13 Jul
2012
Posted in: Food
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Veggie Love

Here’s a bit of Veggie Dharma from Deborah Madison, my go-to kitchen guru.

Cucumber and Pepper Relish
from Cooking and Eating from America’s Farmers’ Markets

Spoon this relish over pulled string cheese, fresh cheese curds, or grilled fish. If you like a bit of bite, add a teaspoon of minced hot chile.

1 or 2 dark green cucumbers (about 3/4 lb.)
1 small sweet pepper, any variety, very finely diced
3 scallions, including an inch of the greens, finely sliced
2 Tablespoons chopped dill
1 Tablespoon chopped lovage or cilantro
1 1/2 Tablespoons rice wine vinegar
Sea salt and freshly ground white pepper

Score the cucumbers with the tines of a fork or a citrus zester. Cut them lengthwise into quarters, slice off the seeds, then chop the flesh into small pieces. Toss the remaining ingredients. Taste for salt and adjust the level of acidity if needed. Let stand for 30 minutes if time allows. Use within a day or two. (Makes about 3 cups.)

(image by Anna Oneglia)

 

12 Jul
2012
Posted in: Books, Practice
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How Do You Know?

I’ve been listening to U Tejaniya answer questions from students on retreat at IMS (available on Dharma Seed here) and reading his most recent book, “Dhamma Everywhere” (available as a free pdf here), and I’m very intrigued by his teachings…which are light, relaxed and very naturalistic.

He says, “…Do you know that you have a mind? How do you know that you have a mind? You can see or observe the mind through its workings/functions, e.g. knowing, thinking, experiencing, feeling, wanting, focusing, etc.

“Now, put your hands together and look at your clasped hands. You know that your hands are touching, right? How do you know this touching sensation? What is the mind doing that you are able to know this? You know because the mind is aware and paying attention to it right now.

“Do you know that the mind is paying attention and aware? Would you know that your hands were touching if your mind was thinking about something else?

“No.

“So you can see that it is not merely because your hands are touching that you know but because the mind is paying attention and awareness is a quality that is part of this attention that you know they are touching.

“Can you shift your attention from your palms to your feet? You can, right? This shift in attention is actually the mind at work. It is the mind paying attention.

“If you know that you are paying attention, then you are aware of the mind.” 

Maybe it’s just where I am in my practice right now, but I find not only what he says — but how he says it — to be very, very helpful.

11 Jul
2012
Posted in: Groups, Sangha at Large
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Happy Birthday Metta

Last night we celebrated the One Year Anniversary of Maplewood Metta! This group is very sweet, super friendly, and growing all the time. Join us! We meet every Tuesday, from 6:30 to 7:30 pm, at 2817 Oakland in Maplewood. For more info, click here.

Here’s a sneak peek:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

10 Jul
2012
Posted in: Sangha at Large
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Tranquil Wisdom

St. Louis Insight Meditation Group will host visiting teacher, Venerable Vimalaramsi, on Sunday, July 22, 7-8:45 pm at Big Bend Yoga Center, 88 N. Gore, Webster Groves.

The title of his talk: What Is Meditation?

Ven. Vimalaramsi (Bhante) has practiced meditation for more than 37 years and was ordained a Theravada monk in 1989 in Thailand. In 2005, he founded Dhamma Sukka, a monastery and meditation center in Annapolis, MO, about 2 hours south of St. Louis. There he teaches a style of meditation called Tranquil Wisdom Insight Meditation (TWIM).

By studying the teachings of the Buddha (suttas) directly, Bhante found the elements of the 4 Noble Truths, the 8-Fold Path, and the impersonal process of Dependent Origination to be the core of the teachings. In his studies, he realized that the word sutta meant “thread” and that these threads together create a finely woven cloth. Through this understanding and his own objective experience, the 8-Fold Path began to come alive with full meaning.

This event is open to everyone. Donations collected will benefit the Dhamma Sukha Center.

Please join us for this special evening.

 

9 Jul
2012
Posted in: Books, Groups, Practice
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That Changes Things

The Monday night Dancing with Life KM group meets again tonight. The group is reading the book, Dancing with Life, by Phillip Moffitt and the “assignment” for tonight is to read to the end of Chapter 5 and to come prepared with at least one sentence, phrase or paragraph to discuss with the group.

I chose a few from an early part of the book, where Phillip gives very clear instructions for the mindfulness meditation practice, AND very clear descriptions of the benefits.

From page 13: “Starting over is a key step in meditation.” This is big for me because it’s so reassuring. It’s not a failure to have to keep starting over. It’s a key part of the process!

From page 20: For the first few years of practice you are literally reprogramming your nervous system to free it from habitual reactivity. This alone will bring much ease and flexibility to your mind.” I chose this sentence because he’s talking about a benefit of meditation that’s practical, tangle, not “woo-woo.” It’s a real, down-to-earth benefit that I have experienced.

And, he continues, “The most life-changing benefits of mindfulness meditation are the insights, which arise spontaneously the way a ripened apple falls from the tree of its own accord. Insight is what changes your life. Through insight you realize what brings well-being to yourself and others as well as what brings stress, discomfort, and dissatisfaction into your life.” I chose this passage because of the phrase: Insight is what changes your life.

I chose it because Insight has changed mine.

(image by Mose Tolliver, from “Outsider Art” postcards)

 

 

6 Jul
2012
Posted in: Groups
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Hi-Pointe Sitting

I am very excited to announce that I have been offered space in a beautiful new Dharma Center, which is located directly behind the Hi-Pointe Theatre. Beginning Wednesday, July 25, I will be leading a new Mindfulness Sitting Group at the center. I’m calling the group: Hi-Pointe Sitting.

Where: Blue Lotus Dharma Center, 1002 Hi-Pointe Place, Suite 2B, St. Louis, MO 63117 (for directions, click here.)

When: Wednesdays, 7:00 – 8:30 pm (starting July 25)

Format: At 7:00 pm, we will begin with instructions and/or a short reflection. We’ll sit for 40 minutes, then open for discussion. At 8:00 pm, we will end the formal practice and move to the reception area for informal tea and conversation.

Who should attend: Anyone! The format is flexible and intended to be welcoming for beginners as well as experienced practitioners.

For more information: Contact Jan Rosamond.

5 Jul
2012
Posted in: Practice, Sangha at Large
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Just W. A. I. T.

I opened the July e-newsletter from Spirit Rock and was delighted to read an interview with Shahara Godfrey, who is a fellow student in the Dedicated Practitioner Program. The topic of the interview is Wise Speech and I love her answer to the question:

How do you practice Wise Speech?”

Shahara says, “Sylvia Boorstein has this phrase, an acronym, WAIT, for “Why Am I Talking?”  I always find it helpful because it is an example of taking the time to decide if I really need to talk right now.”

She continues, “I know because I have a tendency to talk a lot. I will ask myself, ‘Why am I talking or why do I need to say this?’ It really helps me pause and recognize there are other people who may need to speak who have not had the opportunity. I can step back and just WAIT. And it really feels good that I have taken a moment to reflect. And other times upon reflection, I still need to speak, but I have taken the time to figure it out.”

Thanks, Shahara…and Sylvia. I’m going to try it!

(image from “I Told You So,” by Daisy de Villeneuve)

 

 

 

3 Jul
2012
Posted in: Money
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Really Looking At It

It’s the start of a new month and I’m looking carefully at where I’ve spent my money–which is to say, where I’ve spent my life energy…because money is really just a way to measure the time and energy I have exchanged for it.

I’ve been keeping a list with separate categories of things I buy over and over. At first, I just listed “groceries.” Then I broke it down into “food” and “household items” (for example: toilet paper and laundry soap). But then I went even further, and now instead of “food,” I’ve made a category to track how much I spend on “Italian mineral water” and “extra dark chocolate.” Believe it or not, these items are a significant portion of my “food” expenditure. (We all have our addictions.)

The idea here is not to make myself feel bad about how much of my income is going for these things. The idea is for me to get clear on what it is that I’m spending my life energy for.

And whether or not I’m getting value for it.

At the moment, I’m not sure.

I may decide that it’s not worth what I’m spending — of myself — on Italian mineral water and extra dark chocolate. Then (I believe) it will be relatively easy to start making different choices. Or I may decide that in fact, I AM getting sufficient value. At which point the received value will actually increase, because I’ll be AWARE of it!

Stay tuned.

(image from GOREY CREATURES by Edward Gorey)

2 Jul
2012
Posted in: Practice
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Surprise!

I’ve signed up to receive “e-Teaching” from Phillip Moffitt, which appear in my in-box every so often and are always inspiring. The one I got Friday relates to his latest book, Emotional Chaos to Clarity. The teaching was on “Clarifying Values, Intentions, and Goals” and it included a link to his Core Values and Essential Intentions Worksheet that was very….enlightening.

The worksheet lists a variety of values (from “Achievement/Accomplishment” to “Wisdom”) and the first step is to rate how important each one is to you. The next step is to choose the five “Extremely Important” ones. These, Phillip says, are your core values.

I would have thought things like “honesty” and “kindness” would be at the top of my list. But it turns out “Creative Expression,” “Independence” and “Love of Learning” are even higher!

The next part of the exercise is to develop essential intentions for each of these core values.  Phillip writes, “….if ‘inner authority’ is a core value for you, then one way you might articulate the essential intention is, ‘I intend to value myself and remember that I always have a choice.'”

So now, one of my essential intentions is: I intend to honor creativity in myself and others and to look for ways that creativity can be expressed. 

Click here to download Phillips worksheet. Click here if you’d like to subscribe to his e-Teachings.

(image from “A Whole World,” by Katy Couprie and Antonin Louchard)

 

29 Jun
2012
Posted in: Sangha at Large
By    2 Comments

Chinese Lantern Festival

Go see the Chinese Lantern Festival at the Missouri Botanical Garden before it’s all over on August 19!

Here’s a peek at the four-faced Buddha.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And the giant lotus.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And flowering ponds.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And a dragon coming out of blue water.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And flying celestial beings.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And me!