Category Archives: Tara Brach

What I Don’t Want to Talk About

It’s been a tender morning for me. Ringo woke us up around 3 a.m., with that heaving and gagging that every half asleep parent knows will result in the need for a change of bedding. He threw up a wad of grass wrapped around a small rock, probably eaten when he dug a big hole outside at daycare yesterday, (he had help apparently, and they still adore him). I’m struggling right now with issues relating to the dogs, health and training specifically, some of which is Eric and I’s shared struggle (sometimes our struggle with each other) and some of which is mine alone.

Eric took the dogs hiking, so I’ve been by myself all morning, and yet not alone but rather in relationship with so many people, their wisdom and their suffering.

robinwilliamsrollingstonecoverI started my morning reading a recent Rolling Stone article about Robin Williams. In it, Tom Hanks says, “He had wisdom born of all the burns and scars of his life, and he was funny about it.” Revisiting that loss reminded me of another.

perfectpuppyI bought this book in the weeks before we got Ringo, firstly because of the Cattle Dog Lucy who’s the main subject, in so many pictures throughout. Truth be told, this book kind of made me feel like crap about myself, but reinforced what I was learning about the shift in dog training to positive methods, offers good strategies and sound advice.

The author Dr. Sophia Yin committed suicide this week at 48. She was a pioneer of the humane training movement. Both Sophia and Robin were healers in their own fields, her through her vet care and by helping people build good relationships with their pets, him through entertainment and laughter. I’m contemplating this morning how you can do so much good in the world and still suffer so deeply you can’t see a way through it.

After writing my morning pages, I took a shower and sat to meditate. After that, I watched the first video from Susan Piver for her newly launched Open Heart Project Sangha, which was all about basic goodness, what she calls “square one.”

For some reason, as Susan was talking about basic goodness, I remembered scrolling through my Facebook feed and seeing a picture of a cute fuzzy puppy with the caption, “Ready for a cuddle now.” I was shocked, surprised by my reaction, which wasn’t an immediate softening, no sense of “awww, how cute,” but rather a sense of dread, the thought that “one day that sweet fuzzy is going to break someone’s heart into a million pieces.” You know you are in a rough, tender place when the picture of a cute puppy, rather than making you feel warm & fuzzy, comforted and soothed, instead reminds you of loss, grief, and suffering.

Baby Sam

Baby Sam

Susan ended her dharma talk on basic goodness by sharing that she recently asked Tara Brach, “How is it possible to bear walking through this world in an open state?” This is an important question, because as Susan said herself, we all wonder how, “How am I supposed to walk through this world with an open heart when it’s such a crazy world, when it’s so hard and there are so many things that are so friggin’ painful that I feel like I might literally die if they touch me?”

Tara’s answer was simply “sangha.” The simplest definition of sangha is “community.” We can’t do it alone, and having a community, a place to belong where we can be genuinely ourselves, connect with others, find support, be in relationship, and as Susan describes “together and separately…dare to have confidence in basic goodness” is essential to being able to keep our hearts open, to be able to withstand what’s hard and feel the full wonder of what is beautiful.

I’m guilty of isolating myself. Of disconnecting, shutting down, spending too much time in my own head and by myself. Some of this is time I genuinely need to recharge, to rest and restore, but some of it isn’t so healthy. I get confused, think it’s up to me to solve every problem, to control and fix everything, that there is no help. I can easily sink into despair. I’ve had my own thoughts of suicide. I know there are some people who don’t want to believe that, who would reject and dismiss it, and I don’t feel entirely comfortable confessing it, but it’s true.

My life rehab started with the simple wish to “be a better friend to myself.” Not to be a better person, not to become successful or accomplish things and make stuff, but to practice maitri — loving compassion towards the self. I have a strong sense that right now that means two things: to accept help, to seek out connection and community, and to be gentle with myself.

kitchenbasicgoodnessI started to practice this open gentleness right after I finished Susan’s video. I went into the kitchen to make myself some French Toast. When I reached for the bowl, I noticed the greenness of the green, the way the light reflected off the smooth edges, how much it reminded me of jade. Then, the plate with its branch and buds, how it is square and round at the same time. Both of them sitting side by side on the countertop I chose over ten years ago because it reminds me of rice paper. I got out the bread, dense and whole and heavy with seeds. When I was done cooking my toast, I scrambled the remaining eggs to give to the dogs later and washed the pan. I noticed, let things touch me, was softened by the wholehearted effort I put towards nourishing myself.

It’s a start.

The healing comes from letting there be room for all of this to happen: room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy. ~Pema Chödrön

Something Good

watermelon

This is in my garden, seriously…

1. What do you do when the trolls come marching in?, wisdom from Paul Jarvis.

2. Behind the scenes of this post from Judy Clement Wall.

3. Finding the courage to transform your life, from Caroline Leon of Life is Limitless.

4. The Imaginary World Of…, Keri Smith’s new book.

5. This post on 3x3x365, especially the part about Burg the wonder dog.

6. He Had No Idea He Was Being Recorded Dancing With His Dog on Viral Nova. I bet Eric does this with the dogs when I’m not around.

7. What do you know for sure?, and The Creativity Conversation Continued, wisdom from Elizabeth Gilbert on Facebook.

8. Lisa Congdon Words for the Day :: No. 35.

9. Wisdom from Marianne Elliott on Facebook, “Your home yoga practice is where you find out what really works for you, and what doesn’t. But, maybe above all else, home yoga is where you begin to rebuild your own trust in yourself, your body and your innate wisdom. And very little is more important, and more powerful than that.”

10. Wisdom from Rilke, (thanks for sharing, Sherry).

Sometimes blocked in,
sometimes reaching out,
one moment your life is a stone in you,
and the next, a star.

11. Good stuff from Be More With Less: Jumping Gently Into Minimalism, and If Life Were Simple, and especially this, How to Really Take a Day Off.

12. Be careful what you wish for… it just may come true!!! on Diamonds in the Sky with Lucy.

13. Love, Curvy Yoga – Episode Ten: An Interview with Susan Piver, Anna Guest-Jelley’s podcast, two of my favorite women talking about some of my favorite things.

14. Less internet – but more of what? from The Art of Simple.

15. What Your Random Jobs Have in Common on Create as Folk.

16. Conversation with Lisa Congdon (Art Inc.) on art & lemons in which Lisa talks about her new book, which I need.

17. 11 vegetarian snacks to help you avoid the vending machine, some yummy recipes.

18. lisa congdon: a studio visit and a brand new book from SF Girl by Bay, because you can never have enough Lisa Congdon.

19. Lower Your Standards from Jennifer Louden. I’m loving this particular series from her, a Queen Jenny Bee wisdom primer.

20. Wisdom from Pema Chödrön, “If we really knew how unhappy it was making this whole planet that we all try to avoid pain and seek pleasure — how that is making us so miserable and cutting us off from our basic goodness — then we would practice as if our hair were on fire.”

21. Take a Deep Breath from Mara Glatzel.

22. Truthbomb #605 from Danielle LaPorte, “You are the temple.”

23. Good stuff from Chookooloonks: this was a good week (& the philosophy behind it) and respite.

24. Simple Living – Does it Have to be All or Nothing? from Slow Your Home.

25. Fudgy Vegan Chocolate Brownies, a recipe from Kris Carr.

26. regular people answering hard questions: stacy morrison on Angiecat.

26. My embarrassing picture went viral on Salon.

27. Simply Genius: Nick Offerman Reads Reddit’s ‘Shower Thoughts’ on Hello Giggles.

28. Good stuff from Renegade Mothering: I thought age 4 would be better. I was wrong. and We don’t start with needles in our arms. (Watch her read this essay at BlogHer ’14. She said this about the experience,

So I was honored to be chosen as a 2014 “Voice of the Year” by Blogher for the piece “We Don’t Start with Needles in our Arms.” Here I am reading it. Moments before I went on stage, Arlo had a blow out and I thought maybe I had poop on my fancy clothes. As I changed him on the floor backstage I thought “This is some hardcore parenting right here.” Moments after I got off stage, people started coming up to me, telling me about their alcoholic brother mother sister friend student and I thought “What a life, all of this. Thank you.”

29. What’s In A Body Type? from Sunni Chapman.

30. Summer Homes + Anne Black Ceramics on decor8. The summer home made me *swoon*

31. The Lies Your Mind Tells You to Prevent Life Changes on Zen Habits.

32. This, everything about this. A picture that Susannah Conway took of her nephew on a visit to the circus. He’s a magical kid, and the image just screams “be yourself.”

33. A really important quote shared by Austin Kleon, about the difference between humor and depression.

34. What Your Junk Drawer Reveals About You, shared by Tammy on her Happy Links list.

35. Shared on Positively Present Picks: Why doing less actually makes you more successful (and how to do it without hurting your productivity) and 5 Ways to Live in the Moment.

36. Shared on Susannah Conway’s Something for the Weekend list, The Life Changing Crackers, which led to The Life-Changing Loaf of Bread.

37. Wisdom I’ve shared before, but just saw it again and it’s worth resharing,

Six Words of Advice – by Tibetan teacher, Tilopa

Let go of what has passed.
Let go of what may come.
Let go of what is happening now.
Don’t try to figure anything out.
Don’t try to make anything happen.
Relax, right now, and rest.

translation by Ken McLeod
Quoted in Tara Brach’s guided meditation: Emptiness Dancing

38. More wisdom from Pema Chödrön, “It’s important to hear about this in-between state. Otherwise we think the warrior’s journey is one way or the other; either we’re all caught up or we’re free. The fact is that we spend a long time in the middle.”

39. Navigate Your Life: Sarah Selecky from Jennifer Louden.

40. Mary Lambert has a new album coming out in October!!! The first two songs that have been released are so so so so so good.

41. The Spiritual Art of Saying No from On Being, which ends with,

You say no so you can say yes. It’s sad in the way that all limitations are, but also liberating. You are human and finite and precious and fumbling. This is your one chance to spend your gifts, your attention, most importantly your love, on the things that matter most. Don’t screw it up by being sentimental about what could have been or delusional about your own capacity. Have the grace to acknowledge your own priorities. Prune and survive.