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The Practice of Living Mindfully

Mindfulness began as a Buddhist, Eastern practice.  It is one of the seven factors of enlightenment known as “right mind or watchful mind.” One practices mindfulness by becoming awake to moment-by-moment awareness of present conditions and events. It is a practice of focus, observation, and acceptance. I learned to practice mindfulness on my emotional states. I had been an emotional stuffer, not allowed to be angry, sad, disappointed, and trained to be happy regardless of situations. Any feeling unlike happiness had to be stuffed. By the time I was in my late 20s I was filled with rage and deeply depressed. I happened upon Jack Kornfield’s book A Path with Heart. In this book, I learned the benefit of interviewing my emotional states. I learned to sit in meditation with the emotion currently within me and observe it. My intention wasn’t to change it, but to simply observe it. One emotion at a time I learned how they operated within my body. I taught myself to be mindful of...

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Election Results, Rape, and Other Stuff

Tuesday night I sat in my family room, herbal tea in hand, in my pajamas and wrapped in a blanket awaiting election results. With my cell phone on the coffee table in front of me ready to text friends, I imagined it would be a long night and I possibly wouldn’t know election results until the morning. And then it happened fast. I watched MSNBC for results out of my respect for Rev. Al Sharpton. In 2008 I attended a friend’s Baptist church in downtown Los Angeles to hear the Reverend speak. I sat in the front row, the only white person in the holy house, and I rested upon every word he said. His sermon was the best I’d heard up at that point in my life, which was impressive as I had listened to thousands of talks. Since that moment, I seek him out to hear how he puts language together, uses metaphor, tells stories, inspires, and speaks raw truth as he knows it. However, there was...

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Permanently Changing

Impermanence. Buddhists use this term to describe the constant state of change.  Life is impermanent. Everything changes.  Suffering, the Buddhist says, exists in part when we hold on to that which changes, wanting it to stay the same. Today in Phoenix is the perfect day to write about this.  It is the second day in a row we’ve had non-stop rain.  I have mud-caked tennis shoes in the car port looking like I just left a horse stall, not walked down my palm tree lined street.  I’ve lived here for two and a half years and this is the first time I’ve experienced this.  It is different, not the same.  And, today I like it.  It reminds me of Seattle without the promise it will remain this way for four, five, or six months.  It will change.  It really doesn’t matter if I like it, anyhow, because it is what it is … raining. Elements of life are this way.  We do have influence over much of life, some...

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