Category Archives: Meditation

Taking Refuge

my meditation shrine

my meditation shrine

The first time I attempted meditation was almost 20 years ago. I was reading Jack Kornfield’s A Path with Heart and books on writing by Zen Buddhist Natalie Goldberg. I was fascinated by the philosophy, the perspective, the practice, and willing to try anything that might help me cope with the difficulty of my life, my emotions and my mind. Even though I found it beneficial, sat regularly for a short time with a Zen meditation group and on my own, the practice didn’t stick. I didn’t even finish reading Kornfield’s book.

I continued to struggle for eleven more years before finding my way back to a cushion. A friend recommended Pema Chödrön’s When Things Fall Apart and mentioned that the local Shambhala Meditation Center had a program coming up I might be interested in, “The Art of Being Human.” I read the book and went to the training, and started to practice in earnest. For two years, one weekend a month I was either attending a retreat or staffing one. I read and studied and practiced. This was the same time I started to practice yoga regularly. Things were falling into place.

And then everything fell apart. I had already been dealing with a difficult work situation, was stressed and in crisis, when my Obi was diagnosed with a treatable but ultimately incurable cancer. At the same time, my friend Kelly was diagnosed with cancer. That summer I went to Shambhala Mountain Center to participate in a longer retreat, Warrior Assembly, the culmination of the two years of training I’d been doing. Not long after I returned home, Obi died. Six months later, Kelly died. Even though I didn’t leave CSU entirely, I effectively quit the job that was so problematic.

Meditation Hall at Warrior Assembly, Shambhala Mountain Center, Summer of 2009

Meditation Hall at Warrior Assembly, Shambhala Mountain Center, Summer of 2009

I was completely heartbroken, utterly lost, so confused. After two years of regular practice, I couldn’t do it anymore. Every time I sat on my cushion to meditate, I fell part, felt so raw, came unhinged and couldn’t stop crying. I was angry — if this practice couldn’t help me feel better when the worst happened, what good was it? I smile to remember it now, that way of thinking about what practice was supposed to do for me. What I understand now that I didn’t then is that my raw and tender broken heart, being able to feel that, experience it, sit and stay with it is exactly the point, not making it “go away” or fixing it like I thought.

Practice starts precisely where we find ourselves, which for many of us is a place of heartbreak, suffering, alienation and doubt. But it is precisely there, within those circumstances, that we start. ~Ryushin Sensei

For at least a year, I tried to find my way back to my cushion. I would practice in fits and starts, but it never seemed to stick. I continued to practice yoga and slowly started to write more regularly. I started taking ecourses and began this blog. I started building a routine, finding a rhythm. And then I found Susan Piver and her Open Heart Project, (OHP). I signed up for her newsletter and started meditating with her. Her wisdom, kindness, and friendship, along with the OHP community, helped me find my way back.

meditating with Susan

The great gift of a spiritual path is coming to trust that you can find a way to true refuge. You realize that you can start right where you are, in the midst of your life, and find peace in any circumstance. Even at those moments when the ground shakes terribly beneath you — when there’s a loss that will alter your life forever — you can still trust that you will find your way home. This is possible because you’ve touched the timeless love and awareness that are intrinsic to who you are. ~Tara Brach, True Refuge: Finding Peace and Freedom in Your Own Awakened Heart

For the past few years, I’ve been thinking about taking refuge vows. I’ve been telling people for so long “I study and practice Buddhism, but I’m not actually a Buddhist, haven’t taken vows or anything,” that I wondered if I ever would. But I’ve been feeling a longing, a growing awareness — this is my path, I’m committed to it. Like I told a teacher once, “if this doesn’t work, nothing does.” For whatever reason, this is just what makes sense to me. It helps me to live my life, to be in the world, to cultivate kindness and wisdom, sanity. And yet, I have been waiting, for either an opportunity that was close to home or one Susan Piver could attend, because it felt important to me to have her there somehow, since she’s the primary reason I’d be there.

Then I got certified to teach yoga. We studied yogic philosophy as part of our training, meditated, did mantra and kirtan practice, learned various breath practices and the sanskrit names for the yoga poses, read the yoga sutras — and I loved it all, saw so many similarities between it and my tradition, but also became very aware that it wasn’t my path. Yoga is one of my practices, and part of my path as such, but I’m not so much a yogini as I am a Buddhist who does yoga.

Becoming a yoga teacher made it clear it was time to make a true commitment to my path. I searched to see where I might go to take my vows, and saw that the Boulder Shambhala Center was offering the ceremony two days before my birthday. Susan couldn’t be there, but she did write my letter of recommendation. The teacher who would be performing the ceremony had taught at my Warrior Assembly, and when I arrived the night we went to make our official request to make the vow, a friend was leading our meditation session. It was time.

boulderrigden

Boulder Shambhala Meditation Center Main Shrine Room

I asked Susan her advice about taking vows in the weeks leading up to the ceremony, and she said, “Relax. Watch your mind. Enjoy. Relax. Repeat … And remember, you have nothing to prove. This ceremony is to mark something that has already happened.” I tried to remember this as I waited for my interview with Acharya Ferguson (“Acharya” in this tradition basically means “senior teacher”), and even though he’s the kindest person and I’d met him before, I was still nervous. The purpose of the interview is to make a formal request to take the vow and for the teacher to come up with the dharma name you’d be given the day of the ceremony. We were told that he might ask us questions, but might not. The person who went in just before me was talking and laughing with him, and I wasn’t sure what to wish for — if he didn’t ask me any questions, was that good or bad? Part of me wanted him to see me and for my presence to be so vibrant, my true self so clearly embodied and present that he would know just by seeing me. I think I was also afraid if I opened my mouth, I might say something weird because I was anxious and end up with an odd name that didn’t fit, didn’t make sense to me.

In Tibet, children are given a nickname when they are born. This is what everyone calls them until they are old enough to take their refuge vows and receive their adult, Buddhist name. In that culture, everyone given a name uses it. In the West, many dharma students don’t actually change their name, but rather use it as a contemplation. We were told that the name isn’t meant as a compliment or a challenge, but rather something to consider as we practice, intended to offer insight, and that it was entirely up to us whether we wanted to officially change our name, use it in that way. I felt sure my name would be a message, that it would provide me a new understanding of my path. And during my meeting with Acharya Ferguson that night, he did ask me a few questions, and I could see the exact moment he knew the name he’d offer me.

heartgiftOn the day of the ceremony, I focused on Susan’s advice. I relaxed and enjoyed myself. Acharya Ferguson gave a talk in the morning about what it meant to take refuge, and then we did sitting and walking meditation until lunch, contemplating what we were about to do. After a break to eat, we came back and had a rehearsal and then the ceremony itself.

In the Buddhist tradition, the purpose of taking refuge is to awaken from confusion and associate oneself with wakefulness. Taking refuge is a matter of commitment and acceptance and, at the same time, of openness and freedom. By taking the refuge vow we commit ourselves to freedom. ~Chögyam Trungpa, Rinpoche

The ceremony itself was a funny combination of something like a baptism and a wedding, along with something else entirely. After you take the vow, reciting it three times after performing prostrations, the teacher (referred to in this case as a preceptor) snaps his fingers, and it’s at that moment the vow is made. My favorite moment was that finger snap. It was so simple and yet so definite. My next favorite moment was receiving my dharma name.

As I stood in line, listening to all the other names, I wondered if mine would be so good. Every person’s name seemed so rich, so full of beauty and possibility and wisdom. Every name that was read, I thought “oh, I wish that was mine!” I worried I’d get something that would be awkward or confusing. I’d talked to other people about their names, and listening to them describe their lingering confusion, I anticipated my own.

dharmanameI didn’t need to worry. There’s a rightness to the name I was given. I will continue to contemplate it, but my first thought was an appreciation of the way it married the concept of vastness, openness, emptiness with embodiment, movement, physical expression. I used to long to be a visionary, an oracle, a seer, a prophet of some sort, but I’m understanding more and more than my purpose is to be a container, an embodiment of wisdom and compassion.

You go through this ceremony which is like part baptism and part wedding and you expect to be born again somehow, cleansed or something, a new beginning, but really I’m just back in the heat of my own stew, laughing at how silly I was to think anything was going to be magically changed by it. I have to do the work, show up and practice, it’s up to me and that’s never going to change. This is my path, for sure and for real.

The biggest illusion about a path of refuge is that we are on our way somewhere else, on our way to becoming a different kind of person. But ultimately, our refuge is not outside ourselves, not somewhere in the future – it is always and already here. ~Tara Brach, True Refuge: Finding Peace and Freedom in Your Own Awakened Heart

Something Good

1. Meanwhile: An Illustrated Love Letter to the Living Fabric of a City and Our Shared Human Longing to Be Understood on Brain Pickings. I might need this book.

2. 14 Benefits of Mindfulness. {Infographic} on Elephant Journal.

3. Wisdom from Ringu Tulku,

A feeling has arisen in the mind, like a cloud. Like a cloud, it appears and then it disappears, and that’s all there is to it. This time it is sadness arising, the next time it may be happiness, the next time it may be anger, and later it may be kindness. All sorts of things arise, like wildflowers in a spring meadow. All sorts of flowers grow; all sorts of thoughts and emotions arise. They are all okay; they’re nothing special. When we understand what our thoughts and feelings are, and we experience them in this way, we are able to let them come and let them go.

4. In his most recent newsletter, Austin Kleon shared some really good articles about the problematic nature of the assertion that we should all “do what you love”: In the Name of Love, and The Ploughshares Round-Down: Why “Do What You Love” Is Bad Advice, and Do What You Love.

5. Good stuff on Bored Panda: The Winners Of The 2014 Sony World Photography Awards, and Intimate And Playful Dog Portraits By Elke Vogelsang, and The 30 Happiest Animals In The World That Will Make You Smile, and Japanese Photographer Takes Beautiful Sun-Kissed Photos Of Cats.

6. Wisdom from Rainer Maria Rilke,

Let everything happen to you
Beauty and terror
Just keep going
No feeling is final.

7. Good stuff from MindBodyGreen: 5 Things I Miss About Weighing More Than 300 Pounds, and 10 Things That Will Happen When You Start Pursuing Your Dreams, and 10 Things I Wish Everyone Knew About Therapy. Also Why I Hate “Bikini Body” Pressure + How To Get Over It For Good, which says “Deprivation has no place in long-term well-being.”

8. More good stuff from Elephant Journal: How to be Productive (an infographic), and 5 Ways You Can Make a Living as a Yoga Teacher.

9. Wow…This 3200 Year Old Tree Is So Huge It’s Never Been Captured In A Single Image. Until Now.

10. How to Get Out of Bed.

11. Nobody Expected This From a Little Girl. What She Was Caught on Video Doing Shocked The World.

12. Good stuff on Viral Nova: A Kindergartner Wrote And Drew The Most Genius ‘How To’ Guide Ever. The Drawings Are Hilarious. and A 31 Year Old Was Sick Of Expensive Rent And High Costs. What He Did Took Guts… But Look Inside. and This Guy Started With Nothing. What He Had Just 6 Weeks Later Made Me Ridiculously Jealous.

13. Garbage Piece from Jeff Oaks. Even his garbage is beautiful.

14. Two beautiful shares from Jessica Patterson,

Boundaries, by Lynn Ungar

The universe does not
revolve around you.
The stars and planets spinning
through the ballroom of space
dance with one another
quite outside of your small life.
You cannot hold gravity
or seasons; even air and water
inevitably evade your grasp.
Why not, then, let go?

You could move through time
like a shark through water,
neither restless or ceasing,
absorbed in and absorbing
the native element.
Why pretend you can do otherwise?
The world comes in at every pore,
mixes in your blood before
breath releases you into
the world again. Did you think
the fragile boundary of your skin
could build a wall?

Listen. Every molecule is humming
its particular pitch.
Of course you are a symphony.
Whose tune do you think
the planets are singing
as they dance?

And

Self-Portrait
by David Whyte

It doesn’t interest me if there is one God
or many gods.
I want to know if you belong or feel
abandoned,
if you can know despair or see it in others.
I want to know
if you are prepared to live in the world
with its harsh need
to change you. If you can look back
with firm eye,
saying this is where I stand. I want to know
if you know
how to melt into that fierce heat of living,
falling toward
the center of your longing. I want to know
if you are willing
to live, day by day, with the consequence of love
and the bitter
unwanted passion of your sure defeat.

I have heard, in that fierce embrace, even
the gods speak of God.

15. 10 Things Highly Intuitive People Do Differently on Huffington Post. I haven’t checked, but this seems like the almost exact same list that was about Highly Creative People.

16. Wisdom from Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes

We do not become healers. We came as healers. We are. Some of us are still catching up to what we are.

We do not become storytellers. We came as carriers of the stories we and our ancestors actually lived. We are. Some of us are still catching up to what we are.

We do not become artists. We came as artists. We are. Some of us are still catching up to what we are.

We do not become writers, dancers, musicians, helpers, peacemakers. We came as such. We are. Some of us are still catching up to what we are.

We do not learn to love in this sense. We came as Love. We are Love. Some of us are still catching up to who we truly are.

17. Happy – Pentatonix (Pharrell Cover). I have a soft spot for acapella groups.

18. How I earned my white belt in desire on Superhero Life. I love how Andrea sees everything in her life as an opportunity to learn, to practice, to transform.

19. Orphaned Baby Rhino Loves To Run With Her Rescuers on Huffington Post. You must watch the video.

20. Wisdom from Elizabeth Gilbert, “If you are looking for your home in the world, here is a clue: It’s whatever you love more than you love yourself. (Addiction and infatuation don’t count! Unsafe neighborhoods in which to build a home!) Identify that worthy thing to love, and abide there.”

21. Wisdom from Richard Bach, “There are no mistakes. The events we bring upon ourselves, no matter how unpleasant, are necessary in order to learn what we need to learn; whatever steps we take, they’re necessary to reach the places we’ve chosen to go.”

22.  Wisdom from David Whyte, “You must learn one thing. The world was made to be free in.”

23. Apple and Poppy Seed Coleslaw recipe. Looks yummy.

24. 10 Things I No Longer Believe About Having a Creative Career (and Being an Entrepreneur) from Michelle Ward.

25. When gratitude is harmful from Danielle LaPorte.

26. Wisdom from Pema Chödrön,

With the commitment to not cause harm, we move away from reacting in ways that cause us to suffer, but we haven’t yet arrived at a place that feels entirely relaxed and free. We first have to go through a growing-up process, a getting-used-to process. That process, that transition, is one of becoming comfortable with exactly what we’re feeling as we feel it. The key practice to support us in this is mindfulness—being fully present right here, right now. Meditation is one form of mindfulness, but mindfulness is called by many names: attentiveness, nowness, and presence are just a few. Essentially, mindfulness means wakefulness—fully present wakefulness. Chögyam Trungpa called it paying attention to all the details of your life.

27. Wisdom from Joseph Campbell,

People say that what we’re all seeking is a meaning for life. I don’t think that’s what we’re really seeking. I think that what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonances with our own innermost being and reality, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive.

28. 7 Simple Truths about Dressing with Less on Be More With Less.

29. When You Want to Call It Quits Do This Instead… from Dawn Dalili, in which she says,

The escape is temporary. The comfort in going numb is fleeting and often followed by a pain more unbearable than breathing through my fear – it is the pain of living a life that is disconnected from my spirit, my soul, my God, my truth (choose the word that suits you.)

As challenging as it may ever seem to move forward through challenge, I dare say that it’s more challenging to give up. When we give up, our body contracts, our shoulders slouch which closes our hearts, and our energy fades.

30. Sacred Ground from Rachel Cole.

31. Dream Tree from Soul Pancake.

32. ColorHexa. Confession: I have a thing for color tools.

33. From Preacher To Grass Cutter To Earth-Shaking Soul Singer from NPR Music. Watch the video. You won’t believe what comes out of this guy’s mouth.

34. Guy Impressively Sings Katy Perry’s ‘Dark Horse’ In 20 Different Styles (Video) from Huffington Post. The final one, the John Mayer version, is worth the watch.

35. Funny Husky tries to talk other dog into giving her a toy (VIDEO) on Dog Heirs.

36. 5 Steps to Declutter Your Schedule and Live Your Desired Life from Becoming Minimalist.

37. Shared on Positively Present Picks: 17 Things You Suddenly Start Doing When You Get An Office Job, and Canva (another cool graphics tool I can’t wait to try), and 15 powerful side-benefits to living in the present moment, and 25 Bold Ways to Avoid the Trap of Overwhelm.

38. Shared by Susannah Conway on her Something for the Weekend list: her “My Country Home” Pinterest board (I want to go to there), and Porn Burger (warning: if you eat cow, this will make you hungry).

39. How to Put a Toddler to Bed in 100 Easy Steps on Huffington Post.

40. Watch dogs respond to a magic trick.

Life Rehab Resource: Practice

liferehabresourcesDisclaimer: I could write a whole book (and am) about practice, so to imply I’m going to be able to say everything there is to say, or even only the very most important things there are to share about practice in a single blog post is just silly. And yet, this is the life rehab resource that wants to be shared today.

I started thinking about it when I was writing my morning pages. This is a practice I first learned by way of Julia Cameron, who describes it this way,

Morning pages are three pages of longhand, stream of consciousness writing, done first thing in the morning. *There is no wrong way to do Morning Pages* – they are not high art. They are not even “writing.” They are about anything and everything that crosses your mind – and they are for your eyes only. Morning Pages provoke, clarify, comfort, cajole, prioritize and synchronize the day at hand. Do not over-think Morning Pages: just put three pages of anything on the page…and then do three more pages tomorrow.

She even made a video about the practice.

As I was writing my morning pages today, I was thinking about how they are a life rehab resource I’ve been able to maintain no matter what else is going on in my life. There are lots of other things on my to-do and to-be lists right now that I’d love to be doing but had to give up, temporarily. For example there are stacks of books I want to read, a list of movies I’d like to watch, Nia and yoga classes I’d like to attend, letters I want to send, courses I’d like to design, two books and various essays I want to write, but for now there just isn’t time. But morning pages, those get done every day no matter what. For me, they are like warming up before exercising. It’s the thing I need to do to be ready to write the stuff I plan to share.

Just as Julia describes it, much of what I write as part of my morning pages is garbage — whining and complaining, rants, confessions, anxiety, speculation, disillusion and confusion, lists, “and then he said” nonsense. A record of confusion. It gets it all out of the way, clears a path, makes space for the truth, what needs to be said, wants to be shared — the lotus that pushes its way out of the muck.

morningpages

there is a tattoo of a lotus on the inside of my right wrist to remind me of exactly this

In writing out all the crap I can see how silly it is, how ridiculous I am. It’s the same when you watch your thoughts and emotions arise in meditation, where the instruction is to observe them arise and let them go without getting attached. I realize through sitting practice how much of my life is spent in reaction to my thoughts and emotions, getting triggered and hooked. Someone says something, judgement kicks in, and off I go. A thought arises and I run after it, trying to catch and hold it, turn it into something solid.

A fundamental quality of all practice is the cultivation of observation without attachment. Practice helps me to see the ways I habitually react, sometimes allowing me to interrupt myself and rest in the gap between thoughts/emotions and action. Through practice I contemplate how my habitual patterns and discursive thinking are no longer serving me. In this way, practice helps me to ease suffering. Over time I start to realize how blindly driven I’ve been by my thoughts and emotions, see how empty they actually are, and start to relax, consider other options, access a deeper wisdom and compassion, and employ more skillful means.

For example, on the yoga mat, I observe how in a pose I might criticize myself for not doing it “right.” Maybe I compare myself to the person on the mat next to me who seems to be doing it “better,” or I judge myself against a “perfect expression” of the pose. The thought arises that I’m doing it wrong and I begin to criticize myself. Shame quickly follows and soon I am smashing myself to bits, not really practicing yoga at all. In a final act of aggression, I force my body further into the pose, causing discomfort or pain, possibly even injuring myself.

sundaymorningyogaThe longer I practice, the more I am able to interrupt this pattern. I notice the thought or emotion arise. I pause and am curious about it instead of immediately acting on it. I consider what might be triggering it, notice how it feels in my body, all while trying my best to not start telling myself a story about it. Staying with this, I might understand that my body is unique (in the case of the yoga pose “gone wrong”), and at this particular time this is what is. Maybe my quads are especially tender after lifting weights or doing a lot of walking earlier in the week, or maybe I didn’t get enough sleep the night before and I have less energy. I recognize that the compassionate thing to do in this moment is a slight modification of the pose to maintain alignment and accommodate my body’s current state. My self talk shifts to love for my body, appreciation that I showed up to practice, gratitude that I’m paying attention and working with my body in this way, listening and trusting, being gentle.

Suddenly there is space, ease where before there was struggle. As in yoga, it’s best when writing morning pages — with all practice, actually — to not force or attempt to control, but rather show up with an open heart, be curious about what is, and in this way sink into and allow the truth of the moment.

#smallstone: Bark

sundaymorningyoga02Sitting in meditation, a dog outside barks. It’s a sound filled with joy, excitement, energy. It must feel so good to bark, to open up and release the full measure of your voice — feeling it rise from deep in your belly, fill your chest and buzz past your heart, through your throat and out your wide open mouth, your body and mind for that one moment focused completely on the music of your own voice, the energy of your own being.

Gratitude Friday

samhiking041. Lemon Poppyseed Scones from Whole Foods.

2. Found recipe for Tomato Rhubarb Chutney. I can’t wait until we have fresh tomatoes again, for eating and to try this recipe. Our friends had a jar of tomato chutney on Christmas, served with cheese and crackers, and I could have eaten it straight out of the jar with a spoon. It was so good.

3. The Great Clear Out. I’ve been working for close to two weeks on clearing out my office space, which led to cleaning the garage, the front closet and dresser, and the “dog cabinet.” It feels so good to clear out some space, let go of things that no longer serve me, clean up and make room.

journalshelves

new shelves in the closet for my journals

4. Meditation practice. I’ve been having some horrible anxiety lately, as we try to figure out what’s up with Sam, determine how to help him, keep him comfortable (he has some sort of nerve issue in his lower jaw), and meditating is one of the only things that helps me to calm down.

5. Being on break with Eric. He’s one of the other things that helps me calm down. It’s good to get to spend some extra time with him right now.

Bonus Joy: The way Sam sometimes curls his feet under when he sleeps. This morning, he got on this bed under my writing desk because Eric had started the dryer and Sam has decided he doesn’t like laundry. He digs himself a little nest in the corner and tries not to think about it.

samcurledfeet

#smallstone: Ease and Anxiety

sleepysam02As I listen to the guided meditation, “Finding Ease in the Moment,” Sam shifts in his bed behind me. I feel a surge of anxiety in my body, the cold tingle of fear, the rush of panic, the burning ache in my throat and chest and stomach. I breath in deep and then out, trying my best as instructed to find the “okayness of this moment.”

Something Good

image by eric

image by eric

1. Good stuff from Patti Digh: your daily rock : give comfort, your daily rock : transform, your daily rock : you make a difference, your daily rock : you know the answer, and your daily rock : feel good now.

2. Write A House Is Giving Writers Free Homes In Detroit on Huffington Post.

3. A little preview for you, an update about the You are Beautiful book by Matthew Hoffman that I helped fund through a Kickstarter project. Can’t wait to get my copy.

4. Let Everything Happen by Rainer Maria Rilke:

God speaks to each of us as he makes us,
then walks with us silently out of the night.
These are the words we dimly hear:
You, sent out beyond your recall,
go to the limits of your longing.
Embody me.
Flare up like flame
and make big shadows I can move in.
Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror.
Just keep going. No feeling is final.
Don’t let yourself lose me.
Nearby is the country they call life.
You will know it by its seriousness.
Give me your hand.

5. This Man’s Wife Died 2 Years Ago. What He Just Discovered Last Week Is Indescribable. Get A Tissue. on Viral Nova.

6. The Five Things Our Dogs Want for Christmas from The Other End of the Leash.

7. Love from Be More with Less.

8. Truthbombs from Danielle LaPorte:

If you measure your success against someone else’s results, you will never be free – ever.

and

Do not give your past the power to define your future.

9. how to keep the spirit of christmas all year long from Positively Present.

10. From Susannah Conway’s Something for the Weekend post: Something small, every day, Sensitivity is Beautiful, 8 Kale Salads, and sit on a small wooden bench with yourself.

11. Wisdom from Robert Holden,

One new perception,
one fresh thought,
one act of surrender,
one change of heart,
one leap of faith,
can change your life forever.

12. the magic is in the mess from Brene’ Brown.

13. Good stuff from Marc and Angel Hack Life: 10 Ways to Stop Treating Yourself and 10 Gifts You Deserve to Give Yourself.

14. What Christmas Is Like For A Working Poor Family Earning $10,000 A Year (And How To Help) on Huffington Post.

15. No one reads a comic strip because it’s drawn well from Seth Godin. Something like The Oatmeal is proof of this, which leads to an interesting post he made on Facebook, which shows what an amazing artist he really is.

16. Wisdom from Anne Lamott on Facebook.

17. Here Are All The Movies Expiring On Netflix As Of January 1st, in case you want to do some binge watching over the next few days.

18. Wisdom from Marianne Williamson, “The most powerful step is when we move from “Ain’t it awful” to “Let’s make it not awful.”

19. Wisdom from Rumi,

Sometimes you hear a voice through the door calling you,
As a fish out of water hears the waves …
Come back. Come back.
This turning toward what you deeply love saves you.

20. 12/26/13 on 3x3x365. Beautiful.

21. Maitri on Elephant Journal by Waylon Lewis, in which he says,

But it is also the essence of maitri. It seems to me in my experience and also in talking to other people that we come to a body of teachings like the Buddhist teachings or any spiritual path, to meditation in some way like little children looking for comfort, looking for understanding, looking for attention, looking somehow to be confirmed. Some kind of comfort will come out of this.

And the truth is actually that the [meditation] practice isn’t about that. The practice is more about somehow this little child, this I, who wants and wants and wants to be confirmed in some way.

Practice is about that part of our being finally being able to open completely to the whole range of our experience, including all that wanting, including all that hurt, including the pain and the joy. Opening to the whole thing so that this little child-like part of us can finally, finally, finally, finally grow up.

22. Zadie Smith’s 10 Rules of Writing on Brain Pickings, in which she says, “Resign yourself to the lifelong sadness that comes from never ­being satisfied.” Word.

23. How to Write: A Year in Advice from Franzen, King, Hosseini, and More: Highlights from 12 months of interviews with writers about their craft and the authors they love, a really great series on The Atlantic.

24. Give your brain a break… and achieve inner peace with our easy guide to meditating.

25. A Forest Year.

26. Duke Grad Student Secretly Lived In a Van to Escape Loan Debt.

27. Mindful Writing Challenge – Jan ’14 from Writing Our Way Home.