21 May
Posted in: Food, Practice
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My niece got married this weekend and everything about it was wonderful. The beautiful couple was happy and the families were delighted. The music was joyous. The flowers were lovely. And the food was delicious.

At least I think it was. But I can’t say for sure, because once again, my First Bite Meditation practice somehow slipped my mind.

Not entirely. About half-way through the meal I noticed a sweet-tart, “sting” of balsamic vinegar as I bit into the portobello mushroom. And I woke up!

But then right away I noticed some resistance to really focusing on the flavors. I noticed that I didn’t want to slow down. I didn’t want to “waste” time tasting what was in my mouth….I wanted to hurry up and get to that next bite!

And then I realized that there was something about the wanting that I wanted. I actually wanted to feel the wanting. There was something about it that was familiar. That felt right. It was as if I was certain that if the wanting wasn’t there, then somehow I wasn’t having a good time.

This is delusion, I’m sure. Because the sensation of wanting was a kind of force, a pressure, that needed the next thing. And I wanted to feel it. Even though it was a kind of dissatisfaction. Which is the opposite of enjoyment.

But just knowing that didn’t make it go away. It did make me think about it, though. So I’m giving myself credit for that.

18 May
Posted in: Practice, Retreats
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Then Comes Joy

Pascal Auclair gave a great talk at the retreat on Renunciation, a word which always sounds punishing to me. But Pascal talked about it in terms of “profound release” and “a joyful letting go.” Which sounds a heck of a lot better.

Almost as an aside, he mentioned that he’s heard Phillip Moffitt talk about 3 renunciations that he (Phillip) has taken on. I’m considering taking them on, too.

(1) Not being the star of my own movie.

(2) Not measuring my success by the number of desires that are met.

(3) Not being attached to being right.

The caveat here, from Pascal’s talk, is that “renunciation can not be led by ill will or repression, but when it’s aligned with wisdom…..then comes joy.”





(image from The Housewives Tarot)

17 May
Posted in: Practice, Sangha at Large
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Sitting in the Park

One of our Maplewood Metta sangha members, Cindy Brinkop, has started a new sitting group. It’s called Sitting in the Park and that’s just what they do!

I’ve listed them on the Neighborhood Sitting Groups page, but I wanted to highlight them here because I think it’s so cool.

When: Every Saturday morning through October (weather permitting), 8:30 to 9:00 am
(Beginners requesting instruction are invited to arrive at 8:15)

Where: Tower Grove Park, just west of the Farmer’s Market (on the Kingshighway side)

Look for the Tibetan Prayer Flags! (And bring a waterproof mat or cushion.)

For more info, contact Cindy.

16 May
Posted in: Practice, Retreats
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At the retreat, we renewed our commitment — our vow, really — to abstain from judging, comparing and fixing. Which, of course, didn’t mean that we all stopped doing it.

But we all did commit to take this on as a practice.

And it occurs to me that this is a practice of equanimity. By not judging others, by not comparing myself to them and by not trying to “fix” them, I am letting them be who they are, as they are. This doesn’t mean that I withdraw from them. I can be right there with them. Present and responsive, as needed.

But they don’t have to be the way I want them to be for me to care about them. They don’t have to be like me. And I don’t have to be like them. We are profoundly connected, but we don’t need to go around fixing each other.

So I have added this to my morning ritual. In addition to taking the traditional vows to avoid harming other beings, I have add: For my own freedom and for the freedom of others, I will practice equanimity by not judging, comparing or fixing.


15 May
Posted in: Food, Practice
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Not So Easy

I thought I was a pretty mindful person. I thought taking on a First Bite Meditation practice would be fairly straightforward, not too difficult….maybe a bit tedious, but really not that much of a challenge.

I was wrong.

I haven’t been able to go a single day without forgetting to do the practice at least once. Actually, a lot more than once. And it’s not like I’m catching myself after a bite or two! Sometimes I do. But often — often — I’ve finished the entire meal and am off onto something else before it even crosses my mind that I was supposed to stop and actually notice what I was eating.


But I’m not giving up. And I’m not giving myself a bad time about it. I’m just noticing…with surprise. I’m giving a little respectful bow to the formidable power of habit, and I’m starting over.

Again and again.

14 May
Posted in: Money
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The Flow of Money

I finished The Soul of Money over the weekend. I couldn’t put it down. And then this morning I picked it up again…thinking I’d post a few quotes…and I realized I’ve highlighted just about the whole book!

Here are a few from a section titled, Know the Flow: Truth Telling About Where The Money Goes.

“Are you consciously allocating where you want your money to go?”

“If you want a clear picture of your priorities in life, who you are and what you care about, look at your checkbook, your credit card bills, and bank statement.”

“The way money flows to you and through you to other purposes isn’t unrelated to your life.”

“An unhealthy relationship with the way you acquire money is something that can suppress your life.”

“Knowing the flow is an examination without blame…..Without a judgment of good or bad, when you know the flow, it gives you the necessary self-knowledge to make conscious choices that align your spending with your vision of yourself and your highest commitments.”

“We can consciously put money in the hands of projects, programs, companies, and vendors we respect and trust, and even approach paying taxes as a way of expressing our commitment and investment as a citizen.”

“It takes courage to direct the flow, but with each choice, we invest in the world as we envision it.”

(image: Phantasmagoric Theatre Tarot)

11 May
Posted in: Money, Retreats
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Money Blind

“We are all blind in some way about money, and we keep ourselves blind.” The Soul of Money, by Lynn Twist & Teresa Barker

One of the intentions I have made after attending the retreat, is to open my eyes to my relationship with money.

The first thing I decided to do — no surprise — was to buy something. I bought The Soul of Money ($14.99), which Diana Winston recommended in her very inspiring talk about how she got clarity, and freedom, by looking deeply into her own very complex money relationships.

Then — what else — I bought an app: the Ace Budget 2 ($.99), which is making it easy for me to keep track of every single cent I spend….where, when, with whom, on what, and how much.

And then I put a dollar bill next to the buddha where I meditate, along with the stones and feathers and shells I’ve brought back from other retreats. This is to remind me of my intention and helps me renew it every morning and evening.

I’m not sure where this investigation will take me. But I’m pretty sure it will be enlightening.

From the book: “What became clear was that when people were able to align their money with their deepest, most soulful interests and commitments, their relationship with money because a place where profound and lasting transformation could occur. Their money — no matter what the amount — become the conduit for this change.”

Stay tuned.

(Image: Steampunk Tarot)



10 May
Posted in: Retreats
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Mudita Haiku

At the retreat, Pascal Auclair gave a wonderful talk on Mudita, which I understand to mean the way we share in and feel uplifted by the joy of others. He talked about how energy flows from one person to another, and how this quality of gladness…as well as compassion, goodwill and balanced attention….are always welcome.

After the talk, we each wrote a mudita haiku. Here’s mine:

They kiss and kiss.
I relax and smile.
Envy has left the building.

9 May
Posted in: Practice, Retreats
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Stop. Take a breath. Observe. Proceed.

This is a cool little mindfulness practice I brought back from the retreat, thanks to Tempel Smith. At least once a day, I send a text to one of my dharma buddies that just says: STOP.

It stands for: Stop. Take a breath. Observe. Proceed.

And at least once a day, each of them sends the same text to me.

So, randomly, I get these little “pings” on my cell phone throughout the day, and I’m reminded to come back to the present moment and to notice what’s going on. It’s very sweet. Especially since I’m also reminded that someone I care about is thinking of me.

8 May
Posted in: Food, Practice, Retreats
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First Bite Meditation

On the last day of the “Worldly Dharmas” retreat, Sally Armstrong asked us to write down — and to share — one or two intentions we have for bringing our practice into the world over the next few months.

One of mine has to do with money and I’ll write more about that later. But the other one is to practice what I’m calling First Bite Meditation.

Mindfully eating at every meal is surely a good idea, but the truth is, it’s just not going to happen. At least not for me. At least not right now.

But I do think I can manage to be somewhat more mindful. And my first step is to set an intention of mindfully eating the first bite of every meal.

I’ve been trying it now for 2-and-a-half days, and most of the time I’ve caught myself mid-bite, mid-meal and thought….#!%&!….I forgot again! But then I just say, OK, at least I can stop for a second and taste this bite.

And then I do.

It’s harder than I thought, but it’s getting easier. I’m catching myself earlier. And I’m slowing down a little bit more.

It’s good to be in the world….and to know what it tastes like!