Tara Brach: Deep Listening with the Ears of the Heart

Tara Brach is a clinical psychologist and Buddhist meditation teacher. She has written a number of books, and offers many courses that help us navigate through life more skillfully. In this short video, Tara teaches us how to be truly present when we listen to each other with the “ears of the heart.”

The deeply healing power of “being heard” by someone in a non-judgmental way, is truly a gift of compassion and love.

The Science of Well-Being – Free Happiness course offered by Yale University

Coursera.ca offers many excellent courses – many of them for free!

Currently they are offering, “The Science of Well-Being”, starting on July 23rd, Although you can take this course and pay the tuition fee, it is also offered at no charge provided the student is not looking for an educational credit at the end. The majority (if not all) of the content is available for free and includes videos and articles.

Here is their description of the course:

About this course: “The Science of Well-Being” taught by Professor Laurie Santos overviews what psychological science says about happiness. The purpose of the course is to not only learn what psychological research says about what makes us happy but also to put those strategies into practice. The first part of the course reveals misconceptions we have about happiness and the annoying features of the mind that lead us to think the way we do. The next part of the course focuses on activities that have been proven to increase happiness along with strategies to build better habits. The last part of the course gives learners time, tips, and social support to work on the final assignment which asks learners to apply one wellness activity aka “Rewirement” into their lives for four weeks.

 

Although I have not taken this course myself (yet!), I have taken other Coursera courses and thoroughly enjoyed them. If you are looking for strategies to increase your happiness, you might want to give this a try!

Jack Kornfield – Free video series, “How Mindfulness can break the cycle of fear and anger”

Fear. Anger……how can we decrease the suffering experienced by these emotions? In this free video series, Jack Kornfield, PhD Clinical Psychologist and Buddhist monk, shares teachings from the wisdom traditions that help us to break away from the bonds of negative emotion and alleviate our suffering.

Click here to sign up for the free video series, “How Mindfulness can break the cycle of fear and anger”

Overcoming Chaos

Deepak Chopra is again offering a free on-line event, this time on “Overcoming Chaos.”

This programme offers four sessions that include:

  • Resolving Conflict from Within
  • From Stress to Stillness – 7 Tools for Inner Peace
  • How to Instantly Calm the Anxious Mind
  • The Science and Magic of Primordial Sound Meditation

Every learning opportunity is a chance to grow. You pick out what makes sense to you, and leave behind what doesn’t. May you enjoy this programme, and add another step in your journey to peace!

 

 

 

Letting Go – A Personal Journey

This month, we were privileged to hear from one of our Sangha members, on her personal journey of “Letting Go.”

With her permission, I am re-printing her talk so others can  benefit from her struggles and her journey to a new way of life.

With gratitude for her strength, courage and compassion in sharing her story, here it is:

Thank you, Bette, for asking me to share some of my experiences of “letting go” with our group.

I must admit that letting go has become a mantra for me, almost a way of life. Giving myself permission to let go of activities that no longer serve me well; ideas that no longer apply; useless regrets; destructive thoughts; negative self judgment; has made life easier and more peaceful. Letting go of self imposed expectations is also very freeing, I’ve found, and I think has given me more compassion for others.

I used to feel that letting go was giving up, or at times giving in to ageing, but I’ve come to believe that it’s part of the journey of life. If we can do it graciously as we move through the years, it makes our passage simpler to navigate.

As we let go in some areas of our lives that have been important to us, there is a vacuum created. Depending on how this emptiness is filled, our lives can be very busy, but perhaps may not feel satisfying or productive. As more letting go takes place, sometimes out of necessity, we may question our purpose in life at this stage. If we can see this as a time for self growth and personal enrichment, we can give meaning to our days. Sharing our feelings with others; helping where we can; fostering the attitude of always having a half full glass; these are some things that can help as we let go in life.

As to my experiences with letting go these past few years, I’ll tell you a little of my story so that you might better understand me. Five years ago, I left my husband after being together for 53 years. Letting go of my marriage after all of those years, definitely left me feeling lost and questioning my decision, my identity and my position in life. My coping skills were not enough. As strong and independent as I thought I was, I needed help and felt humbled as I asked for it. To get through this part of my journey, I relied on my dear friends, a psychiatrist and therapy. I tried to meditate to help me to focus; however, I was too scattered and restless to stick with it.

Over the next three years, I moved twice more. With each move I let go of the space I’d called home. Moving so often taught me about the impermanence of life: things change; nothing is forever. I find that material things mean much less to me now. Each time that I let go of home and things, it lessened my attachment to stuff. It changed my priorities. I did find some humour in my situation. Moving so often, but still living in Port Perry, I would be out and about, and then when it was time to return home, I’d forget which place I was living in or be half way to my previous residence before it dawned on me that I didn’t live there anymore. At first this frightened me – was I losing it? – but soon I found the humour in it and just laughed at the situation and myself. Humour definitely aids us in letting go.

During those three years of moving, and after a year long journey through our medical system, I had spinal surgery. After my recovery, it became apparent that my life had changed irrevocably. I used to be a yoga teacher and had been fortunate enough to be able to continue to do most yoga poses after I retired. I had taken my body’s abilities for granted. However, after the surgery, I had to let go of my attachment to thinking that I had to do yoga poses to a certain standard in order for them to be worthwhile. I’ve come to accept, with much emotional struggle, that if I’m to continue to do yoga, I must accept the change and adapt my practice to my new capabilities and to be grateful to my body for what it can still do. Because of my ego, this has been a difficult letting go.

While I was waiting for surgery and during my recovery, I was on morphine. This poses its own problem – addiction. In order to get off morphine, I had to let go of my anxiety and fear of the return of the extreme pain, and find ways to cope with withdrawal. This is where returning to a meditation practice helped me so much, especially focusing on the breath and visualization.

I’ve been a walker my whole life, and this last winter I had two bad falls on ice. Before my surgery, I had also fallen twice when the footing was bad. I was being sent a message, I think!

So my perspective on winter walking had to change. I had to let go of feeling that I needed to be outside to benefit from a walk. Being determined not to give up walking because of bad weather, I compromised and bought a treadmill. It isn’t as emotionally satisfying as outdoor walking, but I’m grateful that I’m still able to walk!

As I’ve let go of activities that I’ve stubbornly fought to continue, or made modifications that are safer and more compatible with my age and abilities, I now feel more content and am not constantly striving to do better. That feeling of not enough has lessened and what I can do has become enough. We become creative when we let go, and it’s amazing what we come up with to fill those holes.

I find that the more I let go, the easier it becomes. There is a certain contentment that happens when we can let go with acceptance and stop fighting it.

Life holds so many new interests to pursue if we are open to change and freely let go of things that no longer serve us. As we let go, the universe will present other opportunities to fulfill us, if we will only let them in.

In conclusion, on my journey of letting go, I have learned that asking for help, on so many levels, has been my saving grace. The support that comes to us, when we expose our vulnerabilities and trust that others really do care and want to help us, makes us feel more secure and confident in our decisions. Taking self help courses; meditation; being willing to change, and sharing with others, helps us realize we are not alone. All of these and more, facilitate the process of letting go and give us the courage, through knowledge and support, to face the things we must or we wish to “let go”!!

Perhaps you might like to explore your life to see if there are some areas where it could be beneficial for you to let go. Do you have relationships that are hurting you or inhibiting your growth? Is it time to downsize or let go of activities that are becoming too challenging for you?

Thank you. I wish you well in any endeavours you may undertake to “let go”.

 

 

 

Online Resilience Summit with Dr. Rick Hanson

Some of you may know that I am a bit of a Dr. Rick Hanson “groupie” – I think he is, quite simply – great!

Dr. Hanson, neuropsychologist, author and Buddhist practitioner, is offering a free, online summit starting March 19th, based on the science of creating inner well-being and resilience.

You can register here for “The Resilience Summit”  and from March 19th to March 23rd,  you will hear from 6 experts, including Dr. Hanson, on ways to develop your well-being during turbulent times.

Don’t miss this great opportunity to hear from Dr. Hanson and other luminaries! I will definitely be participating, starting on Monday!

Shedding the Weight of Mind, Body and Spirit

 

What inspires you and lifts your spirit? What will it take to lose the heaviness of mind, body and spirit?

Once again Deepak Chopra is offering a free, 21-day meditation experience for those looking for ways to nourish their spirit and get rid of the things that weigh them down.

Go to the Chopra Center website to read more and to register for this event.

Deepak Chopra’s meditation events are a great way to get into the habit of regular meditation. Twelve years ago one of these events started me off on a steady, daily journey of meditation. Prior to that, I was an “on again, off again” meditator but the necessity of taking a seat every day for 21 days set my “groove” (doesn’t that expression date me!!??) and I have meditated regularly ever since then. 

And if this event doesn’t do it – well that’s ok. When the time is right for you to have a meditation practice, it will happen. No judgement!