Category Archives: Lodro Rinzler

Untitled

pathwithtextTo be honest, I was starting to think maybe I’d picked the wrong word this year. A month has passed already and instead of feeling immersed, focused, clear, I was feeling a little lost. Yoga and writing come more naturally to me, but I was finding it hard to meditate, let alone deepen my study of the dharma. This morning I was scrolling through my Facebook feed, trying to find some direction or distract myself when I saw a post from Lodro Rinzler, “New video teaching up to kick off a year series studying Atisha’s mind training slogans.” I recognized the screen capture from an email I got at the beginning of the week from him, one that I’d filed away like all the others for some later date when I have “more time.”

You can sign up for Lodro’s newsletter and he sends a meditation challenge every Monday. Sometimes I watch, but more often I file it away for later. When I saw the post on Facebook, I actually read what it was about, and I was in.

Three years ago, Susan Piver was focusing her Open Heart Project Practitioner teachings around the lojong slogans. I enjoyed it so much, was learning so much. I have two books from Pema Chödrön about the same topic and was using them to help deepen my understanding. Then Susan made the difficult decision to discontinue the Practitioner program, and we never made it past the 17th one. So I was so happy to see that Lodro was teaching them, that he was committed to the full set of 59.

Lojong (or “mind training”) slogans are from a classical Tibetan Buddhist text, and are described by Pema Chödrön as offering “pithy, powerful reminders on how to awaken our hearts in the midst of day-to-day life, under any circumstances.” The editor of the book by Chögyam Trungpa about these same slogans describes them this way,

The Root Text of the Seven Points of Training the Mind is a list of fifty-nine slogans, which form a pithy summary instruction on the view and practical application of mahayana Buddhism. The study and practice of these slogans is a very practical and earthy way of reversing our ego-clinging and of cultivating tenderness and compassion. They provide a method of training our minds through both formal meditation practice and using the events of everyday life as a means of awakening.

Pithy. Practical. Perfect. I don’t know if I’ve told you this before, kind and gentle reader, but it’s that practical application component that draws me to Buddhism. All the stuff about various deities and realms and karma is interesting to me as an intellectual exercise, but it’s the part where the rubber meets the road that I get excited about. I look to the dharma as a way to understand how to be a better human — how to meet what is beautiful and tender and keep my heart open, how to face what is brutal and terrible and not give up.

And the first lojong slogan is one of my favorites. It presents what are sometimes referred to as the Four Reminders. The slogan is “first, train in the preliminaries,” and those preliminaries or reminders are:

  1. Maintain an awareness of the preciousness of human life, the luck of a human birth
  2. Be aware of the reality that life ends, death comes for everyone
  3. Know that karma is real, actions have consequences
  4. Contemplate that as long as you are caught up in yearning for pleasure and shying away from pain, the suffering of suffering, you will remain trapped in unhappiness

I’ve written about the Four Reminders before. I was happy to revisit them this morning. Even happier to feel myself back on the path, encouraged by what Pema says about this study, that “when we work with the slogans, ordinary life becomes the path of awakening.”

Something Good

1. Christmas Time Is Here – Daniela Andrade ft. Cutest Dog in the Galaxy. This is from last year, but it’s still my favorite, the video and the song. Daniela’s Christmas album, simply called The Christmas EP, is one of my favorites.

2. THEN & NOW: This Dog Destroys Every Stuffed Animal Except This One. My Dexter had a similar toy, Little D.

dexterwithlittled

Dexter and his Little D

3. Building a Mindful New Year Together with Susan Piver. “6 days, 6 themes, 12 meditations, 9 teachers,” December 26th – 31st, FREE. I did this program last year and loved it.

4. Cats you will fall in love with in under 3 seconds, the cutest, funniest of compilation videos.

5. Wisdom from Geneen Roth, “The purpose of healing is not to be forever happy; that is impossible. The purpose of healing is to be awake. And to live while you are alive instead of dying while you are alive. Healing is about being broken and whole at the same time. Healing is about opening our hearts, not closing them. It is about softening the places in us that won’t let love in. Healing is a process.”

6. Joyful January from Writing Our Way Home. “31 days of joy” which includes 31 daily emails, an essay on joy, four daily joy practices, and a guide to writing small stones. This would make a great last minute holiday gift.

7. Wisdom from Michael Xavier,

So,
You want to be tough.
You want to be rebellious.
You want to be a bad ass.

Then show your heart to everyone…

EVERYONE.

8. Solace, Helene Athanasiadis’s upcoming book, “A poetic study of the beautiful spaces women create for themselves. Rooms of serenity & calm, to retreat from the everyday…solace.” The images she’s shared so far are gorgeous. (Thanks to Pia for the share).

9. Wisdom from Tom Gates, “It’s a lot easier to be angry at someone than it is to tell them you’re hurt.”

10. The 100 Day Promise from Sandi Amorim. “The 100 Day Promise is a practice that guides you through the process of change in an in-depth and soulful way.” An amazing program, a brilliant coach, and a wonderful gift to give yourself.

11. 2015’s Best News Bloopers Are Here And They’re Out Of Control. Couldn’t stop laughing, had to pause the video a few times to let myself catch my breath.

12. What getting your period is like, according to stock photography. This reminds me of Women Laughing Alone With Salad.

13. Week-long Spring Meditation Retreat with Lodro Rinzler. You have to pay travel and room, but the program is FREE.

14. Money Talks with Maya Stein. Love her, love this.

15. A Christmas Carol Starring… You!, a fun contemplation from Positively Present.

16. Brother Reunites With His 2 Siblings By Surprising Them With A New House.

17. Neil Gaiman On Returning To ‘Sandman,’ Talking In His Sleep And The Power Of Comics. Gah, I love him…

18. Hilarious Winners of the First Annual ‘Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards.’ Make sure to check out the whole set.

19. The Compassion Collective. “Today’s refugee crisis is the worst humanitarian emergency the world has seen since World War II. Just as the Greatest Generation’s response to the holocaust defined them, so will our response define us. We want to be remembered as the generation that chose Love over Fear.”

20. Living in a high-stakes universe, in which Seth Godin says, “We’re capable of doing great work without the drama. In fact, over time, the lack of drama can enable us to do great work.” *mic drop*

21. You cannot create a more compassionate world if you’re treating yourself like crap. Word. This line really got to me, “View our schedules as a sacred prayer for how we are shaping our lives.”

22. Here’s How To Do Therapy On Yourself, According To A Therapist.

23. Stop Blaming the Alcoholic. This statistic is shocking, even to me who has been so close to this issue, “Eighteen million people in the U.S. suffer from alcohol use disorder.”

24. The Bitterly Honest Gift Guide.

25. Adele Live in New York City. “Multiple Grammy Award-winning singer Adele performs a special one-night only concert in New York at Radio City Music Hall. This extraordinary performance marks the artist’s first concert in the U.S. since fall 2011 and her largest show to date in New York.” Can’t wait to watch this.

26. A Christmas Story from Sunni Chapman. Seriously so sweet. *sniffle*

27. This post from Unofficial: Keanu Reeves Online on Facebook, which makes such an important point, and ends with this,

None of us are getting out of here alive, so please stop treating yourself like an after thought. Eat the delicious food. Walk in the sunshine. Jump in the ocean. Say the truth that you’re carrying in your heart like hidden treasure. Be silly. Be kind. Be weird. There’s no time for anything else.

28. What Victoria’s Secret taught Me About Worth, Value and Self Care.

29. Good stuff from Karen Walrond’s This Was a Good Week list: The Sixth Annual James Garfield Miracle (The Bloggess doing really really really good stuff), and Hygge! from Danny Gregory.

30. Check out Matt Bellassai’s latest video on his Facebook page, “First Annual Matt’s Least Favorite Things.”

Something Good

Image from Unsplash

Image from Unsplash

So great to be partnering with Wanderlust to share this list with a larger audience.

1. Savor: Daily Practices for a More Nourishing Holiday from Rachel Cole. Savor is six weeks of guided audio meditations and journal prompts to support you in being well-fed and centered this holiday season. As Rachel describes it, “Savor is about finding yourself in the small moments. It’s about tasting what’s already here. It’s about noticing the good and saying ‘thank you’ often. Savor is designed to help you find sanctuary amidst the hustle and bustle that’s headed our way. Savor is, no surprise, about savoring your life.” At only $35, this would make a great holiday gift, for yourself or anyone else on your list. Disclaimer: I first started working with Rachel almost four years ago. Since then she’s been a guide, a teacher, a precious friend. Everything she does is magic, and this is going to be no exception.

2. Random Acts of Kindness Generator. This is such a great idea. Doing something nice, either directly or in secret, is such a mood lifter for everyone involved. I can imagine a homemade version too, a jar with slips of paper filled with different ideas. Just pick one and do it.

3. Problems of output are problems of input from Austin Kleon.

4. An important question posed by Brave Girls Club, “What is calling to you? What is the deepest, most true message that is calling to you?”

5. A Note from the Universe,

It’s easy to look around at all the people who already have what you want, notice how they differ from you, and then think that they are the “kind of people” for whom having what you want comes naturally. Whereas you are not, otherwise you’d have it too.

Very rational thinking, and a super way for non-adventurers to avoid responsibility, rest on the sidelines, and watch more TV.

Adventurers, on the other hand, Jill, understand that they are exactly the kind of people who should have the things they now want. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be blessed with wanting them.

6. This is about the time I chose not to die.

7. If you accept your body, does that mean you give up?, a recent and brilliant newsletter from Curvy Yoga and Anna Guest-Jelley.

8. Parenthood Is An Act Of Hostage Negotiation With A Broken Robot from Terrible Minds.

9. This Guy’s Reaction To Patti LaBelle’s Pie Is Priceless. This guy understands pie like I do.

10. Wisdom from Hans Hofmann, “The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak.” Oh, snap.

11. It’s going to be okay, a really great, important and timely comic from The Oatmeal. “So get up, and help someone.” Also this video, “Runner. Cartoonist. Cake Lover. – A Seeker Story,” the story of Matthew Inman, creator of TheOatmeal.com.

12. Raising Imogen, “koala joey’s most adorable home video of all time.” Who knew baby koala’s were so stupid cute?

13. This Kid Should Work For Hallmark Because His Thank You Letters Are Spot On.

14. Buddhism, Bravery, Love and the Good Life, Lodro Rinzler on Good Life Project Radio. Lodro is one of my favorite teachers, and I always love Johnathan’s interviews. Jonathan posted on Facebook, about this interview, “What if meditation didn’t solve anything, it just let you see things better?”

15. Wisdom from Judith Lief, “To meditate, all you need are 3 things: a restless body, a wandering mind, and out-of-control emotions.”

16. Awkwarding is what brings us all together from The Bloggess. These tweets are so awesome.

17. On What People Think from Dani Shapiro.

18. This 17-Year-Old Cat Is The Laziest Internet Star In Japan on Bored Panda.

19. Deciding How and When to Quit, a brilliant post from Jen Louden about the difference between default quitting and compassionate quitting, which includes a really great set of prompts to help one contemplate how to decide what to do. “But in the end, it comes down to this: You must be willing to look yourself in the mirror and ask, ‘Am I suffering enough to do something about it?’ or ‘Am I hungry enough for something more to take this risk?'”

20. Wisdom from Pema Chödrön,

We make a lot of mistakes. If you ask people whom you consider to be wise and courageous about their lives, you may find that they have hurt a lot of people and made a lot of mistakes, but that they used those occasions as opportunities to humble themselves and open their hearts. We don’t get wise by staying in a room with all the doors and windows closed.

20. Wisdom from Seth Godin, Certain failure and Your progress report.

21. How to make your website credible from Paul Jarvis.

22. #naphopomo day 10: do not let the adorable nose fool you on Chookooloonks. Oh Karen, I feel your pain/joy.

23. Five Days of Mandala Magic, from Julie Gibbons, “a free online workshop that demonstrates how, with a little know-how + some tools + techniques, you can create beautiful mandalas anytime you feel called – even if you’re not an accomplished artist!”

24. Is Fat Stigma Making Us Miserable? Spoiler alert: YES.

25. 16 Stunning Works Of Origami Art To Celebrate World Origami Day on Bored Panda.

26. Riverside 433 sq. ft. guest cottage is a roomy floating retreat. So dreamy.

27. 30 Simple Ways to Take Care of Yourself Over the Holidays from Be More With Less, a great list for any time of year, not just the holidays.

28. A Healthy Way to Aspire to a Better Life on Zen Habits. The title says it all.

29. money talks with Laurie Wagner. I love this column. I love Sherry, the lovely host. And you know I love Laurie.

30. Wisdom from Jonathan Fields, “Never allow the false urgency of others to dictate where and when you place your attention.”

31. In April 2013, Diana Kim spotted her father for the first time in decades. “He was living on the street, disheveled and unkempt, and didn’t have a clue who she was.”

32. The fallacy of ‘go big or go home’: redefining ambition from Esmé Wang.

33. Organizers seat woman behind Trump ‘because she’s black’ — so she silently protests by reading her book.

34. I Quit My Job To Be A Travel Writer, And Now I’m Broke And Unemployed. I think it’s so important to have these narratives to balance out the “do what you love and the money will come” ones.

35. Calvin Harris & Disciples – How Deep is Your Love (Cover) by Daniela Andrade x KRNFX. The only thing better than a good song is a good cover of that song, and Daniela just might be the queen of covers.

36. The Roar Sessions: Lindsey Mead.

37. 9 Ways Generous People View the World Differently from Marc and Angel Hack Life.

38. A Thanksgiving Reader, a new tradition, offered by Seth Godin.

39. Cultivating Wonder, “4 weeks full of lessons, prompts, interviews + secret missions to grow your sense of wonder” from Andrea Scher, pay what you can. It starts today, but you can still sign up. Again, a disclaimer: Andrea is the reason this blog exists, and I adore everything she does — guide, teacher, and precious friend.

40. Social Media isn’t the point. Storytelling is. “8 things you can (and should) do to become an effective storyteller for your brand” from Christina Rosalie.

Something Good

Sam and Ringo hiking on Deadman Road, image by Eric

Sam and Ringo hiking on Deadman Road, image by Eric

1. Kickstarter project: Broken Saviors, Broken Saviors is an original graphic series that explores what happens when humanity becomes the subject of a global ‘nation building’ endeavor conducted by a mysterious race of aliens who claim they’re here to save us.” Written by my good friend and CSU colleague, Todd Mitchell. Issue #1 of this alien invasion epic is available now and FREE!

2. The Weight of the Evidence: It’s time to stop telling fat people to become thin on Slate.

3. Wisdom from Anne Lamott on Facebook

Even if you grew up with parents who loved each other, and their kids, it’s very hard and erratic here. And if you grew up around alcoholism, or mental illness, you developed ways of surviving that much terror and craziness, which have–let’s say–not served you in later years.

You grew up with a clenched fist in your stomach, agreeing not to see what’s going on; tip-toe-ing around, not trusting yourself as a reliable narrator, trying to rescue people who were 30 years older and hundred pounds bigger. Scared, alone, small.

You grow up waiting for the other shoe to drop.

But I think God only has one shoe. Love never fails; never not once, eventually. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not ever overcome it, at some point. Never not once.

4. Modcloth. I like how this company rolls.

5. Good stuff on Medium: The Laziest Coming Out Story You’ve Ever Heard and The complete and logical guide to winning at your own life in 19 super difficult steps.

6. How to Protect Yourself from Thinspiration Disguised as Yoga.

7. Dove’s One Beautiful Thought Will Have You Thinking Twice About Yourself.

8. Watching an Elegy: My Love of Gus Seinberg, Gay, Jewish Dog from Sara Seinberg. One day if I’m lucky, I will have an old dog.

9. How to Become Gluten Intolerant (Funny) – Ultra Spiritual Life episode 12 – with JP Sears

10. This Rare ‘Magic Rabbit’ Was Spotted For The First Time In 20 Years And It May Soon Be Lost Forever.

11. When Addiction Is An Act of Bravery And Self-Love from Rebelle Society.

12. “I Was the Fattest Hiker on the Mountain”: An overweight mom makes a soul-searching climb up Kilimanjaro.

13. Nothing is the New Skinny from Dances with Fat.

14. Buddhist Author and Meditation Teacher Lodro Rinzler Speaks About Compassion, Honesty and Wisdom in the Workplace.

15. She lists 10 things every woman should know. #3 makes me weak at the knees. Her poem “Beautiful Body” is one of my favorites. I have such a crush on Natalie Patterson

16. How to Talk to Others about Your Intuitive Eating Journey from Jenna Hollenstein.

17. The Top 10 Lies Keeping Us from Eradicating Racism.

18. This isn’t a Bucket List; it’s a F**k-it List.

19. 5 Year Old Girl Discusses Princess Leia’s Slave Outfit with Dad.

20. Recovering From An Eating Disorder.

21. Groupon Posted This Product on Facebook, Then Replied to Everyone Who Made a Sex Joke.

22. How Obesity Became a Disease.

23. O Adjunct! My Adjunct!

24. Imagine What It’d Be Like If People Left Parties The Way They Leave Facebook.

25. Artist Creates Memorial Ash Beads From Cremated Remains Of Deceased Loved Ones. I want, one for Obi and one for Dexter.

26. Yoga Doesn’t Care: A Disclaimer that should be Posted in every Studio on The Elephant.

27. Wisdom from Pema Chödrön,

We can begin anything we do—start our day, eat a meal, or walk into a meeting—with the intention to be open, flexible, and kind. Then we can proceed with an inquisitive attitude. As my teacher Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche used to say, “Live your life as an experiment.”

At the end of the activity, whether we feel we have succeeded or failed in our intention, we seal the act by thinking of others, of those who are succeeding and failing all over the world. We wish that anything we learned in our experiment could also benefit them.

28. Wisdom from Lori Deschene, “We can’t hate ourselves into a version of ourselves we can love.”

29. The real inner circle from Susannah Conway.

30. They asked 11,000 people: What stands between you and where you want to be? One answer stood out. I love you, Soul Pancake.

31. Make A Bee Waterer And Help Hydrate Our Pollinators.

Day of Rest: Self-Compassion

snowwillows

A truce can be called in your inner war. Peace is possible. Your old habits of self-criticism don’t need to rule you forever. What you need to do is listen to the voice that’s already there, even if a bit hidden — your wise, compassionate self. ~Kristin Neff

The theme for the first week of Feast was self-compassion. If you’ve been reading my blog for long, you know this is one of my favorite topics. It started when I went to a new doctor almost two years ago. I’d had crushing, constant fatigue for almost three years and my longtime doctor had tried every test and treatment she could think of, finally suggesting maybe it was time to try a holistic approach, and admitting that was outside her expertise. I found an integrative practitioner who was also certified in internal medicine and made an appointment. After an hour long conversation with this new doctor, one in which I revealed I had an eating disorder, she told me I was obese, tried to put me on a diet that would restrict my calories, not allowing any dairy or gluten or sugar, and recommended I do more cardio. She hadn’t run any sort of tests to rule out an underlying cause and it was clear to me that this was her prescription for every patient, no matter what their issue.

The visit broke my heart a little. I went in with so much hope, and was so honest with her about everything, only to have her offer me the same old story. I was looking for an expert, someone who could fix me, ease my suffering, make me feel better. What she offered was an option I could have found in just about any women’s magazine, in any gym or weight loss program. As a women in this culture, I am constantly bombarded by the message that if I just lost weight, I’d be happy. If I just ate less and moved more, I’d be healthy. If I just got myself into the “normal” range on the BMI chart, I’d be okay.

Even back then, something deep in me knew that was bullshit. The cake is a lie. The afternoon of that appointment, I left for a retreat at Shambhala Meditation Center with Susan Piver. I spent the weekend contemplating my situation, attempting to answer the central question: “how do I heal myself?” With Susan’s support, the magic of the space, the specific practices we did together that weekend, and the community of people in attendance, I came to an answer: self-compassion.

If we think our job here on earth is to fix ourselves, we will keep looking for the broken places. If we believe our job is to be kind, we will keep lavishing love on ourselves. ~Geneen Roth

pinksnowmoon02Self-compassion is the ground of everything. As Rachel says, “Before we can address whatever unrest, misalignment, or longing that has shown up in our life, we must first bring to life a compassionate and loving relationship with ourselves.” If we aren’t already practicing self-compassion, this is where we must start, and where we may find ourselves returning over and over again.

Building a foundation of self-compassion is hard work. I’ve been practicing and studying for almost two years, and I am still such a beginner. I retook Kristen Neff’s self-compassion test again this week, and even though my score had gone up almost a full point, I still fall into the low self-compassion range. One example of how much I’ve changed though is that when I started this process, a result like that would have triggered self-aggression, judgement and criticism. I would have smashed myself to bits for not being better at this, not scoring higher, not evolving faster. Now, I simply notice, work to maintain my curiosity and sense of humor. I might feel disappointed or sad, but I’m not going to make things worse by beating myself up for it.

I did make myself giggle because before I took the test I had to pee, but it was late and I felt like I needed to hurry up and finish, so my first and habitual instinct was to hold it, to wait until I was done with the self-test. Do you see, kind and gentle reader, just how ridiculous that is? I was going to make myself suffer in order to rush my way through a test that would measure my self-compassion. I still have so much to learn. But, as Kristin says,

It does take work to break the self-criticizing habits of a lifetime, but at the end of the day, you are only being asked to relax, allow life to be as it is, and open your heart to yourself.

pinksnowmoonThis same message is repeated over and over again in my Buddhist studies. Pema Chödrön often talks about how meditation practice is simply the act of befriending yourself. She also says,

The most fundamental aggression to ourselves, the most fundamental harm we can do to ourselves, is to remain ignorant by not having the courage and the respect to look at ourselves honestly and gently.

In a talk given through the Daily Dharma Gathering about “How to Love Yourself,” Lodro Rinzler talked about the same, saying,

It’s okay to actually look at yourself. It’s okay to become familiar with who you are. And who you are is basically good — whole and kind and strong.

Spending the week contemplating self-compassion, the way I practice it, I noticed how much kinder I am to myself, how far I’ve come, the willingness I have to be gentle and kind and patient — to nourish myself. I also noticed the places where I still have work to do. One thing I realized this week that surprised me is how much I still use self-aggression as a way to motivate myself, a way to make sure “shit gets done.” What’s so silly about that is most of the stuff I’m trying to get done involves helping other people, attempting to ease suffering — but in my approach I’m generating suffering, and that math doesn’t work.

For some reason, we are truly convinced that if we criticize ourselves, the criticism will lead to change. If we are harsh, we believe we will end up being kind. If we shame ourselves, we believe we end up loving ourselves. It has never been true, not for a moment, that shame leads to love. Only love leads to love. ~Geneen Roth

May we all be kind to ourselves today. May we rest if we are tired. May we eat if we are hungry, and savor what we eat. May we ask for help if we need it. May we tell someone we love them, even if the person we tell is ourselves. May we open ourselves to joy. May we allow ourselves to take up space. May we be nourished, both cherished and well-fed. May we notice where we are suffering and lavish that hurt with love.

#YourTurnChallenge: Day Seven, Day of Rest

poudreblackriversnowtilopaA little over a year ago, I posted this image and quote. It was also a Sunday, also winter, also a Day of Rest. This morning, I watched the most recent Daily Dharma Gathering video and Lodro Rinzler referenced the same quote. The origins are a teaching Tilopa gave Naropa called the “Six Words of Advice.” Tilopa shared six words, which translated to:

  1. Don’t recall.
  2. Don’t imagine.
  3. Don’t think.
  4. Don’t examine.
  5. Don’t control.
  6. Rest.

Seems pretty easy, doesn’t it, kind and gentle reader? But as Lodro also shared, the Buddhist teacher Sharon Salzberg recently said the practice of meditation is “very simple, but not easy.” I find this to be true of all practice (which for me is meditation, writing, yoga, and dog), and of life in general.

Today’s Your Turn Challenge prompt, the final one, is: “What are you taking with you from this Challenge?” For me, the Your Turn Challenge, seven days of prompted blog posts, wasn’t as big of a deal as it may have been for others. I practice writing every day, whether I publish a blog post or not. Every morning, one of the first things I do is sit down and write, unprompted. I sit, and even if I don’t know what to say, I start writing, and keep writing until I’ve filled at least three pages, or until I’ve run out of things to say, which sometimes fills much more than three pages. This practice is essential to me. I feel “off” if I don’t do it, in fact it feels so wrong to not write first thing I haven’t started a day without it in years.

I’ve done a series of 30 day blog challenges that included a prompt for each day, so a seven day challenge wasn’t so hard. But it also wasn’t easy to to show up and keep at it during the first week of a new semester that included other commitments beyond my CSU work — four classes, daily practice and some teaching. There were days it would have been easier to skip it. I didn’t because I’d committed to it, it was good practice, it was a group effort, and it wasn’t really so hard.

It was good practice in equanimity, which is “mental calmness, composure, and evenness of temper, especially in a difficult situation.” Especially in a difficult situation. Continuing to practice even when it’s hard. The seven day blogging challenge was a good way to contemplate letting go of expectations — the goal was a daily post in response to a prompt. It didn’t have to be perfect or even good.

I wasn’t so successful in sticking with other recent daily challenges. I signed up for 30 Days of Yoga with Adriene, but only made it to Day Three before I got sidetracked by my own yoga teaching and attending classes with other teachers, and too busy on the days I wasn’t to find an extra half hour. The Daily Dharma Gathering happens, not surprisingly, every day, but during this first week of it, I’ve only been able to watch two of the videos. I was so busy with other things, I kept missing it, couldn’t find a spare 30 minutes. That made me sad, made me feel like I was missing out, and yet it was okay. I was able to apply gentleness and maintain a sense of humor, qualities essential to any practice.

We can get lost in fixed expectations and it’s not helpful. We “should” all over ourselves. It’s difficult to maintain a practice when we are caught up in our expectations of it, that it should look and feel a certain way, that there’s some sort of guaranteed outcome if we just do it right, that if we don’t do it right it means we have failed.

What I’m taking with me from the Your Turn Challenge is this: Practice is simply showing up with an open heart, allowing whatever might arise, without an agenda. There is no way to do it right, and no way to do it wrong. Relax. I’m so grateful for the reminder, for the opportunity to practice.

Something Good

1. The Daily Dharma Gathering from the Open Heart Project. Susan says, “Together with Buddhist teacher and awesome guy Lodro Rinzler, I’m pleased to announce a new program: three months of live meditation sessions Tuesdays – Sundays with some of the most accomplished and wise dharma teachers in the world.”

2. A Beautiful (and Budget-Friendly!) Laundry Room Makeover. As a person who keeps myself too busy, and an introvert who doesn’t have many people over to my house, most of my spaces look more like the before picture. What I like so much about this though is that it makes it so clear that if you put forth just a little effort, you can have a beautiful space. I’d like to be better about that.

3. The Struggle Is Real from Baby Weigel. I’m not a mom, but I love what Aubrey has to say here about the difficult choices we have to make sometimes about the things we love and what we do, how we spend our time. May she have an easy transition back.

4. Elizabeth Gilbert Has a New Book (and We’ve Got the First Look at the Cover!) on the Etsy blog.

8. cArtographies – Crystal Pite, a beautiful, inspiring video which led me to a similarly beautiful and inspiring project, “BC filmmaker and visual artist Brian Johnson profiles 19 BC-based artists, from a variety of disciplines, who are both inspired and challenged by their geographic surroundings.” Too bad the full video can only be watched if you are in Canada — lucky Canadians. You’ve got all the good stuff.

9. The Radiance Sutras, a beautiful text I found by way of this post on Kintsugi Dance.

10. How To Get Your Writing Mojo On from Laurie Wagner.

11. Sharon Salzberg – Metta Hour – Episode 05 – The Eightfold Path.

12. The Splendid Table’s Refried Beans with Cinnamon and Clove, a recipe I found by way of Kirsten’s In the kitchen post. Another good thing from Kirsten this week was her post, Yoga and men.

13. A Yoga Teacher Training Certificate is Just the First Step on Elephant Journal.

14. Here’s Tina Fey And Amy Poehler’s Opening Monologue From The 2015 Golden Globes.

15. Good stuff on Slate: Children Photographed With Their Most Prized Possessions and This Guy Took a Photo Every Time He Saw Someone Reading a Book on the Subway.

16. 25 Ways to Stop Feeling Overworked and Overwhelmed from Marc and Angel Hack Life.

17. unexpected california eclectic on SF Girl by Bay.

18. Wisdom from Rachael Maddox, “Magic is the natural and spontaneous aligned activity that happens on the other side of presence and compassion.”

19. Some things that made me really angry this week: Charlize Theron Negotiates $10M Raise After Sony Hack Reveals Male Costar Was To Be Paid Millions More, and 100 serial rapists identified after rape kits from Detroit Crime Lab are finally processed, and The brutal secrets behind ‘The Biggest Loser.’

20. Self-Taught Chinese Street Photographer Takes China By Storm With His Perfectly Timed Photos on Bored Panda.

21. My Lovely Wife in the Psych Ward.

22. Trapped In His Body For 12 Years, A Man Breaks Free on NPR.

23. Ellen DeGeneres Humorously Responds to Pastor Who Accused Her of Promoting the “Gay Agenda” in Hollywood.

24. Quitting Sugar Is Not The Answer.

25. On Stuff by Meghan Genge.

26. Wisdom from Chögyam Trungpa, on how meditation leads to wisdom,

Out of that precision and refinement comes gentleness. You are not just paying attention, but you are also aware of your own pain and pleasure, and you develop sympathy and friendship for yourself. From that you are able to understand, or at least see, the pain and suffering of others, and you begin to develop a tremendous sense of sympathy for others. At the same time, such sympathy helps the mindfulness-awareness process develop further. Basically, you become a gentle person. You begin to realize that you are good: totally good and totally wholesome. You have a sense of trust in yourself and in the world. There is something to grip on to, and the quality of path or journey emerges out of that. You feel you want to do something for others and something for yourself. There is a sense of universal kindness, goodness, and genuineness.

27. 23andMe is a DNA analysis service providing information and tools for individuals to learn about and explore their DNA, ancestry-related genetic reports. I kinda wanna do it.

28. How to set goals & commitments that you’ll actually keep from Alexandra Franzen.

29. Good stuff from Be More with Less: Defeat the Clutter that Defeats Your Purpose and Women Can Be Minimalists Too.

30. Please Don’t Start Meditating (Unless You’re Willing to Change) from Lodro Rinzler. Also from Lodro, A Meditation for Morning Intention.

31. My Accidental Book Deal from Laura Simms. I love this part,

The editor had already reached out to another coach about being the author, but she already had a book in the works and couldn’t take another one on. She recommended me.

That’s it.

Someone recommended me. I’m not close to this person, we’ve never met in person. We’ve exchanged some complimentary words on Twitter. That’s the extent of our relationship. She just thought I’d be a good fit for the book.

And I had almost four years of writing samples on my blog to speak for me. And had released two ebooks on my own. And built a decent social media presence. Of course, there’s that. Let’s not discount all of that work. If luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity, then I had done my side of the equation.

So that’s my accidental book deal. The book that showed up when I was just minding my own business, doing the work, and being visible.

32. Good stuff from MindBodyGreen: Benefits of Massage (Infographic) and 10 Signs You’re In A Codependent Relationship.

33. Good stuff from Lion’s Roar: Buddha’s Daughters: An Interview with Insight Teacher Gina Sharpe and George Takei’s six best Buddhist posts.

34. Truthbomb #711 from Danielle LaPorte: “Make choices that liberate you.”

35. The 17 Naughtiest Dogs Of 2014.

36. Trust the Timing of Your Life, wisdom from Elizabeth Gilbert on Facebook.

37. Blink Now. “The BlinkNow Foundation’s mission is to provide an education and a loving, caring home for orphaned, impoverished and at-risk children.” This organization was founded by a single teenager, who is now Mom to 50+ children she’s adopted. Kinda makes you want to get off your ass, doesn’t it?

38. Sukha on the Squam blog.

39. Authentic Success in the New Year ~ with a little help from Liz Gilbert.

40. Your Turn Challenge, starts today. Read more of the backstory in Seth Godin’s blog post, Getting unstuck (a one week challenge).

41. Photo Battle: Katja Blichfeld vs. Ellen Van Dusen. So fun.

42. Neil Gaiman Shares The Easiest Way To Become A Successful Writer on BuzzFeed.

43. The unofficial comfort foods of every state in America. I wholeheartedly agree with the choices for Colorado and Oregon.

44. Syrup sandwiches and stolen toilet paper: Reddit users describe growing up poor.

45. A Note from the Universe, “All deliberate change, Jill, first comes from denying the logic that most gives you comfort.”

46. The Most Important Question of Your Life from Mark Manson. It’s not what you think.

47. Changing the World, One Word at a Time! | The Queen Latifah Show.

48. This Video Encouraging Women To Be More Active Has Gone Viral on BuzzFeed.

49. The Reason You Make Unhealthy Choices. Spoiler alert: “Self-compassion — accepting yourself without judgment when times get tough — is linked to better health behaviors.”

50. Rowdy Kitten’s Happy Links: From The Good Life to Gratitude. Tammy was one of the contributors to the Self-Compassion Saturday eBook and shared the link on her list this week.

51. The myth of perfection from Susannah Conway.

52. The things we’d rescue from the fire from Judy Clement Wall. The New York Times piece Judy links to is also worth reading, What Would You Grab in a Fire?

53. 19 Badass Instagrammers Who Prove Yoga Bodies Come In All Shapes And Sizes on BuzzFeed. Just one of the reasons Instagram is awesome.

54. When Their Cat Found Baby Ducks, They Never Expected This To Happen. So much cute.

55. Letter from the Birmingham Jail from Seth Godin.