January’s Learning Resources
The Gift of Community
Having spent the dark winter months reflecting on our personal practice and spending the holiday with friends and family, embrace on 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.
📚Suggested Resources and Activities: On our interconnectedness and what it means to live in community…
- To Read: Becoming the Ally of All Beings by Sharon Salzberg. This is a medium lengthy article from Lion’s Roar with a teaching from Sharon Salzberg on the interconnectedness of all things.
- To Watch: The Importance of Community with Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche (11 min). In this short teaching, Mingyur Rinpoche talks about the importance of community to support our practice.
- Namchak Blog: Bodhi What? Bodhisattva? Bodhicitta? What’s the difference? If you have ever asked these questions, here is a clarifying and informative read on the topic!
- Lama Tsomo’s recommended book of the month: We Will Not Cancel Us by adrienne maree brown. Cancel or call-out culture is a fraught topic these days. Originating as a way for marginalized and disempowered people to address harm and take down powerful abusers, often with the help of social media, it is seen by some as having gone too far. But what is “too far” when you’re talking about imbalances of power and patterns of harm? And what happens when people in social movements direct our righteous anger inward at one another?
- To Discuss: What does interconnectedness mean to you? In what ways in your life do you feel a sense of interconnectedness? In what ways do you feel a sense of separation? What does community mean to you? What are the benefits that you feel from being part of community? What are your personal drawbacks or obstacles to being part of community?
✨Monthly Learning Circle Spotlight: This month we would like to feature our friends in the Warriors of Love Learning Circle! They meet Thursday nights and were the first Learning Circle to form from a “Connection Despite Distance” course. They have been together since March 2020, and are still going strong!
One of their members, Mati Muñoz, has an inspirational story to share from her circle: “I love my Warriors of Love Learning Circle! One of the best things, and it surfaced clearly the other night, is that we realize that no matter how we feel, it’s always good when we get together. To be more specific, regardless of the fact that two members could not be present due to practical reasons, the remainder of us who showed up felt we did NOT want to be there to begin with. Every member expressed previous discomfort, tiredness, moodiness, all kinds of icky feelings that told us “I don’t feel like participating!” But because we have made the agreement of “Come as you are,” each one of us internally decided to show up no matter what. Well, as expected, we all felt much better after the “check-ins” and after expressing our feelings to each other. That, to me, is one of the highlights and wonderful accomplishments of the Circle, the support we offer each other and the space provided to just “be” ourselves in a social context, the comfort and trust in the realization that we are all safe in each other’s presence. I feel that a lot of the psychological and social problems we face as humans have their root in isolation and ignorance of our mutual interdependence.”
One Community Activities
Article Referenced: “Connection As an Answer to Turmoil”
In this time of COVID-19 and civil unrest in America, happiness often seems increasingly elusive. Yet that may not have to be so, and, in fact, such turmoil can offer opportunities for both personal and professional fulfillment.
Video Viewed: The Science of Interconnectedness: Cassandra Vieten
A Tedx Talk that explores interconnectedness from various perspectives, while also illuminating the implications this has on our lives both individually and collectively.
- What information, stories, or examples stood out to you from this video/article and why?
- What, if any, new insights or realizations did you glean after watching this video/reading this article?
- How can this understanding of interconnectedness help us practice more self-compassion as well as compassion for others?
- How did the information shared impact your own understanding of what it means to live in community?
As our awareness of our interconnectedness expands, so too does our sense of belonging in the world. This month, through exercises focused on our individual and shared stories, we explore how we can open our hearts to experience an expansive sense of love and true connection. We’ll look at the four “immeasurable” qualities of Compassion, Loving-kindness, Sympathetic Joy, and Equanimity.
Modern life brings unprecedented stressors, from personal challenges to global ones like climate change. Shamata helps us expand our mental awareness of the causes of stress, allowing us to cultivate a greater sense of calm in our lives and find the joy that is always available.
Practicing Inclusion + Nonviolent Communication
Examining race and identity, empathetic connection with others, what is life really like for others. Drawing from How to Be An Anti-Racist, we’ll take a closer look at the practice of Loving Kindness. Treating people of all backgrounds and identities with fairness and respect is an ongoing journey for most of us, including our team at Namchak. We share our experience with the practice of non-violent communications, which teaches us how to listen deeply to our own needs as well as those of others, helping us connect to our innate compassion.
Our personal practice isn’t just for ourselves, but for the benefit of others too. We dive into the meaning of work, consider our gifts, and examine work as an environment to practice being in community and contributing to the greater good.