February’s Learning Resources
February Theme: Finding Belonging
Belonging is more than just a warm feeling of connection; it’s a fundamental part of being human. Research has established we crave interaction the same way we crave food, but pandemic isolation has drained many of us to the point of sadness and anxiety. In this session, we’ll learn how to experience a deep sense of belonging whatever our external environment. Through small group discussion, journaling and meditation, we’ll explore the roots of belonging, and how being our essential selves fosters awareness and meaning.
📚Suggested Resources and Activities:
- Discuss: What are the “key ingredients” for feeling true belonging to ourselves? Our communities? The world? What are some beliefs that keep you from feeling like you belong? What are some practices you can cultivate in order to feel a deeper sense of belonging? Which stories are living inside of you that are asking to be shared or shed in order for you to feel a greater sense of belonging?
- Read: Ubuntu: I Am Because We Are by Pamela Ayo Yetunde, Rehena Harilall, Nobantu Mpotulo, David W. Robinson-Morris And Yao Obiora Dibia (lionsroar.com)
- Watch: Loneliness and the Illusion of Connection | Thich Nhat Hanh (Plum Village YouTube channel)
- Namchak Blog: The Four Boundless Qualities aka The Four Immeasurables by Lama Tsomo
- Lama Tsomo’s book recommendation: Why Won’t You Apologize by Harriet Lerner* From Lama Tsomo: “This is a great book! Lerner expands on what makes a good apology, how people avoid apologizing, and how we contribute to their apologizing resistance. She is clear, specific, and readable. I highly recommend this book. It provides tools to use when we are involved in a hurtful situation, which is inevitable in any healthy Sangha. Beyond that, Lerner’s message it important for ALL of our intimate relationships.”
- Podcast: Remembering Thich Nhat Hanh, Brother Thay (On Being with Krista Tippett, onbeing.org)
✨Monthly Learning Circle Spotlight:
This month, we hear from Yao Obiora, one of the authors in the Lion’s Roar article referenced above. 💗 Yao is a student in Namchak’s Ancient Wisdom Engaged program.
The Buddha taught that suffering arises out of feeling separate, not belonging. When we don’t see ourselves as included, invited, or welcomed, our fears, our grasping, our aversions, and our vulnerabilities become greatly amplified. That “noise” severs belonging at all levels in our relation with society. We become fragile and cease wanting to find, much less look to belong.
Our upbringing and culture become a breeding ground of feeling defective and unworthy. WE ARE NOT DEFECTIVE! We can, as Tara Brach has said, “awaken from the trance of unworthiness”. Maybe a starting point is to invite and proclaim that we belong where we stand, walk, and sit. We can own the right to unfold into wholeness. Much like NASA’s latest technology: James Webb Space Telescope, which was launched into space and slowly, methodically unfolded to enable full observation of things yet unseen. Our practice has that unfolding quality with much to reveal.
My unfolding has been enhanced by the building blocks of belonging taught on the Namchak path. I build with brick and mortar (eg. the Four Boundless Qualities, meditation practice, ngöndro), seated in an unfolding of belonging, acceptance, and collective practice. This has helped me to cut through the trance with willingness to enter and embrace the sacred art of pausing… It is challenging work, very liberating, eases the access to removing the trance of separation and unworthiness. Come aboard, belong, and practice with me on the “Happy Bus”!
Wow! Thank you for sharing your wisdom, Yao. 🙏🏼
ONE COMMUNITY ACTIVITIES
Link to Video Recording of February 2022 One Community Gathering:
- Invite a moment of silence and give rise to Bodhicitta.
- Read Community Commitments.
- Can you share a time in your life when you felt a deep sense of belonging? It can be with another person, a community, an identity, etc.
Watch video for context around theme (5-10 min)
Journaling (5 min)
- Where do you find yourself feeling the strongest sense of belonging? What does it feel like?
- What about when you feel you don’t belong? What does that feel like?
Discussion in Breakout Rooms (10-15 min)
- Start by sharing what you noticed in the journaling exercise (5 minutes)
- What are things that you and the person/people you are with have in common?
- Where are you different?
- What are you looking for in the sense of belonging? What do you believe it will give you?
Group Share (5-10 min)
Come back as a large group and share takeaways from partner discussions.
Watch Video for Context around Journal prompt (5-10 min)
Journal (5 min)
- What do you love…
- When do you feel empathy…
- When do you feel joy…
- And when do you experience equanimity…the calmness even in the face of difficulty
Start where you can access it, what you are aware of now. Then through practice we can grow those qualities like blowing a bellows to flame, the air growing the fire, expanding it.
Meditation: Loving Kindness (guided by Anne on video) (5 min)
Dedicate the merit (1 min)
Through this merit, may all beings attain the omniscient state of enlightenment, and conquer the enemy of faults and delusion. May they all be liberated from this ocean of samsara and from its pounding waves of birth, old age, sickness and death.
The Gift of Community
Having spent the dark winter months reflecting on our personal practice, we now embrace the new year with an appreciation for both self-compassion and compassion for others, focusing on our interconnectedness and what it means to live in community.
Embracing the contemplative dark months of winter as a time of reflection and renewal, looking back on the year past and beginning to plan for the new year. Looking at the past and future as a way to inform present personal, community and action in the world.
Whether you are spending time alone, with family, friends, or communities of origin this holiday season, this time can bring up an array of emotions. Our experiences can range from the comfort of familiarity and tradition to the discomfort of feeling triggered and reverting to old roles and behaviors. We can reframe the stories we believe about ourselves and others by exploring the impermanent nature of reality and believing in our inherent goodness. This holiday season, we invite you to try something new: to build upon the foundations of mindfulness, and embrace the freedom that comes with clear seeing.
Most likely we have all heard the metaphor of putting on your own oxygen mask first before helping others. It’s a great metaphor, but how does that look in real life? Perhaps we can begin by getting cozy, of course, and asking ourselves some questions like, “What am I doing to take care of myself?” “How do I feel when I am taking care of myself?” “What are some signals that I need to care for myself better?”