Taking Your Hands Off the Controls

Some of us control by withdrawing. For instance, we might find ourselves thinking, “Okay, if you’re going to treat me this way, then I’m going to pull back.”

A Heart That Is Ready for Anything

There’s a bright light of awareness that shines through each of us and guides us home, and we’re never separated from this luminous awareness, any more than waves are separated from ocean.

The Backward Step

How we pay attention determines our experience. When we’re in doing or controlling mode, our attention narrows and we perceive objects in the foreground the background of experience, the ocean of awareness. The good news is that through practice, we can intentionally incline our minds toward not controlling and toward an open attention.

The Opportunity of “The Magic Quarter Second”

The Buddha taught that to be free—not identified with or possessed by thoughts or feelings—we need to investigate each and every part of our experience with an intimate and mindful attention. The first step is pausing, making use of the magic quarter second, and the second, choosing to be present with our moment-to-moment experience.

You Are Not Your Space Suit Self

We are born with a beautiful open spirit, alive with innocence and resilience. But we bring this goodness into a difficult world. Imagine that at the moment of birth we begin to develop a space suit to help us navigate our strange new environment. The purpose of this space suit is to protect us from violence and greed and to win nurturance from caretakers...

The Sacred Pause

Like awakening from a dream, in the moment of pausing our trance recedes and Radical Acceptance becomes possible.

Enlarging Our Tribe

Even if we don’t like someone, seeing their vulnerability allows us to open our heart to them. We might vote against them in an election; we might never invite them to our home; we might even feel they should be imprisoned to protect others.

Attention

“The only way to live is by accepting each minute as an unrepeatable miracle.” ― Tara Brach

From Self-Judgment to Compassion

No longer imprisoned by constantly feeling like something was wrong with him, Daniel was beginning to notice the world in new ways—other students seemed more friendly; the acres of forest were an inviting, magical sanctuary; the dharma talks stirred up a childlike fascination and wonder. He felt energized and somewhat bewildered by the fresh sense of possibility...

Trance of “Unreal Other”

The truth is: without a genuine willingness to let in the suffering of others, our spiritual practice remains empty.

Reaching Out For Compassion

Whenever we feel held by a caring presence, by something larger than our small frightened self, we too can begin to find room in our own heart for the fragments of our life, and for the lives of others. The suffering that might have seemed “too much” can now awaken us to the sweetness of compassion.

Decide on Love

Taking refuge in presence—choosing presence—requires training. When “point A” is unpleasant, the last thing we want to do is to stay and feel our experience. Rather than entrusting ourselves to the waves of experience, we want to get away, lash out, numb ourselves, do anything but touch what’s real.

“I Realized I Don’t Have to Believe My Thoughts”

Our mindfulness practice is not about vanquishing our thoughts. It’s about becoming aware of the process of thinking so that we are not in a trance—lost inside our thoughts. That’s the big difference.

It's Not What's Happening… It's How You Respond

One of the great teachings in spiritual life is this: It doesn't matter what is happening. What matters is how we respond. How we respond is what determines our happiness and peace of mind.

The Sacred Art of Listening

What happens when there’s a listening presence? When we’re fully in that listening presence, when there’s that pure quality of receptivity, we become presence itself. And whether you call that God or pure awareness or our true nature, the boundary of inner and outer dissolves and we become a luminous field of awakeness.

Gift to the Soul: The Space of Presence

Our mindfulness practice offers us the opportunity to pause and rediscover the space of presence. When we stop charging forward and open to what’s here, there’s a radical shift in our experience of being alive.

Lessons from Kayaking

When you are kayaking on the ocean, or on a large lake, you can sense yourself as part of that spaciousness. Allow the fear to disperse into the spaciousness. You might find that it is possible to be with the fear, rather than push it away, when you are aware of your oceanness.

Absolute Cooperation with the Inevitable

Aligning with what is here is a way of practicing presence.

A Gesture of Kindness

The way of healing and homecoming begins with what I call “a gesture of kindness.” You might for instance put your hand on your heart—letting the touch be tender—and send a message inwardly. It might be “It’s okay, sweetheart.” Or “I care about this suffering.” Or, “I’m sorry and I love you.” Often, it’s simply, “This, too.”