronic condition. At the time I was unsure if I would survive it. I became interested in meditation because I felt that it was paramount that I learned how to cultivate peace in my mind in order to offer forgiveness to others, if it was indeed the end of my time on earth. The ironic thing is meditation did bring that peace for me, and the forgiveness, and I firmly believe that is what saved me and set me on my journey to wholeness and health.

What inspires you to meditate?

The therapeutic benefits that now are infused into every facet of my life are my number one motivation. Also it just makes me a better person and a lot easier to be around. I believe that it all starts with healing our own hearts. If the world had the opportunity and resources to heal the wounds they carry around, the whole world would know peace. I’m inspired to continue my meditation practice to display a different way of living, and inspire others to search themselves and find that healing that is available to us all.

What does your meditation practice look like?

My meditation practice is pretty informal these days. I try to practice meditation and prayer daily but often it happens on the go. I feel like at this point (almost 10 years into my practice), my practice is such a big part of everything in my life, it has become naturally integrated into all I do. So even if I don’t make the time to sit and be still, it does provide space in my mind while I go about my daily tasks. My meditation practice also includes a lot of singing and dancing, my two favorite forms of expression.

Do you have any rituals or routines that support your practice?

Yes! I like to read inspiring spiritual texts, everything from Buddhist Sutras to the Bible. And singing is always a part of my practice as well. It helps to remind me that my voice is powerful and needed in the world.

How is your life different because of meditation?

My life post meditation practice is like night and day to who I was previously. Being mindful of my inner and outer life has healed me in ways I can’t quite explain. I’ve found a new way to relate to my thoughts and my life. It has given me purpose and shown me that I am worthy. As someone who has struggled with mental health issues my entire life, I really feel that I wouldn’t still be here had I not been introduced to meditation and the loving and supportive community that came along with that. I am so grateful to Kelly and her compassionate wisdom that has helped me let go of so much trauma. She showed me how to really love others, but most importantly, how to love me for me.

What are the biggest challenges you have encountered in your practice?

I think the biggest challenge has been learning to have patience! Allowing my life to unfold instead of trying to control every little aspect is a hard practice, and a lifelong one. The mantra “sometimes, it’s like this” tends to come in handy for me in that regard.

What advice would you share with someone who is just starting a meditation practice?

Keep going! Reach out for support and encouragement when you need it. Find a community of like-minded people to practice with and support you. Find a teacher who speaks to your heart. Most importantly, be kind to yourself. It’s not a race to the finish line. The healing journey is not linear, and can often feel discouraging. But having the intention to open your heart makes mountains move. You’re doing a great job having gotten started in the first place. You are so needed here!

What does your heart most long for?

My heart most longs for all beating hearts to find peace. I long for a day where hunger and loneliness disappear for all people, regardless of who they are. Especially all people from all walks of life who are marginalized or treated as unworthy. I want all people the world over to know they are needed here, they have purpose, and they are loved more than they could ever imagine.

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Sacred Simplicity

Guest Blog Contributed by Brooke Binstock //

When I sit down to contemplate simplicity, I am struck by how deeply spiritual and sacred the practice of boiling things down to their essence feels. For as long as I can remember, I have been fascinated and even obsessed with getting down to the bottom of things.  I always questioned motivation and maintained a healthy level of skepticism when witnessing other human beings appear so certain in their convictions. I feel committed to knowing what exists beyond the labels and the masks that we are so prone to wear. Especially now, in an age where distraction is at our fingertips at every given moment, I find particular importance in finding out what is really here for us, under the surface.

Every other week, I have the privilege to teach yin yoga and meditation to men at a conscious sober living house in Austin, Texas called Tribe. Having gone through aspects of recovery myself, I understand how deeply raw and vulnerable it is to feel so exposed during those early stages.  It is a truly humbling journey that really begs us to take a deeper look within. At the beginning of each class, I do a check-in with the guys.  In our last meeting, one of the men sitting in the front row, was wearing a shirt that pictured a camping style coffee mug with the words, “keep it simple’ underneath it.

During his check-in, he pointed to his shirt and reflected that it has been an important part of his recovery to simplify his life. As he spoke, I could tell that the other men seemed to be in agreement with him. He shared that when things feel overly complicated, that is when overwhelm and anxiety can creep back in along with all the old behavior patterns. Simplicity is a sweet spot and a portal to silently connect with something greater than ourselves. We had a beautiful conversation about minimalism and then began our yoga practice together, quietly.

We have a tendency as human beings to make things more complicated than they are. A quote often attributed to Confucius comes to mind: “life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.”  Likely as a defense mechanism, we make up stories in our heads about what we think is happening—we mind-read, future-think, obsess over what-ifs, and go into catastrophic thought patterns.  We take refuge in trying to figure things out instead of floating in the grey area because it feels safer.

However, what if we actually challenged ourselves to lean into simplicity more? What might we find underneath all the story?  We may begin to slough off the unnecessary layers and expose what is truly important and live with greater levels of authenticity. I love this inquiry by Buddhist psychologist Flint Sparks, who asks “How simple are you willing to let this be?”  I challenge myself to consider this often and it leaves me feeling relieved and spacious.

In a practical sense, we can rely on meditation to bring us closer to our deepest essence. I recall from my earlier days as a practitioner, being introduced to a technique where you visualize peeling back layers of an onion as if they are aspects of your identity.  This really touched me. It helped me see that beyond all the labels I choose for myself, or that have been chosen for me, at the very core we are but pure emptiness. The practice of simplifying things for ourselves is in itself deeply sacred. Who am I if not this label? At the core, underneath all our behaviors and markers of self, we are vast and more connected than we think.

We can also use the breath to illustrate this concept of emptiness. The other morning, during a weekly group meditation that I attend, we discussed the natural pause that occurs at the top of the inhale and the bottom of the exhale—Kumbhaka; how, without even trying, we experience breath naturally on its own. We don’t need to force our will on the breath for it to happen—it just does. What if, in each moment, we could consider simplicity as a form of trust? Just as an exhale inevitably follows an inhale, we can surrender a thought that isn’t serving us and lean into a deeper truth. We may discover what is really happening for us in the moment and connect to the vastness of sacred simplicity.

This summer at the Shambhala Mountain Center in Colorado, Kelly Lindsey and I will be exploring sacred simplicity during our retreat August 5-9. We would be honored to hold space for you there. Learn more here.

You can find out more about Brooke and her heart-centered offerings at her website: https://www.opencirclehealingaustin.com/

 

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