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Community Spotlight: Henry Morris

  • June 16, 2019
  • Blog

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.

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/

 

Community Spotlight: Jill Faulkner

Jill Faulkner
Where do you live?

Austin, TX

How did you come to meditation?

Through working on my relationship with myself and seeking out the tools and resources to support that journey, meditation seemed like it could be a great addition. It was also through yoga practice that I came to learn more about meditation, and the desire grew to get a deeper understanding and really implement a practice.

What inspires you to meditate?

Being still and in silence always feels so nice for me, so it makes we want to do it more. I’ve also noticed a significant shift in the way I am in the world, and how I show up for myself and those around me.

What does your meditation practice look like?

Some days it’s via yoga practice, some days when I walk my dog. Some days it’s journaling, or a guided meditation, and some days it’s a few minutes to just sit quietly.

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

Lately I’ve been listening to the same guided meditation, which has helped (hello decision fatigue!). I also show up to meditate as though it were a meeting with myself and God. This approach came from my therapist, and it has made it easier to sit each day. I pretend I’m sitting there in a meeting, checking in. And, though not consistently, I’m always game for a candle, or some incense!

How is your life different because of meditation?

Generally my life feels more peaceful. Now I can more easily thwart negative thoughts, get back to my breath, and remember that it is okay, and that I am okay. Meditation has also brought some really wonderful people into my life. I also feel like I bring an energy to new friends, or groups, that make them feel at ease, which makes me feel great!

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

Consistency has been the biggest challenge. For a period of time as well, I put too much pressure on my meditations to reveal answers, or secrets I’ve been searching for. Not fair to meditation (and not fair to me)! I was really wanting to get something out of it, and forgot that the journey is what we get out of it – and that can catalyze some real change.

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

Apply no pressure! Sit for 30 seconds, 30 minutes, whatever feels good for YOU. Don’t mind the thoughts that come through, I guess that’s the whole point. Life is going to continue to happen, our thoughts will continue to be there, and meditation will help us navigate all of that as our best self making sure we are acting for our highest good, and the highest good of all concerned. Have fun with it, too! Try an app, try silence, try journaling, try nothing. You’ll know what’s going to work best for you <3

What does your heart most long for?

Love.

Jill Faulkner is the founder of Stick With It Co. Stick With It Co. is in the business of helping people focus on the relationship they have with themselves. Using affirmations on sticky-notes as a tool, our mission is for people to wholly, unabashedly, and guiltlessly love themselves. 

Community Spotlight: Kirk Miller

  • April 13, 2019
  • Blog
Where do you live?

Austin, TX

How did you come to meditation?

I discovered meditation out of that empty place where so many awakenings are born….that place called rock bottom. That was the place where I found myself after finally reaching the “American Dream.” In the course of one year, I lost it all, job, family, beautiful home, almost my life. From that place of complete brokenness, I rented a one room apartment overlooking a tranquil river, bought a nice chair, faced it out over the water and began being silent and writing and meditating. I decided I was not leaving there until I found peace.

What inspires you to meditate?

The taste of stillness that I have found. The quietness.

What does your meditation practice look like?

I have started waking up and simply sitting in silence for 30 minutes. Usually, after breakfast I consistently do my meditation practice. Throughout the day and my life I find meditation in writing, being out on a trail, being on my paddleboard on the water, yoga most days, tai chi and qigong practices. Although I have found nothing to compare with playing at a park with a five year-old.

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

Being part of Dakini’s Teacher Training program has certainly supported my practices. Being a very unscheduled, artistic personality, setting a morning practice at the same time each day has enabled me to develop a consistency, like brushing my teeth. I now also meditate 30 minutes to an hour prior to sleep, which bookends a day of life in the world.

How is your life different because of meditation?

Meditation increasingly has helped me develop a calm, spaciousness around myself within the world. Most things do not phase me anymore and I attribute this to meditation. Friends and family have found me to be a more calming presence than the person I was a decade ago. Meditation has also taken me much deeper into myself, which at times can be very painful. But I become aware that this part of me would have been buried there had I not taken time to acknowledge it and sit with it. I think these are the deeper waters.

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

I have a very busy and active “monkey mind” like so many other people. Some days my active mind wins the day. However, it is with the consistency of meditation daily over long periods of time that I begin to notice and become aware of a greater change taking place.

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

My greatest encouragement would be to commit to yourself the gift of consistently sticking with it for at least 30 days. Even if you can only sit for 5 minutes at the same time each day for 30 days, something will have happened and you will long for more. Everyone has an active mind. Do not let that deter you in the beginning from sticking with the practice.

What does your heart most long for?

My heart longs for others to find freedom from deep suffering. Once you have witnessed this up close and personally, you will be forever changed. You will know what Buddhism refers to as the “quivering heart” of compassion. To know this suffering exists on some level for so many is a suffering that I long for others to be freed from. I am learning that this freedom can only begin for others as I begin to free myself from my own suffering. Meditation has offered this path to freedom.

Kirk is offering two opportunities in May to take his series “Mind Like Water,” one locally in Austin at Meditation Bar, and one online through Mind Oasis

meditate with kirk on mind oasis

Five Wisdom Energies

  • April 5, 2019
  • Blog
Intro to the Five Wisdom Energies

Each of us expresses a unique mixture of energy through our thoughts, emotions, attitudes, and actions. Although we often think of the world and our bodies in terms of our physical existence, it is the underlying energy that brings to life the quality, texture, and feeling of our actual experience. Meditation is about getting in touch with that basic energy, and through that energy cultivating a more intimate relationship with ourselves and our experience.

What are the Five Wisdom Energies

The Five Wisdom Energies offer a framework for cultivating a greater understanding of our own energy as well as how it arises in relationship to others.

Applying knowledge of the Five Wisdom Energies allows us to alleviate confusion and negative emotions, and invite clarity and wisdom to arise in their place. We do so by working with the energy of our bodies and minds. It is important to consider how the spiritual practice rests within the physical practice. That is to say, how meditation practice helps us to become more grounded and present in our lives–physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.

The Five Wisdom Energies are grouped into five “families” known as Buddha, Karma, Ratna, Padma and Vajra. Each Wisdom Energy is connected with particular elements, energies, and emotions. The way we hold our bodies in meditation and the way we breathe strongly influences the movement of energy in our bodies and our minds. The practices associated with each of the Wisdom Energies are designed to create a container that is conducive to awakening our innate wisdom.

The Buddha Family

The Wisdom Energy known as the Buddha Family is associated with the element of Space and a felt sense of spaciousness. If this energy is out of balance, we might feel spacey or like there is not enough space in our lives. When this energy is in balance, we might feel open and available to meet life as it is. The Wisdom associated with the Buddha Family is called All Encompassing Wisdom, and when this energy is in balance, we may feel open, spacious, and available to meet life as it is in each moment.

In his book Healing with Form, Emptiness, and Light, Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche writes: “Everything arises from space, exists in space, and dissolves into space. In us that sacred element of space manifests as awareness. Experience is what arises in awareness, as the content of awareness, but it is not something other than awareness. When the space element is balanced in us, there is room in life; whatever arises can be accommodated. There is enough time, enough emotional capacity, enough tolerance.”

Suggestions for Connecting with the Wisdom Energy of the Buddha Family
  • In meditation practice, settle into stillness and connect with space. Let go of the need to grasp to a specific meditation technique and just open fully to whatever you are experiencing. Play with keeping your eyes open and raising your gaze and/or allowing your hands to rest palms up on your thighs.
  • When walking outside, take time to look at the sky. Open yourself fully to the vast expanse of the sky and feel that expansiveness in your body. Discover in yourself what the yogi Milarepa taught: “The body is ultimately like a cloudless sky.”
  • In daily life, take time to pause and open your awareness to the world around you. Resist the temptation to fill up any open spaces with unnecessary activity (checking your phone, facebook, chit chat, etc…) Pause and breathe and notice what you are present to.

If you’d like to learn more about the Five Wisdom Energies, please join Kelly online via Mind Oasis for a 6 week series of meditation classes beginning Tuesday, April 9th. Kelly will also be offering a 5 week women’s group at Dharma Yoga in Austin beginning April 14th.

Community Spotlight: Melissa Grogan

  • March 16, 2019
  • Blog

shamatha

Where do you live?

Austin, Texas

How did you come to meditation?

Wow. I think I first started meditating when I was a little girl. I’m using the term a bit loosely here, compared to what meditation is to me now. But I was having very terrible nightmares as a child. My father taught me how to direct my thoughts so that I could make my dreams turn into good ones. That was when I was 3. I’ve been doing that since.

Then, as a teenager and adult, I used meditation in acting classes. We would use guided meditation regularly. It was something that came quite naturally to me. As I continued my studies for acting, and teaching voice/movement/and speech, I continued to use meditation to help me deepen in the exercises. It was somewhere around high school that I began using meditation from cassette tapes. I did that with my mother to support her as she was going through a difficult time. It helped me, too, of course.

I honestly can’t remember when the first time I did a meditation more in the traditional way we think of it – following the breath, focus on a candle, etc. My journey has always been very fluid. Huh. I’m glad you asked me this question. I’m realizing it has always been a part of my life, to meditate.

I first found Kelly Lindsey, and Dakini Meditative, 8 years ago when I first moved to Austin. I am very picky with whom I consider my yoga teacher. She qualified instantly. So the first time I sat with Kelly was around 8 years ago. I guess, to answer your question, that I have always been directed to meditation as a way of healing, a way of using mind over matter, a way of directing the mind, connecting mind/body/spirit, and a way of expanding my awareness beyond what the eyes can see.

What inspires you to meditate?

The depth, feeling of being grounded, and clarity it brings me. It helps me to remain clear even in the midst of chaos. I stay connected to myself and my goals. I feel that I move from a place of greater ease in my life when I have meditated. And I feel a strong pull from my heart and soul to touch back quite regularly to the depth I feel when meditating. Life inspires me to meditate. The evolution of my soul inspires me. My heart guides me to come back to it again and again.

What does your meditation practice look like?

Ha! Great question. My meditation practice is varied. I will meditate (shamatha or vipassana) 20-30 minutes a day during the morning, typically. But I’ve been known to sit up in meditation for an hour or two at night. In fact, it is my favorite way to bring in the new year; in meditation. I celebrate many special days (solstice, equinox, new and full moon) with lengthened meditations. I always meditate before teaching any class, even if I can only squeeze in 5 minutes. And I always meditate before working on a new client, even if I can only spare 2 minutes.

Additional methods I use, besides shamatha and vipassana meditation, include Yoga Nidra, movement (somatic movement and yoga), sound (playing drum, bowl, or binaural beats), walking, and contemplative meditation. I use meditation when receiving acupuncture, craniosacral, and chiropractic treatments to deepen the healing. I use a meditation from Pranic Healing, called Twin Hearts, to help facilitate my own healing and the healing of the world. My practice is varied. But every day I sit for at least 30 minutes. Every day I do that.

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

I light candles and incense. It helps me keep the moment sacred. I turn off the ringer on my phone; I want no distractions. Simple movement loosens my spine and opens my torso. I get comfortable. And I always start by using vision, then sound, then sensation to help me settle my attention to the present moment. I have picked up different techniques from different teachers.

One that I particularly like was to rotate the eyes in the sockets so that they point to the forehead point, just above the third eye. The instruction given while doing this was “Just watch!” Just watch. The teacher said to keep your focus here and let the thoughts pass by. Keep your focus on the point on the forehead. “Just watch,” he said. It works! Really helps me deepen and focus.

I notice my inner knowing craving meditation in the morning the most. There is an inner pull that brings me to my zafu (seated cushion). The pull is accompanied by a sense of excitement and joy.

I also go to classes regularly. It helps to connect with fellow meditators to keep the practice fresh and new. At a meditation I recently attended the facilitator stated, “Every meditation is a group meditation.” It is so true. And going to class helps me reconnect with the truth of that. So, every meditation is a way for me to connect to people and beings all over the world. For someone who lives alone, this is a very big thing. It will keep you coming back, for sure!

How is your life different because of meditation?

Goodness. It is richer. Every moment is full of opportunity for delight. When I go through difficult times, I am able to sit with the feelings with compassion. That allows me to grow spiritually, mentally, and emotionally. My life is richer. And, honestly, I have meditation to thank for still being here in this life. Things have gotten tough in life. My ability to meditate is the biggest thing that has gotten me through. I know for certain that I would not be where I am without it. I would not be able to have the level of trust in life, the feeling of bliss, gratitude, and compassion were it not for meditation. It is empowering.

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

Doubt that I was doing it “right”. Judgement that having thoughts meant I was failing. Fear of what I found during meditation. Lack of self care including placing others needs and agendas above my own. I would make excuses to avoid sitting for too long. Sometimes I would see things that I didn’t want to see and run away. Or I would work non-stop and not take time to recharge.

I recently had a concussion. That was challenging, for sure. It was no small concussion. It took me out of work for almost 2 months straight. I tried meditating 3 days after… uhm… no. That didn’t work. I couldn’t do it. It simply wasn’t possible. I had to find another way. So I used guided meditation to begin. Then I moved onto binaural beats, listening to them as I went to sleep. And I utilized Yoga Nidra to help me rest. Meditation became my primary healing tool from concussion. But it didn’t come easily and I had to use a lot of outside support.

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

Sit. Come back. Initially you may want to use a lot of support. Find a teacher that resonates with you. This is essential. If you don’t like one teacher, one method, keep trying. There are so many ways to meditate. And there are many different teachers. I would also say to eradicate the notion that meditation is about not thinking. It is no such thing.

Most people stop themselves for two reasons, I think. One is that they think they can not get their brain to stop thinking so they are not good at it. No, that’s not the case. The mind will think. What we are doing is training the mind and that is NOT EASY. We are directing the mind where we want it to go. You’ve not failed if it wanders off. You’ve noticed it! Yay! That’s already success because most of us don’t notice it. So, bring it back. That is meditation.

Additionally, I think people stop because they get antsy “just sitting”. If that is the case, I would suggest to move a good bit before sitting. If your nervous system is saying “MOVE!” and you try to get the body to sit still it will be maddening. Move to begin. Satiate the body’s desire to move. Move any old way you please; go for a run, a walk, play basketball, swim, do yoga, dance around your living room, stand up and shake your whole body. Whatever you do, let it please you. Then take your seat.

Also, I recommend starting with a shortened time to begin. First try two minutes. Then ten. Then more. Go gradually. You’ve got a lifetime to get this down. There is no rush. The journey is the point. The work is in the process.

What does your heart most long for?

Love. Peace. To be seen and heard. To be held safely. Connection. To be free. To help others do the same.

Melissa Grogan is currently participating in the Dakini Meditative 300-Hour Meditation Teacher Training. To learn more about her work, see her bio here or check out her business website:

[Photography by Theo Love]

The Perfection of Wisdom

  • March 8, 2019
  • Blog

The sixth and final perfection is prajnaparamita: the perfection of wisdom. It is this quality of wisdom that makes all the other perfections “perfect.” The essence of wisdom is understanding that there is no one reality. There is no one way that things really are. Pema Chodron says it like this: “there is no such thing as a true story.”

The perfection of wisdom is complex, broad, and expansive. It is not about accumulating information. It is definitely not about becoming some kind of walking encyclopedia. Wisdom is not conceptual, but rather very personal and experiential. It is about exploring our life and what it means to us, while understanding that the truths we come to are ours, and ours alone. They are not applicable to others. We cannot solidify wisdom and apply it to every person and every situation, or even to ourselves for the rest of our lives. It is fluid and arises always and only in relationship to the present moment. Every person, every situation, every moment, is unique.

Additionally, the perfection of wisdom is open, accepting, accommodating. When wisdom is present, compassion naturally arises. Judgement is an obstacle to wisdom. Any time we find that we are judging ourselves or judging others, we can be certain that wisdom is not present. Wisdom also has a relational quality. It is dynamic. It informs how we relate with others and with our world.

The perfection of wisdom is innate. It already exists within us. Sometimes we are connected to it and sometimes we are not, but we can have confidence that it is there. Meditation is a practice that allows us to access the wisdom within us. It invites us to pay attention fully in the present moment.

Here’s a short practice to explore:
  • Sit quietly in meditation for a few minutes, gently resting attention on the beautiful simplicity of your body breathing.
  • Bring one hand to your heart and silently say to yourself: “in this moment, this is how I feel.” Be open to whatever comes.
  • Place your other hand to your belly and silently say to yourself: “in this moment, this is what I know.” Be open to whatever comes.
  • Finally, bring your hands together in prayer at your heart, joining feeling and knowing together in the simplicity of being. Rest in the light of your true self.

Photography by Lacey Marie

Community Spotlight: Leanna Gilliam

  • February 22, 2019
  • Blog
Leanna Gilliam
Where do you live?

Austin, Texas

How did you come to meditation?

Initially, meditation was a refuge and resource during a health issue that caused extreme pain and a lot of anxiety. Four and a half years ago I attended an MBSR program based on the teachings and research of Jon Kabat-Zinn. The practice was transformative and I stuck with it on my own, then through instruction with several meditation teachers using shamatha meditation practice.

What inspires you to meditate?

Meditation brought to light a deeper understanding of the sacred connection of mind and body. This was crucial to my healing. Now I’m open to all of life- pain, suffering, joy, and happiness- knowing everything is temporary. The transformation I’ve gone through physically, mentally and emotionally is the reason I still sit everyday. It helps me be more at ease in the world, in the circle of people I see day to day, in my family and in my own head. I’m a kinder, more present Mom, Wife, Daughter and Friend because I meditate.

What does your meditation practice look like?

I gave myself permission to not have a “set” time for my daily practice. With two teenagers and a third grader in my home, my practice may happen first thing in the morning, last thing in the evening or sometime in between. I go with the flow on the timing of my practice because everyday is different. Luckily, my meditation space is separate from my main home so it is private and clear of distractions of family life which for me is really helpful. I use a zafu meditation cushion. In addition to a daily solitary practice, I enjoy practicing in group classes as often as possible.

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

Yes! I am a routine kind of person! I have to admit that I like to do the dishes before I sit on the cushion. It’s become a ritual that actually is quite pleasant. I mindfully clear the kitchen of dishes and clutter, moving slowly, and somehow this practice has become a beautiful segue to sitting on my cushion. Also, I’m experimenting with journaling prior to sitting and am finding this to be beneficial. I always light incense when I practice.

How is your life different because of meditation?

I’m awake! I’m awake to the beauty all around me, to smiles from strangers, to knowing most everything is workable and that I am enough (this one can be hard though!). I think I live more wholeheartedly because I’m not distracted by unimportant things as much as I used to be. Meditation helps cultivate inner wisdom which guides my decisions more and more as I grow within my practice. I can’t say it’s 100% of the time, but a lot of the time I’m now able to respond to a difficulty or question versus react to it. I am able to distinguish between thoughts and emotions and can look with curiosity at what is happening instead of getting swept away in the story my mind creates.

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

Consistency. As I healed and felt better physically, I didn’t sit on the cushion as often. Although I still had a practice it was not as constant and I found the benefits of meditation floating into the background of life. I am now happily practicing daily and can’t imagine not doing so! I am so much more at ease. Also, I’ll say that travel tends to be a challenge. I give myself permission to sit for shorter periods of time so I can work it into a more active travel schedule. And I bring my cushion with me. Literally having the support of my cushion makes meditating on the road more doable for me. So proud to wear my Dakini Meditative backpack and cushion around the airport!

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

Be kind to yourself. Self-judgement is sneaky- be aware when the inner critic shows up and know that this is called a practice not perfection. Consistency will go very far in bringing the benefits to the surface. Rejoice in the fact that you’ve started on the path. Beginning is courageous!

What does your heart most long for?

Peace. I want to be a light in this world.

Community Spotlight: Josh Walpole

  • January 12, 2019
  • Blog

Where do you live?

Austin, Texas

How did you come to meditation?

I moved to Austin 4 years ago. A couple weeks after we moved into the neighborhood a new business opened and erected a huge sign above their storefront – “Meditation Bar.” I don’t think I even saw the part that said ‘meditation.’ I was so excited to have a bar in the neighborhood where I could go to and walk/stumble home from. Growing up this was the only way I knew how to deal with stress in my life – drugs and alcohol. I walked through the doors and was surprised to find no booze, no cocktail peanuts, no soggy coasters, but what I did find was a community of people. Not unlike the community of people in a traditional bar, these people were all searching for something only they were doing it in a healthier fashion. I stayed for the meditation that night and never left. I haven’t had a drink in over two years, and now I’m committed to sharing the gifts I received from the practice of meditation with others.

What inspires you to meditate?

My inspiration is my family. At first, my family only included my immediate family, but as I continue to practice my family has become not only my wife and kids, mom and dad, brothers and sisters but also my community, our society, and all beings everywhere.

What does your meditation practice look like?

I sit for at least 30 minutes every day. Sometimes less, sometimes more but I always try to make time for the practice. I don’t always take a traditional posture when meditating, but for me this is a form of self-compassion. Allowing the practice to be what it is without putting too much pressure on myself.

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

I like to do some asana practice before I sit, and I also enjoy using sound in my meditations. Crystal bowls, gongs, drums all guide me in my practice.

How is your life different because of meditation?

I have become less reactive, more open and inquisitive. I enjoy being in my own skin and in the moment instead of always trying to escape.

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

I recently went through a period of meditation burnout. I was being too hard on myself and the practice became a chore. It was suggested to me that I give myself permission to let expectations go. That one suggestion has made such a difference in the way I approach my practice.

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

Find a teacher and community where you can ask questions and share your experience. A lot of things will eventually come up in meditation and it’s good to have people around you who are going through or have gone through similar experiences.

What does your heart most long for?

True Understanding

Josh Walpole is now the owner of Meditation Bar where he teaches several classes a week. 

Joyful Effort

  • January 5, 2019
  • Blog

Joyful effort is the fourth of the six perfections. The other five are: generosity, kindness, patience, meditation, and wisdom. When you reflect on these qualities in your meditation, and then bring them into your life, you begin to notice your life changing. Your heart opens, your world expands. You contact the natural warmth, goodness, and joy that is available in each moment.

Virya paramita —  is the fourth perfection of joyful effort. The heart essence of this practice is taking joy in helping others.

Once, a student asked his teacher, Ramana Maharshi: “How are we to treat others?”

Ramana Maharshi replied, “There are no others.”

In considering what it means to take joy in helping others, it is important to remember that you are included in “others.” You are not separate from others. When you care for yourself, you are benefitting others. When you care for others, you are benefitting yourself. The perfection of joyful effort through the practice of taking care of others is not about ignoring your own needs to put others first, but a rather a recognition that caring for others increases your own happiness and enjoyment of life. It is why you are here.

Here are five suggestions for how you can feel more joyful effort:

1. Remember your intention. Reflect on your larger reasons for why you do what you do.

2. Recognize and honor all the ways in which you naturally care for others, and rejoice in that goodness!

3. Practice gratitude and express appreciation for your life and the opportunities to care for and be cared for.

4. Let go of joyless striving. Let go of all “shoulds” and “supposed to’s”. Let go of doing things that you can’t do with joy (or find a way to increase your joy in doing them).

5. Smile– while meditating, while sitting at your computer (go ahead, try it now ;-), while walking down the street. While helping others. Notice how this simple gesture brings a quality of joyfulness to your experience.

The poet David Whyte reminds us that “Joy can be made by practiced, hard-won achievement as much as by an unlooked for, passing act of grace arriving out of nowhere.”

Join Kelly Lindsey for a live, online, interactive class to dive deeper into the Six Perfections! This series begins on January 29th on Mind Oasis. Learn more here.

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